I didn’t really think my mom and dad would let me take my car away to college. They didn’t let my older sister or brother have a car at college either. Then I thought of a way to change their minds: Maybe if they knew I was driving safely they would reconsider.
I told them they could put a GPS tracker in my car and monitor my driving on the web. No luck. The whole idea is just too high tech for my parents. They don’t even have smartphones; just those old cell phones without a camera or any apps. I’ve been their at-home tech support for everything from their laptops to the Roku box. I got it so we could stream Netflix to our 34-inch tube TV in the living room.
Once I leave for college, they’ll be empty-nesters. I don’t think they’ll call or email me every time they need help with Facebook or Gmail. They won’t want to be a bother. At least I hope they won’t. So I decided to leave them a tech support package that, hopefully, will answer most of their questions. Part of it’s a print-out. I called it…
Helpful Hints – Love, Melanie
Here’s some of what I covered.
Mom and Dad both use the Chrome browser. Trouble is, if one of them accidentally hits CTRL-SHIFT-B, all the bookmarks on the bookmark bar disappear. So I wrote down how to make them reappear so they’d be able to click into email, Facebook and their other favorite things without having to type URLs.
The old living room TV only has two inputs. One for the cable TV and another for everything else. The DVD player was plugged into the second input. When I got the Roku, there was no place to plug it in. So I bought a two-way splitter box and rewired the Roku and DVD player into it, then connected the splitter to the TV. I printed out labels for the buttons on the splitter: one for “DVD” and the other for “Netflix.” Then I took a picture of the splitter and put it in the document with instructions on how to choose the right input from the TV remote and which splitter button to push. It’s low tech, but it works. And now they’re okay with the TV. Having to get up and push a button at least gets dad off the couch once in a while.
Because my mom spends a lot of time on Facebook, I wrote down some security tips for Facebook so she doesn’t accidentally make everything public or get locked out of her account. And I showed her how to block Aunt Nancy who’s always ranting about something.
There’s a lot more. Like, I explained the F1 key for getting help. But you get the idea. I know the kind of problems they’ve had, so I covered as many of them as I could remember. I saved a copy of the “Helpful Hints” on the desktop with a big heart-shaped icon. The text below the icon says “Love, Melanie.”
Then for general computer and software questions, I checked out online tech support. Plenty of companies online sell tech support. That’s not going to fly with my parents. So I put a folder on their bookmark bar with links to Kim Komando, Leo Laporte and a free support site at techguy.org run by volunteers.
It’s the least I could do for my parents. After all, they’ll be on their own for the first time in over 20 years. In the meantime I’ll be hoofing it across campus instead of driving. I’ll survive, but I’m going to try the GPS idea again when I get home for the holidays. Maybe dad will buy one for my car as a Christmas present. Either way, I’m glad I took the time to give them a “relief package” they can use in my absence.