Author Topic: Parents who are Computer Illiterate  (Read 10731 times)

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zyrs

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #60 on: March 08, 2013, 04:52:17 PM »
She is genuinely afraid of computers and afraid that she'll hit the wrong button and erase everything in the machine.

In the first book for dummies; "Auto-repair for Dummies" (first edition in the 1970s)  I remember reading  - this book is for you if you think something you do to the car will blow it up.

We've all heard the stories of lost data and people who have typed 'format C:' (notice I did not type it out fully even on a forum).  And they are scary.   So for people wanting to learn the computer, the for dummies books are great.

OP, it does sound like a different thing is driving your MIL.  Other posters have mentioned asking questions that need more than a yes/no answer and taking the time to read until she responds to you - I think those are both good strategies.


Clumsy Ninja

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #61 on: March 08, 2013, 09:03:01 PM »
My parents are both 83 and very very bright people. I've held both their hands for nearly a decade trying to get them to independently use email, my dad does well enough that he can get to his Wall Street Journal but my mom.. wow. She can't turn the thing on despite my copious use of written step-by-step notes.

She has convinced herself that she is stupid about computers, she is terribly intimidated by them and I don't think seeing her grandkids 'automatically' figure it all out has helped either.

I've tried Computers for Dummies, basic classes and even had someone close by (I live 2000 miles away) to be on call for her.

This is a woman who got her Masters in the 40s! But she just cannot grasp the patterns and honestly I've given up. I was spending most of the call telling her she is not stupid and it exhausted both of us.

I wish I could be of more help! It didn't help that I'm barely adequate with computers lol.

AngelBarchild

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #62 on: March 08, 2013, 11:08:55 PM »
This kind of thing drives me crazy. I build computers (it's my hobby) and end up quite a bit of tech support for my friends. After many years of frustration, I simply refuse to help anyone who pretends helplessness. Unless someone has a legitimate learning disorder, the the "I just can't learn it" is a load of poo. They may never have my skill, (perfectly fine)  but there is no way a fully functioning adult cannot learn the basics of e-mail and web surfing. My own 74 year old grandmother uses her computer every day, with little to no issue.  I simply do not help people who refuse to learn.

Pen^2

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #63 on: March 09, 2013, 01:14:47 AM »
Thanks for all the replies, everyone.

I think I'll get her cousin or someone to install a remote access program that can run in the background. At the moment, my internet is dial-up and choppy at best (it literally cuts out every three seconds, meaning downloads are impossible and emails need to be sent multiple times to actually work), but in a few months I'll have moved to an area with better internet access, so from then I can use remote access. I never thought of that at all; great idea!

Her written instructions have screenshots (I think I mentioned pictures, but maybe I forgot here) and all, but the problems of a computer illiterate person are many and it is never possible to predict them all. Things like having the mouse upside down, having the monitor turned off but computer turned on, clicking with the wrong mouse button, pressing backspace instead of enter... No amount of written stuff can cover all these bizarre little problems. For now, though, I think I'll just say the whole "call me back when you've done that" or "you seem too tired to do this now; call me back tomorrow" or something similar until my internet is good enough to allow remote access.

Thanks for the support, everyone! It's good to know I'm not the only person with such a frustrating family member!

Bethalize

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #64 on: March 09, 2013, 05:39:38 AM »
Sometimes I wish I could be like the story I read on Shark Tank many years ago. Ma'am, do you see the large cardboard box your computer came in? Well, put the machine in that box and take it back to the store. You are too stupid to own a computer.

Obviously, I wouldn't say that but when people are wilfully stupid it's more frustrating than if they actually didn't have the mental capacity to learn a task.

Calistoga

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #65 on: March 09, 2013, 12:13:10 PM »
Do we have the same MIL, OP? Because this sounds a lot like my MIL. She calls us all the time- even when we're on vacation- and wants us to remotely fix her computer.

If she actually wants help, tell her you can't help her.

If she just wants to talk, talk to her a little bit.

But ultimately, you need to stop helping her with the computer unless you are physically in the room with her.

Softly Spoken

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #66 on: March 11, 2013, 01:04:52 AM »
Sounds like OP has a plan, but I had to chime in with some sympathy for dealing with the technophobic.

