How to Explain Tech to Your Mom

As geeks, we all universally dread the same thing.  This thing rears its ugly head at the most inconvenient times, can suck the life out of us, and is something we may try to avoid but feel duty-bound to address.  This thing is the inevitable call from mom to help her with her technology needs.

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No matter how many times we answer or fix a tech situation, we get the inevitable repeat question or are asked to explain it “just one more time.”  How in the world are we supposed to cope with the endless and repeated questions that seem so simple to us but are so complicated to mom?  Here are three easy ways to help explain technology to mom.

First, make sure you understand that mom is not a geek.  The acronyms and terms that come so quickly to us might as well be a foreign language to her.  Empathize with that.  Keep in mind that your mom raised you, loved you, and took care of you.  This should compel us to calm the frustration of having to repeat, for the fourth time, the steps in resetting her wireless router or recovering that password she always seems to forget.  Remember that she answered all your stupid questions as a kid.

She had to answer why the sky is blue or calm you down when your uncle “stole your nose.”  She put up with you not cleaning your room or forgetting to take out the trash.  Count to ten and think peaceful thoughts to get you through her seemingly mind-numbing questions.

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Next, appreciate the fact that your mom uses technology.  Realize that the fact she is using a computer, smartphone, and tablet is a connection she shares with you.  She enabled your passion by getting you that first computer.  She also tried to understand your obsession with staying in your room in front of that computer for hours on end.  Give her a break and suppress that urge to yell.  Count to ten again just to be sure you are calm.

Now you are ready.  Finally, you are in the frame of mind to address her tech needs.  This final step is vital.  Take the time to open a text editor and write down clear, simple steps to solve the problem.  Put everything in a binder and keep it updated.  Create a title and number the steps (the more steps, the better).

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Take a graphics program and create diagrams and even flow charts if that will help. Keep it simple and easy.  Pretend you are creating these steps for a first grader and never let your mom know you are.  If you have to, cover up the buttons on the remote that you mom should never press.  Put labels on the power cables of the router, computer and TV while doing everything in your power to make it as easy and foolproof as possible.  It takes some effort, but it will pay off by reducing the number of tech support calls you get from her.

Oh, and for God’s sake, call your mom once in a while.  She misses you.

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3 Comments How to Explain Tech to Your Mom

  1. Eneida Nov 6, 2015 at 21:31

    I loved your post and I agree, that’s what I had to do and… she got it, she is better at tech every day.

    Reply
  2. Mary Baum Jan 7, 2016 at 20:17

    I just tweeted about this an hour ago.

    I think it’s time to stop using your mom as the poster-broad for people who are determined to stay nontechnical.

    I’m your mom too. Well, I have kids about your age. And they call me for tech support.

    So how bout we start changing the clueless one in the story to, say, your senator? Given the history of misguided legislation in the US that would take out features of the web that even the senators would miss (Solitaire on Facebook during intelligence hearings FTW!) I’d say they have NO idea what the internet is for or how it works.

    Reply
    1. Claudia Feb 10, 2016 at 12:29

      Hi Mary, thank you for your feedback. I totally respect your opinion. The title was exaggerated, of course. My mom actually works in IT and I learned a lot from her, so of course, I know what you’re saying. Next time I promise we’re going to make an article about how “you should explain tech to your senators” :) Deal?

      Reply

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