Reverse Care Package: Things College Students Can “Give” Back to Parents

In 2012, the Nation Center for Education Statistics reported a record-breaking year for kids attending college in the United States. Of the estimated 21.6 million, more than a few will leave their parents at home with no practical IT support.

Maybe this is the first year your parents will be living on their own, alone with their computers. Not to worry — it is time they learned, and you can help with a tech inspired, kid-approved care package.

Send Them the Ultimate Tech Advice

Google developed a website dedicated to helping parents get over tech hurdles with a little hands-on video training. Google’s Teach Parents Tech website offers helpful video instruction to use when you are not around.

You have two options with this site. For the parent who can figure out basic navigation, and who is motivated to learn, send the link to the main video page and let them decide what to watch. Option #2: Google also provides an interactive form that lets you point a lost parent to the right video collection based on their needs.

Common Internet Sites

Before you go off to college, Set them up with common Internet sites. Facebook, for example, can put them in contact with you without an annoying phone vibration going off in your pocket in the middle of class.

Spotify is an invaluable music resource you can set them up with before you go. While you may be listening to the latest Mumford & Sons playlist, they can tune into Vivaldi radio to fulfill their need for classical.

For a little image love, Internet Providers suggests Flickr or Picasa to upload pictures online, and even offers a guide on how to use them.

What about the Problems They Can’t Fix?

Computers can be feisty beasts, especially when there is no regular system maintenance. Luckily, there are tools available that do what you used to do for them — fix all those little system glitches. USA Today suggests kids provide parents, at their expense of course, a tune-up tool such as System Mechanic, a nifty gadget capable of diagnosing and fixing common errors, as well as covering basic maintenance tasks. It will boost Internet speeds, clean out clutter and manage the network security. System Mechanic will even align and defrag hard drives just like you used to do.

This subscription service costs around $40/year, according to company website. They do offer some free tools for parents who don’t want to shell out the cash.

When They Really Need You

Going home every time they need hands-on help is not possible. What you can do is be around for remote assistance when all other options fail. Windows-based operating systems offer a built-in program for remote assistance, but it is anything but parent-friendly. Consider a less frustrating approach.

JoinMe, for example, allows you to take control of their computer and investigate problems, remotely. You can walk them through basic applications or show them the ropes of sending an email. The service provides a chat window for times when you need to be alone with mom and dad, too. It even works from your phone or tablet if you are away from the computer. Although there is a subscription service, the free version is enough for both remote access and chats.

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