I learned computers when they first came into grade school - no mouse, floppy disks were really floppy, DOS (the only windows where the glass ones in the wall), and the only thing I remember doing besides practicing keyboard skills ("a-s-d-f [spacebar] j-k-l-; [spacebar]" ::)), was playing Oregon Trail (shooting square bullets at white 2-D squirrels and buffalo was fun...as was naming members of my party after people I didn't like, then choosing to do things like soldier on instead of rest when they got snakebit or dysentery. >:D)

I've gone from having a PC with Windows 98 to the Windows 7 laptop I'm typing this on now.

I built my own tower PC over 7 years ago. A lot of research. A lot of work. I don't have the patience anymore. I would classify myself as Intermediate when it comes to computer skills. I haven't been keeping up with hardware or programs.

My father...still uses a typewriter. At least it's an electric one, but still...*SIGH*
I remember I tried to teach him how to use Word...I told him he just had to type - he didn't understand word "wrap," so he kept hitting "Enter" when he got to the end of the screen and it was all capital letters down the left side. He said it was "too complicated." Oy...

No one knows everything. My brother is an engineer who self-taught himself computers and then a few years ago went back to school and took a course in computer forensics. He is a genius with computers compared to most...and yet I had to teach him how to use Ctrl + Shift to select multiple files! He had been doing it one file at a time (Ctrl + L Click) before then! :o

My brother once pointed out that computer programs often have a steep learning curve because they are made by programmers who forget they are not talking to other programmers. Most programs are not very intuitive, and if you have not grown up with computers you are at a distinct disadvantage. You are basically trying to learn a foreign language combined with a physical routine you have never before performed. I agree with PPs that few are unteachable unless they do not want to learn, but it is important to consider to magnitude of what you are asking them to comprehend.

Lastly, I would like to add my dismay that there are people in healthcare that cannot or will not adapt to technology. My healthcare provider has created a very strong online community. I can log into my account to make and see upcoming appointments, order medication, see test results, or ask my doctor questions that don't require an appointment. A healthcare professional who was not computer literate would find it very difficult to function in my provider's network!

Learning a completely new thing is very stressful and intimidating...but gaining even the most basic competency not only does wonders for one's self-esteem, but opens new doors and allows you to explore what you are passionate about in new ways.
"... for there is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so."
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"We find comfort among those who agree with us - growth among those who don't."  ~Frank A. Clark

LadyClaire

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #67 on: March 11, 2013, 09:31:03 AM »
My In-Laws are computer illiterate. My MIL in particular. Worse, she is the "I'm going to download everything/click every link/provide my details to this e-mail I got because surely it's not spam/a virus/phishing attempt" and then she doesn't understand why the computer stopped working. My husband tries to explain to her, repeatedly, that she can't just go downloading every single thing that arrives in her e-mail, but she never listens and her computer ends up re-infected with viruses and pop-ups within days of him cleaning it up.


wyliefool

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #68 on: March 11, 2013, 10:24:12 AM »
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.

Wait...what? Are you implying the OP and her DH should give his mother the cut direct because she's a bit annoying/obtuse about computers?

 :o
Okay, I was a bit flummoxed by what I was reading too -- couldn't believe anyone would suggest cutting their mother out of their life due to one annoying habit. We all annoy our loved ones from time to time. None of us is innoculated against irritating others. If we cut everyone who annoyed us out of our lives, well, we wouldn't have much of a life any more.

According to the OP, she doesn't like visits, doesn't like phone calls, and Mmms instead of cooperating when OP is trying to help w/ the computer. So yeah, I just don't get the point of these interactions.

cheyne

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #69 on: March 11, 2013, 12:43:45 PM »
This doesn't sound like computer illiterate to me, more like complete willfull ignorance.  Seriously, holding the mouse upside down?   Even if OP gets email up and gets MIL on google, if MIL is holding the mouse upside down or doesn't turn on the monitor how is OP helping?  MIL still won't be able to actually use her computer if she doesn't get at least the basics down.  I equate it to using the eraser end on a pencil then complaining that it doesn't write!  There are just some things one has to learn to do to be able to manipulate the tool to at least get started.

You are a saint, OP.  If my parents or FIL had these types of issues with a computer I would just tell them that I am unable to help.


