Thinking about finally convincing my mom to go on a computer feels like Scarlett Johansson from Her, where (ohhh…Google Search Break, let me look up the name of the guy who played the main character…I’m back…it’s Joaquim Phoenix…) But, and you heard it here first…the first Google result for “star of Her” was an announcement that Julia Roberts is going to have her own TV show. Really, searching “Her” and “Star” yields “Julia Roberts.” Now that is some SEO.
Oh, right, my point about Scarlett Johansson and Her. Others are just getting used to the idea that Joaquim Phoenix is dating a computer (technically an operating system), and the computer is already bored with him and moving onto another dimension.
It’s like getting my mom on Facebook and texting while others have moved on to sending Snaps of themselves as the Statue of Liberty. Heck, we’re not even talking about going on Facebook. We’re talking about turning on a computer.
A 2013 Pew Research study shows computer use by older adults (defined by Pew as over 65) at 59% compared to 86% of all adults. But, to show you how quickly things get outdated—the second statistic in the study is how many go on Broadband…which just completely undermines the credibility of the other data. Does anyone use broadband anymore?
For those whose parents are not yet on the computer, there are great reasons for them to do it. And not all of them are because it will make your life easier. Sometimes it’s so you will have someone to actually read what you are posting, as in Twittelah: Twitter for You Jewish Mother.
There’s no doubt that it’s easier for adult children and grandkids. Right now if I look up something for my mom on the computer, I need to print it out and mail it to her. That’s like a five step process counting finding an envelope and finding a stamp as two different steps. So, yes, being able to email would be great. Plus Facebook was designed to share photos and stay connected to family-it’s a quick way to communicate.
But it’s good for your parents, too. Being able to research doctors before making appointments; being able to check drug side-effects. Or, what my mom really wants to do, find out where old movie stars or performers have disappeared to. It’s a way to stay connected to family across the country, and social connection can ward off isolation and loneliness as parents age.
But it will be a change.
One day back in the 90’s my mom called me at work on my desk phone. I was in a panic because I had just spent the last hour writing the newsletter, and then the computer froze—the only way to restart it was to turn it off…and I hadn’t saved my work. This was the days before auto-save, before things lived on the cloud. I was despondent.
“That’s why I don’t use computers,” my mom said. “I just lay my files out on the table where I can see them. Every once in a while one may fall off the edge and into the trash can, but, honestly, I pretty much never lose a file.”
Jump forward 20 years, and, finally, slowly, she is thinking she should get some sort of tablet. In fact, one of the issues with getting grandma (and grandpa) on Facebook is that they can’t go online to learn how to do it…because they are not online. If you want Grandma on Facebook, you will have to do it for her, and set up a fool-proof way to sustain it.
You can help—research tablets with the fewest buttons; see if your local library offers classes; offer to come by and help. If your parents are smart, perhaps they will ask you to come by every Sunday for lesson.