How to Give a Tech Gift

To give a gift is to accept a responsibility. When you give something, you take another person’s heart into your hands for a moment. The idea is to brighten it and polish it up a little bit, and then put it back where it came from.

For a tech gift, the gift-giver’s responsibility includes a few technical check-off items that will improve the reaction to the gift. Not to mention the immediate and possibly the long-term enjoyment of it. Get this wrong and you might as well take someone’s heart and stab out a cigarette in it. We don’t want to do that, now do we?

Remember these responsibilities:

You own the problems

If you give a tech gift to someone who understands the product less well than you do, you are accepting the job of acting as tech support for them for a while.

If they don’t understand what an Amazon Echo does, or how to load photos onto the frame you got them, or how often a device has to be charged… that is on you. You must help them get up to speed, and you must be gracious about it. That is part of the gift.

Give them power

While most battery-powered tech products these days come with at least some power pre-loaded into them, not all do. It’s polite to give a gift with a useful charge on it, regardless. A nice full charge is even better, if you can slyly remove the gizmo from its box and charge it up before you give it.

No old software

Many new tech products, especially game consoles, need to go through a lengthy update process when they’re first unboxed, before they can be used. It’s not always possible to perform this update without taking ownership of the product outright, but especially for a family gift, try to get the thing ready to use before it’s opened up. Nothing kills the buzz like a 2-hour software update.

Protection from owies

Especially for tech gifts given to kids, you owe them as well as yourself some piece of mind. Get a case, or an insurance plan (or both), or come to peace with the fact that their new tech bauble may quickly end up shattered on the floor, upsetting both giver and receiver. It takes time to learn how to treat delicate tech toys; give kids some leeway to learn.

Let it go

At some point, you must remember that a gift is a gift, and the recipient of the gift has no responsibility to you to use it or enjoy it. The responsibility is on you to give graciously; it’s not on the recipient to change their life to incorporate their new toy.

Play with them

That said, if you want to use your nerdy tech gift to help forge a human relationship, offer to use it together. Play a game on the console, send them an animoji, load the picture frame with happy photos from yesterday, and so on. At their best, modern technologies are channels for new forms of personal communication and connection. And that’s what giving is about.

Happy Holidays, one and all!

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