Author Topic: Parents who are Computer Illiterate  (Read 12157 times)

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scansons

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2013, 10:27:14 AM »
I've dealt with this sort of personality before.  Here's what you do.  She calls with a computer problem.  Don't try and get her to sit down at the computer, instead say "Okay write this down".  Then give her steps 1-X to write down with as little emotion or chat as possible.  Then say, "Great.  Try that.  If it dosen't work, give me a call back."  And hang up.  Hopefully writing down the direction herself will help her learn what she's doing.  Plus, she can deal with it in her own time instead of dragging you through the drama. 

Although getting remote access is a great idea too. 
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 10:33:09 AM by scansons »

LadyDyani

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #31 on: March 08, 2013, 10:33:42 AM »
I just found a copy of the omnibus version of XP for Dummies (nine books in one binding).  At $7 USA, it was about the cost of driving over to the friend's house to help her work out how to use the "new" computer she'd bought two years ago.

She's happy.

Microsoft just extended the support of XP until early 2014 - so she's even happier. 

And I don't get asked questions about an operating system that I haven't used in at least two years.....so I'm happy.

"I no longer remember the correct sequence of sticks and rocks to bang together to fix any dial-up issues you may have."
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PastryGoddess

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #32 on: March 08, 2013, 11:13:23 AM »
You can also install Join.me for free. 

She will have to input the 9 digit code to grant you access to her computer, but once that's done you can do what ever you need to do on the computer.

TootsNYC

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #33 on: March 08, 2013, 11:24:59 AM »

The second suggestion is when she says the first "Mmmm" in response to a question do what I do with my teenagers "I don't know what Mmmm means. Call me back when you ready to talk."  Do not offer to call her back later because you have then accepted responsibility for getting her computer fixed.

This.

if you really think you're not getting anywhere, get off the phone. And given the history, don't wait for 15 minutes' worth of "Mmmm."

Your other option is to ask open-ended questions:
"where is the cursor?"
"What letters are in the bar at the top?"
"double click the letters--what happened?"

Don't tell--ask.


Luci

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #34 on: March 08, 2013, 11:39:56 AM »
I thought I was pretty good on the computer, but trying to troubleshoot without being hands-on would be impossible for me, other than "reboot", of course.

You guys are amazing!

Aquamarine

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #35 on: March 08, 2013, 11:42:05 AM »
Stop helping.  Suggest she find a local teenager to help her, perhaps she will find more incentive to learn if it costs her money.  Tell your husband you are done and after you speak with her for the last time to tell her you will no longer be available and to hire someone tell him it's his turn to deal with the entire situation.  Then if she asks for help in the future suggest she call someone locally who can come over.

There is absolutely no excuse for the MIL's choice of determined, obstinate stupidity.  None.
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Twik

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #36 on: March 08, 2013, 11:42:26 AM »
bonyk wrote:

"I have some sympathy for MIL; there are certain topics that make my brain shut off - anything science or financial turns me into a moron.  I don't think again has anything to do with it."

In response to this, I present the following from Pen^2: "Even "go into the computer room" is hard to accomplish."  That's not "brain shutting off", that's someone who's avoiding the task due to something going on in her head because there's no rational argument that someone a thousand miles away can fix the computer if she's not in the same room with it.

Based on this, Pen^2, your MIL isn't computer illiterate, she's actively avoiding learning about the computer.  Why is something I suspect you'll be better at knowing than any of us, but she's not like this because she just can't get the hang of using a computer, there's something a lot deeper going on.  The only way you're going to "fix" this issue is disengage because your further descriptions of her personality don't lend themselves to fixing what's wrong with her interactions with a computer.

So, I'll simply say that there's nothing rude about telling her, "I've given you written instructions that you don't read, and when I tell you what steps to take you don't do them.  If you're unwilling to listen to my advice then there's no point in asking for it."  I understand that this may negatively affect your already tenuous relationship, but so will carrying around a bunch of resentment, which is evident by the fact that you're asking us for advice on how to change it.  If you want to continue supporting her computer use, I'd suggest that you set up some remote control software, configure it to be as simple as you can make it to launch, and then refuse to help her until and unless she runs that software so you can log in and look it over yourself.

Virg

I suspect she's told herself that she is not able to deal with computers. So, she wants it fixed, but does not believe that she can do anything to assist that process. One might have the same conversation, say, by trying to talk someone through changing a washer on a faucet if they really believed they were incapable of DIY plumbing.

