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How to help your parents and grandparents with technology

Now that technology has become a part and parcel of your everyday life, it’s high time you started helping your parents and grandparents figure it out and enrich their lives. Technology no longer remains in the realms of the tech savvy people; even the roadside vendor can weild a smart phone and check his or her e-mail messages these days and you won’t even be amazed. Although, your parents and grandparents would be.

If you are relatively a young person, then problem might not be that big with your parents because they themselves might be quite used to using gadgets. Remember that all these technologies were developed when your parents were still young. In the late 90s people were already using faster computers, mobile phones and touch sensitive devices in many corners of the globe. Nonetheless, if your parents were born anywhere around the 40s and early 50s, they might find it difficult to adjust to the latest technological trends.

Why make your parents and grandparents comfortable with technology

The Internet in general, and the gadgets in particular are not just for playing video games and making fancy drawings. Most tablets and smart phones these days come with great accessibility features that can make using these devices extremely easy. For instance, the size of the keys of the on screen keyboard can be increased or decreased according to personal preferences. The same can be done with the fonts for various apps.

Smart phones and tablets are not just standalone gadgets, they perform multiple functions. The same device can be used to make calls, have audio and video chats, watch movies, click and view photographs, use e-mail, access documents, browse the Internet and listen to music. Of course, if they want to set ablaze a social life, they would also like to join Facebook and Twitter. Many elderly have taken to blogging to better utilize their time and energy.

You will need to be quite patient

Remember that they’re just being exposed to concepts and ideas they have never encountered before. They might be aware of them, but they haven’t actually gotten to using and implementing these concepts. For instance, the idea of windows, screens, icons and buttons might be totally alien to them. So be patient. Let them take their own time. Don’t make them feel uncomfortable otherwise they will develop an aversion for technology rather than liking it or finding it useful.

Start with the basics

Whether they’re going to use a PC, laptop, a tablet or a smart phone, they would have to start with the basics if they don’t already know. For instance, they need to know the interface and how it functions. You will need to present the concepts of icons, windows, and buttons. Tell them how different icons can be reached with the cursor and clicked with the mouse (and difference between single click and double-click, left mouse button and right mouse button, etc.). If it is a tablet, they can simply tap on the app icons. On smart phones and tablets they can also scroll from screen to screen by swiping their finger from left to right or right to left (or whatever direction the smart drive has been configured to accommodate).

Start with the need in mind

It is easier to understand new things when you already know what you want to achieve. If they would like to keep in touch with their near and dear ones (kids and grandkids) they would like to use e-mail, chat and even Facebook. Most computers and tablets these days can be preconfigured to connect to the Internet as soon as they are powered on. If Wi-Fi or a data plan needs to be configured, you can do that for them at the time of setting up.

On the tablet you can put all the important icons on the bottom dock. On the PC you can put all the important hyperlinks like e-mail, Facebook, etc. on the bookmarks bar.

Explain to them the importance of online security

The Internet is a great place, but it is also fraught with lots of traps and fraudulent people. Warn them against using their confidential information online. If they’re going to use their credit cards online, make sure they know what is a secure connection and what is an insecure connection. Properly explain to them the importance of creating and preserving secure passwords. Develop in a system for keeping track of different passwords for different online services.

Introduce them to the great potential of technology

Due to social media and social networking revolution we no longer need to live isolated lives. Although for younger people just having online friends is often discouraged, for the elderly this can be a boon. Just imagine being able to immediately interact with friends you haven’t seen for the past 50 years! Practically everybody is on Facebook these days. People are also finding their lost siblings and cousins using the social networking website. Encourage your parents and grandparents to create profiles on Facebook and start looking for their old friends, cousins and other relatives. Later on they can also experiment with Twitter.

If they are interested in maintaining an online journal you can set up a blog for them.

Technology can usher a great change in the lives of your elderly parents and grandparents provided they are introduced to the right tools. As mentioned above, be patient, understand their requirements and then accordingly create a technology orientation program for them.