October 22, 2013 2:33 PM   Subscribe

Please recommend specific resources to help my technophobic parents get more enjoyment and use out of their iPad.

My parents are retired, their home computer died, and they are unlikely to replace it. Their sole method of getting online is a second-gen iPad wifi + 3G. They can do basic stuff with it - email, Web browsing, occasionally they succeed in getting directions somewhere. That's about it, and their use of even those functions is pretty primitive (last time I opened Safari I saw that they had about 30 tabs open, I guess because they don't realize you can close a tab, or browse to something else from within that tab instead of opening a new one). They don't understand bookmarks, sending an email to multiple recipients, etc.--forget downloading new apps or buying media from iTunes. For a long time my dad thought the iPad didn't have audio and he was watching YouTube videos with the sound muted. They are very smart people, but the hard sciences are their weakness, and they're especially timid about technology.

I want to give them something easily digestible to help them become more familiar with the device and less mystified and afraid of it, but not so advanced that they get intimidated and give up. Any and all media are useful: books, apps, videos, tutorials, even in-person classes (they live near enough to an Apple store that they could attend classes, if those are useful and basic enough). It would also help if the approach is not condescending (e.g., iPad for Seniors for Dummies may be a great book, but they will never know if they throw it away as soon as they see the title). We live in different cities so I wouldn't be able to help in-person, though I may be able to walk them through downloading an app.
posted by payoto to Technology (4 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Perhaps, they can start with a free hour-long workshop at an Apple store?
posted by jaimev at 3:07 PM on October 22, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Missing Manual books and Teach Yourself Visually titles (I did not check if those are the right versions) are pretty good at not having a bad title. The Dummies books are so so good but I'm with you, the titles are super offputting. I usually send people to Lynda's tutorials for getting started stuff but they don't have a ton but they have, for example, this Tips and Tricks video. Keep in mind that what may make you aghast at their ipad may be a non-problem for them, so try to keep your eyes on the "Solving problems for THEM" angle as much as you can. I'd also look into their public library to see if they have (or could suggest) local classes if there isn't a local Apple store.
posted by jessamyn at 4:07 PM on October 22, 2013

The Ipad manual in the Ibookstore which comes preinstalled on all Ipads is very easy to follow and very helpful.
posted by bearwife at 5:03 PM on October 22, 2013

payoto: "They are very smart people, but the hard sciences are their weakness, and they're especially timid about technology."

I've been helping my 80-year-old mother learn to use her iPad. She barely used a computer at ALL before that. So man, I know where you're coming from here. (Incidentally, she's got iPad for Dummies and doesn't take offense at the name.) It took me at least three visits to explain how browser tabs work, the difference between tabs and bookmarks, the difference between the page of search results and the websites themselves, and to figure out that when she was wondering "where her stuff went" it was because she was relying on self-populating search engine suggestions.

But I'm gonna gently remind you to watch how you say things, because you're possibly helping exacerbate some of the things that you want them to overcome. For instance, using an iPad does not require any strength in the hard sciences. Your parents aren't creating mathematical models or designing precisely controlled experiments to measure chemical reactions. They're not confused because they're no good at science, it's because they're parachuting into a foreign country with its own language and customs.

Those of us who have maintained some familiarity with the evolution of gadgets and software have a wealth of accumulated experience guiding our expectations. We are familiar with all kinds of conventions that just seem like "how it works," but it's a WHOLE lot to keep straight:

- The gadget itself has mechanical controls that will probably do these things
- There is an operating system that will handle these sorts of things, most of which are basically "behind the curtain."
- It's typically specialized applications/software programs that you are actually using when you "use the iPad."
- Oh wait, what we call the "operating system" also includes applications that you actually use directly. But a lot of them are largely used as central banks of info to support the more specialized applications. Contacts doesn't make any sense to her right now, and it won't until I manually import the names and email addresses currently stored in the web portal of her email provider.

And don't get me started on all the UI stuff that's hidden to keep the look "simple" and sleek. With incomprehensible screens that pop up because you twitched your little finger and no clear way to make them go away or what's happens if you make them go away. ZOMG, have you showed them how to copy/paste yet?

I haven't gotten anywhere close to her needing to download an app or buy things from iTunes. Just the identification and security issues get to be a quagmire.
- The physical device has a PIN.
- The wireless internet connection for the device has a different user name and password that you hardly ever have to use, but need to know every once in a blue moon.
- The Apple ID is a different user name and password.
- Your email account has another user name and password.
- Same with your Kindle account.
- Same with your Amazon account even though it's linked to your Kindle account.
- Same with any other website.
- Your user name may be your email account address, but it doesn't affect your email. Your passwords shouldn't all be the same. But even if you use the same user name and password, you're using them to unlock different systems that don't talk to each other. Except for the ones that do, like the different Google services. (What's the difference between a website and an app? Ooof.)

Good luck.
posted by desuetude at 8:40 PM on October 22, 2013 [1 favorite]

« Older Girlfriend stranded...   |   I seem to have a real problem remembering the... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.