Blog Post

Playing Tech Support for Your Family? Google Wants to Help

If you work in the technology field, or even if you have a smartphone and know how to use a web browser, you have probably been pressed into service by family members to help them do a web search, adjust the time on their computer clock, or even do something as simple as cut and paste text from one document to another. Well, the geeks at Google (s goog) would like you to know you aren’t alone — and as a kind of early Christmas present, they’ve set up a special site just for you, so that you can send a video to your parents (or anyone else for that matter) about how to do these and other things on the computer.

The site is called Teach Parents Tech, but it could just as easily be used to teach your aunt or uncle certain technology tips, or your grandparents, or your older brother or sister who isn’t terribly swift when it comes to using the computer. Obviously, Google would probably like them to become a little more familiar with the PC, so that they’re more willing to install Chrome as their default browser, or do a Google search, or maybe even go whole hog and buy a notebook running the Chrome OS when they finally become available.

Each task that you choose includes a helpful video prepared by Google staff, along with a somewhat sarcastic message (Dear Mom: I’m shocked/impressed/worried that you’ve been using your computer). You can choose tasks such as cut and paste, adjust the time, change your desktop background, as well as create a strong password, make a blog and change your default homepage. The videos aren’t just commercials for Google products either; the one on upgrading your browser shows a choice of several major browsers (although it doesn’t include Internet Explorer), then illustrates how to do it with Firefox.

This has the feel of one of Google’s famous “20 percent” projects, but the videos are actually fairly helpful, although they don’t go into too much depth. Unfortunately for most of those providing tech support for family members, these video clips are only going to become useful once you show your parents or other relatives how to a) receive an email, b) open a link and c) play a video clip or upgrade Flash. Here’s one of the videos that Google created — this one shows how to change the time on a computer clock:

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9 Responses to “Playing Tech Support for Your Family? Google Wants to Help”

  1. don’t know about anyone else, but if I’d sent something like that to my mom I’d never have heard the end of it. She’d quite rightly resent being talked down to, and in a form letter to boot.

    Look: Those of us who are old enough to have reached adulthood long before the widespread adoption of the home computer ARE NOT STUPID. And tech sites whose population is mostly younger seem almost universally to assume that we are. Everyone, regardless of age, learns things best in his or her own way. If the way you’re explaining something to someone leaves them befuddled, consider that it’s not their problem for not understanding, it’s your problem for not making it understandable.

    • Cyndy Aleo

      I’d say yes, and no, depending on your dynamic with your parents. For me, Mathew may have saved me from a stroke and/or from killing my parents. We have too long a history of me being a stupid kid and my parents, well, being parents. I start by explaining slowly, but I must not be doing it right, because they KNOW X,Y, and Z, and then it escalates. Even though I told my father I was done trying to do his tech support when he upgraded to a Vista machine and to make my life easier by getting a Mac, I still get sucked in for everything from calling to reboot the cable to fixing broken connections to the wireless printer. I’m off to see if they have a video that says “stop downloading files from the Internet from sites you don’t know and you’ll stop getting viruses.”