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So the summer has been a relatively uneventful one — thus the lack of regular blog posts from me. But today, something happened that I was sure would be another year or two in the making: I had to give my son The Talk.

Not the sex talk. Not the drug talk. Not the race talk.

The spam talk.

He’s been watching YouTube for years now, mostly videos about Minecraft. But he’s never left a comment before. Today, he did. One post said “OP bow” The next, separate post said “!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”.

He announced this fact quite proudly! “Daddy, look! Daddy! I made a comment. It says exclamation mark exclamation mark exclamation mark…it says a boatload of exclamation marks!”

My wife and I weren’t entirely sure how to react. On the one hand, my son is now actively communicating on the Internet. Wow. That’s awesome! On the other hand, a bunch of exclamation marks is straight-up spam. (“OP bow,” given the context, actually did compose a legitimate, if simplistic, commentary on the video he was watching. So that was cool.)

So we had to sit our son down and tell him: “Honey, this is called spamming, and it’s bad.” I thought he might get confused because in his mind, ‘spamming’ is something you to do attacks in games (i.e. “I’m spamming plasma cannons,” or “I’m spamming heavy slash”). But nope — he got it right away: ‘to spam’ means ‘to do mindlessly.’ Not even a thing.

We told him that spamming can get him kicked off of YouTube, and he immediately started trying to figure out how to fix it. He told us that what he had wanted to do was add the exclamation marks to the end of the ‘OP bow’ post. My wife managed to figure out where the Delete and Edit buttons were (with a little bit of my help), and we taught him how to delete the spammy message and edit the other post to add a concise, single exclamation mark.

Problem solved — for now. My son isn’t even in first grade yet, but he’s not only watching YouTube videos, he’s literate enough to understand how to — and want to — communicate via the written word on the Internet. How awesome is that? (He sent a text message the other day, too!.)

Hopefully, we can maneuver our son into being a functional, non-spammy Internet user at a young age and not have to worry about him feeding trolls as he grows up. Ah, the responsibilities of a modern parent. I love it!

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