How to Help a Parent with Technological Difficulties by Colette Rosenberg  Every day all across the world, children are cornered by their parents. They are cornered at the kitchen counter. Cornered in the car. Cornered when they are about to go to bed. Children must especially beware of holidays, specifically Christmas, Mother’s Day and Father’s Day-- for these days are the days on which children are most vulnerable to this type of cornering. It’s a fact. All parents know it and are aware that on these designated days they can simply use guilt and sympathy in their favor to get what they want. If you find yourself in one of these scenarios, and a parent is approaching nearby, it is most likely that you are being asked for technological help. Mom or Dad, it doesn’t matter-- they will approach you or call you downstairs in an innocent tone and the next thing you know, they’re asking you to fix their phone, computer, iPad, TV, you name it. Although I outlined some specific instances in which this issue may arise, it is important to keep in mind that you are never fully safe. No matter what time of day, there is always the possibility of being asked a question. In order to prepare yourself to act in a civilized manner, the first thing you must remember is your breath. You must breathe in and breathe out. Practice breathing day and night, so you don’t lose sight of the fact that you are capable of being relaxed and at ease when the time comes to help your parent. If needed, as soon as you are summoned for technological assistance, simply reply “one second” and run into the bathroom, close the door and stand right in front of the mirror. Look at yourself and tell yourself in a strong, but remember, calm voice and say I can do this without getting upset. I can do this without snapping. I can be patient and help others. Say this to yourself as many times as needed until you start believing it, or at least partially believing it. Beware: it is very likely that you may never, in fact, believe it. This is probably so, because you most likely fall into the 99% of children who know that they cannot help their parental units without losing their temper to some degree. It is important to keep in mind that it is such a select few who actually enjoy doing this, and who do so without ever screaming or being sassy towards their parent, that for our purposes they are negligible. Once you have centered yourself, and you feel stable enough to do so, approach the site of interest. At this moment, your mother or father may ask you a question, clear and simple. Or, you may find that they do not even have the skill set to accurately articulate what it is they are having issues with. Warning: words such as wifi, Internet browser, iMessage and System Preferences are among the most complex and difficult for those over the age of forty to grasp. Adults tend to especially struggle with wifi and iMessage. “But what is it?” they may ask you. “Why is it blue and not green?” they may say when looking at their messages. You may have to resort to language such as arches, bars, or lines in place of wifi, and blue messages in place of iMessage. Explain to them that if they are texting from an iPhone and the person whom they are texting also has an iPhone, their phone will use wifi to send the message. This is always a tough one, but it is vital for them to understand if they are to grow and learn. Tell them over and over again that if they don’t have wifi, their phone will use their cell service to send their message as text messages, or green messages. If you are dealing with a beginner, he or she may have even more worrisome issues. For instance, some may even approach you with a huge smirk as they ask in a sly tone, “How come my messages are not going through?” Do not be fazed. You will most likely see a big red exclamation point next to each message. There is your answer: there is no service and the messages cannot be delivered. Their smirk should disappear in a matter of seconds. It is common for parents to utilize a range of excuses to cover up their inept technological skills. Do not fall for this trap. They will use the whole “back in the day” speech to make you feel bad for them. They will say something along the lines of “well it’s not my fault, I didn’t grow up with these things,” or they’ll go on some long rant about how “when they were in school and were doing a research paper, they had to flip through books and hand write” and how it was much harder then. Do not get sympathetic. Instead, at this moment simply turn to them and, after taking a deep breath, explain that you didn’t choose to have this technology available to you. Explain that it’s not your fault that you happened to grow up in an age in which technology is prevalent, and you’re going to utilize it to your advantage. This may not be the end of the conversation. It is very possible that they will bounce back with something along the lines of “look at you, face in your screen, not even calling your friends on the phone anymore, so dependent on technology.” Feel free to remind them that it seems as if they, too, are pretty dependent on technology--why else would you be spending a good 45 minutes helping them? What’s even more annoying is when you’re dealing with a wise guy, someone who uses his own insecurities to expose yours by pestering you with questions until he stumps you and then declares, “Ha! It’s not so easy, is it?” Here, you must not give in. Let me give you an example, one that is dear to my heart, an exchange with my mother: “If I delete the songs from my iPod, why won’t they delete from the iCloud?” “The iCloud is different. All you have to know is that as soon as you delete your songs from your iPod you can always re-download them through your iCloud.” “But what if I want them to be deleted forever?” “You can delete them, but the iCloud will always hold them to prevent deleting things you didn’t want to delete.” “But why can’t they be deleted forever?” “I don’t know, because the iCloud is there.” “But what is an iCloud?” “I’m not really sure. It backs up your stuff.” It’s good to admit that sometimes you just don’t know, but it’s important to always maintain your dignity and anticipate being taken advantage of. “What do you mean you don’t know?” “I’m not really sure. It’s not relevant.” “Huh, so you mean you too are confused? Hmm. Interesting.” Breathe and maintain a strong demeanor. Never let your parent think that he or she has reached your tipping point. Wait to scream or express any annoyance verbally until you know for sure that your parent has pushed you to your limit. This will most likely occur when you are helping your parent for the third or fourth time with the same issue you’ve gone over with them before. As soon as you sense some sort of déjà vu, maybe it’s showing them how to buy a song on iTunes for the millionth time or how to load paper in the printer, remind them that you’ve already gone over this with them. Better yet, explain to them that this is a two way street-- they must be committed and eager to learn. Explain that you’ll show them, one more time, and that’s it. Then- they’re on their own. This is crucial. You will not be taken advantage of! After showing them exactly one more time, turn the table and have them show you how to do it. At this point many parents will resort to childlike tendencies and find humor in your irritation. They may start laughing at you or try to act cute and giggle while saying they don’t know how to do it. This is clear evidence that your parent has not been listening to you and giving you the respect you deserve. At this point, it is completely understandable if you feel the need to leave the room or simply cry. Do not blame yourself. There is only so much you can do. If appropriate, it may be wise to begin charging by the hour to ensure that future encounters go as smoothly and efficiently as possible. The most alarming threat to your mental state is the fact that technology is constantly changing. First there’s an iPhone 5 and then you wake up the next day and the next thing you know there’s an iPhone 6. Although you may benefit from this, all that this really means is that your parents’ questions have just multiplied exponentially, and the scary thing is that they will continue to multiply. (I suggest you try to keep the latest technology a secret from them for as long as possible.) Be extremely mindful when showing them anything new-- new apps, new music, new features-- don’t do it. Your ultimate goal is to get in and get out, quick and simple. Otherwise, your mission may never be accomplished, which only means a life of endless cornering. Once you’ve mastered dealing with your parents, do not think you’re off the hook. Grandparents are much more difficult, and for all you know your parents have been talking to them all along about how great you are with technology. You can’t say no to your grandparents. You can’t yell at them or lose your temper around them. There’s really no way out with this one-- they have all the power and they know it. The other day I got a call from my grandma: “Hi honey, how are you?!” “Good! How are you doing?” Wow, so nice of her to call, I thought. “Good, good. I was wondering if you wanted to come over tonight? I just miss you so much...and I am having computer issues. I just don’t know what’s going on with it!” Knew it. The only thing you can hope for in a situation like this is that you will get a nice, hot home-cooked meal in return for your services. If you are still feeling immense frustration and are in desperate need of some sort of outlet for this built-up anger eating at your insides, consult Amy Schumer’s “Mom Computer Therapy” on YouTube or form a support group at your school, local community center, or even online. It is important to know that you are not alone, and there are people out there to help you.