I would like to start this article with a note of gratitude! I have been lucky enough to see how all four generations of my family interact with the latest technology. Starting from my octogenarian grandparents to my 3 year old niece, I have seen it all. This post celebrates the little joys of those small moments where I saw them struggling with the technology. I would also highlight some concerns that pop up in my mind when people of these age groups allow tech to enter their lives.
How It All Started?
If you are an avid reader of this blog, by now you must have known that I love spending on tech. Purely because I see value in it and I know how to extract the max out of it. With that mindset, I always want my parents and grandparents to enjoy the luxury and benefits of technology. As a recent example, last anniversary, we (me and my brother) gifted our mother a smart door lock. This would enable the remote unlocking of main door so that she doesn’t have to go downstairs to open the door.
When my dad had trouble sleeping on time, I wanted to pull some insights out of it. So we gifted him a tracker on his birthday so that he can plan his sleep better. On a similar note, I am on this constant endeavor to use tech to uplift my lifestyle as well. In this post, I would emphasize on one of my favorite tech-human combinations. My grandmother and her Echo Dot!
Alexa and Dadi:
My Dadi is 83 years old. This July, I got a promotion at work. Around the same time, Amazon had this prime day sale. I reached out to my Dadi and asked her, what did she want as a gift? She smiled and said, I want “Lakshita”. Baffled as I could be, I nodded in confusion. She said, the one that switches on the bulb in your Mumbai home. My wife is in the same room with me and my Dadi is accusing some other lady of switching on bulbs for me. While I was thinking hard, my wife said, Alexa, not Lakshita. And that very moment, I decided what to buy for her.
Alexa and Her Fatigue Issues:
Three days Echo dot in, I get a call from Dadi and she asks me to come down immediately. This is usually her sleeping time in the afternoon. I rush downstairs and ask her if everything is okay. And she does the sweetest thing ever. She was having a hard time sleeping. So she decided to play some music on her echo. She called me just to enquire that music has been playing for over an hour, Ye thak to nahi jaegi? (Won’t she get tired?). I didn’t even know how to respond to such a valid concern. I simply told her that she can use it for as long as she wants. And she smiled, merrily asked her to play ‘Kishore Kumar’ and went back to bed. Amazing sight to watch.
Switching Off The Alarm:
Off late, I told my grandparents that they can set alarm on the device as well. Since then, they began using it very efficiently to wake up at 5AM as always. One fine Saturday night, my Dadu is complaining that he is not getting enough sleep, so he would like to turn off all the alarms for Sunday and snooze a little longer. Now, my bad, that I only taught them how to set an alarm. How to turn it off was still a black box. So what they did is turned off the main power supply of the device. Although it seems a pretty normal response, but I found it really weird. It is like killing someone who is going to try to wake you up. <facepalm>
Good Morning Alexa:
Every morning, my grandmother would make tea for my grandfather and while she switches on the lights of the room, she would wish Alexa Good Morning and ask her to play bhajans. On November 6th, she is following her similar routine and guess what, Alexa sings Happy Birthday to herself. This would be a normal sight for us as we know how these devices work. But as soon as I woke up that day, she ensured that she would tell me and everyone in our house that today is her Alexa’s birthday. It was almost like one of her grandchildren were born that day.
On the day of Diwali, Alexa wished my grandmother ‘Happy Diwali’ after her good morning routine. And she was equally excited on that too. She mentioned ‘Isko kaise pata hai?‘ (How does she know). Trust me, the bewilderment on her face was a delight to watch.
This one is really fun. Whenever Alexa won’t respond appropriately to any of her queries, she would repeat it with more conviction. The more Alexa resists, more emphatic her tone would get. I never dared to tell her that may be that’s not how any of this works. But it is always amusing to see this.
One day, she angrily told Alexa: Tujhe Kuch Nahi Aata (You know nothing)
Alexa very politely replied; Seekhegi, Seekhegi aapki Alexa sab seekhegi (Alexa will learn everything). She got even angry and complained that “Aage se Jawab Deti Hai” (She answers back to her elders).
- I have this fear of the unknown. My grandparents are definitely from the generation which is least influenced by tech in their lives. When exposed, I am not sure how it is going to turn out. So far, it is pretty decent. But I don’t know. May be it is just paranoia.
- They often treat tech like they would treat their kids. If that observation is appropriate, one fine day when Alexa won’t listen to them may be because of network issues, I am afraid that they’ll literally get offended by that. May be.
- One day my Dadi was very upset because her smart watch would only show 4k steps a day even after her 1 hour morning walk. I wanted to explain her how this works but I failed. She doesn’t use that watch anymore because it demoralizes her. I am not sure what to comment on that.
It is a pleasure to experience tech from this perspective. What may be absolutely normal for us, may come as a complete to shocker to my grandparents. The struggle is real! I would love to introduce more and more gadgets in their life to make it more comfortable and of course, to gather anecdotes like these.
Until Next Time. .