I think it's so wonderful that we have a way to keep in touch with family and friends living all over the world - thanks to e-mail or chatting by way of the Internet.
A few years back my husband decided he would get his parents and my parents involved in using a computer. I thought this was a great idea and so far except for a few glitches, it's been a great tool for them to stay involved and active. As long as they can just turn it on and it works they are happy.
We spend about two hours a week getting them through a problem or explaining something that may be a little complicated for them.
At this point we either get them through it, or pick up the computer to fix it after they've crashed it.
One of the biggest problems is that they just can't understand that the Internet goes down from time to time. I get a call that my mom's favorite community game site won't work. This causes major frustration for both parties.
I have a cable connection and don't usually have many problems. This is why I thought if my parents got the same cable provider I could walk them through it. Wrong. It's hard for me to explain that the cable service just goes down sometimes. Then my mom wants to know why? I don't know why, it's just down. I know some technical reasons why, but it would be pretty difficult to explain to her.
If my Internet connection is down for more than an hour and I've already rebooted my modem and all the things I know to do, I call my provider. Sometimes it shows there is a problem in the neighborhood and they are working to get the service restored.
At that point I walk away and get some work done around the house.
Not my Mother. She can't walk away. So after she tries to fix the Internet problem herself and has completely erased programs and important computer information, she calls me.
The funny thing is she will take apart and unplug everything and then she has to hook it all back up. She usually has to call to find out where the keyboard and mouse connections go.
Then I ask her why she would unplug everything? She usually says, "Well I thought if I unplugged it all and restarted it, I could get to my game site."
I'm not an expert at computers and just like everyone else I learn from my mistakes, usually.
But the Internet being down has nothing to do with her computer.
We go through this specific point about three times a year. On a good note, she is starting to understand.
I realize this is new technology to some, but I started out with a TRS-80 in 1981 and I've tried to keep up. I must say I'm grateful to Windows (no insult intended to Mac people). Could you imagine us trying to explain DOS to our parents?
I will just say that we've all grown impatient when nothing works the way we want. But with technology, we must show tolerance. I know it's challenging, complicated and sometimes downright unfathomable, but we can all get there slowly.
I've noticed that there are free computer and Internet classes at local activity centers. I recommend some of those basic classes to our newly computer challenged citizens.
One of the drawbacks of getting our parents set up on the Internet is the hundreds of joke e-mails I receive daily. Yes, I've made the friends list. Now if I could only figure out how to get myself removed from their friends list?
Kathy Josenhans lives in Port Orange with her husband, Frank, and their German shepherd, Heidi, and a cat named Bogie after Humphrey Bogart. The Josenhans have three grown children. She can be reached at email@example.com.