The Internet can be a very foreign place for folks who have never owned a computer, "surfed" without an ocean, or mastered enough English jargon to follow the prompts.
That digital deficit limits everything from communicating with friends to looking up medical questions. The odds drop of finding jobs, much less qualifying for them. Adding insult to injury for parents, any kid with a phone can outsmart them.
To help even the playing field, free computer classes are being offered to cyber-challenged, low-income adults. On Thursday, a dozen students finished up a basic skills course in Ceres.
"I have a laptop, but I didn't know how to turn it on," admitted class member Alvina De León. She bought the hardware, but there she stopped. "I was really scared I might push something I wasn't supposed to or erase something," she said.
Her children grown, De León said she wants to look for a job. Thursday, the newly confident Ceres job seeker was heading home to write her résumé -- on her laptop.
A quick survey showed four class members were job-hunting and a sprinkling more were hoping to learn how to use e-mail or Facebook. Asked how many were there with concerns about their children's Internet use, every hand shot up.
De León's class met at a computer lab in Ceres Unified's adult school, a program supported by California Connects through The Great Valley Center.