Now the festive storm has passed, we can spend our downtime trying to navigate the multiple functions on our shiny new cameras, phones and laptops.
They all seem to do much more than anyone could need in a human lifespan. But if you have a problem with your new gismo, pop round to our place and ask our kids. They are absorbing techno-babble like I used to hope they’d soak up foreign languages.
First it was Club Penguin. They were nattering on about that for months before I realised that it was a chat room: a highly moderated kiddy-lite chat room, but still a chat room.
Then it was Animasher and You Tube.
Now they’ve followed their friends onto Facebook.
Luckily, I’m up to speed on this one. With Club Penguin I had to learn how to navigate the virtual arctic tundra to check what they were doing there. But I’ve been on Facebook for years. Hell, I was on it when you had to be a student to get on it.
So before allowing them on, I bore them to death with checking their privacy settings, insisting they become my ‘friends’, committing their passwords to memory and establishing that they know why they have to be careful online.
I use a handy newspaper article to discuss what I assume will be a difficult subject.
“So that’s how you spell paedophile,” says Ben, more astonished at the vagaries of the English language than at the horrors of human behaviour. Cue a short discussion about the Greek derivation of many of our words.
I drill them regularly about accepting only ‘friends’ they know in the real world. They take this so much to heart that they rigorously interrogate any friend request from people they don’t immediately recognise, even distant cousins who share their surname.
But once all that’s sorted, I am faced with a new dilemma. Do I really want the children entering my own online world?
At the risk of being accused of hypocrisy, I have mercilessly adjusted my own privacy settings so they don’t receive any of my status updates.
A mother has to have some privacy from her kids.