Tools to Heal Computer-phobia

I arrived to set up a new computer for an elderly couple who had received it as gift from their geographically-distant children.

After the typical proclamations of "I-don't-understand-computers-and-I'm-too-old-to-learn," the husband and wife sat to watch me assemble their new PC.

Before beginning, I tried to stir up some excitement in them by saying, "You're going to love this computer!" The husband just stared at me with a slight smile
and nod as though he pitied me for being so naïve to think I could overcome his disdain for technology. Undaunted, I connected the monitor, keyboard and mouse and then made a big show of pulling the plastic off the monitor. I checked their faces again -no change in expression.

I then set up the printer and tested it by printing a beautiful flower on piece of paper photo paper. "That's really something," the wife said -with as much excitement as she might have examining a gas bill.

I configured dial-up Internet access (it was the 90's) and the unfamiliar, loud screeching of the modem gave their faces a pained look. I saw their computer-dislike accelerating right before my eyes.

I then witnessed a miracle. The couple's grandchildren had sent a message to Grandma and Grandpa's new email address the day before. When the message popped up on the screen, the couple's eyes lit up. They became ecstatic. Within a few minutes they learned to hit the Reply and Send button -the only computer commands they needed to learn. In the blink of an eye, computers, to them, became wonderful inventions!

On that day, I became a believer in the philosophy that an email from a loved one is the best way to overcome the aversion some people have to using computers.

Last week my philosophy expanded. Coaching her over the phone, I helped my sister, in Chicago, set up her first high speed internet connection in her home. I knew she had a Yahoo Messenger account, so after we finished, I asked her to log onto Yahoo Messenger. I then sent her an invitation to view my web cam. When she clicked on it the phone went silent.

"Are you still there?" I said. She didn't answer. Then I heard clapping and lots of "Oh my Goodnesses" and "Wows" and "Ooooohs!" She had never felt the need for high speed Internet access, claiming that dial-up was fine for her. In an instant, dialup became absolutely unacceptable and no longer an option.

I'm now a believer that viewing a webcam that displays the "live," interactive faces of loved ones is the best way to overcome someone's aversion to high speed internet.

The great thing about today's web cams is that they are so easy to set up since most require a simple installation from a CD followed by plugging the webcam into a USB port.

As high speed Internet availability spreads to new homes like wildfire, webcams are becoming standard equipment for many people. If you are interested in checking out the latest in webcam offerings, go to and type webcams in the search box. Then check the boxes beside several models and select Compare side by side. This can help you select the most appropriate model for desired features and budget.

If you have someone you wish would embrace computers or high speed internet, arrange for them to see an email from a loved one or set them up with a web cam. If you can get their loved one to show up on their screen in text, or "live" on the screen, then you can't lose!

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