Every Question Your Parents Have Ever Asked About Technology, Answered

If your parents were born anytime before, oh, 1995 (and I hope they were) they probably have a multitude of questions for you every single time you visit home, go online, answer your phone, open your phone, or even look in the general direction of your phone. If you're as tired as I am of answering questions like: "how do I make this print?" or "what is the Internet, anyway," allow this article to be a guide for them. 

Print this out and show it to your mom and dad right now. 

1. What does WiFi stand for?

Technically, it doesn’t stand for anything. It’s gibberish. Isn’t that funny? People used to think it stood for “wireless fidelity,” but it doesn’t.

2. How do I access my email?

You don’t have to go on Yahoo and search for “Gmail,” you can just type "" directly into the search bar.

3. Have you seen this article yet?

Mom, dad, in all likelihood, I probably have seen the article you’re going to show me. If it’s a video of a cat doing something stupid, please use your best judgment. If you really, truly want to get an article in front of me, click share on the bottom of the web page. This will post it on Facebook, at which point, you can tag my name. This will give me a notification saying you mentioned me—then I will read it. Or you can email it to me, I guess.

4. When should I tweet?

It depends on your audience! If you’re on Twitter and mostly chat with friends, just keep a watchful eye over their activity. When are they most active on Twitter and most likely to see your posts? If you want more people than your ol’ chums to see what you’ve got to say, tweet in the afternoon: people will be on their lunch breaks and in front of a computer. Remember, don't tweet too much or people might unfollow you!

5. How do I get the Internet on my phone?

Guys, it’s 2015, your phone is the Internet...unless you've got a Jitterbug. The world is at your fingertips if you own a smartphone and it’s actually incredibly easy to get online with one. If you aren’t logged onto WiFi, you’ll either have 3G or LTE. So, unlock your phone and press the Safari app. You’re on, search away. Google also has a ton of great apps to aid you—search, mail, docs. Hail Google!

6. What’s Tinder?

Don't worry about it. It's not for you. But if you must know, if your kid is on Tinder, they’re probably having unprotected sex with multiple partners. Just kidding, though I can’t guarantee they’re not. Tinder is a dating app in which users say yes or no (swiping right and left, respectively) to people after seeing photos. If two people swipe right on each other, they can strike up a conversation. From there, they have the option to meet up in real life and have sex, preferably with a parachute to stave off the ol' clap.

7. How do I keep my laptop from dying?

First, you must identify why your laptop is dying. Are you charging it? There’s actually such thing as charging it too much. Leaving it plugged in 24/7 will drain the battery. Next, do you have a lot of programs running? Also, make sure to keep it cool and clean. An overheated, dusty laptop makes for one that will run slowly and die quickly. Clean it with compressed air and treat it as if it were a dog in a car—think about it.

8. How do I download this movie?

Look, I don’t want to be a hypocrite, but it’s not the best idea to illegally download movies on thepiratebay. We’ve all had that friend who’s received a letter in the mail from 20th Century Fox or Miramax telling them they’ve been caught downloading something. Sure, it’s incredibly easy to download torrents with Vuze, but just buy what you want from the iTunes or Amazon Prime.

9. What’s a meme?

Okay, so you’re probably looking for an explanation behind all those pictures of that Shiba Inu dog or all the pictures of that red-haired dude with that big white block font on the top and bottom. A meme is simply an idea, behavior, or style that spreads from person to person within a culture. They're pretty much just viral Internet jokes and their usual vector is Buzzfeed and Reddit—don't worry we'll get to Reddit later.

10. What is the Cloud?

Okay, think of it this way: the Cloud is like a giant invisible hard drive in the sky. You can’t see it, but you can easily save space on your computer by saving photos, documents, or really anything to the Cloud. How does it work? A friendly Australian news site put it simply: “If you use a Kindle, then the book you are reading is stored in the Cloud. You’ve put holiday photos on Flickr? That’s the Cloud. Has someone, wanting to send you a large file, emailed you a link from Dropbox? Well, you’ve used Cloud computing too.”

