Give Your Empty-Nest Parents Some Tech-Support Love

You’re almost half way through your first year at college, making your parents empty-nesters for the first time in decades. Experts at the Mayo Clinic will tell you that many parents suffer from the “empty nest syndrome” when their last child leaves home. It’s not a clinical diagnosis, but rather a “major life change” brought about by a total disruption to your parents’ normal routines.

Empty Nest Syndrome

They’ll be setting one less plate at the table once you’re gone, unable to enjoy dinnertime conversation with you. They’ll no longer be connected with you as you go about your daily life. Who knows? They might even miss having to tell you to turn the volume down on your favorite music so they can hear the TV. When you’ve moved on, mom and dad are faced with making some big adjustments. For some parents, becoming empty-nesters can bring about real grief and even lead to depression.

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But, there is plenty you can do to help. You and your parents both know you can’t come home every weekend. Yet, with the Internet, you’ve got an easy way to stay in touch and keep them up-to-date on your life. Unless your parents are a couple of the rare “tech gurus” who really know their way around computers, you can take some steps to make regular communication easy. After all, you have probably been their tech support guru for many years. Now’s the perfect time to give them back some love in the form of a tech support package.


So here are a few steps you can take to make their life (and yours) more enjoyable as they struggle with the technology you’re accustomed to handling for them.

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First, write everything down and save it as a PDF so that can’t be accidentally deleted (set it to Read Only). Place it right on the desktop of their PCs. Let’s start with:

The Browser

We all use bookmarks. The bookmark toolbar makes it easy with a single click to open up email, Facebook and all your parents’ favorite web sites. However, both Firefox and Chrome let you make that toolbar disappear, which can create real confusion to people who don’t understand why the links to their favorite sites are playing hide-and-seek. To avoid a phone call from mom when you’re studying for tomorrow’s English test, include instructions on how to make it visible. For Firefox, include a screen shot that shows the View menu buy levitra professional online with the checkbox for “Bookmarks Toolbar” checked. For Chrome, it’s just a matter of typing CTRL-SHIFT-B.


More as a matter of fun than true tech support, sit down with your folks and show them how to create a YouTube account. Enjoying the endless content on YouTube is a great way to pass an hour or two. With their own accounts, mom and dad can each begin subscribing to the things they enjoy the most. Be sure to put their log-in credentials into a tech-support document. Trust nothing to memory, especially your parents’ memory.

Your folks might also have fun sending you short, self-made videos simply to say “hi” or to show you what they’ve been doing in your absence. You might want to bookmark this Google site that has simple instructions for creating a self-recording and posting it to YouTube.

Video Chats

With you away at college, spending, oh let’s say 20 to 25 percent of your time studying, you’ll undoubtedly find times when you can devote half an hour to a video chat with mom and dad back home. Depending on how your parents’ PCs are set up at home, you can copy/paste instructions and tutorials from the relevant web sites into your tech-support masterpiece. Check these for the information you’ll need — then put your write-up into your tech support document.

  • Google Hangouts
  • Facebook Video Calls
  • Skype

“Real” Tech Support

A web search will reveal many tech support sites. One of the best is at It’s run by volunteers and is entirely free. It’s organized as a forum, so you’ll want to spend a bit of time with your folks showing them how to navigate the forum, enter questions, and get answers. Be sure to commit some of that instruction to your document, so it’s readily available.


I know what you’re thinking. Who would add their parents on Facebook as they head off to college? The answer is: a caring child. Set your folks up with Facebook profiles so they can stay connected while you’re away. offers security tips for Facebook to keep your parents from falling victim to scams. And don’t worry, tailored Facebook privacy settings will keep your parents off your back.

Mom and Dad, step-parent or single parent: they’ll all appreciate your help in simplifying their “high-tech” issues so they can stay in touch with you and avoid calling each time they’re stumped. It’s the least you can do for your folks who’ve done so much for you, and to help them avoid that empty-next syndrome.

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Ben is a technology reporter who covers Internet-related topics.

One Response to “Give Your Empty-Nest Parents Some Tech-Support Love”

  1. Claudio

    Nov 06. 2013

    Find out about online computer and technology assistant programs to help.

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