Tuesday, October 18, 2011

When the Kids Become the Parents

Okay, this isn't really The Post That One Day I'm Bound To Write About My Parents Being Senile and Elderly, but this title is still fitting.

Recently, and only recently, my mom finally started to independently get on the computer and use email.  I KNOW.  I'm talking... maybe a MONTH ago this happened.  She's only 50 years old, it was time she learned how to use a computer.  She types amazingly well (years of secretarial work on a type writer), but hasn't been in the workforce for 13 years, and even then for a few years there she wasn't doing anything that required learning to use the computer.  So, she never learned and never wanted to bother.

Finally, I convinced her she needed to get connected.  Her high school friends have begun reconnecting because of "The Facebook" as they call it, and they were beginning to ask her for her email address.  I know she was starting to feel more and more embarrassed over not joining the computer age.

Now, she's able to turn on her litttle netbook and independently check and send email.  She can use the internet for simple things, mostly she gets to Google and then searches for what she wants to look up.  She still gets a bit confused sometimes, but she's doing well.

Right now, my parents are on vacation and I'm staying at their house to care for the dog and keep my grandmother company in the evenings after work (and because my brothers are here too, but they barely need me anymore).  Tonight, a telemarketer calls.

My grandmother informs me that my mother is entering "all sorts of those contest things on the computer", and now they are getting FREQUENT phone calls looking for a "MARY" (not her full name!).  My grandma is fed up with the phone calls.

I suddenly feel like this is "when the kids become the parents" type of moment.  I'm going to have to talk to my mom, and explicitly teach her critical thinking and appropriate Internet use!  I will try to do this without being condescending.

The thing is, my dad is really bad at this too.  He can use a computer very well, but he won't listen when you try to explain that Not Everything Online Should Be Trusted.  They are entering a billion contests because they've read those magazine articles about the people who "Win All Sorts Of Amazing Things Just Through Internet Contests!!!1!1!!!".  They don't seem to get that not EVERY so-called "Contest" site is legit!

I think the thing is... we learned about this in school, we were taught over and over again how to be diligent and careful in the Online World.  We are much more tuned in to this sort of thing than our parents are.  Our parents are making mistakes, and now we need to tactfully (!!!) figure out how to tell them to S.T.O.P. STOP!  Use their BRAIN!  Stop trusting everything and giving out your personal information!

It's pretty interesting to be in this position.  I wonder what technology will come out when I'm my mom's age that will have my future offspring blogging (maybe? from a device the size of my baby toe?) the same damn thing about me. 

"MOM IS SO DENSE!  Everyone KNOWS you don't pump OLD FASHIONED GASOLINE into your FUEL tank in the FLYING CAR v2.0! GAWD!"


  1. (This will make sense to your dad if it doesn't to you. If I'm wrong, let me know and I can explain.)

    Create a separate account on the computer for your mom, one that's not an admin on the machine - either a guest (if all she does is browse) or a "user". Have her log into that account instead of the default one (which is likely an admin). This will reduce the exposure to installers and the like, which they are hitting if they're on contest sites.

  2. If you're puttin gas into a FLYING CAR v2.0 you deserve whatever criticism you get! Everyone knows those things only run on dreams and prayers!


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