The Computer Fairy Helps Women Navigate the Computer WorldDec 30, 2020 01:59PM ● By Michelle Bense
This year, most of us were forced to learn new technology skills in order to adapt to a worldwide pandemic. We suddenly needed to master Zoom, homeschooling, video calls to family members, ordering groceries online to avoid crowds—or even making use of all that time at home to take an online course, or finally sort through digital photo collections. In such a time of forced change, one local businesswoman has made it her goal to take the stress out of mastering those crucial new computer skills.
Since 2010, Aliza Freedman has been helping women with their computers—everything from attaching documents to an email, to entering a Zoom call—with her business, The Computer Fairy. Her passion lies in making technology less challenging and even fun for people who previously felt only fear and frustration.
With a unique perspective and background, Freedman says, she was not classically trained with computers, but rather was an English Literature major. “I grew up with my father always playing with technology. He was always on his CB radio. He came home with a computer when I was 8 or 10. He was always tinkering. I was comfortable because I grew up around it,” she explains. “I’m a people person more so than a geek. I watched technology change and grow in terms of what computers can do, and what people used computers for. I noticed a trend that women in particular are uncomfortable and feel they are at a disadvantage—that computers are something to be conquered instead of understood.”
Freedman began working with women specifically because she saw the need for this particular type of help in an industry that is often more male-focused. “There isn’t a place for my clients to go and get what they need. Even women with husbands, kids or grandkids who are confident [with computers]—they aren’t good at teaching or are impatient. I will take as much time as the person needs. I don’t get frustrated with my clients like a family member might,” she says.
Though she previously assisted clients in the comfort of their own homes, she shifted to a remote model of work to keep herself and others safe during COVID-19. “Ninety percent of the time that I’m working with someone, we’re both at home,” Freedman explains. “I’ve devised a way to work on the phone or video call to access their computer from my couch. They can see what I’m doing on their computer as I’m explaining things to them. It keeps everybody safe, but also helps people relax.” Because of this, she is now able to help people in the Connecticut area, but also all over the world.
Patience is key when learning a new skill, and something that many of us don’t have with our family members when they ask for technology help. Freedman helps clients relax, take a deep breath and learn. Clients learn from first watching her do something, then repeating what they saw, with her supervision. She typically then gives them some “homework” to use their new skill on their own.
“People would be very surprised by how not scary something can be when it’s broken down in a way that’s more user friendly,” explains Freedman. “I use a lot of metaphors when I teach. I use regular, everyday language, which helps it not seem completely foreign and intimidating. When you’re less afraid, you’re able to learn.”
Some of the most common topics from Freedman’s clients include: using Zoom, working remotely, sending emails with attachments, downloading photos, backing up photos and files, taking an online course, updating to newer operating systems and getting advice for buying new computer equipment.
Freedman works on an hourly rate, but offers a discount for prepaying for several lessons at once. She also extends a discount to seniors on a fixed budget. Unless she is troubleshooting someone’s computer issue, Freedman keeps lessons to a one-hour limit. “I have found that after one hour of learning, people get overwhelmed. They need a break,” she says.
“There is nobody who should be held back from trying something new because of fear or insecurity,” says Freedman. “It means so much to be able to help women navigate the world in such an important way.”
Michelle Bense has been a freelance writer and editor for Natural Awakenings magazines across the U.S. for more than seven years. Connect at [email protected].