This is the companion article to How To Teach Your InstaGrandma. Make sure you read them both!
First off, I still think you should hire me. Second, here's what happens when you decide to do it yourself.
When I was about 19-years-old, I had a client who didn't have the vocabulary to explain what was wrong, didn't have the skills to fix it himself, didn't want me looking at the screen, and didn't want me touching the keyboard. Needless to say, I did not solve any problems that day. I did, however, get a crash course in a lot of the challenges you'll face if you choose to teach your relatives yourself, instead of hiring me to do it.
1. The dynamic changes. Your parents are used to being the ones guiding you, but now you're the one guiding them. If your relative has a good attitude, then it's really just one person helping out another, both of whom happen to share blood ties. Sometimes, though, your relative may make things weird. The main reason for this weirdness is my next point.
2. Loss of independence. Your parents or grandparents may not be used to being old, feeble, and reliant on you, and while they may not personally resent you, it may feel like they do. At the least, they may resent the situation they are currently in.
As a second point, you may not think about their independence, but it should be on your radar. It may be faster for you in the short term to just do something for your mom or dad, but in the long run, it's better if they can at least do the basics on their own. If you do EVERYTHING, they don't learn, and then you have to keep doing everything, and that's time taken away from other things in your life.
3. You learn a foreign language. Really, you just learn to communicate with someone who doesn't have the same vocabulary as you. If they use the wrong words, but the idea they want to communicate is completely correct, just go along with it. It's easier than stopping to correct them at every avenue. You can (and should) still use the correct verbiage while you respond, though.
4. They try to be cool. You can't blame them, because you've also tried to be cool (regardless of whether or not that has worked out for you). Why would your 80+ year-old grandparent need to be cool at this point of their life? Because they are currently out of their element. The dynamic is changing, they are dependent on you at the moment, and they don't have the vocabulary at the moment, and feel stupid enough. In some cases, you're really there more for bonding time than help with Instagram. Just be nice and let them feel cool.
On a similar note, when they try to be cool, some things just don't translate well. Some jokes that were hilarious 20 years ago, or even just 5 years ago, are in a gray area today. The same can be said about certain compliments. Whether or not you acknowledge these comments, let alone correct them, is a judgement call.
5. Unbelievable Scams. Occasionally, you'll hear a story that someone's paranoid neighbor heard from his weird friend. Snopes and Google usually disprove several rumors, and some rumors are just too outlandish for Snopes to even bother with. Common sense, combined with safety practices and alertness, can prevent a lot of bad things from happening.
6. Dark Purposes. I have been asked to hack into computers belonging to other people, certain companies, and the government. First: That's above my personal pay grade. Second: Why? What purpose does hacking into someone's computer serve, long term or short term?
I have also been asked to set up a Yelp account, YouTube Account, etc. so these people can leave nasty reviews. Once again: Why? What do you even get out of that?
7. Personal Drama. If you're not actually related to the person you're helping, you may end up hearing about their personal family drama. This isn't a bad thing: you're building rapport and you're learning how to help these people more directly. Plus: drama can be awesome when you don't have to deal with it directly.
Most of the time, it's just that people inevitably talk about their lives at some point, and you may spend a lot of time with this person. Occasionally, you may become a surrogate child if you aren't related to these people. Sometimes, these people don't want to change their dynamic with their children at all, so you end up hearing the things that might change the dynamic between them and their kids.
8. Some minor inconvenience will lead to a meltdown. Most commonly, there's some sort of server error, and the obvious solution is to wait it out, but that won't be acceptable to your grandparents. If you stay calm, the meltdowns are shorter.
9. Some problem will be too much. It can be embarrassing when your parent expects you to be able to fix something, and there's nothing you can do. If that happens, I still suggest you give me a shot. Self promotion aside, the good thing about this is that you're confirming to your parents or grandparents that they aren't stupid or crazy, and they actually appreciate it. Plus, now when you call the big guns, you can all smugly say, "We already tried 5 things, including turning it on and off again," when you call customer service.
10. Watching people deteriorate in front of you if you're there long enough. It's depressing, but it happens enough: the person you're teaching is actually dying in front of you. All you can do is be comforting.
11. Senior women are just more receptive than senior men. That's why this is Become An InstaGrandma. Senior men tend to argue that they don't need social media or technology, and I'm not going to fight them. This is especially common in senior men who want to be seen as independent, competent, cool, etc. In this case, I'm usually most successful when I'm letting them fail in front of me, and letting them ask for my help at their own pace.
Thanks for reading, and I'll see you on the internet!