5 Tips For Talking To Your Parents About The Internet
Talking to your parents can be intimidating. They raised you, and they cleaned your dirty bottom, and they may still be larger than you. You probably owe them money. They know all your weak points, and the ancient fighting techniques to target them.
"I can destroy you anytime I want, Elizabeth."
But you can't let that fear rule you and avoid important conversations with them. For example, their weak, still-developing minds may not fully understand the dangers posed by the Internet, and you don't want to let them use it without talking to them first. Here then, for your reverse-rearing pleasure, are five tips to help you handle this tricky conversation with your own parents.
Encourage Them To Be Open With You
You need to know where your parents are going on the Internet. If they're going to dangerous or illegal websites, if they're seeing sexual materials they don't understand, or if they're going anywhere they can embarrass you publicly. If they're thinking of trying out Instagram, you need to know about that in advance, so you can clear the fuck off Instagram.
"Fun pics, Ash! But you know what would be really swag? Calling Gammy."
Encourage them to be honest with you by doing the same, or, better yet, by doing the exact opposite. Deceit is your friend here. Your parents are learning every day and will be suspicious if you're nowhere to be found on the Internet, but if you give them the impression that you spend time on a well known site that parents have easy access to, they'll tend to flock there themselves. Parents love Facebook because of its bright colors, and you may find it helpful to keep a Gammy-friendly account there so you can keep an eye on them.
"Status updates about her doing homework and opening a savings account? This all looks legit."
Keep An Eye On Their Browsing Habits
When you were younger, you may have been subject to various limits on your own Internet use, in the form of parental controls or website blockers. And even though it probably took you sheer minutes to get around those, they'll have more value here; ironically, parents don't have the technical savvy to get around parental controls.
They might as well be banging rocks together.
When setting these up, steer your parents away from sites that are likely to give them a virus, which could of course oblige you to offer tech support in the future. Also, block any sites that might be confusing or upsetting, which is most of them now. And finally, block their access to social media platforms where you may need to send or receive a picture of a penis.
"What is a 'DTF'? Is it you? Or is it one of those eggplant pictures?"
Teach Them Not To Share Personal Information
Your parents grew up in an era when children were snatched from the streets all the time, forcing them to travel in packs, sacrificing the slowest of the herd to survive.
"Uphill both ways, too."
So they're familiar with the concept of predators, and are generally savvy enough to not post their address or vital information online. But they're sadly ignorant of anything beyond those basics, and just how dangerous any personal information can be. Spear phishing, for example, is a tactic fraudsters employ that uses personal information about a target to make scams seem more convincing. If your parents mention your name and what you're up to on a publicly visible site, a scammer could use that to create a convincing plea from you for help.
"Hello. My name is DTF, and I am helping your daughter, ASHLEY, with her homework and bank account.
Please send $585 to help pay for BOOKS and VEGETABLES and BANK FEES."
Explain That Once Something Is Posted On The Internet, It Can't Be Taken Back
The menopausal and dadopausal hormones rushing through your parents' bodies can prevent their brains from understanding the implications of things they post on the Internet. You have to explain to them that even if they delete a post or picture, copies or screenshots of it can be taken. An embarrassing story about your dirty bottom or fighting technique can rapidly spread out of control, causing untold damage.
"Hey Michael, I heard you crapped your pants a bunch when you were 2!"
"I was 2!"
"HAHAHHAHHHAHAHHAHAHA HE ADMITTED IT AAHAHHAHAHHA."
Parents also often fail to understand privacy settings and the scope of the audience they're talking to on the Internet. The kind of "hilarious," "really racist" "jokes" that your dad likes to tell at the dinner table probably won't be as well received when read by people who aren't biologically required to love him.
"Hey, it's Dirty Butt Michael! Hey Dirty Butt Michael, your dad's a monster!"
"He comes from a different time, you guys!"
Explain That Not Everything They Read About The Internet Is True
Parents have many useful skills like ... uh ... knowing things about bonds, I guess. But the parts of their brain that can discern truth from fiction haven't fully formed yet, and this can leave them dangerously vulnerable. Falling prey to scams and fraud is the most obvious threat, depriving your parents of the money they were supposed to be spending on you.
"Son, because of this man in Nigeria, I'm going to need you to not get sick for a year or two."
More worrisome: Your parents' soft, malleable brains leave them vulnerable to sensational reporting. You need to explain to your parents that not everything they read on or about the Internet is true. Sit down with them and go through a few websites, pointing out things to be wary of. Anything where "Obama" is used as a prefix, for example, or whatever the latest moral panic about youth culture is.
"Kids, your mother and I need you to explain to us what buttchugging is."
I know these are awkward conversations to have, but you have to get through them. It's your responsibility as a child to keep your parents safe. If you don't talk to them about buttchugging, who will?
It's us. It's Cracked. We'll tell your parents about buttchugging.
Chris Bucholz is a Cracked columnist, a dad, and does actually know quite a few things about bonds. His first novel, Severance, is incredible and available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Apex Books. Join him on Facebook or Twitter.