Parents and Technology.

My daughter is stuck at home tonight with two parents who are not only technically challenged, but who also just switched from Androids to iPhones. She has had an iPhone for a year now. The conversation sounds a bit like this:

“Why is there no back button? My Android had a back button.”

“How do I sync my email?”

“Just a minute, I’m helping mom make the screen letters bigger.”

“You’ve been helping her for a half hour, it’s my turn. Where the heck is the internet?”

“It’s called Safari”

“Leave her alone she’s helping me”

“SAFARI? That’s stupid.”

For the first twenty minutes, she seems somewhat pleased that WE, the parents, are so dependent upon her to perform even the most basic of functions on our new smart phones. But as the night wears on, she becomes less amused at our ignorance.

“Where’s my contacts list? Why isn’t it right down here at the bottom like my other phone?”

“DAD, I’ve told you four times how to get to your contacts list! It hasn’t changed since that last time five minutes ago!”

“How do I get my songs on here from iTunes?”

“I want to turn my picture into a zombie like you did the other day. What was that app called?’

“Why does it keep saying that I need an Apple ID? That’s stupid!”

Unfortunately, all across the globe, scenarios like this are being played out in living rooms, night after night.

Like my wife and I, many parents our age did not grow up in a digital, computer dependent world full of smart phones, email addresses, and WIFI. These are all things we have had to learn and to adapt too. At times, our analog, pencil and paper geared minds can get overloaded. A new smart phone can be horrifying as opposed to the excitement my daughters would feel. I just barely learned how to operate all the functions on my old phone, and now you want me to throw it all out and start from scratch?

In our day, if you learned how to use the U.S. Postal Service, you could reasonably expect that the skill would carry you through the rest of your life without needing to alter how you use the Mail system’s OS (operating system, I just learned that one from my daughter). If you learned how to look up a number in the phone book and dial the telephone that hung on the wall, you were pretty much set. But then all this new stuff comes along and ruins everything.

Kids nowadays were born into this cyber world, and their brains are trained to think that way from day one. They adapt to changes in technology and operating systems so much faster than I can.

Gone are the days when a father could proudly teach his son or daughter the simple life skills they needed to be able to interact with the world around them. Most of the technical learning that goes on in our household is daughter teaching parent.

We recently switched from cable TV to satellite TV. This change required that I learn a whole new OS. This change was a creator of much stress for me. I felt like a turtle on my back. I couldn’t make a TV show even appear on the screen, let alone one I wanted to watch.

But I have learned to cope with my technological disabilities, and overcome them. When the new satellite box was fired up for the first time and I had spent the ten minutes required to determine that I had no idea how to operate it, I simply handed the remote to my daughter Hannah and left the room. This is known as step one.

After an hour I returned, and just as I suspected, she had mastered the system. She could perform any and every function available. In fact, she had already set up her own channel favorites list and had set the DVR that came with it to record her shows.

Step two is to have Hannah simply show me how to turn the channel box on and off.

Step three is an on-going step. Step three is to use Hannah like a voice controlled remote for the next month or two as I slowly learn each satellite TV skill one at a time.

“Hannah, make it go to The Discovery Channel.”

“Hannah, make it record Wildest Police Video episodes.”

“Hannah, make Netflix come up on the screen.”

This system has helped to eliminate much of the anxiety and fear that can be the result of trying to learn a new technology or OS. I’d like to think that over time, my ability to adapt to such changes would become easier and easier. But I’m beginning to realize that all the gains I make as far as becoming fluent in the computer-digital-cyber world, are being countered by my memory becoming duller, and perhaps a touch of senility setting in.

21 thoughts on “Parents and Technology.

  1. Aren’t we lucky to be living in such a time when our kids are better at all this stuff than we are? Now we get to be old and clueless, all at once. And here I thought the only advantage to aging was that we were supposed to be considered wise…. Very funny post, and completely on point!

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Aw bless you!!!i remember when my pops got his first smart phone, and forget the functions, the touch screen keyboard and predictive text threw him!!! He would send doc messages then get angry and swear he hadn’t typed whatever was sent! Then the co tracts needed re entering as we couldn’t transport them, and somehow they doubled up!
    Still he loves it now, and is an avid WhatsApp-er now! I get loads of lovely pics and videos from him daily!!!
    My next task is teaching my father in law… At least my dad was a little tech savvy, and had my mum there for certain things! My in laws however… Another story!
    As for Hannah moving away… I still get my Pops calling me to talk him through functions on the TV…!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I remember walking home with my, now husband, in jr high and he ranted about how terribly sad his parents were, how he hoped to never be so out of touch with technology. I dumped him right about the point he suggested we just off ourselves before we hit 40 to save ourselves the similar embarrassment. Now with three kiddos of our own I see that day you describe in our near future, and I’m so excited to drive our kids nuts, pay back.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Haha, the fall from techno pro to techno re..eerr…special was sudden. But I am eerily okay with it. I have a tech savvy mom and nanny who desperately attempt to explain tome the snap chat, and Twitter. The funny fact is my husbands dad is actually a leader and groundbreaker in the professional world of tech, winning awards and recognized in business and techie magazines often. Kids are such shots.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. I can realate. Not sure when I gave up learning digital/electronic/tv/dvd stuff, maybe about the teen years. However, I am still mistress of the computer (at least for now) so I still have value at something. I have given my remote responsibility away, and now I just say, “turn on the tv please and hit play” whilst i sit back with my drink and snacks on the couch. Hurrrah for surrender 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is very true. I don’t even seem to understand the TV remote these days. It’s all become so ridiculously complicated. If the kids aren’t home, I just push buttons at random and hope the TV doesn’t explode.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If I follow a very narrow course with the TV remote, I can usually manage. But if I stray from my familiar remote path too far, I end up in places that I can’t return from. Then I have to go get help.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Yes, I know what you mean. There are some parts of our remote that aren’t too scary. I feel fairly confident with the ON/OFF switch, for example. I’m also usually willing to risk the volume control.

        Liked by 1 person

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