Giving Grandparents A Lesson In Technology Is A Test Of Your Own Love

grandparents tech old people parents, grandparents and technology

To those of us who have grown up with the digital revolution, technology is second skin. Operating the buttons on a new phone or surfing the functions of a professional camera comes almost instinctively to us. Without having to spare a thought to what is what on the screen, our fingers dextrously run across numbers, letters, symbols at a cheetah’s pace. It is as natural to us as breathing. But not everyone who breathes is afforded this necessity (for in a digitised world, this knowledge counts for nothing less). I am referring to our aging parents and aged grandparents.

Early citizens of the free world, they are versed in the art of cooking, reading, sewing, building – all that was, and is, basic to survival. And they see no extraordinary factor of awe in it. These are skills indispensable to a self-sufficient living. So why mustn’t anyone know them? Give them some wood and nails and they will whip up a state-of-the-art bookshelf with it. But ask them to change the wallpaper on their phones... It annoys us, but we tend to forget this relative oblivion to modern technical devices is not their fault.

They belong to that blissful era where people took interest in Faces and Books as separate entities. When one imperfect sepia snap was all that the pricey camera reel could afford. When their faces were unruffled by future anxieties of which filter to slap onto the picture. When photographs were, indeed, luxuries. Life could be sustained without them easily. All one needed was some steaming food on the table, the company of good friends, and the assurance of a partner sharing the bed with you at night.

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It was only later that technology first dawned in their lives. For most of our grandparents, the transistor radio brought about this change in lifestyle. Then the film screen and television perhaps. Years have passed such that these once high-funda devices are now among the only technologies our grandparents are most comfortable with. Because these are artefacts from their youth. What we’re using in ours – from Netflix to jazzy music apps – are all polished versions of those.

So doesn’t the responsibility to make our grandparents’ transition from their devices to our devices fall on our shoulders? No matter how many times they ask us to teach them, and then forget what we taught them, helping them through these cyborg devices of daily use is far less an effort for us than it is for them to understand them in the first place. Like this Twitter user’s grandmother who took actual notes on how to change her WhatsApp display picture:

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If our elderly grandparents have the heart, and pertinent drive, to get a grip on camera phones and laptops and such, then shouldn’t our efforts in assisting them, as their grandchildren, ideally be quadruple?

Sans annoyed sighs and exasperated eyerolls. Because a lost minute of work is minuscule in worth to a gained minute of love spent together with your grandparents. Teach them how to change that WhatsApp status or upload a Facebook picture or comment on the milestones you post on social media. On the childhood stories they told us and the long summer vacations they hosted, they have been selfless with their time. It’s our turn now.

Views expressed are the author’s own. 

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