I have the same lens, here are my answers to your questions.
1.) I was moving the focus ring around to test it and to see how well it zooms. I didn't know that I wasn't suppose to move it around while it was on the autofocus mode. I read the manual and it said that if I forcibly turn the focus ring by hand when it is in the autofocus mode, it may damage the lens or the interior of the camera. But I was moving it around while the camera was off. Is this okay or will it still damage the lens and camera?
THE FOCUS AND ZOOM ARE DIFFERENT THINGS. YOU CAN MOVE THE ZOOM IF IT'S ON OR OFF, AND IT WON'T HURT IT. IF YOUR TRYING TO MOVE THE FOCUS RING WHILE IT'S ON AUTOFOCUS, YOU COULD BREAK IT.
2.) Can I move the zoom ring around manually or is it also automatic like the focus ring? I know this question might be stupid, but I'm a beginner at this stuff.
YOU DO IT MANUALLY.
3.) Is it okay to move things around,(focus ring, zoom ring) while the camera is off or will that damage the lens and camera?
IM NOT SURE ABOUT THE FOCUS, BUT IM SURE IT WOULD BE FINE IF YOU ZOOMED.
4.) Do I manually move the zoom lense or will there be something that will automatically do it for me? Is the automatic only for the focusing or is it also for the zoom?
IT ONLY AUTOMATICALLY FOCUSES.
6.) Do I really need to use the lens hood to take pictures? Will it make the pictures better?
ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT THE PLASTIC COVER OVER THE LENS? I'VE TAKEN PICS OF THE SAME OBJECT WITH IT ON, AND WITH IT OFF. NO DIFFERENCE IN QUALITY. I JUST LEAVE IT ON THOUGH, PROTECT THE LENS FROM ANTHING GETTING ON IT.
7.) I also bought a UV filter as I mentioned. I don't know why I bought it but the clerk convinced me too. What exactly is a UV filter for? Where does it go on the camera? Does it inprove the picture?
I GOT ONE TOO, I DIDN'T CARE FOR IT AT FIRST. BUT LIKE FLYF15 SAID, IT MAKES IT CLEARER AND HELPS PROTECT THE LENS. BECAUSE IT'S A LOT CHEAPER TO REPLACE THE UV LENS IF IT GOT SCRATCHED, THAN IF IT WAS THE ACTUAL LENS. I TOOK SOME PICS OF THE SUN SETTING AND THE PLANES TAXING OUT, AND THE UV LENS HELPED.
I HOPE THIS HELPED SOME. EMAIL ME IF YOU HAVE ANYMORE Q'S.