Technophobe Converts

The parents are technophobes as much as I’m a technophile on the other end of the spectrum. For years, they had been using good old non-smartphones because they served the purpose well. And then the dad started requesting for a smartphone, no thanks to an employee of his who was putting funny ideas into his head. The lil sis saw no absolute need on his part to acquire a smartphone, and so stalled for time. Until he became way too naggy for comfort. One Sunday night after dinner late last year, I brought him to a local Telco shop and inquired. Because they still had some months to go before they could recontract without additional charges, I told them to wait. In any case, they were not accustomed to paying over $1k for a new mobile phone so waiting was the logical outcome after the visit.

And then he forgot about it. I didn’t, and neither did lil sis. It was decided that it be used as a ruse/reward to get him to go do a health screening. Which he did. And he was rewarded accordingly –  I brought him to a Telco shop for the upgrade.

It took him quite a bit of time to decide on iPhone 5. Usually, I would already have complained that the 4 people in the queue in front of us took more than half an hour to clear, with several counters operational at the same time. But that afternoon, I was grateful for the delay because the old folks couldn’t quite decide on the model they wanted. And I have to say that Telcos nowadays are not very elderly-friendly: they actually expect customers to know the model of the mobile phone they are interested in getting without first introducing the products properly. Some of the available mobile phone models aren’t even on display. H and I had to do quite a bit of explaning to mum and dad, and we even had to whip out our iphones to demonstrate certain functions. How they would have managed without us around is now inconsequential, but worth a thought considering the ageing population Singapore is facing.

Mum would have preferred sticking to her really old, outdated mobile phone but I told her to have a change since it was showing signs of breaking down. She chose Samsung S3 Mini, a simplified version of the Samsung S3 LTE. And she only wanted to know how to get to the basic functions like calling, messaging and accessing her phonebook. Now, dad was a completely different story. He wanted to become an iPhone expert within half a day. I left H to deal with him because I was this close to chastising him for wanting to run before he even learnt to crawl, metaphorically.

In the evening, I went over to set up an iTunes account for dad on lil sis’ computer. And linked it to my credit card account. I also control all passwords on his iphone lest his ‘helpful’ employee start introducing him to funny stuff. I know it comes across as overly strict on the parents, especially since they are more than capable to pay off any charges they may incur from buying apps knowingly or unknowingly, but I feel better putting these controls in place.

My cousin Y was flabbergasted when I talked to her about it. She didn’t understand why I needed to be so controlling because she allowed my uncle and aunt to do whatever they want on their smartphones after she bought it for them. I just shrugged, not quite willing to share a thought that came to me.

You see, it is said that we will bring up our children the way we were brought up, if we agreed on the methodology. If not, we will swing to the other extreme and do none of it. Might it be the same toward our parents when they grow old? I found cousin Y’s style of bringing up her children uncanningly similar to the way she was brought up. Correspondingly, she is treating her parents the same way they treated her when she was younger – with a lot of freedom that bordered on negligence. Conversely, lil sis and I were brought up in a much stricter household and subject to many restrictions. Is it my fault then, that I am prone to treating my parents in a similar fashion now?

What about you? Do you find yourself treating your elderly parents the same way they treated you when you were a child?


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