Tech support, how may I help you, mum?

Staff Writer Tech

Vero Pepperrell writes…

Looking back at some articles I’ve bookmarked, this BBC article made me, and possibly every other techy I know, laugh to tears. The article may not be fresh, but the topic certainly is!

You’re wedded to a computer screen for much of the day, you e-mail and browse the web without a second thought and texting, well, it’s just part of everyday life. To your peers, you’re no more technologically savvy than the next person, but to your parents you are Bill Gates, Albert Einstein and Mr Clippy rolled into one.

Of those who returned to the family roost for Christmas, many will have found the normal festive activities peppered with a rather less traditional commitment: fixing mum or dad’s computer. Forget those illusions you may still harbour about being mummy or daddy’s little poppet. For those whose parents have opted into the 21st Century by investing in a computer, likely as not, you have become IT Support.

Now, how much did that make you chuckle? It’s true, parents tend to ask a lot of questions and make a lot of mistakes when it comes to computers. But wouldn’t it be worse if…

…they didn’t want to learn or know anything? I mean it may take five explaining sessions and three text files with a step-by-step of how to send an email. But once they can manage it, it’s wonderful to get an email from them dotted with a few photos of the family or a little blog comment showing me we can stay in touch even when I chose to move away far from home.

As women, we may get slightly less questions than our male counterparts do, since regardless of how they work with computers (web designers, software developers, finance managers…), they’re young men, therefore “they work with computers” and can fix everything.

I think we need to be patient with them just as they were patient with us when we learned to walk or to poopoo. I’m sure cleaning that up was easily as painful as mopping up the chaos caused by the latest virus they downloaded “by mistake”.

Sometimes, it’d be nice to feel appreciated for giving help, but I’m sure they mean it in their ol’ clumsy way. Or maybe they don’t and they need to remember that family tech support isn’t part of the contract when buying a computer? However, what goes around comes around. Give it some years, and we’ll probably need the help of the next generation to understand the gadget of the hour, so we must give them a break!

I seem to remember explaining how saving a file was like putting a document away in a big virtual filing cabinet to a grandparent at some point, and that while you couldn’t see it, it wasn’t lost forever. I learned a whole lot from them too, so let’s call it an exchange of knowledge.

The recent generations of gadgets seem to take both the route of the inexplicably complicated, such as the Beside Phone Center With Dock for iPod, and the geniune back-to-basics simplicity of the Nokia 6030, for example. You and I both know which angle we’ll take when choosing Christmas presents for them this year, don’t we? Or maybe we’ll just get them a nice knitted jumper and an Eric Clapton album…

On a side note, the BBC “Have your say…” staff must have a real laugh reading people’s comments sometimes. This one amused me:

I know exactly how these people feel! My parents call me day after day to fix their problems – even simple things such as “Where’s email gone?” – the answer being ‘you dragged it across the screen – look over there’.
Khyle Westmoreland, Nottingham, UK

By Staff Writer | September 2nd, 2006

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