May 8, 2009

Mother’s Day Tech Help: The Ultimate Gift

Filed under: about me,personal learning network — Candace Hackett Shively @ 3:58 pm

mousehelp.jpgFor those of us who have adventurous mothers, this weekend is an opportunity to give a special kind of present: tech help. Over the past ten years or so, I have spent countless hours on the phone  across the 400 miles between me and my fearless mother, helping her remember how to print multiple 4 by 6 prints onto an 8-1/2 by 11 sheet of photo paper, save an email attachment where she can find it, delete incorrect email addresses from her address book, or download the photos from her digital camera. At this point you are probably guessing that my mother is about 60 years old, maybe…right? Nope. Try over 80. (She’d shoot me for saying that, but she probably won’t read this).

Her age does not matter. What matters is that I am her personal tech learning network, and she loves it. My help is needed, appreciated, and custom-made to “fit.” I may have to “give” the same gift a few times until she gets it, but she revels in telling me every time she uses a tech skill. How often do you give a gift where the recipient brags back to you every time she uses it? So here is my list of tech-help MDay gift suggestions for moms at various levels of techspertise. And none of them requires a coupon at Macy’s. I hope you will comment back with ideas of your own.

  1. Set up an account for her on Facebook so she can be friends with grandkids.
  2. Use a free trial of GoToMyPC to fix all the things she cannot fix herself and customize her Favorites. Maybe even give her desktop shortcuts to great online games and word puzzles to keep her mind sharp.
  3. Email her links to the same games, in case she forgets they are in Favorites.
  4. Set up folders in her email, including a HELP folder where she can file away all your “How to” emails. Be sure you put “How To: [insert topic here]” as the subject line for subsequent tech help emails, so she can find them easily!
  5. Have her try right-clicking on everything while you watch or talk on the phone. Explain what those options mean–and have her try some.
  6. Make her a template for a photo greeting with her choice of layout and fonts ready to go. All she has to do is add the message and print.
  7. Offer to digitize her Christmas card list. Then do it before December.
  8. Set up an account on Voicethread and show her how to upload and record narration for family photos. You will LOVE watching them.
  9. Pay for her virus protection subscription and set it so it is foolproof!
  10.  Send her a list of travel links to go on virtual vacations. Talk her through organizing them in a single folder of Favorites.
  11. Show her how to RIGHT-click nasty pop-ups to close them from the taskbar (in case they have nastiness linked from the little X).
  12. Set up groups in her email and show her how to compose mail to one of them.
  13. Show her how to find magazine images on the web from the decade of her childhood…then listen to her stories about them.
  14. Help her organize the images from her digital camera. Tell her it’s OK to delete the blurry ones of her feet. Then set her screensaver to cycle through them at times when she is bored. (Warning: she may call you and start narrating the pictures as they go by).
  15. Teach her how to copy and paste by keystroke. Copy is easy. Paste: think VELCRO to “stick it there.”
  16. Show her how to use quotation marks to search old friends’ names on Google. Show her how to screen the results before clicking.
  17. Set up Google Reader with feeds for her  from pubs and blogs you know she’d enjoy (there are tons of recipe blogs). Show her how to check out the Reader’s suggestions for more—and how to delete feeds she no longer wants.
  18. Send her a new feed idea each week for a couple of months so she remembers how to add a feed.
  19. Set up that digital picture frame you gave her so it actually works with current pictures of the grandkids.
  20. Set up a wish list for her on Amazon and make sure she knows how to add to it and edit it. Now you have gift  ideas for the next occasion!

PS. When “showing” her, you are not allowed to touch the mouse. Put your hands behind your back and TALK.

Happy Mother’s Day to all.

1 Comment

  1. Adults must become as tech savvy as our children. This suggestion is a way to spend quality time with young people. As a mom, I received an hour’s Mac tutoring from my 12 year old son. As I have become a PC person over the years, the refresher session taught me the shortcuts and “Apple” functions I had forgotten. As an educator, this also gives me an advantage when the PC computer lab at our school is booked I can flex over to the available Mac lab and execute computer based lessons and projects now.

    Comment by Christine Chana — May 10, 2009 @ 9:27 pm

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