Thursday, September 13, 2012

Facebook, Hashtags and YouTube, oh my!

My latest column for ...

I am not ready for the future of protecting my children from the Big Bad Internet Wolf. It seems to call for a level of technical savvy for which I am horribly unprepared.

For instance, the Tech Guy at work makes us change our passwords frequently and never accepts something simple (like “12345,” which, coincidentally, is the combination of my luggage). Not once this week have I logged in correctly on the first try.

Our toddler, Cooper, already likes to play “Angry Birds” on our Kindle Fire, so it’s not much longer before he’s showing me how to write programming on that computer thingamajig that sits in the corner of our living room and is used pretty much for checking email and Facebook on the Interwebs, and that’s it.

Not to get too “In my day” on you, but we didn’t have a computer when I was growing up, nor did we consider how we survived life without the ‘net, iPhones or streaming “Short Circuit” on the TV. Upgrading from Burgertime on our Intellevision to Super Mario Bros. on Nintendo ’64 seemed top of the line at the time, and made us very happy.

I was in college before I could spend hours a day in the Union library on ESPN’s chatrooms talking about college football while pretending to be my sisters just to see how crazy the other guys acted when a ladyperson entered. This would also explain the 2.25 GPA after my first semester as a freshman.

In the very near future, when it comes time for our mini Cooper and baby Penny to surf the web, you betcha that I will not hesitate to monitor every keystroke, every page and every Google search.

This, after I try to get them to watch the Hampster Dance site and Peanut Butter Jelly Time, and they roll their eyes and declare that to be “old.”

Even the strictest controls aren’t a guarantee. When I do a search on Google Images I have it set for the most puritanical level possible, and even then you’d be surprised at how often mostly-nekkid folks or graphics with cursing pop up no matter how much I yell at it to “Get thee behind me thou foul temptress!”

If you need help as well, Focus on the Family has a handy dandy guide to protecting our kiddies from online evils, although not one of which is “turn the dastardly thing off.”

The guidelines include such advice as, “Be suspicious of anyone you meet online and understand that a person may not be who he says that he is.” Lesson learned. See: “pretended to be sisters” above.

My kiddies should also be warned that I will be sneaking into their chat rooms to see what’s being discussed, which will probably be topics such as, “My parents keep invading my privacy” as they keep wondering why a random chatter replies all the time, “Sounds like a caring and awesome parent to me.”

We do have a few years before all of this, at least, and when it comes time I’m sure Cooper can install all the software for us. I hope he doesn’t figure out my new password, though. It will be “54321.”

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