Mar 21, 2011  •  In Asian, Funny, Gadgets, Personal, Relationships

Parents and Technology

Last month I received a phone call from my dad. This is how the conversation went:

Dad: Jenny I want a smartphone.

GiH: That’s great. What kind do you want?

Dad: …the smartphone.

GiH: Okay, but there are many different types of smartphones. Do you have a specific brand in mind?

Dad: The one that my friends have.

GiH: :-?

My parents are typical Korean immigrants in their 50s with very little exposure, let alone experience, with technology. My dad has a laptop, but he mostly uses it to check the security camera feeds connected to his store. Sure, he visits Korean news sites but this also means that J and I are constantly asked to “fix” the computer (ie, remove all the malware and spyware my dad has inadvertently downloaded).

My mother still can’t differentiate between email addresses and web URLs. It isn’t uncommon for her to read/see/hear an ad, call me, and ask me to check out the product/services in more detail by visiting the website…and she’ll give me an email address instead.

They get confused if a gadget or appliance has more than just a power cord. J and I bought them a nice GPS system — in Korean, no less — but they’re still afraid to use it. They know that I have a blog, but they don’t quite understand what a blog is and they never visit this site (probably because they do not remember the URL and do not know how to bookmark sites in their web browsers).


(via High Expectations Asian Father)

Then, a couple of weeks ago I received a Facebook friend request from my mother. Uh-oh.

The very next day I got the following text message from my sister:

Mom wants you to accept her friend request on fb.

YES mom is on fb.

Soon, I began to see her all over my Facebook news feed. She was friending people left and right (mostly family members, but also her friends’ children as well as a bunch of my sister’s friends) and writing mundane stuff on our mutual friends’ profiles (eg, “Have you guys eaten dinner yet? What did you eat?” Except in Korean.)

It got worse when last week, my sister gifted both parents with iPhone 3Gs.

They both immediately sent me texts. And continued to send me texts…all the time.

My mother used to call me 2-3x a day whenever she got bored at work. Now, she writes on my Facebook or sends me text messages instead. And according to my sister, she will send my sister texts from the next room.

My father takes pictures and videos of Claire so that he can show them off to his friends. He’s even managed to find various Korean iPhone apps and is constantly fiddling around with them.

This is not to say that my parents are now tech-savvy; they’re far from it. My mother still doesn’t understand the concept of downloading photos to the computer or phone. Instead, she will take pictures of the photos and save them in her phone. My father still thinks that Facebook is a photo-sharing site. And they both still shout into their cell phones because they believe that such small devices do not have the power to properly amplify their voices.

And in instances such as these, all you can do is smile and ignore it. Only later, when you have some extra time and have taken an extra dose of patience pills, can you try to explain it to them in a way that they will understand.

How are you parents’ knowledge of today’s technology? Are they socially connected via Facebook, Twitter, etc? Do you chat with you over instant messages? Send you text messages? Own smartphones?

17 Responses to “Parents and Technology”

  1. Melissa:

    My parents are not on Facebook nor do they text. Thank God, because I’ve spent half of the weekend hiding all of my 12 y/o brother’s facebook games notificiations. Because I’m pretty sure he starts playing about 13 new games an hour. /scream

  2. This post had me laughing so hard!! Get this- I got a facebook friend request from my 82-year-old grandma! Hilarious. I love your mom’s creative solution for putting pictures on her phone!

  3. Ang:

    Neither of my folks (late 50s/early 60s) have smartphones, and they do talk very loudly on their cell phones. I constantly have to readjust the headset volume when my mom calls so that my colleague in the next office isn’t bothered by it (nor my eardrums, but I digress).

    They are also on FB, but they haven’t been too obnoxious about it. That reminds me; I promised my mom that I would help set up an RSS reader for her. ;)

    P.S. Loved the stern dad pic. I can relate to that sentiment.

  4. Everything you just named is too complicated for my parents.
    I already have enough difficullty explaining what a “BLOG” is. I tell them it’s a journal to keep it simple. ^__^;;

  5. LHR:

    I think my dad thinks he’s tech savvy, but I don’t know… He certainly has interest in gadgets and stuff, but I’ve never come across anyone who’s needed to reformat his HD so many times. He keeps installing programs and spyware to be “safe”…and that makes his computer the most annoying piece of machinery in the world. Every 3 seconds a thing pops up that says that there may be a potentital threat to his system and everything you do requires authorization. Talk about stressful and obnoxious.

    He totally wants an iphone because he likes the shiny icons. He’s not social at all so he’ll never use it to call anyone.

    And thank goodness neither of them are on facebook. They do sub to my blog though, and sometimes like to make comments about how I should be nicer etc in case other people come across it and get sad…which is ridiculous because I’m really not mean on it at all.

