Saturday, November 15, 2008

CyberMom

One Saturday morning, while I was still in bed, I went online on our laptop to check what my boys were doing on the PC. I knew they were already awake and either Gabriel or Markus would be playing Maple Story. I decided to play a little prank.

"is dis markus?" I initiated a chat. My boys did not know that I could access both our PC and laptop from any computer connected to the Internet as if I was in front of the monitor myself.

"yeah... who's dis?"

"mom... don't chat with strangers..."

The chat went on and Markus was wondering how we can both see the same desktop except that I wasn't physically beside him. I played with the cursor. Pressed CTRL-ALT-DEL and other buttons that showed up on his monitor.

"come, check what i'm doing," I said. I was getting a kick out of it. A little later Markus went to my bedroom and watched me as I operated the PC from the laptop. He was fascinated. It was Gabriel's turn to play on the PC. Markus suggested that I mess with Gabriel's game.

"Mom, that would be funny!" Markus said.

"If you're the one playing, will that be funny?" I asked. Gabriel could see an extra arrow going all over the desktop.

"Mom, you froze my game," he complained.

Later that day, Markus was back on the PC in the living room, and I was cooking in the kitchen.

"Markus, don't chat with strangers online," I repeated.

"But it was you, Mom," he replied.

"Yeah, but you didn't know that. It could be a stalker. Just ignore it. Or we should have a code like, I know you have a mole on your face," I said.

"Mom, a stalker would know that," Markus answered. I decided to humour him.

"What about, you don't brush your teeth everyday... Or, you drool on the couch..." Markus was being a good sport.

"A stalker would know that. Something like how many extra toes do I have?" he replied. "Or something emotional like, who's my best friend?"

"That's not emotional," I said.

"Or what time was I born?"

Gabriel butted it in. "Even you don't know what time you were born."

Finally, we set some codes between ourselves.

I monitor my boys' Internet use. I don't trust the Internet. I have parental controls on our computers at home. I keep the login password and change it almost daily. Because Gabriel and Markus come home from school earlier than I do from work, they have to call me for the password after they have done homework and housechores.

Now I don't even have to be home or in the same room with them to see what they are doing online if I wanted to. I won't be doing this a lot. It's just another protective measure.

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