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Tech Support for Parents

I am an empathic and helpful person. I hold open doors, I help carry groceries to cars, I retrieve grocery items from the highest shelf for the vertically challenged, and I entertain young children on airplanes while their doctor parents tend to on-board medical emergencies. So why then do I have such a hard time giving tech support to my parents?

I know I am not alone in this predicament. Google even recognized this problem with the launch of their website last December. A great concept – basically a family of how-to videos on Computing basics. I know I raised my hands to the sky thinking my saviour had arrived! I came back down to Earth however when I realized that the videos were filled with college sophmores speaking a mile a minute about how your parents can sign up for the wide spectrum of Google services. They might as well have ended each video with, ‘It’s just so easy!’ Is there no such thing as plain old community service anymore?

Back to square one, I enlisted my generous husband to spend more than an hour on the phone and Skype with my mother trying to exorcise her laptop of a very annoying pop-up virus. I mean, if you want to see patience in action, there was my husband calmly repeating the required steps to share her desktop on Skype. And when that didn’t work, asking my 65-year-old mother to take a mirror from the wall and show him her desktop backwards in the video camera! I am sweating just thinking about it.

That’s when it dawned on me. It’s not that I have disdain for the technically challenged, it’s just a dna thing. I could also spend an hour teaching someone else’s mother how to attach a file to an email for the 18th time, just not my own. The other problem is that I don’t live in the same city as my parents. Therefore, could I find someone in their neighbourhood, even their building, to provide them the occasional tech support? And in turn, could I provide the same service to someone else’s parents where I live? A sort of ripple effect to get our parents using tech to improve their lives.

What about you? Do you avoid phone calls from your parents because their recent purchase of a new iPhone has already sucked up many hours of your life this week? If your answer is, ‘never’, then you are a better person than I. On the other hand, if you already have an ache in your neck from nodding vigorously in agreement then tell me this: What do you think about a community tech support website for the 55+ set where the users (your parents) can get tech support from someone in their immediate neighbourhood? I know, the stranger danger thing is an issue. With all of the fancy technology available we could certainly figure out some kind of solution.

I think it’s brilliant. But I just need to know if I am in some sort of geographically-displaced-parental-tech-support-burnout euphoria. Feel free to bring me back to reality.


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