man in wheelchair working on imac

How to Find Digital Support

What actions would you take if your computer froze, your smartphone bookmarks disappeared, you couldn’t find the right document, or an online account refused your login?

If you already know what to do, most technical issues can be resolved in minutes or seconds. If you don’t know what to do … well, finding the right page, menu, or function can be like seeking the proverbial needle in a haystack.

lady looking frustrated in front of laptop

Can You Fix This Yourself?

What you can or should do may depend on your digital literacy level: your skills in finding and using digital information, plus your knowledge of specific apps and functions. Your individual personality is also a factor. If you thrive on problem-solving and technical detail, you’ll do much better with computer issues than if you just want a quick solution to get you back on your real tasks. (Note that the more impatient and frustrated a person becomes, the harder it is to see even obvious answers.)

That said, even users with no love for “technical stuff” will benefit from learning basic digital literacy. Knowing how you want to use your device, what apps you need, and how to fix common issues can save tons of stress and wasted time. There are lots of free courses and online tutorials: try our own Did You Know? videos for a start.

Where to Go for Help

To save additional stress and wasted time, know where you’ll go for help when, inevitably, an issue surfaces that you can’t solve on your own. Scrambling for a needle of contact information in a haystack of a website will just add more stress; so, find the customer service section on your provider’s or app’s site before you need it. And if you have issues with phone calls/forums/live chats/etc., bookmark your preferred contact method, not just the main Contact page.

If you’d rather not deal directly with the website (or provider), ask around your social circle for digital-minded contacts. Or, for the best sources of professional knowledge plus person-to-person familiarity, ask a social worker/nonprofit/digital-literacy teacher for Digital Navigator referrals. Navigators are specially trained to assist with everything digital, from finding low-cost internet to using lesser-known apps.

(Read more about Digital Navigators on our website.)

Treating Your Digital Supporters Right

In any field, service providers recognize this description of their most unwanted client: expects instant front-of-the-line service, makes impossible demands, curses out everyone who can’t give them exactly what they want. Here’s how to not be that sort of client with your Digital Navigator or other support provider:

  • Check available hours and other terms of service, first thing. It’s not fair to take something for granted and then blame whomever has to tell you they don’t offer it.
  • Try to anticipate when a situation is becoming too much for you, and call for help before you’re on the edge of meltdown. When one party is ready to boil over, it makes things all the harder on both ends.
  • Be patient. Even when the solution is simple, your Navigator needs to make sure they understand your need.
  • When your Navigator explains a procedure to you, or otherwise provides you with practical information, make personal notes so you’ll remember how to do it next time. Don’t be the client who calls back again and again with the same question.

Finally, always welcome the opportunity to learn new digital skills. Who knows: someday soon, you may be the one assisting a friend who needs support!

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