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Internet Tips for Kids

One of the primary annoyances that comes with watching the Disney Channel is seeing the same commercials over and over again. Many of these demand that the viewers visit the Disney, or, more specifically, ZoogDisney website (presumably The peculiar way in which they phrase the request is the subject of my rant: "Grab a parent and go online."

     Hey, hey, hey. What is this "grab a parent" crap? On commercials, I've heard "ask your parent's permission to go to (barbie/hotwheels/lego/etc. dot-com)", which I always regarded as an attempt on the company's part to cover their ass in case a child found entering their parent's credit card numbers on, claiming "Mattell made me do it!" But it seems excessive to insist that the parent actually be present for the entire duration of the surfing session, doesn't it? I have no doubt that many of the kids watching Disney Channel have little better to do than to visit the website, but their parents--who probably plunked the kid down in front of the TV to get him out of their hair in the first place--are undoubtedly a different story.

     Let me tell you something. If I become a parent (or should I say "when?"), I'm not going to hold my kid's trembling hand while they post on the Kim Possible 2032 message boards. (For one thing, that would significantly decrease their wpm.) In fact, I'd say many of the parents of today feel the same way.

KID: "Mom, I need you to come help me find the latest Motocrossed game."
MOM: "What ah you, retahded?"

     Zoog shows aren't aimed at tiny children, either. The word "zoog", as I understand it (though it's possible that I don't), is reserved for the channel's hippest teentertainment. It's entirely unrealistic to expect that viewers over six would even consider including their parents on any of their online forays, much less all of them. Most of the Lizzie McGuire fans I've run across on the Nets seem to have had no trouble telling me to fuck off without their mommies pressing their wan fingers down on the keys.

     Interestingly, PBS--a non-profit organization, the Debt Free America to Disney Channel's Freddie the Loan Shark, whom you'd think would voluntarily shoulder more responsibility for our children's education and saftey--PBS simply advises kids to go to, without any mention of parental supervision or even permission. PBS sensibly seems to understand one or more of the following concepts: (1) encouraging a child to visit is not akin to giving them leave to search Google for "death and depravity"1; (2) parents may have other things to do besides assisting their children with basic motor tasks; (3) if anyone knows how to use the internet, it's kids; and (4) even the stupidest kid can operate Internet Explorer without cause to wake the 'rents from their rum-addled stupor.

     Even with the authority of PBS, some of the nation's more overprotective parents still may be uncomfortable allowing their children to search unsupervised. After all, the internet is a crazy place, full of bad men, filthy images, anti-Christian sentiments, and, of course, Seanbaby. In order to ease their minds and educate their young, I am providing as a service to 'Net users the world over this handy guide for youngsters on the Internet. I call it

Whippersnappers & the World Wide Web: A Handy Guide for Our Youth.

These days, children are too often the victims of poor Internet use. Whether it be through exposure to harsh words and images of ladies' hoo-has, or through manipulation by bad "Internet stalkers" who lure your daughters to poorly-lit real life (or "RL") meetings through promises of candy and sex, it's a sad fact that sometimes, this "magic learning box" does more harm than good. But what do you know about these personal confusers? How do you know how to educate your children, when they are growing up with all this new technology, and you are naught but a slow-moving brachiosaur in the Jurassic swamps of life? The following handy tips will keep your children from falling into some of the pitfalls discovered through hard experience by your author, an Internet-era teen herself. So grab a youth, sit them down, and make them read the following--it may be the best favor you do for them in their life. Insipid fake tips by an irritatingly sardonic teen web-comedy writer: the anti-drug.

  1. Don't want to run into a scary porn site? Here's a tip for ya: don't search for porn. It's a little trick I've learned. As long as you can assure your parents that you know how not to access porn (and as long as you carefully block them from all sites referring to Net Nanny), maybe they'll go away and let you search for porn in peace.

  2. Remember, people in chat rooms are sometimes lying. They may be telling you fibs about their age, sex, location, intelligence, and even name. (So that explains why there seem to be so many computer-savvy types with unusual first names, like "Gimlet" or "Dragonface".) In turn, it is your duty to lie to them, so's they don't get the upper hand.

  3. While I'm on the subject, there's something else you should know about chat rooms. They're lame. I mean, what I mean is, let's say, they don't exactly screen for the most interesting people on the net, you know? Best just to stick to IMing your friends. It's like a chat room, but with people you know! But, speaking of IM...

  4. Enough with the asking people out on IM already! Yeah, yeah, I know it's a lot easier than going up to real actual people in the real actual hallway or whatever, but it's super-lame, and besides, they might not be actually them but their friend on their screen name. And what if they absent-mindedly leave their IM on while they do something else, then automatically sign off after awhile or sign on at a different location? They could never get your message! And there's no telling if they did. Better just to ask them in person--or at least over the g.d. phone!

  5. And, please, stop with the LOL. Another reason not to ask people out on IM is that people's personalities are somewhat different on IM. It seems that they often turn into simpering fools who laugh out loud at the most innocuous statement. If you are one of these sad fools, PLEASE STOP NOW. It's abso-bloomin'-lutely annoying.

  6. Please, get your own e-mail address. This one is for your own good. Sometimes home computer newbie teens agree to use their parents' addresses or one for the family. Maybe this seems fine, since you never use e-mail anyway; you're only ten, and you only use the Internet occasionally. Still, at least get your own e-mail address. They're free. You'll use the Internet more than you think. And definitely, get one before you start sending out deeply personal letters to celebrities and/or filthy-mouthed hate mails. You don't want your parents reading!

  7. Speaking of filthy-mouthed hate mails, why not quit while you're ahead? There is nothing to be gained from e-mailing people you disagree with, and I'm not just saying that because I've seen the receiving end of those mails. Just think about it. You're pouring all this effort into constructing a statement of your feelings on a particular topic. So what do you do? Send it privately to the ONE person who is sure not to appreciate or agree? That seems fruitless! Why not get some free web space and put your ideas there? Then you're still expressing your opinions, that person whom you could never convert or convince is happily ignored, and it's possible that you'll win friends and influence (more impressionable) people with your dazzling arguments.

  8. But before you start doing that, please, please, please, fix the netspeak. The following words are not that hard to type: "you"; "your"; "you're"; "people"; "one"; "everyone"; "to"; "too"; "for". If it is unduly difficult for you to type (or, I suspect, distinguish between "your" and "you're"), you're not going to get any better by avoiding the problem. And I don't care if you're the smartest honor student in the world, any ideas presented in internet shorthand sound stupid as all get-out. You may as well cut it out now if you plan on being taken seriously ever. I mean, imagine if John F. Kennedy had said "ask not what u can do 4 ur ctry but what ur ctry cn do 4 u!!! LOL :) :) ;)!! LOL!!!!" (Don't think about it too hard.)

  9. God's eyes are stupid. This isn't internet-related, but it's something I think kids need to be told. NOBODY WANTS YOUR GOD DAMN GOD'S EYES.

    1- Strangely, the first thing that pops up for that search is Best of New [back to the text]