Teenage Dilemma #10

How do I explain the internet to my mom who cant even videotape Emergency Room?

I tried but I failed so terribly (in other words started screaming at her in a mad fit after she had stared at a blank screen for ages, after I gave hints like “give in the address of altavista”
I had already spent quite some time showing her altavista before, told her to ignore the ads (which she still thinks are the search results) and where to put the search words, while she counted the w s in http://www.altavista.com

She went away with the words “you are just like your dad. It is depressing to learn from you.”

So… if she gives me a second try (and I am afraid sooner or later she will) how do I make this work?

I thought about making a booklet with lots of screenshots and arrors on where to do what but I am not quite sure that would work either.

Anybody have a better idea?

who cant afford patience (I pay the online costs… I pay per minute - my mom likes to stare at the screen for ages)

I know I am a bad person and deserve to be punished… but why has it to be my mom s online skills to come upon me?
Wouldnt an earthquake or the house burning down have done as punishment?

I know what you’re going through. I’m generally a patient person, but I found it exasperating trying to teach my mother-in-law how to do what I consider the most basic of things on the computer. I was at a loss how to put it in terms she could understand. She was so afraid of the computer and of doing something wrong that would screw it up forever that she didn’t want to go near it. And she insisted on writing down step-by-step instructions for the simplest of tasks. Having grown up around computers (or at least since c.1985 with our first Commodore 64!) it was difficult for me to comprehend how someone could be so frightened of a computer. Eventually we gave her rudimentary instructions, stressed the value of making her own discoveries, and sat quietly behind her while she looked over at us to affirm every mouse click. We convinced her to sign up for an evening beginner’s class. She just finished that and she seems to be rapidly gaining confidence with the computer (which I think was her biggest problem). So you may want to just try to get your mom familiar with the very basics, and encourage her to take a weekly class. Meanwhile, smile and take deep breaths. :slight_smile:

I’ve had similar experiences with both my mom and my dad. Unfortunately, some of their questions came at the times in my life/times of day where I had very little patience. I still feel sorry for my mom…

But, like nimue said, one of the most important things to get her to understand is that it’s pretty damn hard to break anything through the kind of actions she’ll be using (e.g., things not involving the control panel or windows explorer).

As for the actual teaching, I’ve had very good results with the screenshots. (This is important since any and all “tech support” I was running was over the phone due to geographic separation.) Of course, for this to be effective you have to make sure that she understands the basic vernacular of computer use. I’ve run into problems with even simple things like: click, right-click, and drag. Scroll bars, min/maximize/close buttons, the taskbar, “show desktop” button, and system tray are all very foreign concepts to those not born into the computer age. (The reason being that these do not really use metaphors for anything they have practical experience with, such as ‘mailboxes’ or a desktop.)

I’d suggest a glossary for the terms and screenshots with circles (bright red) and labels for all the other items you’ll be referring to on a regular basis.

It’s also a good idea to customize the computer to minimize the number of clicks needed to launch the programs or access the documents they’ll be using. The quick launch section of the task bar is invaluable for this, as is a nice, uncluttered desktop. A single folder on the desktop for all the files your mom works on can be useful (so she’ll learn, eventually, where to go on a regular basis), as is having all your computer’s file associations set up the way you want them.

Bah, after typing all this, I reread and see that your problems are mostly online stuff. Well, take from the above babble what you can. :stuck_out_tongue:

Oh, and for the record, an earthquake or fire would not have done for punishment. You see, the computer gods like to see us suffer. Sad, but true. I’d recommend sacrificing a couple chickens. Maybe a goat if need be. If you find any young, nubile virgins, on the other hand, it’d probably be best if you left the details to me… :wink:

thanx :slight_smile:

It s not only the online stuff anyways, but she now knows what the button on the comp with “power” on it is for. :wink:

I guess I ll go for the screenshots and then hide so I dont have to answer questions…

She always scribbles things into a little book while I say it so she just writes down what she hears but doesnt really understand it…

Damn… I have to find a virgin…

My mother built her confidence in computers by playing games. Simple games that she was familiar with, like Solitaire, Hearts, and so on were really good teachers. They looked familiar, so they were less threatening. Playing the games, Mom learned to click, drag and drop, double-click, and most importantly, she learned not to be afraid of the computer.

