Eight tech tips for Mom this Mother’s Day

A few simple pointers to help keep mom on track in the digital world

Daughter Showing Senior Mother How to Video Chat stock photo

A young mature woman of African decent, shows her elderly mother how to video chat with family on a laptop. They are both seated at the kitchen table, dressed casually and smiling as they enjoy the conversation with family far away.

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With Mother’s Day just around the corner, we thought we’d provide some tech tips to help moms navigate today’s digital world. Of course, it’s easy to pull out your credit card and buy mom the latest gadget, but we think there’s more value — and infinitely more love shown — by serving as her own personal IT desk. (These tips are all appropriate for dad as well, but it’s not his day yet. Patience, pop.)

One quick note: Plenty of moms are already tech savvy; this list is aimed at moms (or anyone else in the family) who just need a boost in the tech realm.

  1. Make a list of simple fixes. We can tend to assume the worst when our devices start acting up — but oftentimes, simple fixes take care of the problem. So, make Mom a short list of steps to take when her tech doesn’t respond. Here’s an example:
    • Application won’t open or close? Restart the device and try again.
    • Internet loading slowly or not at all? Power down the modem and router, count to 30, and power back up.
    • Phone acting weird? Power it down and back up. Also, check for the latest updates.

2. Enable “find my phone” on all her devices. Find My Phone, Find My Device, Find My Mobile — whatever it’s called, every manufacturer has a version. But it’s amazing how many people don’t activate it on their new devices. Make sure Mom’s phone and tablet have this feature enabled, then show her how it works. It just might save lots of time spent retracing her footsteps should she misplace it.

3. Teach her good password hygiene. It is not (and never was) OK for all of your devices and web favorites to share the same password — that’s just too easy for data thieves. It’s also no longer necessary since phones, tablets, and web browsers all have sophisticated systems for suggesting and remembering strong passwords. Encourage mom to take a moment and update her passwords. Better yet, buy her a subscription to a top-tier password manager — here’s a list from CNET.

4. Add some basic remote desktop tools. Sometimes Mom may prefer that the tech support team takes control. Installing one of the many remote desktop tools on her devices lets you see firsthand what’s going on and allows you to troubleshoot. Device manufacturers have basic apps built in, and there are a number of powerful, free and paid tools from third-party providers as well.

5. Give her access to an online help desk. Our social lives are slowly coming back, so you probably can’t be on call 24/7 to troubleshoot mom’s iPhone 6. Fortunately, there are many reputable online help desks standing by to help. Best Buy’s Geek Squad is probably the most well-known, but also consider CallNerds, GeekBuddy, and other similarly named operations that offer subscription and as-needed pricing models.

6. Dial in her video chat setup. Video meetings and group chats are firmly entrenched in the post-pandemic office world, and there’s no going back. It’s the same story at home, where every mom and grandma has learned to use tools like Zoom and Google Meet just to keep up with family and friends. Now’s the time to really perfect Mom’s video chat arrangement for the long term. Find a good angle for her laptop or tablet’s camera, and adjust her audio and video presets so she doesn’t have to mess with them every time. Better yet, mirror her device display on a TV so she can see the grandkids in HD.

7. Manage her smart devices. Just because Mom’s new French-door fridge can text her temperature updates doesn’t mean she needs to receive notifications about it every 30 minutes. Take an inventory of Mom’s IoT appliances and have her determine what’s helpful and what’s just noise, then adjust her notifications.

8. Get her a health tracker. OK, we said we weren’t listing gadgets — there’s plenty of lists like that already — but there’s a good reason for this exception. Once you have a good handle on Mom’s collection of devices, get her the health tracker or fitness tracker that best integrates with those devices. She’ll appreciate being able to track her steps more efficiently and having a record of her health information in case something goes wrong.

No matter how tech-friendly your mom may be, these tips and tricks will help her get the most out of her devices, even that “smart” toaster. To moms everywhere, happy Mother’s Day from Viasat.

Patti Rutkin is a fierce advocate of the customer experience. As the marketing lead for Viasat’s US residential business, she is responsible for raising awareness about Viasat’s home internet service within the communities it serves.