Get Your Parents (or Grandparents) on the Internet

Do your folks give you a hard time about sitting on the computer too much? or constantly on your Blackberry (I luv my BB), or other smart phone? I don’t use the BB while showering or driving, or when my hands are sticky with bread dough, but most of the day BB is in hand or it’s just been laid down for a moment.
Some people don’t understand this, but being a geek for many years, and getting my son on the computer at 11mo with his own desk (modified by mommy, special for him) and his own computer by age 15mo (Mac) so that he is a little geek too, we understand this. If you’re reading this, chances are you have abit of geek DNA in you too 😉

Something I’ve found handy to get older folks on the computer and on the net is to find something they love, then show them the internet version. Does your mom love to do needle-arts and can’t find just the right pattern? Or looking for something new for dinner? Or you’ve overheard her say “I wonder how they do that?” (you can look up on internet and find out!) Do you have a home repair that your dad just can’t figure out how to fix? Do they enjoy board games like Scrabble? Find it all online!

Sit with them till they get comfortable at computer. I’ve introduced the computer to people who were afraid to even touch the mouse! Just start by having them sit beside you while you navigate. As they get comfortable with the idea of looking things up online (watch body language), keep moving off to the side and gradually have them scoot over to position in front of computer. Give it time, it may take several times of showing them to get them comfortable, but eventually slide the mouse over to them and have them do it for themselves… assure them they cannot mess up anything, that usually seems like the biggest fear “I’ll break it”. Assure them this is not going to happen!

Guide them with your voice, letting them control the mouse, and walk them through everything. Remember they’re new to this and may not even know how to do the simplest of things, like open or close a browser window. Guide them through everything even if you’ve shown them once before; people forget when learning many things new at once. When they seem relaxed on their own, don’t just get up and walk away… it’s like driving a car, some people do well till you’re not there then fear grips them. Make an excuse to leave for just a quick moment (BRB, need get a pen), then find other reasons to slip off for longer each time (need get a bottle of water, go to bathroom, etc). You’ll see by their reaction if they’re comfortable being left alone or not.

The first older person I got on the computer was a friend’s mom, she was so scared to even sit close to the computer! But she loved playing cards and never had anyone to play, so that was first thing I showed to her. How many people have gotten hooked on minesweeper or solitaire? LOL!

Just have a lot of patience, be very gentle and understanding… for us this is an everyday thing but for some older folks it’s an expensive machine they don’t know how to use. When you show them how to do video calls with grandchildren living far away or set them up with email and show them how to use it so they can receive pictures from relatives and friends, you will feel happiness. Open the world to someone you know.

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