Another impotrant point is that no virgins had to be sacrificed to make this work. Virgins are SO hard to find these days. :slight_smile:

Hey, Dodgy(That’s southern US fer Hi),
By the fact that she’s "scribbling " in her notebook indicates that she hasn’t made the leap from paper to screen. The information on paper is more concrete to her, while all the saving of information done on the computy is still a hurdle and a mystery.

Perhaps it’s best to start with a site that has an interest to her, go there, and explain how a simple page works. After she understands how that works, you can explain how the search engines can lead her to those pages she wants to see.

That’s always worked with me in explaining the internet to older folks. Try not to be impatient. Explain that it’s just like turning the pages of a book, except you use the little markers instead of your fingers. And do, as advised here, accentuate that “ya can’t bust anything”.

Yer a mighty smart astute young hooha, Dodgy, so just hold yer breath a bit longer, count backwards to three, and listen to her tell you where she wants to go with it. Start with her specific interest, show how she can get there, and increase from that.

Hope this helps, Hon.

Heh, and good luck explaining the fact that pretty much anything and everything can be and is a link these days. :slight_smile:

It may seem necessary at first to teach your parents about this “Internet” phenomenon, but you’ll regret the day they find out. I know I regret teaching my dad how to get online…now he spends all his time at ebay and the Drudge Report…

What I did was I got her a MailStation. $99 & $10 a month.

Email, fax (out only), Yahoo news. Way easy to operate, although youll need to show them things & activating the account is easier if you do it.

Even though it has a button on it that says ‘GET NEW MAIL’
I needed to show how to use get mail.

Teaching anything can be difficult. I’ve learned that if the person doesn’t understand it the way I said it the first time, repeating it the same way doesn’t help. repeating at a louder tone doesn’t help, either.

So, I find other ways of saying the same things. So, for example, with computer phobes, I’ll talk about how anything you type on a wordperfect program will be called a ‘document’, that you can file or not file, print or not print. If you’re going to file it, you’ll need to name it etc.

So, perhaps the issue is that you’re using terms that she’s ‘reinterpreting’ ???

I have taught both my mum and dad stuff about PCs and the internet. I am by no mean a genius when it comes to stuff like that, but I know more than them and that is all that counts. I just sat down and showed them how to connect (they wrote it down) then I showed them how to go places by typing in the addresses.

They still ask me loads of stuff, some of which I dunno.

I seem to have this rep at work too cause people in my team keep asking me stuff about programmes. Uusually it is just mundane stuff, but sometimes it is difficult stuff and I just tell them I don’t know. I keep asking why they think I am some sort of computer know it all but they just seem to think I am for no reason.

I find the best way is to tell them little bits at a time (possibly starting them off at a very basic website) and then telling them a little bit more each time. I am very patient though and I can sit there for ages just letting them find stuff out after I tell them what to do.

I recomend working in a Psych hospital. It’s really helped my level of patience with users. After having sat on the crisis line all night trying to talk some crack addict out of killing her kids, and staying up all night assuring a schizophrenic that no, the staff are not aliens…Helping someone through a re-installation of office is a walk in the park. Using the interenet?..No biggie, unlikley that someone will try and kill themselves if they can’t figure out altavista, so threre is reletivly no stress to it. I do have a friend, however, that is prone to kicking his computer if he can’t get it to work. I have had to talk him down a couple of times…

Sounds like your biggest problem is that you are comfortable with the technology, but she finds it completely alien and scary. She needs to be started off with the absolute basics of using the computer (this is the Mouse. This is how you use the Mouse…) before she even thinks about the Internet.

Maybe you should try to get her into a basic computer education class? Do they have the “Dummies” books over there? They’re usually the best resource for this sort of thing if you can’t get professional help…