If you know even the slightest bit about computers, then no doubt you will be familiar with the experience of being constantly called upon by the world and his wife to fix their computers. Perhaps it was you who initially suggested your gran get a computer. Maybe you thought it would provide them with a ‘window on the world’ as their mobility deteriorated, maybe you just thought it would give you something to talk about. What you probably didn’t envisage was the reality of having to go round every two minutes to help them fix various problems. Without realizing it, you have basically volunteered yourself as their ‘IT support for life’.
So what do you do about that and how do you make sure that you limit the number of times you have to be called out for emergencies?
Buy the Right Computer
The first and most important tip is to think carefully about the device that your Grandma needs. If it’s not too late to exchange their computer and they’re struggling, consider getting them a Mac rather than a PC (the skeuomorphic design and large graphics can make things much simpler) or even an iPad.
This is where you need to think the way that a real IT support company would think. In other words, you need to consider the specific needs of your ‘client’ rather than focusing on providing the best all-round computer per-say. It may well be that your Gran just wants to be able to chat on Skype in which case she doesn’t need a computer with 24GB of RAM and dedicated graphics – she just needs an iPad which is simpler to use and has much less that can go wrong.
Teach Results, Not Systems
Some Grandmas are perfect adept at understanding how to use the computer and can pick up your instructions in no time to the point where they’re able to start finding their own solutions. That’s the dream.
But if you’ve tried to teach your gran the processes behind using the computer and it hasn’t worked so far, then you need to know when to cut your losses.
In other words, if your Gran just wants to play Minesweeper, then teach her precisely how to do that and nothing else. In other words, put a shortcut on the desktop and give her written instructions that talk her step by step by each click she needs to press. This way you give her the means to do the things she wants to do, without necessarily making her have to learn IT from the ground up which she might not be particularly interested in doing.
Use the Right Software
Just as the right PC and right operating system can make a big difference, so too can the right software. So if there’s something specific that your Gran wants to learn to do, try to find software or an app that will make that easier for her. There’s more than one way to skin a rabbit, so if she’s struggling with one app, try finding another one with a more user friendly interface.
If you did decide to go ahead and get your Gran a laptop or a desktop rather than a tablet, you can save yourself some trips at least by installing TeamViewer or Splashtop Remote on her computer. That way you’ll be able to take remote control of her computer to fix all kinds of problems, to install software and more. As long as she’s able to launch the client (you can talk her through that process) you’ll be able to offer your IT services even from abroad!
Most important of all though, you must reassure your Gran and embolden her to ‘make her own mistakes’. This is crucial for teaching anyone any new subject. Make sure your Grandma isn’t terrified every time she’s prompted to accept a new update – tell her that any problem is reversible and that for the most part she can ignore the majority of messages she gets from the computer. This way you’ll get less regular phone calls and she will be far more likely to actually enjoy using the computer!