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How to Help Grandparents with Their Technology

I'm sitting here writing this on my dad's old iMac realizing I could have done a better job helping him with technology over the past few years. I feel like a bad daughter, an interaction designer ought to do a lot better for their parents. My dad was very capable, and fiercely wanted his independence, so I didn't bother him.  Still, I was already doing "tech support" for friends and strangers, and I'm realizing now that I could have saved myself a bit of work after he passed me on his gadgets. So here's my advice to people who have an older parent or friend, even if they are not a luddite!

Make yourself the Admin.


Set up their gmail, give yourself access. 

Give them their password, make sure it's super easy to remember but tell them not to reuse this password for any reason anywhere.

Set up their iCloud, Amazon Prime, YouTube etc tethered to their new Gmail. 

Yes, plug their credit card into these accounts, they're still independent! Give them their unique password and save it yourself. If you don't do this you will be sorry when you want to retrieve photos but you can't, because you don't know the password.

Just get them the smartphone they want, put it on your family account. 

Don't let them deal with any of the account ownership part. If you can set up partial auto-payments from their credit card. Same goes for tablets and smart watches.

Get them sarted with apps. 

The entire concept of shopping on an app store could be foreign to older folks. Get them started with some fun apps, use the camera, show them what they could do.

Make sure their internet providers / cable TV accounts are set up correctly and you have access.

This would be something like their Comcast account. Are they paying tons of money on channels they never watch? OnDemand they don't know how to access? Wifi that never got setup? Yes that all happened with my dad, he probably overspent over a grand $$$$ on Comcast, it's annoying. I actually went out and bought a wifi device not knowing he already had it. Don't let it happen to you!

Give them their privacy and sense of control.

If you can set them up in this way, you can sit back and give them their space and sense of privacy. Knowing they are going to be safe, and happier in the great playground of the internet.

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