Sunday, 18 September 2011

Getting Mum Online

"Is this the ON switch?"

Hear my cry, dear reader. I am introducing my mum to the internet, bit by bit. My dear old mum has always maintained that she's not used much else other than her TV ever since I moved out of home back in the mists of time, and thus getting her used to the online world is proving to be something of an adventure and a challenge.

She is hugely intelligent and eager to learn, which is helping a lot, but teaching her the basics of using the web is also bringing it home just how far we've all come in the last decade or so of the internet's existence. In fact, it's actually really difficult to try and put the basics into words for her now that so many aspects of operating online are now second nature to me.

Teaching her everything from scratch, right from turning the computer on, is helping me to appreciate just how complicated the internet seems to folks of another generation. It's not just the use of the machines and the web either, it's the things like 'Don't download anything ending with .exe', 'Don't pay any attention to emails from banks', 'Ignore the Nigerian prince offering you a million quid if you pass him your bank details,' and so on. No mum, I know you don't need Viagra. Just ignore the spam. Spam, mum. No, spam emails. Unsolicited messages. No, I don't know why it's called Spam off the top of my head. You get the idea.

She's showing some very good signs of getting the hang of it all, with comments like 'Oh, once I'm on that computer I don't want to come off it,' or 'where else can I find vouchers?' She has started to email me on occasion with questions too, as she just did half an hour ago. She wanted to know what the updates were that her computer was asking her to approve. Normally I'd get bored explaining that sort of thing but as she is so eager to learn that I'm more than happy to help.

This may wear thin as time goes on, but I'm thrilled that she is starting to see just how much can be done with an internet connection. Granted, I use my connection for procrastination as well as work, but it's awesome to see mum figuring out that a lot of the running around she does with one thing and another could be done so much quicker and easier online. Bills, shopping, keeping in touch, banking and so on are all about to change for her, and I'm really kinda proud of the fact that she's trying to embrace what to her is brand new technology. Go on mum. Get stuck in. I'm rooting for ya, and you know where I am when you want to shout at Windows.

Some tips if you're in a similar situation with a friend or loved one:

-Don't rush them. Let them get to grips with things at their own pace . Don't try and explain the complexities of online culture before they know how to stay safe online.

-Teach the basics at first, from the absolute essentials upwards.

-Make sure you explain WHY things are a certain way, and why they need to be done a certain way. This is much more helpful than just telling a person to not do something. Back it up with a reason.

-Don't just skim over the basics. Think about the things you now do reflexively and explain them in detail so that they can make sense to the n00b.

-Don't call them n00bs. It's rude.

1 comment:

Gregadeth said...

I wish parent's didn't turn their nose up at Macs, it;d be easier to teach then :( Greg x