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12 Dumb Questions About Technology That Your Parents May Be Afraid to Ask

For Mothers & Fathers Day, Offer a Time-Limited Computer Consult


Consider it an inter-generational opportunity.

The cyber generations (there are now several) simply know a lot more than their parents about all this technology: Facebook and Twitter, Four Square and U Tube, interactive mobile phones and tablets.

There's more capacity in these technologies than most people old enough to remember the 1980s have time and inclination to tinker with, let alone use.

A quick and informal survey of local computer repair shops in hip and wired Brooklyn, NY, shows that many people who use computers, iPhones, BlackBerry, Droids and other mobile phones on a daily basis still aren't up to speed with their personal technology.

And many are so overwhelmed with newer developments, including such now-standards as Facebook and Twitter, that they never even begun to use them.

Meanwhile, of course, most people under 25 are adept at using these technologies

So, if you're computer savvy and want to give a gift to your parent or other relative — say for Mother's or Father's Day, for a birthday or as a way to say thanks —consider offering an hour or two of open-ended technology consulting.

12 Dumb Questions About Technology That Your Parents May Be Afraid to Ask

Here are a dozen questions that many people over the age of 45 might appreciate help with, whether for a birthday or Mother's or Father's Day gift.
  1. How do I use Facebook?
  2. How do I protect my privacy on Facebook?
  3. What exactly do you use Twitter for?
  4. How do I get and send a Tweet?
  5. How do I connect my Facebook and Twitter accounts?
  6. What's a good way to download photos from my phone to Facebook?
  7. Are my files adeequatrely backed up?
  8. What can I do with my mobile phone that I don't know how to use?
  9. I have so many passwords, how do I protect them?
  10. I want to make movies/write a blog: how do I get started?
  11. Do I need a blog or a website, or both or neither?
  12. What's the next thing that's coming up that's going to make what I know obsolete?

Pandora's Box: Will They Keep Asking?

Cavveat: Of course, there's a snag here. Once you offer yourself as the tech consultant, will your beloved parent or grandparent call you five times a week to get help figuring out how to turn on their computer, or use Excel, or link their address books? The honest answer is "maybe." So, should you embark on the idea of helping someone over 45 with their technology, set the parameters. Explain that there's almost endless things one can do with the technology, and that yours is a time-limited offer, like an old fashioned 90 minute movie, not an endless loop of reruns. Tell them you can help them with one specific question, not everything. Setting limits with a parent might be tough. But, on the bright side, if it's a successful gift this time, then you may not have to think again about what kind of present to give your mom or dad for a very long time. Because who else are they going to ask?

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