If you have felt annoyed or frustrated when explaining how to operate a gadget or manage a social media profile to your father, you’re not alone. The phenomenon is so common, in fact, that YouTube comedy channel TVF produced a series called, Tech Conversations with Dad, to make light of the rambling and often futile phone calls where children try to explain tech matters to their parents.
But the reason for this disconnect is clear. “Parents were introduced to technology much later in life, but they try to learn and adopt its several uses to communicate with their children or grandchildren who are tech savvy," said Raj Khosla, founder and managing director, MyMoneyMantra, a financial services firm. One aspect of technology that your father can find extremely useful is managing his personal finances using the myriad platforms and tools available online.
This Father’s Day, here’s how you can help your dad adapt to new technology and use it to his advantage.
Part of the problem when it comes to adoption of technology is that people from older generations often distrust digital interfaces when it comes to managing money. “Older investors are not comfortable with the new ways of investing and financial planning. The main reason is lack of trust in digital methods of investment. There’s limited experience with the online world and lack of understanding about how it works. The elderly are not willing to trust their hard-earned money to a digital platform, especially if there’s no one to guide them," said C.S. Sudheer, CEO and founder of IndianMoney.com, a personal finance education company.
“Digital platforms are increasingly incorporated into marketing plans of companies and people are using digital devices or platforms instead of visiting physical shops," said Khosla. You can handhold your father through the basics and dispel any misconceptions about safety concerns. But make sure he uses trustworthy apps and platforms.
Even day-to-day household transactions can be taken care of digitally now. “Children can teach their parents to pay utility bills online so that they don’t have to stand in long queues at banks. They can also guide them about investing in fixed deposits and mutual funds through banking apps and how to track their investments. Using digital platforms could also do away with the need to chase insurance agents to pay premiums," said Sudheer.
Start with the basics when it comes to helping your father get online. For Bharat Dhawan, 46, partner at Mazars India, a business consulting firm, the easiest way to get his dad Vijay Dhawan, 73, managing partner of a chartered accountancy firm, online was to buy him an iPad. “With a laptop, logging on and using software like Outlook can be tedious. An iPad, on the other hand, has brought about a generational shift in technology, because it’s easy enough for anyone to use," said Dhawan.
The older Dhawan took to it pretty quickly after he got past the initial mental block. “I can comfortably navigate the internet and have my own set of apps that I use regularly. If I have to buy something online, I can get it done. I’ve learnt a little late in the day, but now I know how to do it. My son Bharat is especially happy about it," he said.
Dhawan’s dad is proof that it’s never too late to start learning something new.
According to Sudheer, choosing the right device is a key factor in getting your parent used to transacting online. “Avoid smartphones if your father has sight-related difficulties. Opt for devices which are easy to use. Large screens make it easy to invest, manage personal finances or check bank balances online. Teach your father how to use AI-enabled chatbots which most apps have. These chatbots can help him navigate the platform or app easily and manage personal finances online," he said.
The older generation’s fears about managing money online are not entirely unfounded, given that they are often the first to fall victim to various scams due to their unfamiliarity with certain digital platforms. “Precautions and safeguards on avoidance of online frauds are paramount," said Khosla.
Software and applications come with their own set of vulnerabilities and pitfalls. Make sure you warn your parent about the possibility of accidentally downloading phishing apps and exposing his financial data to fraudsters. “An older person must always check the publisher of the banking or financial app, before downloading. This holds true for all people, but the elderly are more vulnerable to fraud. The interface of many unofficial apps is designed to look like the original. Ask your father to download only those apps which belong to the official service provider," said Sudheer.
If explaining to your father how to spot a fake app seems too challenging, you can also do the downloading on his behalf to ensure that all the apps he uses are authentic ones.
Also, ask him to be careful when granting permissions for apps and websites. “They should be taught to keep sensitive information like bank login IDs and passwords safe and never reveal any sensitive personal and financial information over the phone," said Sudheer.
Learning something new takes time, so remember to be patient and empathetic when teaching your father how to invest and transact online. Ensure he has the right device and a way to resolve any problems that may arise when carrying out such processes. Last, but not the least, be available to help out whenever needed.