Twik

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #70 on: March 11, 2013, 12:57:36 PM »
Get her an iPad. My own mother just could not grasp Windows ("It does something different every time I turn it on!" "... Um, yeah, you're right about that,") but took to the iPad in a couple of minutes.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Virg

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #71 on: March 11, 2013, 02:00:42 PM »
Softly Spoken wrote:

"Sounds like OP has a plan, but I had to chime in with some sympathy for dealing with the technophobic."

I agree wholly with all of your comments about dealing with people who have trouble learning computers, but I don't think any of that applies here.  I'll double back on my earlier comment, pointing out Pen^2's comment of "Even "go into the computer room" is hard to accomplish."  I doubt that she could possibly be so technically naive that she can't grasp the instruction to enter the room with the computer.  I'd expect that level of difficulty from someone with brain damage, not a medical degree.  That's why I think that solving the problem goes way beyond figuring out ways to make the computer easier for her MIL.

Virg
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 02:04:42 PM by Virg »

VorFemme

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #72 on: March 11, 2013, 02:16:45 PM »
Get her an iPad. My own mother just could not grasp Windows ("It does something different every time I turn it on!" "... Um, yeah, you're right about that,") but took to the iPad in a couple of minutes.

They find that autistic children react much better to iPads than flash cards (gee, I always found flash cards boring, too - can I have an iPad?  If I pay for it....let me check my bank balance....nope, the Android tablet that I have works just fine for most things....except for a couple of apps that would let me watch tv on an iPad.....$250 plus for a USED iPad first generation is too much).  Oh well.....

I wonder if there is a micro SD card that I could use to make my Android tablet to think that it is an iPad?  I already have a couple that make my Nook HD+ and and Nook Color think that they are Android tablets......micro SD cards are much cheaper than iPads.
« Last Edit: March 11, 2013, 08:54:33 PM by VorFemme »
Let sleeping dragons be.......morning breath......need I say more?

Twik

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #73 on: March 11, 2013, 02:19:24 PM »
Perhaps I should have rephrased that. "Suggest she get herself an iPad" sounds more reasonable, if the woman in question is a professional earning a good living.
My cousin's memoir of love and loneliness while raising a child with multiple disabilities will be out on Amazon soon! Know the Night, by Maria Mutch, has been called "full of hope, light, and companionship for surviving the small hours of the night."

Elfmama

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Re: Parents who are Computer Illiterate
« Reply #74 on: March 12, 2013, 12:30:14 AM »
My parents are both 83 and very very bright people. I've held both their hands for nearly a decade trying to get them to independently use email, my dad does well enough that he can get to his Wall Street Journal but my mom.. wow. She can't turn the thing on despite my copious use of written step-by-step notes.

She has convinced herself that she is stupid about computers, she is terribly intimidated by them and I don't think seeing her grandkids 'automatically' figure it all out has helped either.

I've tried Computers for Dummies, basic classes and even had someone close by (I live 2000 miles away) to be on call for her.

This is a woman who got her Masters in the 40s! But she just cannot grasp the patterns and honestly I've given up. I was spending most of the call telling her she is not stupid and it exhausted both of us.

I wish I could be of more help! It didn't help that I'm barely adequate with computers lol.
I noticed that in my parents, also in their 80s.  No problems with dementia, they can tell you what they had for lunch yesterday and that funny story from when they were kids, but they cannot make new procedural memories.  Any new thing that requires more than two steps is "too hard."   Even a step-by-step list doesn't help, because Dad won't read one at all, and Mom reads the whole thing all at once and gets confused.  "Too hard." :(   

And I'm wondering if our whole complex lifestyle is to blame for people who can't do Vital Thing X.  They already have to remember Y, Z, and Q; adding X to the pile just overloads them. 

Learned helplessness is, IMHO, largely the fault of our media.  After all, the media has told us that we can't do the simplest of things like put the dog in the car to go to the vet or boil water for pasta or cut with scissors -- it's tooooooo haaaaaaaaaaaard!  You need their handy-dandy gadget.  Or leave the job to a professional, because even if you manage to do [whatever], it won't look like Martha Stewart's output, but more like that of the Three Stooges. 
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