Good Digital Parenting
Blog | Jan. 4, 2013

Technology 101: Why Teaching Parents Can Be Fun

Project Administrator, Family Online Safety Institute (FOSI)

Over the holidays I did something you may have done a time or two – I helped my mom change the settings on her iPad. Her keyboard was set to display “split” and she didn’t like it. 

It was an easy fix: settings > general > keyboard >set split keyboard to “off”. I didn’t even have to think about it. Changing the setup just came naturally as I’m sure it would for you on virtually any device. 

For most young people (and I’m being pretty liberal with my age here), using technology and navigating online spaces feels pretty brainless. And, because we’ve grown up with it, it can be. But for our parents, it’s different. Note: I said different not wrong or bad. 

Many parents have questions about technology or are uncertain about how to use online services, because they weren’t surrounded by it like we were when they were growing up. And, as technology is changing faster every day, there is a lot to catch up on. It can be pretty overwhelming. 

But who better to help them get up to speed than us, the generation to whom it comes so naturally? 

While talking to parents about technology can sometimes seem frustrating or time consuming, it’s really not so bad. Not to mention it can be pretty fun. 

For example, I showed my mom how to navigate the “settings” tab on her iPad then encouraged her to play around with its functions. 

How did I do that? I changed her background to a silly and unflattering picture of myself (sorry, mom). But, there’s nothing like a little motivation! It took her less than two minutes to get my face off her screen. 

Answering questions and walking parents through different steps is a great place to start. Think about it: they’ve passed on traditions of their generation and of generations past; sharing our technical know-how is no different. 

Technology natives like ourselves have a real gift to give and can help our parents learn to do some pretty cool stuff. What’s more, we can go a step beyond simply teaching them. Young people can give them opportunities to learn on their own. We created our Teach Parents Tech (TPT) video series to help do just that. 

TPT has short videos parents can watch to learn about topics from apps and social media to privacy settings and mobile features. It’s a great place to send them to get them feeling more comfortable before you do any of the teaching. You can even send them a video directly via email or share it with them on Facebook. Plus, the more they know, the more you can show them and the more fun you can both have.

Cover image courtesy of Flickr