Helping Mom Out With Mother’s Day Tech
The best Mother’s Day gifts are often those that don’t come wrapped with a pretty bow. It’s great when you’re able to buy Mom the latest new gadget, but she may not know the first thing about setting it up or operating it. What better way to show Mom your love than to spend a few hours together helping her to get comfortable with her new toy? You will both love the one-on-one time. Just don’t forget to take her out to brunch when you’re done.
Mom wants a new laptop. Instead of sending her off to the store on her own, tag along to help her pick out the one that’s right for her. You know Mom doesn’t need a gigantic hard drive and upgraded video card, but she’ll enjoy the faster boot up time of a solid state hard drive and lots of RAM. It may even make sense to consider a touchscreen or tablet if she won’t be using it for work of a lot of typing.
Don’t just send her home with a box and a kiss. Plan to spend a few hours helping her to get it set up and get familiar with her new equipment. Start her off with the basics while you’re there, and then leave her with teaching tools such as Help pages and Tutorial Videos. Both Microsoft and Apple have them so bookmark links and show her how to navigate to them.
If Mom sprung for a Mac or iOS device, Apple has a support community she can join to pose questions to the community (questions are often answered by repair or tech support professionals) or scroll through previously-asked questions to get some help.
Remote support is a lifesaver in those times when you just can’t figure out why your printer isn’t printing. Many computer repair companies offer to login to your computer remotely to fix something, install an application, or show you how to do something that has you flummoxed. If you aren’t comfortable being Mom’s sole tech support, find a reputable company that offers remote support and get her set up with an account and/or any software they require.
“Send your parents a Tech Support care package” by Google (www.teachparentstech.org) lets you send Mom a little tutorial video (or multiple videos), in a cute little message format. It works great for subjects like “how to copy-paste” or “how to attach a file to an email.”
Another idea for a really personal touch is to make your own tutorials that Mom can refer back to whenever she needs them, for specific issues you know she’s been having. Most people are visual learners so video is an optimal format. Start a YouTube channel with all your how-to videos and share the link with Mom. You can also write out the step-by-step details for tasks she needs to perform. Make sure your instructions describe the task visually: “left-click on the Windows icon in the lower left-hand corner of your screen” rather than “click on the Start Menu,” as Mom might not know what the “Start Menu” is.
Most Moms these days love to see your Facebook status updates about the grandkids or your latest vacation pictures. Make sure Mom is getting the full experience. If she’s not on Facebook yet, help her create an account, post a nice profile picture, customize her privacy settings and send out preliminary friend requests to connect with family and friends.
Even established Facebook users may appreciate a tutorial. Last year, I had Mom write down all the questions she had about her computer, email, and Facebook over the course of a week. Then we sat down and I walked her through them. She loved it and it was great for me to be able to help her feel more comfortable with her technology.
If Mom hasn’t gotten on the computer bandwagon yet (and you’re pretty sure she’s not ready), maybe she shouldn’t. There are plenty of devices that fill in quite nicely for a computer, like an iPad or Kindle Fire. They’re intuitive and much less complicated and can probably do just about everything she’d need a computer to do. There are even external keyboards available if she doesn’t like typing on the touchscreen.
Before you hand Mom some new tech bling, just make sure it comes with a bit of set up time from you.