How To Set Up Your Grandparent’s Phone Without Freaking Them Out

How To Set Up Your Grandparent’s Phone Without Freaking Them Out

It is the duty of the younger generations to help our elders embrace the new technology of the day. Once upon a time this was understanding how to use a radio, or turn on a TV, and now it falls to us to educate our elders on the many joys of smart phones and tablets. This is how to do tech support the right way.

Show empathy when it comes to phone tech support

The most important thing is that you’re understanding. While most of this stuff seems basic to us, because we’ve been online since we were kids, the person you’re setting up the device for is relatively new to all this.

Being less than encouraging will just put them off, and potentially mean they call you from their landline every time they want to open an app. Neither of you want that.

They don’t need to know how to set it up

This is basically a new language for them. Think about how you’d like to learn a language.

Do you want to start learning that language by having your teacher explain sentence structure in Portuguese from the get-go, or would you rather be eased in by learning how to say hello, goodbye, please, thank you and a few choice swear words?

For that reason, Grandma doesn’t really need to be too involved in the set-up process of the new device. I know that goes against everything that feels right, because you want to involve them from the beginning.

But if this is one of their first forays into the world of tech, starting with so many questions that they don’t know the answer to off the bat can be too much, and then by the time you get to showing them the actual device, they’re already too overwhelmed to take anything in.

Start with the basics

Instead, do the basic set up for them, and then first jump into something you know they’ll enjoy.

What is going to be one of their favourite features of the device? Do they want to see photos of the grandkids? Is there a gardening app that they would find helpful? Are they desperate to video call a relative overseas? Start there.

Get them to fall in love with the thing they’ll use most, and then slowly introduce them to the other stuff. Let them have their dessert before salad, so to speak.

Also make sure you give them some resources on scam literacy, and explain that not everything online is as it seems. Because older people with lower tech literacy are more ripe for the scamming.

Set some tech support boundaries

Of course, it’s also important to set boundaries. If you have a relative who relies on their phone, computer, or tablet, but refuses to actually learn how to use it properly hen that can get toxic very quickly.

You can’t always be at their beck and to fix problems and do basic things.

Recognise when people start just using you for advice, and point them towards other resources. I have someone in my life who prefers not to learn how to use Google, or other basic functions, because they believe I’ll do things for them.

So I have introduced a laminated flow chart of things they need to do before they call me. It’s not foolproof, but for the sake of your relationships it’s important that both parties understand that you’re not a walking genius bar, and eventually they need to walk by themselves.