In 2011, I wrote a post called “How to Survive Being the Family Tech Support.” Oddly enough, people still mention this article to me now, two years later. I guess I’m not the only one who agonizes with tech troubleshooting for parents long-distance.

A few interesting things have happened since I wrote that piece. First, numerous reports about tablets and their high usability for seniors have been gushing forth. Then lighter, easier-to-hold compact tablets came forward, boasting less-expensive price tags than their full-size counterparts. And a couple of months ago, an iPad app entered the store that looks like the seniors turnkey solution I’ve been waiting for. This is like a perfect storm of factors all working to reduce the excruciating time spent troubleshooting technology for parents, just so they can send a simple email.

For me, ConnectMyFolks looks like an ideal solution for my tech-fascinated (but still very last-century) father, as well as my decidedly techno-phobic mother. The free app brings together key communications — emails, photos/vids and texts — under one exceedingly simple place.

  • You can set up a CMF addressbook for them, so only those contacts can message them. (Say goodbye to cleaning up after a phishing attack.)
  • You can update the addressbook remotely, via an administrative website.
  • You don’t have to use a companion ConnectMyFolks app to communicate with them, which means none of your friends will laugh at you. Just email them at “firstname.lastname” from your own computer, cell phone or tablet.
  • Set up phone numbers for contacts too, and they can text your folks too.
  • The service corrals photos and videos into one easy to find holding tank. (Videos are YouTube only for now, though, so no cat vids from Vimeo. Sorry.)

The graphics are big, easy to see, intuitive and non-intimidating, which is key if you’re talking about any kind of non-techie senior. So if you’ve got an iPad lined up for Father’s Day, be sure to make this your first download. And if he or Mom has one already, then slap this app on there while Dad’s checking out the new tie you bought him. It’s a great way to help them stay in the loop on what you the rest of the family are doing, without any headaches on your part.

Your parents will love it, so much so that they might even forgive you for spray-painting the dog when you were a kid. They’ll at least be grateful — even if you really do this for the sake of your own sanity. (Shhh — we won’t tell.)