RM column July 6th – Lessons in Google

I wrote recently on how the whole family is becoming more and more technology-minded and it’s generally great, well except when they want to get on my computer when I am working.

So whether the Young Wan is browsing YouTube, Nanny her cheap flight sites or me anything and everything, the laptop can pretty much be on the go all the time.

When you consider the fact that Nanny lives a good bit away, far enough away that regular phonecalls are just too expensive, her recent foray into the internet and all its bounties is very welcome.

After all we can talk for free on Skype, or just chat through the excellent instant messaging service that is available for free with no messy downloading on Google Mail.

I tried unsuccessfully to get the Young Wan interested in it last year when she went away, but she was insistent on using the MSN instant message service involving downloads which is not something that every work place allows.

Besides if you are a bit of a computer novice, it makes absolute sense to keep things simple and what could be simpler than a chat facility where you can just chat.

So that’s how I have been keeping in touch with the Young Wan. She goes online and can see that I am also online and we can chat.

A funny thing happened though the other day that made me realise google chat has actually increased and benefited our communications, and more importantly my probably non-existent listening skills where she is concerned.

Take for example a situation recently the Young Wan opened a Bebo account and in a short period of time the former friends who were bullying her last year found her page on Bebo and started to post comments.

Given the grief they caused last year I probably would have hit the roof if we were having the conversation face to face. It is hard for me to understand why you would put yourself through that again. In real life I would probably rant/rave and ask a lot of questions the Young Wan is not really supposed to answer. She is just supposed to nod her head and agree with me.

If she gets fed up with this she may resort to becoming cheeky which then piles on even more annoyance from me.

However, we were chatting the other day online and she mentioned her new Bebo page and I immediately typed ‘are you wise?

She explained she uses it to talk to her friends who are not on Google mail, so I suppose it is fair enough she is older and wiser than last year. But she was chatting to some random fella who is into the same music as herself which I didn’t like at all.

She told me: “They are all weirdoes but what’s the harm if they don’t know anything about you? I replied: “Because you could inadvertently tell them more than you should.”

She added: “I’m not stupid mum! I just talk to them about music and all that. I’m not a baby I can handle it and it [the bullying] was a long time ago. It was just them being horrible its fine now.”

Well I can’t really argue with that, at all. Much as I want to fight all her battles and protect her from the nastiness of others, I suppose I can’t do that all the time. She is now growing up and becoming more and more mature and capable.

And the beauty of all this is because I am typing a question to her on Google chat, I have to wait on her answer. It’s a far cry from how sometimes situations like this are handled in real life when I sometimes don’t give her a chance to answer. It’s one question after another bombarded at her.

Mmm I think there may be a lesson for me here in Google chat!

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