Prime Insight
Prime Insight

Tips for Teaching Technology to Parents, Frustration Free

Posting date: 29 July 2019
Matthieu Pirouelle our consultant managing the role

A Life Skill That Is Transferable To Your Professional Life

You’re on the phone to your dad. It’s a call that you’ve been dreading since his birthday. He’s opened the new computer you gifted him. He’s turned it on, and the screen has lit up. Immediately he’s hit a roadblock. Hence the phone call.

You’ve told him what to do to take the next step. Simple. “Press any key to start,” you told him. You’ve been hit by a wall of silence. You hold your nerve. Finally, your dad breaks.

“Where’s the Any Key?” he asks.

This is going to be a long phone call.

Teaching technology to parents might just be the most infuriating, time-consuming, annoying, pull-your-hair-out task you’ll ever undertake. Yet, if you do it right, you’ll find that you’ve gained a skill that is sought after in many technology jobs in all workplaces – where you’re likely to meet someone like your dad on every other workstation.

Here are our tips to teach your parents tech..

Be Patient And Stay Calm

Just because you know you don’t need an envelope to send an email, it doesn’t mean your parents do. Understand that some people come from a different age or upbringing in which things were done differently. They didn’t tell their phone to call a friend’s number, they spun a dial using one finger at a time.

New technology can be as alien to your parents as telegrams are to you. When you’re explaining tech stuff to your parents, you must keep calm. Stay patient. It took your parents a long time to teach you to ride a bicycle. A few minutes to teach your parents how to send an email is nothing. Just hope they don’t fall off as many times as you did..

Walk Through Step By Step

Have you ever written down instructions to make a cup of coffee, and then handed them to someone and asked them to follow those instructions to the letter? It’s an almost impossible task. Did you explain how to fill the kettle with water? Did you describe where to get the cups from? How much milk to use? How to stir the sugar in?

For someone who doesn’t have a clue about technology, it is crucial that you go through the process in minute detail. It’s another source of frustration, but you can take solace from the knowledge that your parents will eventually know what a mouse is and how to use the ‘left and right click’ on it.

Keep It Simple

Don’t confuse them with complicated language. If they have a problem, show your parents how to fix it. They don’t need (or want) to know that the computer has gone into power-save mode because it has been functioning for fifteen minutes. Stop the tech-speak and use simple language.

Simply tell your parent which button to press to turn the screen on again. Like explaining cause and effect – “If you do this, that will happen.”

Understand The Fear Factor

Teaching tech to parents is a scary undertaking, but have a heart for your parents in the process. They are just as scared as you. They may also be a teeny bit embarrassed – suddenly they must admit that there is something at which you are better than them.

So, understand their fear of the unknown. It’s all new to them. Explain what it is that your parents will be using, what it does, and what it doesn’t do – in simple terms.

Compose Written Instructions

As you talk (and walk) your parents through how to log onto Facebook, search friends, and post a status, write down each step. Take notice of what your parents ask and what they find most difficult. Create these step-by-step guides for them to refer to, and you’ll be helping them more than you know (and yourself, of course).

Know Your Parents Limitations

Your parents will never be as tech savvy as you. Get over it!

Help your parents do what they want to with tech, but don’t force-feed them. They won’t take it in, and they won’t thank you for it. Technology is not the driving factor in their life. The fact that you’ve gotten them this far – understanding that some tech can make their lives easier – is a big win in itself.

If their big love is music, then you might want to explain what Spotify is and how it means they could listen to what they want, where they want, when they want. But they need to make up their minds to use it. If you attempt to push it on them, you’ll all get frustrated. Tempers will fray. Your parents won’t follow what you are doing, because they haven’t bought into the idea of Spotify – and you’ll all waste a lot of time.

Know Your Limitations

There may be things that your parents ask that you don’t know, or can’t explain to their satisfaction. That’s OK. You’re great at tech, but you are not the oracle of all things tech. You may need to brush up on your knowledge, or figure out other ways for your parents to do what they want.

Introduce Your Parents To Their New Best Friends

Make your best friends your parents’ best friends. Introduce them to Google and YouTube.

Teaching your parents how to search Google effectively will help them gain their tech independence. They will learn how to find the answers to their problems themselves. Add YouTube into the mix, and you will have provided a powerful visual tutor for them – one that will never get frustrated, and can be replayed time and again.

Don’t Hide Your Transferable Skills

Connect with Matthieu Pirouelle, Prime Insight

Technology is a part of everyday working life. However, many people are not tech experts. Your ability for teaching technology to your parents is a desirable and very transferable skill – one that is highly valued by companies with a less-than-tech-savvy staff.

What tech skills do you have that are transferable to the workplace? Contact Prime Insight today to discuss your talents and the opportunities to do what you really love in your work. You may have to thank your parents for teaching you how to teach tech, though!

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