11. Why won’t this thing f*cking print?

It’ll print. If there’s a cable involved, make sure it’s attached to the printer. Is the printer plugged in? Plug it in. Does it have paper? Ink? If you’re using a printer on a network, make sure the computer and printer are on the same network. Try to resume printing, try printing from another program, check the printer itself for problems. Re-add the printer and check to see if the document is in the queue. Is the software out of date? Download the newest software and try again. Do you even own a printer? Go out and buy a printer.

12. What’s the Internet?

The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks. It’s really great for looking up interesting facts about animals and downloading U2 songs.

13. Who invented the Internet?

J.C.R. Licklider and Leonard Kleinrock are credited for birthing the Internet, but I'm pretty sure it was Bono standing on Al Gore's shoulders inside a giant khaki trench coat.

14. Does it cost money to email someone? 

No, there are no Internet stamps. However, it does cost money to buy a computer and obtain WiFi. If you, however, are using a stolen computer in a Starbucks, you're sound as a pound!

15. Where’s the remote?

It could be anywhere...under the couch, literally anywhere

16. What kind of phone should I get?

Choosing the right smartphone is akin to picking the right life partner—it all depends on what you want to do with your phone: if your parents are into the whole open-source scene, Android is the way to go. If they don’t know what open-source means, just stick with the iPhone.

17. What’s a hashtag?

Before # became a hashtag, it was a pound sign! The pound sign was used to literally measure weight, then it was used on phones—somewhere in between it was used to signify a “sharp” in sheet music. Now this little guy is a way to identify ideas and sort tweets!

18. Mac vs. PC? What do both of those things mean?

Mac = Macintosh. PC = Personal computer. Just buy a Mac.

19. Why does printer ink cost so much money?

Because it’s made from ivory, ground up unicorn horns, orphan tears, and plutonium. Naw, ink is just expensive. It sucks. 

20. Why does Facebook know what I like?

Facebook is very smart. When you like, share, or search for anything anywhere online in the same browser, Facebook tracks it and then shows you ads based on your personal interest. It’s not the end of the world, it just means that Mark Zuckerberg knows you like spending your spare time looking for ottomans and double-sided ribbed dildos.

21. How do I get Netflix on the TV?

Good question! There are a couple great ways. First off, you should find out which TV streaming system is best for you. The Roku 3 is really great and very easy to use. You can wirelessly set it up via WiFi! If you don’t have that, a standard $6 Ethernet cord will work.

22. Why is the Internet out?

First of all, check to make sure the modem and router are plugged into the wall, and to each other. Next, check for reported outages. If your entire block has Internet, there may be a larger issue at hand (read: Godzilla.) If that's not it, reset your devices—turning stuff off and back on again actually works for most things.

23. Why is my computer slow?

Oh God, so many reasons. First of all, if you have a ton of tabs open, stop that: opening more than ten tabs in your browser slows down your computer, especially if you have multiple mail accounts open. If you have a lot of programs running (Word, Photoshop, iMovie, etc.) close down the ones you’re not using. Delete temporary files to clear space on your hard drive. If you have harmful malware, there are easy ways to get rid of it. Update your operating system. If you’re on a Mac that’s functioning but struggles, buy ram! It’s easy to install and gives your laptop a second life.

24. How do I get rid of spam?

Ugh, spam. Perhaps the worst of the first-world problems. There’s an easy way to unsubscribe yourself from unwanted email list: It’s called and you should just do it.

25. What the heck is Reddit?

Oh man, good question: Reddit is the reason every other website on the Internet exists. Wikipedia puts it wonderfully: “Reddit is an entertainment, social networking, and news website where registered community members can submit content, such as text posts or direct links, making it essentially an online bulletin board system.” So, what’s on Reddit? Everything. Posts where celebrities answer questions, pictures of animals, long threads about politics, DIY projects, jokes, queries, conversation, and—of course—naked bodies. It's the "front page of the Internet" after all.

Jeremy Glass is a writer for Supercompressor and crowdsourced some of these questions, but just remembered what his parents asked him for the rest. 

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