A few days ago, I came across Google’s Teach Parents Tech initiative. I was so pleased. We probably all went through that phase when we claimed that our parents understood nothing of us, our music, our clothes, and our tools and accessories. Whenever parents tried to fix the wires on a computer, plug in our Ataris, or even clean a CD, kids rolled their eyes. The impression back then was: “Get with the program, already!”. And you could feel some kind of resentment; because they were parents, they couldn’t afford ‘not knowing’, so why didn’t they ‘know’? Well, most of us thought they were explicitly shunning new technology.
At home, things were different. My mother made sure we were always be exposed to the latest technology, and if you were in Lebanon at that time, you know that was not easy. I had my first computer when I was 5 years old. She spent hours installing and reinstalling ‘Prince of Persia’, ‘Asterix et Obelix’ and other games, and going over DOS commands and color codes because I ‘someone I know’ had switched files around just to see what would happen. And I used to do that a lot. I was the kid who dismantled computers and radios only to try and determine what each component was for, and then try and come up with something else. I still have old electronic circuits (chips!) in my own Pandora box, hidden in the attic. When I had finally understood how things worked, I would go ahead and move onto something else .Did I ever really take the time to eventually explain the ‘fix’ to my mother? Rarely. But she had her own professional life to keep up with, and I didn’t feel the need to explain things that my then teenage mind thought she was very far from ever needing. But that was in the 90s.As computers became more mobile, they also became geared towards different consumers. They weren’t only for science or government entities anymore, business men – and women – and basically anyone who could get their hands on a computer were discovering as well as determining how these systems could integrate into their lives. We now have a recognized ‘need’ for most devices that the early 90s deemed as gadgets. We learned the perks of being an ‘early adopter’, as well as the dangers of losing patience. So, are we now shunning our parents?My mother absolutely rocks. It amazes me how multitalented she is. But she is not a 20-something girl who is at the beginning her professional journey in telecom. Some questions are inevitable. But as ‘digital natives‘, we have a natural understanding of ‘how things go’. Our parents’ generation often needs to look things up in manuals. When is the last time YOU read an instructions manual before figuring trying anything out first?
Most smart modern devices and web apps are engineered to require simple digital intuition. The really great ones are built to only require cross-cultural intuition, with minimal digital know-how.So, on Sunday afternoons, we often sit and go through certain things*. And I enjoy every second of it! It is not because I absolutely adore my Mother (and I absolutely do), but it is because I go through steps I had jumped overlooked unconsciously skipped. And I learn, too. I’ve realized that a lot of us unintentionally stress our parents (or anyone who is relatively new to this) to adapt to environments, without much guidance. Mind you, they guided our first steps into this realm.So what happens when we can’t sit through backups and little updates?What happens when we are miles away and too busy keeping up with work, studies, Google Reader, Twitter, Facebook, and damnyouautocorrect.com? Well, Google.
Teach Parents Tech has a very simple interface. It might not have an extensive range of videos to offer yet, but they do have answers to questions I am sure most of you frequently get. I decided to try it out with my Mother, who is currently out of town. Here’s what I sent her:
Even though the videos I selected cover things she knows, I can’t wait to get her feedback.
*My Mom is going to call me out on this one, because we haven’t sat in a while.