Several years ago, before Dad got sick, he bought Mom a Kindle for Christmas.

We had hoped she could check out library books and enjoy an endless selection of reading material. For some reason, we never got the hang of it, and she decided she’d rather hold a book in her hands than an electronic device. She was delighted to discover that she could play her favorite game, Spider Solitaire, on the Kindle.

Dad “borrowed” it a time or two… then we discovered the plethora of other games that could be downloaded, including Dad’s favorite, the slot games! It quickly became evident that he needed his very own personal Kindle. Poor Mom wasn’t getting much screen time since Dad had taken it over. They were so cute about it. We got one for Dad, and every evening would find them playing their favorite games. Often when I would call and ask what they were doing, she would tell me she was playing “the game,” and Dad was playing “the slots.”

Over time, the newness wore off, and they used them less often. Dad went back to his cowboy shows and mom to her crossword puzzles. She still enjoyed playing “the game” on the desktop in the office, but he pretty much gave up the electronic games. The Kindles soon became collectors of dust, chargers were misplaced, and they were ultimately forgotten. Dad slowly began to deteriorate and wasn’t interested in much of anything.

Since moving in with me, Mom has started playing “the game” frequently again. She was using a laptop that my dad gave her a few years ago, but somewhere along the way, it had become possessed by aliens and would sometimes do crazy things. No amount of coercion, scolding or encouragement from her (or me) could right all that was wrong with it, and we gave up even trying.

This past Christmas, my brother got a new Kindle for her. We set up a new Facebook account for her and, of course, downloaded “the game!” I believe that’s the best Christmas gift she has received in a very long time. (Even better than the first time around, because she doesn’t have to share! Haha!) In the past, she hasn’t been very active on Facebook and would only make a comment here and there. While I don’t think she is initiating any posts, I believe she is “liking” more posts and commenting more often.

We’ve cautioned her so much about the dangers of the internet, that she has been a little hesitant to venture from her Facebook newsfeed. Always before, when she would try to click on an article, she’d end up somewhere deep within the bowels of cyberspace, unable to find her way back home. I introduced her to the “back” arrow and taught her how to navigate her way back to Facebook without having to leave breadcrumbs.

Do you remember the scene in “The Wizard of Oz” when Dorothy walks out of the door into Technicolor Land of Oz? What an amazing discovery! That’s how I felt when I discovered the unlimited wealth of “stuff” there was to see out there. It’s so much fun to see Mom ease her way onto the Information Highway! She is a clickin’ fool and has learned how to move around all by herself without any help from me! She’s reading all sorts of articles about all sorts of things. And lucky me, I get lots of reminders about things I read years ago! Ha!

I’m really proud of her for being adventurous and not afraid to learn something new. The internet is a new playground with an infinite source of entertainment and information. I think it is a perfect way for her to keep her mind active and sharp. Although, I may want to consider adding parental controls; I’m not sure she is quite ready for some of the things she may find while riding along the Information Highway!

Cathy Watkins Bennett is a Barrow County native and a graduate of Winder-Barrow High School. Send comments about this column to bencath@aol.com.

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