Show Your Love For Mom With These Thoughtful Tech Gift Ideas

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Mother's Day gift ideas have expanded well beyond flowers, jewelry, and other traditional gifts (though those always remain welcome). Mom may want a tablet, the latest phone, or maybe just some help setting up her visual voicemail. You don't necessarily have to buy her anything to show how much you care, so we've gathered a few tech-oriented ideas with price tags starting from "free" on up!

Teach Mom How To Text: Mom might complain the screen is too small to read or predictive text makes things hilariously confusing, but if she really wants to reach us anytime, day or night, many of us from the smartphone generation prefer a text over a phone call. Give her your own version of a Groupon and give her a crash course about the ins and outs of texting with a smartphone (just remember: be patient).

Finally Accept Mom As a Facebook Friend: This one might take a big leap of faith, but adding Mom to your social network will mean the world to her. It's much easier if you've already given up your partying youthful ways and don't need to hide anything any longer. Besides, you can still hide certain albums and items from your Mom with custom settings.

Teach Mom Tech Etiquette: It's not as likely Mom has a texting during dinner problem like her kids, but surely we've all have cringed when her cell phone goes off in the middle of a movie at full volume or wish she'd stop emailing in ALL CAPS. Perhaps she's already your Facebook friend and posts embarrassing things on your wall (aka naked baby photos). Be kind, patient, understanding...but also take the time to show Mom the ins and outs of tech etiquette so she can comfortably navigate online without ruffling anyone's feathers.

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Set Mom Up With Skype: Gifts are nice, but most of the time Mom simply wants to hear from you. And in the age of webcams, iChat, and Skype, it's easier than ever to set her up with a video chat system. Whether it's with far away family members or simply a quick "hello" and a smile from her children, Mom will love to be able to not only speak with all her loved ones, but also see them. You can get top performing 1080p resolution webcams for under $75 these days, under $40 if 720p is good enough.



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Setup to Fix Mom's Computer Remotely: Almost every son or daughter recognizes the dreaded Tech Support Call from Mom. But this Mother's Day, maybe while you're back at home visiting, take the opportunity to set up a remote connection to her computer to smooth out future troubleshooting calls. Now you can finally see what Mom means when she's complaining about a "weirdmessagethatcomesonthescreenandthendisappearsandIdon'trememberwhatitsaidbecauseIjustclickedOKanditwentaway" problem with her machine.


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Set Mom Up With Google Calendar: Creating a shared Google Calendar with Mom can be a thoughtful and informative way to let her know about your plans are to help better coordinate visits. She'll finally have a peace of mind knowing when you're out of town (and stopping her from reprimanding you for not telling her in the first place). A shared online calendar can also be used to thoughtfully remind her of maintenance tasks such as changing her car oil, the air conditioner filter, and other tasks you might remember from afar.


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Save Mom From Viruses & Spyware: Computers are just as much of a lifeline of communication as phones, so keep mom's computer running smoothly by installing anti-virus/spyware/malware programs on her computer. Make sure to set her OS and security software to update automatically and on a preset schedule. Apply the strictest settings and have the program automatically delete anything it finds suspicious. 

If you prefer to keep track of updates or play it safe, you can have security apps quarantine suspicious files to review. And take time to explain the basics and how to avoid malware in the first place. But as my own mother once remarked after advising her on the dangers of opening email attachments from friends, "What's the point of a computer if you can't do anything?!"


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Share All Your Family Photos With Mom: Moms love family photos, this is a fact. They want to see every one of those thousands of photos of the grandkids you snapped during spring vacation. So whether it's Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, or one of the myriad of photo hosting sites you use, show Mom how to view your account (e.g. create a desktop alias shortcut to your hosted album). Better yet, create a family yearbook in printed form once a year to mail to her. Or organize your family photos online with automatic face tagging for Mom to enjoy from her computer.


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Replace Mom's Tired Vacuum Cleaner: If your mom is anything like mine, she's still using an old vacuum cleaner made decades ago. She won't replace because "it still works fine." But new vacuum models are more energy efficient, easier to use, quieter, and likely better at keeping interior air quality cleaner than old models. Upgrade her to a HEPA rated model, and ask her if she prefers a canister or upright. Throw in a Groupon for a local cleaning service and you're even that more considerate.

Oh, and that old toaster that burnt your childhood breakfasts, or the old TV that works better when you smack the side of it...it could be an opportune time to upgrade one or many of their electronics or appliances to energy efficient and current feature models. Believe it or not, Mom could want a bigger and better television more than Dad!

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Help Mom Finally Get Her Well Deserved Rest: Moms everywhere have been losing sleep for years: rising early to make us breakfast, to take us to school or baseball practice, or from working an extra job to pay for our braces. If anyone out there deserves a good night's rest, it's Mom.
 
Whether it's a sleep bracelet, sound machine, sleep monitoring system, air purifier, or natural alarms, there are many new technologies available for improve her night's rest.
Other Ideas: Although our roundup of ideas is extensive, it's really just the tip of the tech gift ideas iceberg. The best bet is to be creative and consider Mom's favorite hobbies. If she loves to take photos to email to you, take the time to show her how to use her camera phone and import the pictures to her computer (or even Instagram them). Maybe even get her a new point and shoot. If she loves watching shows and movies on YouTube, set her with a bookmarks of favorites in an easy to navigate setup. If you've got a spare laptop gathering dust, consider upgrading the hard drive and operating system, and set it up for her enjoying anywhere she goes. 

But more than anything, just remember to tell her how much you love and appreciate her...it won't cost you a single cent. Happy Mother's Day to all!


MORE MOTHERS DAY FUN ON APARTMENT THERAPY

(Images: Gregory Han; Sarah Dobbins, Jason Rodway, as linked above)