Technology has grown pretty quickly the past 20 to 30 years. This generation back to generation X of the 80′s are more accustomed to quickly changing tech, which gives them an edge when something new comes along. The generations before were more accustom to calling a specialist when something goes wrong, while more recent generations tend to search Google before giving up and finding a specialist. Since there are rarely any Cellphone specialist on hand for your parents, the children tend to be the tech experts, when in reality they simply know where to look on Google. My parents both recently got Droids. My father owns a Droid X for Verizon, like myself and my mother owns an LG Vortex for Verizon. Whenever I come home they always try to spend an hour with me asking questions about their phone and how they can make it work for them. In the time I have spent with them going over some basic tools for their smart phone, and some more complex, I think I can safely give you all a few things to tell your folks when they leap into the smart phone world.
Typically you won’t find your parents telling your phone what to do when pressing the voice command button. But one bit of control really does help. Texting. Texting is something the younger generations do every single day. The older generations just don’t like typing on the phone all that much, or make mistakes and get frustrated (like anyone would). I know the Droid has a microphone button next to the keyboard that allows you to speak your whole text and let it fill it all out for you. It isn’t perfect, as all voice commands aren’t, but this one tip literally changed their world. The next time I visited they told me how excited all their friends were when they told them of this magical feature. I have to remind them that yelling into the phone doesn’t make it spell out the texts any better, but they should speaking clearly and at an even pace for it to capture each word accurately. When helping your parents get used to texting, be sure to make this ability your number one feature to introduce them to.
The Dashboard/Home screens
When my parents got their phone they were a bit unfamiliar with a no buttons all touch screen phone. They found themselves accidentally pressing apps on their home screen simply holding it in their hand. You should help them customize their home screen to what they will be comfortable with. With my parents I helped make one screen all contacts. I wanted it to easy for them to contact their most called or most texted friends and family. The next screen was going to be multimedia, like their music, youtube and other apps associated with entertainment. and the last screen was the website screen. My father loves baseball, so I added in quick links to his favorite baseball sites, so he didn’t have to press the browser, then go into favorites. The main home screen tended to be almost completely empty, as that screen tended to give them a bit of trouble when turning it on (accidentally tapping apps when they didn’t mean to). After showing them how to place icons and customize home screens they should be able to do it themselves.
This is the easiest thing to set up, as smart phones tend to have a great step by step process that anyone can understand. By this point every generation with a computer understands email to its basic form. The only thing they may need help with is setting up their notifications. If your parents receive a lot of emails, the default beep may get very annoying. Help them find where the notification options are within their email app, and by doing so tell them that all apps with noisy notifications will have the same options.
Navigation and Maps
One of my favorite features of Android phones is the free turn by turn GPS navigation. It makes finding places to eat, get gas and shop so much easier. My fathers car comes with a built in GPS, while my mothers car isn’t so lucky. One of the longest explanations was getting through her navigation app. It has so many options it can be a bit over whelming for anyone unfamiliar with GPS navigation. In a snap, this app is one of the most crucial and helpful, so it should be one of your top priorities to explain this feature as simply and as in depth as you can.
When my parents got their smart phones everything was turned on, Bluetooth, WiFi, GPS you name it. Anyone very familiar with smart phones will know that having all this on can drain ones battery pretty quickly through the day. One of the things I did for them was, if it wasn’t already there, put the on/off controls for these features on one of their home screens. I told them that you would want these things off if you were at work or just traveling around while not using your GPS. It lengthens battery life and can sometimes make your phone run a bit smoother. I also showed them how to turn them back on by simply tapping the feature they want on. If they want the most life out of their battery, you should show them how to optimize it’s overall life this way.
There are many many more tips out there, and if you have any you know of please tells us about them! Both phones I mentioned, the Droid X and LG Vortex are both available at thebluedot.net you can also trade in your old and used phones at thebluedot.net/tradein
Halloween is just around the corner, and if you are a tech wise parent then this article at MSNBC may make you feel better about sending your kids out trick or treating. We’ll do an article on Trick or treating tips soon, so stay tuned!