Think about why the "... for Dummies" books became so popular. There are so many people who have a mental block about being able to cope with computers.
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Venus193

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #37 on: March 08, 2013, 11:43:52 AM »
BTDT with someone my own age and I feel your pain.

I agree with Virg.  Everything you've said about your MIL says she doesn't want to learn how to deal with the computer.  Per WillyNilly, she probably doesn't want to use it in the first place.  You need to disengage.

Lynn2000

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #38 on: March 08, 2013, 11:54:09 AM »
My sympathies! My mom at least really tries to learn about her computer and has taught herself to do some stuff that even *I* don't know, because she was motivated to learn it. But then something really basic like copy and paste will give her trouble. And it's really difficult to help over the phone because we don't use the same terminology--I'm like, "Okay, open the browser," and then I have I add, "Flamingvixen? Orange and blue glob? How you get on the Internet? The thing that shows you websites?" And I am nowhere near techno-savvy, I just know more than she does. I thought about doing the remote-access thing, but then I realized that would make her rely on me for every little tiny thing, and I'm not willing to go there yet.

Suggestions from this thread I like best:
--Remote-access software--fix the problem for her! (Predicted new obstacle: she won't turn the computer on or do the one thing that lets you take over.)

--Ask open-ended questions and don't assume "mmmm" means she's doing what you said. I would get a magazine or something and sit in a comfy chair and be like, "Okay, are you sitting in front of the computer? Tell me when you are," and just sit there reading in silence with the phone on speaker or something until she acknowledges you. "Okay, open the browser. What do you see?" Read another article in silence until she indicates she's done it. For me, this would actually help to keep me calm, because I'd be focusing on what I was reading, and not fuming about my wasted time. I would combine this with...

--Put a time limit on the call. 15 minutes, 30 minutes, whatever you decide to spare. To be fair, I would tell her this upfront. "Okay, MIL, I can help you with this, but I only have 20 minutes. Are you sitting in front of the computer?" And after 20 minutes, "Well, it's been 20 minutes and I have to go. Bye!" If you feel like she's actually trying you can extend the time, but if you only get through 2 or 3 steps because she's so reluctant to do anything, well--too bad for her.

--I always put screenshots in my computer protocols--I'm a visual learner and they make things much easier for me. Have all of her instructions in a binder and have a copy for yourself, so that if it's a problem she's had before, you can tell her exactly where to go in the binder. "Go to page 7 in the binder. Do you have the binder?" For new problems, make new instructions after you get off the phone with her, and send them to her in the mail. "Ah, yes, you had that problem last month, and I sent you instructions for it. Did you put them in the binder? Can you find them? No? I don't think I can help you, then. You really need the visual instructions to help with this. Call me back if you find them."

--A big "Computers for Dummies" book set. Or, I see DVDs advertised on TV that will show you with video how to do stuff on your computer.

All of these things are varying degrees of work, time, and expense, though. I don't think it would be rude to say, "That computer problem sounds really frustrating, MIL. I'm sorry, but I don't think I can help you with it. No, really, I can't. In fact, I need to go now." One other thing you could do is look around her town for a reliable computer repair/assistance place, and then always suggest she call them. "Well, I think that problem is beyond me, MIL. Maybe you should call Bob's Computer Palace, they seem to know what they're talking about." From your description it seems like she's a lot of work to maintain a relationship with, and one might question whether it's worth all the effort.
~Lynn2000

LadyL

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #39 on: March 08, 2013, 12:08:15 PM »
It still surprises me that people think computers are fixable the same way household appliances are (i.e. "just tighten the screw here and that'll fix her'). In reality there are so many potential issues that it can be more like fixing a car, except even more abstract. Also because it's abstract people struggle with the logic - like losing your bookmarks and not thinking to type in the URL - if your automatic car door opener battery died, most people could figure out to use the the physical key because the mechanics of how the door opens are concretely understandable.

Also only a pretty car savvy person would expect to be walked through a part replacement over the phone. I have never felt over the phone computer troubleshooting was that helpful - if it's simple enough that verbal instruction is what's needed to fix it (i.e. "turn the router off then on again" or "type the URL in the bar"), I'll just google for written instruction instead. Someone who can't or won't follow the most basic verbal instruction isn't really being a responsible owner of their computer. It's like refusing to put gas in a car or get an oil change. Someone willing to take that little responsibility should probably be willing to pay someone else to do so, at a minimum, and not rely on favors.

