5 Web Apps for Managing Your Parents’ Computer Troubles


Parents don’t always have a reputation for technological savvy. In fact, they may see their computers as sources of constant mystery and befuddlement. Perhaps they consider you the most tech-literate person they know, and therefore, come calling for help. Constantly.
Managing their constant barrage of IT questions can be taxing. Sites like ShowMeWhatsWrong and Google’sTeachParentsTech can be a good start.
Ease your pain further by recommending these five applications to help alleviate your parents’ IT anxiety.
1. Prism
Reducing the number of clicks to reach a site can be of enormous help to web-impaired parents, and bookmarks don’t always cut it. Prism can turn any webpage into a real app on your system that opens via the dock or taskbar. Open Facebook from your Start menu if you’re on a PC, or from the dock if you’re on a Mac. You can even customize icons to display information, like number of unread emails.

This note manager’s paid version lets you share notebooks, which can be a good way to keep a running list of issues or cheat sheets you and your parents can quickly access, update, and collaborate on. If you don’t want to use the paid service, just share one account. Set up one notebook for your parents, and use a separate one for yourself.
Evernote’s browser plugins for Safari and Firefox are great tools your parents can use to keep track of whatever they find online, from coupons to recipes. Evernote is handy for reminders, voice memos, and to-do lists, but don’t use it for storing sensitive information like usernames and passwords. For that, you’ll want something more secure.

The Internet is a scary place, therefore, unique, complicated passwords are essential. 1Password collects all your identity information in one place, accessible from a single entry point. The app can also generate complicated passwords in one click, based on customized parameters. Use 1Password to either manage your parents’ usernames and passwords for them, or set them up to use it on their own.
1Password starts with a 30-day trial, but you can continue to use the service for free if you stay under the 15-login limit. Pair 1Password with the cloud-based storage program Dropbox and you can sync your data across multiple machines — a handy way to manage your parents’ security from wherever you happen to be.

4. Dropbox
As a project-sharing tool, Dropbox is invaluable. You can use it to sync data across multiple devices, or move files between computers and different users instantly. The cloud-based file sharing service is great for backing up your files as well. Using Dropbox to store your parents’ files in the cloud will ensure that if they crash their system or shut down the computer by ripping the cord from the wall, files are safe above the fray, inside the cloud.

5. join.me
Here’s a scenario: Your mother telephones. “The desktop isn’t showing a picture any more -- it’s just blue.” You could walk her through the steps over the phone, or you can use join.me. The screen sharing service is easy to use and free. Skype recently came out with a similar screen sharing element, but join.me holds an advantage: you can take control of the other person’s screen.
Instead of walking your mom through desktop settings and configurations, you can request control and just do it yourself — dramatically decreasing the chances that mid-conversation you open the window and throw yourself out of it.
Disclosure: join.me is a Mashable sponsor.


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