My Mother Has Gone Viral,

Well Maybe Not Exactly but Close

This month, I am not going to warn you about a pending cyber-attack or tell you why security matters; instead I thought I would share with you a personal story, which perfectly shows why being Connected, can be such a gift to us all.

Jill had been saying for some time that she thought it would be a good idea for my mother to be on Facebook and to have email, believing that it may aid in helping her feel less isolated.

In the last few years, we have noticed that her world was getting smaller, as people moved away or succumbed to that time in life, where hanging out at the club, going out to dinner, or planning a long weekend away seemed more difficult and thus happened less often.

Before she came to Maine for Thanksgiving, we talked about introducing her to technology in a gentle and supportive fashion; feeling this would be the perfect opportunity to get her Connected.

While sitting down at a table, I brought her a laptop, and an iPad, to get started. What I noticed was how quickly she took to the iPad.  She was able look at the landscape of the iPad, click on icons that were descriptive, and get started.  The laptop seemed less functional for her, even though she could point and click, the applications were not as intuitive.  So the iPad won, and thus began our journey into Facebook.

The day I connected her, I literally saw her world open up. I know that she had been reluctant for various reasons, and I had been as well, but I must say that when I saw her Connect with her two great grandchildren through Facetime, the game changed for her and for me.

So what are some easy steps to get people who have been less exposed to technology Connected to the Internet?

First, you need to find the right device. I think the tablets or iPad are better than a computer or laptop for a person just getting started.  A computer has many features that are not needed for basic access to social media and email.  It is important to ask the individual you are trying to Connect what they would like to do, in order to find the best device to meet their needs.  For someone who has had little exposure to digital devices, I find that a portable, light weight and intuitive device is best, and therefore I recommend a tablet.

Second, acquaint them with the simplest of tasks. Start with turning on and off the digital device.  Enable them to navigate the windows by swiping their finger across the screen.  Helping them become familiar with their device will quickly lead to independence, a since of satisfaction, and a feeling of success.  Assure them that they are not going to break or harm the device by clicking on the wrong icon, encourage them to explore with confidence.  You want them to enjoy becoming Connected.

Third, while I am generally against apps, I must confess that I downloaded the Facebook and Messenger app on her iPad. I personally go to the Facebook website, but I must also confess that I downloaded, Messenger onto my phone.  I found the Facebook app very easy for her to use.  She quickly was able to navigate the four icons, at the bottom of the Facebook app, which is all that she really needed to master, for her to become a Facebook aficionado.  Additionally, we practiced calling each other in the Messenger app, and as she can best describe, she was astounded at the technology.

The fourth step was to learn about the care of the device. I wanted to make sure she felt comfortable Connecting the cable to charge it, that she understood free wireless, the basic security principals, like never giving out her password, as well as how the Internet works in general.

The fifth step involved good old fashioned paper and pen. Both she and I made notes about questions and terminology, as well as vocabulary.  For example, in order to scroll down a page, you actually swipe your finger in an upward motion; thus the common saying that she would remember “go up to go down”.  Creating notes she can refer to will give her peace of mind; also letting her know that she has tech support any time she needs it, as I am only a phone call away.

I had decided to keep the process simple for now. If she could manage email, Facebook, and Messenger, I believed that would be a great start, and it was.

She is home now, and has already mastered everything from sending out friend request, to liking articles, sharing posts, and commenting on what she is reading. I must say that personally, it is very exciting to see her so engaged.  Since this process started Jill and I have both been astonished at what a wonderful experience it has been to see her Connecting to people she has not seen or spoken to in a while.  We have also been very impressed by how popular she has already become, she all but has more friends than us both!

Yes, in order to help someone Connect you will have to commit to answering their questions, walking them through a process, which may seem like second nature to you and offering encouragement along the way; but let me assure you the investment is well worth it. For so very little you can give someone so very much.

So please feel free to send my mother a friend request, for all those that know me and help her world become a bigger place where she is safely Connected.

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