Part of the problem is that there is no equivalent to driver's ed required to own a computer and despite the fact that it's one of the most expensive and important things most people own, people don't have the most basic understanding of how it works. I think this will change in our culture over time - the college students I teach are generally very tech savvy between having grown up with computers and now smart phones. But for people who are older as well, I consider it an increasingly important life (and definitely job) skill.

suzieQ

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #40 on: March 08, 2013, 12:21:05 PM »
1) After you give her a step and she says Mmmm, ask, "Did you (do whatever?)" If she says Mmmm stop and count to ten. If she hasn't said anything in the count ask the question again. Repeat until she responds in the positive, or hangs up in frustration. Don't continue with any steps until she stops playing her game. Cut her off after 30 minutes, and each call thereafter a minute sooner.

2) Change the subject, and beandip her computer questions in favour of a good chat.

3) Hand the phone to her son.

Parking my POD here. But I'd count very slowly to 30 instead of just 10. Most people can't handle silence and feel the need to fill it. Hopefully she will fill it with a Yes and will actually have done it!

Oops, saw you already tried this. Maybe you could just snail mail her another copy of the instructions - if she calls before she gets them, tell her help is on the way.
« Last Edit: March 08, 2013, 12:23:29 PM by suzieQ »
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BeagleMommy

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #41 on: March 08, 2013, 12:35:40 PM »
A cousin of mine once gave one of DH's business cards to a friend who lived in California.  We are in NE Pennsylvania.  We got about three or four calls from this person and each time DH said "I'm too far away to help you.  You should look for someone locally or call Computer Repair Service.  They charge $50.00 to come out to look at it and about $30 to help you over the phone.  This is what I charge."

If you don't want to have her do remote access I would suggest something like this.

wyliefool

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #42 on: March 08, 2013, 01:06:19 PM »
bonyk wrote:

"I have some sympathy for MIL; there are certain topics that make my brain shut off - anything science or financial turns me into a moron.  I don't think again has anything to do with it."

In response to this, I present the following from Pen^2: "Even "go into the computer room" is hard to accomplish."  That's not "brain shutting off", that's someone who's avoiding the task due to something going on in her head because there's no rational argument that someone a thousand miles away can fix the computer if she's not in the same room with it.

Based on this, Pen^2, your MIL isn't computer illiterate, she's actively avoiding learning about the computer.  Why is something I suspect you'll be better at knowing than any of us, but she's not like this because she just can't get the hang of using a computer, there's something a lot deeper going on.  The only way you're going to "fix" this issue is disengage because your further descriptions of her personality don't lend themselves to fixing what's wrong with her interactions with a computer.

So, I'll simply say that there's nothing rude about telling her, "I've given you written instructions that you don't read, and when I tell you what steps to take you don't do them.  If you're unwilling to listen to my advice then there's no point in asking for it."  I understand that this may negatively affect your already tenuous relationship, but so will carrying around a bunch of resentment, which is evident by the fact that you're asking us for advice on how to change it.  If you want to continue supporting her computer use, I'd suggest that you set up some remote control software, configure it to be as simple as you can make it to launch, and then refuse to help her until and unless she runs that software so you can log in and look it over yourself.

Virg

This. Honestly, I would have stopped answering her calls by now. She sounds utterly obnoxious, and I'm at a loss as to what maintaining the relationship adds to your/DH's life.

That said, by about the third 'Mmmm' I would have probably snapped and said 'CRUD MONKEYS!, dude, you're a doctor! You learned how kidneys work, you can jolly well learn this! It's not hard!' One time I got annoyed w/ my mom and said something along those lines, only substitute PhD for doctor. 'You're smart enuf to figure it out without me, I only have a bachelor's after all.' It did startle her out of her helpless act. Luckily, she uses a Mac and I use PCs, so she can't ask me for help desk assistance.  8)

Sophie Jenkins

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #43 on: March 08, 2013, 01:33:38 PM »
How does she manage to function as a doctor with this level of contempt for computers?

I sympathize, and wish I knew a solution for you...

weeblewobble

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #44 on: March 08, 2013, 01:44:01 PM »
Would she be willing to take an intro to computers class at a local community college or rec center?