This. My 60-year-old father can tell the make and model of any car manufactured before the catalytic converter, just by hearing the sound of an engine. As a career veterinarian with 30+ years of experience and an interest in staying abreast, he is intimately familiar with the latest in small animal medicine. But when it comes to anything with transistors, he knows only the basics. He's always found them frustrating and irritating, and only started using email about 6 years ago when forced into it by an extended vacation my mother took alone. He only got a cell phone 2 years ago. I used to spend hours each month helping him maintain his slow-because-he-bought-a-P4-with-SDRAM Windows computer.
After being fed up with years of parental support, I convinced him with much prodding this past spring that instead of an HP, he should spend a bit more to buy a refurbished aluminum iMac with a full extended warranty and a Time Capsule. I was done with limited Windows profiles, spyware,Firefox with IE skins and changed icons, and all the rest. The Mac was a great decision. He's in love with it, and my Mom is now plotting her own mac purchase.
I spent the largest part of the two hours of setup copying files via thumb drive, configuring his Safari Top Sites page, and getting Skype turned on so he can talk to my brother in Italy. Haven't really thought about it since, but after years as a reluctant computer user, he's blossomed with the Mac. The iPod he never used to use is suddenly full of podcasts and music, and we'll talk about the Writer's Almanac show a couple of times a week. His digital camera no longer stores all of his photos for viewing on the little screen, and he doesn't go to Walgreen's to get help make prints anymore. - instead, they're in iPhoto with face tags, organized into events, and he uses his own inkjet with photo paper now. He never has to futz with the mic or camera when he's doing a video call with my siblings. He's an avid skier, so we put the snow reports for his season ticket resorts on his Dashboard, as well as the weather reports and clocks for various places around the world where we have family.
This is turning into a Mac ad, and I didn't mean that. Clearly all of these things can be done with Windows/Linux. My point is that the right combination of technology, in my case an iMac, managed to excite my father into an interest in my own passions, while simultaneously opening up all the really cool parts of the internet to him. And in the process, I no longer have to do any tech support for him. I don't have to worry about backups, I don't have to worry about viruses, I don't have to worry about email attachments, I don't have to worry about "How do I..." phone calls.
Instead, we have more things to talk about, and he's able to finally use these fantastic tools from which I've made my career. So: if the technology your family is using doesn't work for them, whether they're currently on Apple, Linux, or Microsoft OS's, try a different one. It's made all the difference for me.
Caveat: I really can't recommend buying a computer without a user-serviceable hard disk unless you also buy the extended warranty. Apple wants $450 to replace the 320GB hard disk on an out-of-warranty iMac with another 320GB. I found out the hard way on my own iMac. To replace the disk in an iMac you have to remove the glass and the screen. Get dust between those two during the repair, and it's game over. This is the rare case where the warranty is money well spent.