Recently at work I won an iPad Mini (non Retina display) in a raffle.  I never win anything so I was ecstatic – my coworkers joked that I was like a kid at Christmas.  I FELT like a kid at Christmas!  Now, I already have a much loved Kindle Fire HDX and iPad 3, so I knew I was going to rehome one of them.  It’s an understatement to say I read a lot and listen to audiobooks a lot, for which the Fire is perfect, so it was the iPad 3 or the new Mini. 

I was very surprised when my mother expressed an interest in the iPad and going online.  My parents did have internet access several years ago, but let it lapse because of slowness and lack of use.  Since then, better broadband coverage has come to their area of Scotland, so I hope slowness will no longer be an issue.  My father doesn’t seem as enthusiastic about the internet at this point.  I suspect my mother was always the more interested, but previously the internet was connected to the computer my father uses for video editing and she was always too nervous to use it in case she accidentally damaged it or my father’s work.  

So, in the meantime broadband service has been arranged and will be installed at their home at the end of next week.  I chose to send them the iPad Mini, mainly as my mother has commented on the weight of the Kindle Keyboard being a little heavy for long use.  It should be with them at the beginning of next week. Before sending it off I configured a few things for them.  I tried to setup the iPad so that it would be useful for them straight off and only have the most basic icons at first.  My parents are smart people, but being older, technology was not part of their working lives as a veterinary surgeon and nurse as it would be today.  

This is what I configured:

Apple ID

With iDevices, an Apple ID is almost a prerequisite.  I set one up for my parents.  It’s not yet hooked up to a credit card; I’ll leave it up to them if they want to purchase paid apps.

Email, FaceTime and Skype

My biggest frustration with my parents not being online is not being able to email them.  Email is such a practical tool, whether it’s a simple hello to keep in touch or emailing detailed information (such as an itinerary) or photos.   So often I’ve thought, I wish I could email this to them.  Well, now I can!  I have setup an email account for them and emailed a couple of things to them.  When they had internet access earlier, they didn’t check email at all unless someone told them to.  I’m hoping that with the iPad alerting them to new emails automatically they may actually use this.

One of the arguments used in the decision to get online was that using Skype and/or FaceTime to call me would save them international calls on their phone bills.  I’m not certain how comfortable they’ll be using it at the beginning, but I have setup Skype and FaceTime accounts.  We’ll need to see how that goes.

Photos

I am an Apple fangirl through and through, so most of my photos are taken with my iPhone and stored in iCloud.  It was then very easy to setup a Shared photostream which I then set to share with my parents’ Apple ID.  Any time I add photos to that stream it should show up automatically on their iPad without their doing anything.  The photos have already downloaded to the iPad so they will have something to look at while waiting on the broadband being connected.

Calendar

With my job I work shift hours and my mother is often calling me to ask what hours I am working that week.  I already have my shifts entered in my iCloud Work calendar, so it was a quick click to share it with my parents’ Apple ID.  Again when I update it, it should update automatically on my parents’ iPad.

Facebook

I did spend some time considering whether or not I should setup a Facebook account for my parents.  Their hometown’s local newspaper has a very active Facebook page as does a local community group.  Often they hear about things going on in town because one of their friends has seen it on Facebook.  Other than Google searches and email, Facebook is probably what my parents think about most when they think about the internet.  In the end, I didn’t set up the account for them already – I was thinking of using that as a training exercise, but I may regret that.

One thing I do regret not having installed was a crosswords app.  My parents both get a great deal of pleasure out of doing the daily crossword in their local paper.  Ah well, I guess it’s something they can choose to install later if they so wish. I also think I may have left Siri in Canadian English, not British English.  

I’m hoping that my parents will get some use out of the iPad and the internet.  I know that, for me, the biggest challenge is going to be avoiding overwhelming them with all the things to be found on the internet.  I spend a significant portion of my life online and I’m looking forward to sharing that with my parents.  From conversations with my mother, I suspect the first things she will want to learn is how to search on Google and navigate Facebook.  The rest can wait.

I am also going to wait to introduce them to Siri.  I’m not certain how she will react to their Scottish accents and I don’t want them getting frustrated.

Do any of you have suggestions for introducing older people to iPads and the internet?  Please let me know in the comments.

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