It’s the holiday season- delicious and sprinkled cookies, Christmas music playing on your Pandora, traveling to see family. Ahem…yes, TRAVELING TO SEE FAMILY! This is always a tricky situation. On one hand, you’re excited for the time spent together, the family dinners, the new babies, the presents, all of it. But then you get that one dreaded question from your mom (or dad, or grandma, or crazy Uncle Eddie…you get the idea), “Can you take a look at the computer, the screen flashes sometimes, and every time we turn it on, it makes this really loud ‘whirring’ noise, is that supposed to happen?”
Cue the running and hiding.
It’s okay, we can get through this together, I promise. Parents are hard to teach new technology to, I know, but it can be done! Here’s some advice from my experience:
1. Consider your audience: So your parents are about anywhere in their 50s to early 70s, right? They DID NOT grow up with talking assistant smart phones, desktop computers, or personal GPS capabilities. This is merely what they all imagined life would be in the year 2000 thanks to the cartoon, “The Jetsons.” With that in mind, teach short, sweet, and slow lessons. Don’t use technology jargon, point to what you are talking about, and have them try it themselves.
2. Be respectful: Think back with me to the year 1997, it’s you, your older sibling, and your dad working on your homework together. Mom’s working late so dad says after homework; you can all go to the arcade in the mall for some fun (My dad was so cool!). Except, there’s one small issue. It was math homework. Math is (and always will be) the worst! Getting help on math homework typically turned into tears, and shouting, “I hate this,” while stomping around the house or worse. But who was still there teaching you calmly and with complete understanding? Your parents. Think back to this moment often, and try to teach calmly and with as much respect as possible because they had patience with you. I’m pretty sure teaching someone how to add numbers and carry the 1 is harder than it looks.
3. Only teach the basics: Your mom and dad do not need to know how to work PhotoShop, they just need to know how to email someone, how to comment on Facebook, and how to not embarrass themselves (and you) by sharing the wrong thing in a Facebook status. Create a “Social Media 101” document that gives step-by-step instructions on
- Posting a status
- Liking a status
- Commenting on a status
- Liking a photo
- Sharing a photo
- Commenting on a photo
- How to find a friend
- How to accept a friend request
- Tech translations (LOL means laughing out loud, mom not lots of love)
- What NOT to do on Facebook. i.e. friend requesting your ex- boy/girlfriends parents is a no-no.
4. Repeat as needed: They’re going to have to try things a few times before they get it right. It’s as simple as that.
5. Don’t change a thing: Listen, if they don’t want to learn how to text or to use Facebook, don’t force it. They don’t NEED to be on social media, and you CAN pick up the phone and actually call them once in a while.Plus, there’s something refreshing about them still getting their news from the newspaper, don’t you think?
Get some bonus points this holiday season and give your parents the gift of a complaint free computer (or social media, or texting) lesson. Then get off the technology and have a conversation FACE TO FACE. That’s a gift they won’t ever forget.
This post was written by Ginger Marks. Ginger is the Social Media Community Specialist Lead with Media Connect Partners.