The endearing joy of mumtech

As one woman’s texts with her mother go viral, we share some of our own experiences of our parents’ collisions with modern technology 

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By Marisa Bate on

A 36-year-old woman in Ohio has posted text messages sent between her and her mother to her Facebook page. So far, they have been shared online over 530,000 times and it’s easy to see why. Teasing out her mum’s failure to grasp the art of predictive texts, the results are hilarious. 

Mum- (and dad-) tech isn’t unfamiliar to anyone who has ever tried to explain Twitter, the Cloud or Bluetooth to a parent. Our parents are wonderful, talented, brilliant individuals, but something inexplicable happens when you ask them to download WhatsApp or suggest setting up an internet banking account. A mixture of fear and annoyance seems, for some at least, to baffle, stump and mercilessly trip them up, only to the amusement of their cruel children. It’s either like giving a Rubik's Cube to a cat – silent fury pervades as they seem woefully ill-equipped, before wandering off and never bothering again – or it’s like giving a Rubik's Cube to a toddler: they are keen to take a look and *something* happens, but it’s certainly not the thing that it was meant to. 

Take my own mum as a case in point. (Sorry, Mum.) Drive alone down to Italy with two small children? No problem. Work in high-pressure situations with government minsters? Sure. Understand that she can access her Gmail from computers other than the home desktop? Impossible. Will she ever know that her Twitter rants to BT go unheard as she fails to use their Twitter handle? Will she ever, ever remember her Apple ID? And, when it comes to technology, why does she persist in behaving like the FBI has bugged her every movement? She makes Edward Snowden look unbothered on the issue of internet security. Applying a Cold War spy mentality to her digital footprint, she’s remarkably (and impressively) untraceable online. 

We are not here to mock, though (or not in a mean way, anyway). And, of course, there are plenty of mums and dads who have a better grasp of droids and VR and the latest iPhone than I do. But, for the ones who don’t, the ever so slightly mean teasing of amazing #mumtech is a cruel sport that we will lovingly take part in. 

Here, The Pool shares their stories of mum and dad tech: 

My parents have a shared email address

My parents have a joint email address – it’s basically just their surname and the town that they live in at My dad also has a work email but, for all personal interactions, they use just the one. Last year, Guardian writer Megan Carpentier said people who use joint email accounts leave her “nauseated”, but this isn’t really some cutesy statement – it’s just a hangover from when people only had one landline, and then one desktop computer. Now, when I’m sending them links or news stories, I just put FOR MUM or FOR DAD in the subject line. It’s strange because, in my relationship with my boyfriend, email is one of the places where we are most autonomous, and you just know that looking at the other person’s email would be a little violation, even if you are pretty sure what’s in there. My parents just don’t have that.
Lynn Enright

The Rod

My dad refers to any and all internet activities as "The Rod". As in "get on The Rod and find me some cheap flights" and "ask The Rod where my old girlfriends are".
Caroline O'Donoghue

My dad calls Facebook "Facepage"

My dad denies it now but he once typed into the search bar. Also, my mum used to do that Twitter thing, too. And she puts kisses on the end of her tweets. Also, my dad calls my phone "your text machine" and doesn't understand group messages. Also, if the internet cuts out when he's doing anything, he thinks it's someone sat in a car outside, stealing his online banking details. He will also only use PayPal to buy things over the internet. He also calls Facebook "Facepage".
Alex Haddow

My mum accidentally posts things to Facebook

My mum kept posting links to things she wanted for her birthday, instead of emailing them to me. Not intentionally. She then progresses to – somehow – posting the payment details page of her own M&S account. When she first learnt to text, she used it purely for nagging purposes. Mainly to my brothers who were both at uni at the time: 
- Have you cleaned the bathroom lately? 
- Remember: dirty underwear goes in the wash! 
- It's a good idea to bleach those teacups once in a while. 
Obviously, I am a mum, too – and screen grabbing is beyond me.
Jo Morrell

My mum has started using emojis

Since she's had my old iPhone, my mum has thoroughly embraced emojis. Except that her use of them is totally random and the source of much amusement in our house. For example: "I got your shopping." [unicorn emoji]; "Are you in?" [cheeky tongue-out emoji]. My dad has debit/credit cards, obviously, but still has a deep-rooted suspicion of cash machines and prefers to get a wad of cash out over the counter on a weekly basis. He has just acquired an email address, but won't use it.
Elaine Robb

My mum is the opposite of this

She is more than capable, and spends some of her week teaching silver surfers at her local library. The rest of the time, she writes a blog,, where she teaches “tatting” (a lace-making technique) and talks to her cult following of fans around the globe. And, I have just checked, she even posts videos on YouTube! I don’t even know how to post videos on YouTube! Way to go, Mum! #proud
Lucy Dunn


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