Wow, your mom is super-savvy compared to my folks. My mom and dad, bless their hearts, have a lot of trouble with the notion of applications/programs. They don't see applications, they only see things to do. As in:
- Double click (they double click or triple click everything, i.e click till it does something) a certain icon to video chat with us.
- Another icon to send email (a bookmark to gmail)
Even in something like Skype, finding the Chat window (the one you type into) while video chatting is a struggle every time. That skype has a proliferation of tabs and buttons doesn't help, but the idea is that the _vocabulary_ to deal with this sort of thing isn't known to them. I often end up getting frustrated trying to help them do something, and that's when they are already on a video chat with me.
Personally, this sort of thing is very saddening. That I cannot talk to them about the internet (outside of mail and video chat), that they may not fully realize the extent of human accomplishment in the age the live in, is heartbreaking to me. Bad software interfaces are excluding entire generations of human beings from learning about and using technology effectively.
One thing my girlfriend does that I've never understood - she can use my iPhone or iPad expertly (she's even figured a few things out on her own that I didn't know, like unpinch-to-fullscreen video on the iPad). Yet for the longest time, she would always double-click the home button on my iPhone to quit the app, then turn it off.
Because I had double-click-home set to the camera, this meant that every other time I started my iPhone, it was in the camera app, which was really confusing a lot of the time. Once I started installing the iOS4 betas, though, and double-click-home became 'reveal task switcher', her double-triple-quintuple clicking the home button did nothing but show and hide a row of icons.
After the first time she did that and I made fun of her, she learned pretty quick. Still, this sort of thing happens to the smartest/most capable/most educated people. It's not just mom and dad.
User interfaces can't take all of the blame, because there's only so much they can do - people have to want to learn as well. What other complex tool would you expect to pick up and use without any training?