  6. Hehe, the responses are great! My mom texts, is on facebook, can instant message, and since we moved overseas can even manage skype and webcams now, but if she needs to buy something online still hands me her credit card to have me do it. It seemed kind of strange when she first got interested in facebook, IMs, and skype, but honestly it makes it so much easier to stay in touch and keep up with her and my dad so I think it’s pretty cool.

    Now my grandmother who just got on facebook is definitely more like your parents!

  7. my parents live in Korea, and they both have smart phones in Korea. My mom has the Korean equivalent to the US Samsung Galaxy in Korea and can operate it to a pretty decent level. HOWEVER, she cannot for the life of her, use a smart phone in the US. She will press the speakerphone option on the phone and will constantly complain to me that her phone is “broken”. She doesn’t understand texting or how to check text messages on the phone. I understand that the menu is in English versus Korean, but it’s the SAME phone. I have relegated them both to flip phones for the rest of their lives in the US.

  8. All 4 of my parents and my MIL are on Facebook and it is a nightmare. Especially since my stepmother likes to comment on EVERYTHING and my mom and stepdad play a ton of stupid Facebook games. I haven’t told them about my blog because I don’t want to deal with their comments. Doesn’t sound nearly as frustrating as your parents, though.

  9. Donna:

    See – sadly, I have the opposite problem. With a dad who is in engineering and a mom who trades stocks online, both my parents are tech saavy. My mom currently now owns the new macbook pro and both parents have the ipad2. WHY? They like to text ALL the time and send me picture messages, too.

    I guess in high school – I was cool among my Blizzard co-workers because we would have LAN parties – we had a super fast network and a network of 8 computers in the formal dining room aka the computer lab and another network for another 8 computers to be linked up in the garage.

    If I go home now, there is still a computer lab readily available at home with a PC and laptop per family member. I often wish that my parents aren’t tech saavy. My dad is the one who told me to get the iphone because it could help me track my runs with the Nike+ with their apps since he has an iTouch.

  10. Hilarious – my parents aren’t too terrible, but I still get calls from time to time asking about some totally random technological thing. My mom has a facebook, but never uses it, and I don’t think my dad even knows what facebook is!

  11. I had a similar situation with my parents. My mom called and told me she wanted to buy my dad an iPad but she didn’t really know which one to get. I asked her what he planned to use it for and of course…she had no idea. My father has no idea, actually, he just wants it because it’s the shiny new thing that everyone has.

    My mom is on Facebook and Twitter but rarely ever uses them. She keeps forgetting her Facebook password and will not have it reset because she thinks there’s one person sitting on the other end looking it up for her every time who’s totally judging her for forgetting again!

  12. This reminds me of when my daily tech savvy 70 year old grandfather brought a 1 gem iPod. Because his new car had an iPod port and he got the iPod free with air miles. I had to show him how to use it. I went to his house this Christmas and he’s upgraded to the largest capacity new touch screen nano and has all his music on it. And a playlist of 2 days worth of Christmas music. He’s also on Facebook but doesn’t really use it.
    My mum on the other hand, can check her email and Facebook and that about it. She brings he camera to me anytime she wants pictures emailed or put on face book. Which isn’t too bad considering I use to have to show her (every single time!) how to copy a recipe and paste it into a word document so it could be printed. There use to be written instructions for her next to the computer.

  13. My dad is pretty tech savvy. He got an iPhone waaaay before I did and instead of calling me, he insists on texting me. Sad! My mom on the other hand only utilizes the laptop to email me.

  14. Honest to God, I am so happy I fell onto your site one day.. Cause every once in a while, I’m having a shitty day and stumble back upon it.. end of shitty day… My dad is ridiculously tech savvy in his mid 50’s, except when it comes to remote controls. Although he wants a blu-ray player, surround sound, dvd player, vhs player and even a record player (yes, a vinyl record player), he gets crazy angry whenever he has to use the remote. Why? Because he still does not understand why he has to push “dvd” on it, to use the dvd player, or that he has to select an input for a different device. Apparently my parents tv is just suppose to know that when he pushes “play” he means the Dr. Hook record he just put on, not the blu-ray disc thats been there for the past two weeks. Bless my poor mom’s heart.

  15. I am CRYING with laughter here.

    Seriously.. CRYING. :)

    My mom can’t even log onto a laptop (thank God) she tells me to “book face the sites” (she means bookmark or Facebook the companies) to sign up for things like free ice cream.

    My father is struggling with the idea of a text message, although he has to be verbally scolded from time to time for downloading so much spy/adware.

    He’s pestering me for a Mac.

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