Newbie Mom. Jaded daughter.
March 30, 2010 7:25 PM   Subscribe

I need some interesting internet destinations for my mom.

I helped my wonderful and smart, yet somehow still clueless, mother to finally upgrade from dialup (56K!) to cable this week. She still doesn't really grok the thing we like to call "Teh Internets." Please remind me of some sites that Moms might really like. I've sent her the obligatory Maru and panda sneezing vids, but now I'm at a loss. What sites are your wonderful moms interested in?
posted by thebrokedown to Technology (36 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
What are your mother's interests? Gossip? Cooking? Cars? News and Current Events? My Mom and your Mom might like totally different things.
posted by bunnycup at 7:28 PM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Please remind me of some sites that Moms might really like.

I know you mean well, but you're being all kinds of sexist and ageist here! Let us help! Tell us about your mom!
posted by moxiedoll at 7:29 PM on March 30, 2010 [7 favorites] -- bunniiiieeees!
posted by cowbellemoo at 7:31 PM on March 30, 2010 [3 favorites]

Set up stumbleupon for her. Just go through with her and have her click her interests and then all she has to do it click a button. Next thing you'll need to teach her how to do is bookmark or else she'll be asking you how to get back to those obscure sites she stumbled on.
posted by no bueno at 7:31 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

My mom really likes gardenweb, a forum for gardeners run by ivillage (which has other forums too).
posted by acidic at 7:40 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Well, here's my mom's blog. The links in her posts (and the blogroll on the right-hand side) are things she's interested in. If moms all like the same things, then your mom will like those things too.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:44 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Yep, if she has a hobby then find a community for that (my grandma is into genealogy, but I'm sure there is something for everyone.)

Flash games - Orisinal is intuitive and gorgeous.

My grandpa is into youtube, mostly for classical music videos. Might that be appealing?

News reading online is another hobby of his, if she doesn't know how to use or equivalent, that might help.

Google Reader Play might be a less intimidating, stumbleupon-like thing she might like.
posted by R a c h e l at 7:47 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]

Her likes: Tennis. Adam Lambert (?!). Plants. Bird watching....Ok, ok, all moms are not alike.
I think I was asking for portals to sites that have little chance of being suddenly offensive.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:47 PM on March 30, 2010

Also, allrecipes if she's into food/cooking. Make sure she knows how to read the comments, an important part of the site for me. And then you can turn her onto food blogs and al that wonderful, sweet jazz.

And teach her how to use google maps to find businesses and reviews and get directions? And the satellite view and street view can be fun to play with.

I'll probably pop back when more things occur to me.
posted by R a c h e l at 7:50 PM on March 30, 2010

Actually, I take back my previous apology. I really do want to know what ALL of your fabulous moms find interesting.
posted by thebrokedown at 7:54 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

My mom *loves* Poop Report.
Disclaimer: my Mom isn't like other Moms, so YMMMV.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 7:59 PM on March 30, 2010

My mom spends 90% of her waking hours on It's kind of corny and pointless, but she loves it.
posted by bristolcat at 8:08 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

Check out what her local library may have accessible for her. My library has HeritageQuest which allows my mom to look into old history books and old census records for free. Also many libraries have databases full of magazines like consumer reports and old issues of newspapers that can be fun for looking stuff up in. I got my mom a subscription to the Cornell Lab of Ornothology so she gets their magazine and also some premium access to some of the stuff on their site. Old videos of people she likes on YouTube can be fun. Who knew you could find Tom Lehrer live? She might also like history stuff like poring through some of the Library of Congress American Memory project or other big history stuff. MeFi's own peacay does a website called BibliOdyssey which is really only worth a damn if you have broadband. Obligatory link to my mom's blog.
posted by jessamyn at 8:13 PM on March 30, 2010

My mom LOVES hulu and's word of the day (half of her emails to me are forwarded words that she thinks are pretty or interesting).
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:15 PM on March 30, 2010

My mom reads the newspapers on line. She is a NY transplant so she reads the NY Times daily as well as skimming the NY Post to see what is happening at street level. She also reads the Patch for all the towns around here she wants to know about. And, she loves to read about her grandkids and what is going on in their life so she checks their school website and even the teacher homework pages before she calls so she can ask specific semi-coherent questions. Also, she loves when I send her a link to a Picassa web album. She apparently will also browse through Flikr just looking at random photos. Another thing I did that really helped her was to set up a bunch of Google alerts to her email so she could see whenever something happened about a particular interest. For example, she has a google alert for my last name and my hometown so if the kids make the local paper for a sporting event -- bam she sees it. My mom is also a very interested and pretty darn good cook. She browses for recipes. She loves sites like Woot! also although I am pretty sure she has never purchased anything. Of course, she is also the type to google either old friends, neighbors or past beau's to see what they are up to. Lastly, she love to travel to different countries by sitting at her desk and researching grand places. If she is at all interested in sports, set her up to get scores and highlights on Maybe create an iGoogle homepage with all sorts of gadgets so when she logs in first thing, she will have the "joke of the day" and the weather and all sorts of things like that there. Set her up with a music site such as Lala that will have her music streaming. My mom listens to Sirius on the web. Sinatra and show tunes galore!!

I recommend sitting her down and discussing her interests and what she does everyday without the internets. Then show her how she can delve deeper into it on the web. I would teach her more how to find things than just give her websites. Otherwise she will be very limited. Also, whenever you see something of interest, send her a link. Set up Gchat so she can talk to you or her grandkids. Video Skype is neat too to someone who has never used it.

Apologies for the stream of consciousness.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:23 PM on March 30, 2010

My mom loves Wikipedia. She got into Snopes after the 3472394th email I sent her debunking one of her forwards. She sends me a lot of links to Ezra Klein but that's partly because she's plotting our marriage. She's been keeping up with Roger Ebert's blog after seeing him on Oprah.
posted by sallybrown at 8:23 PM on March 30, 2010

What I've recommended to my mom (not sure how much time she's spent here, though):

* if she wants to play a collection of never-offensive-ever flash games (except for maybe the chat, but that gets shot down pretty quick)
* for non-cat cuteness (nothing wrong with the kitteh's of course, and is the obvious recommendation here)
* and of course, the quintessential time waster:
posted by cgg at 8:31 PM on March 30, 2010

Granted, it's semi-local to her, but my mom goes batshit for the Pioneer Woman. It's due to this one website that my mom asked me to explain Twitter, Facebook, and even .rss feeds. Conversations I never thought I'd have.
posted by Ufez Jones at 8:36 PM on March 30, 2010 [2 favorites]
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 8:47 PM on March 30, 2010

My mom not only loves icanhascheezburger, she credits it with pulling her out of her depression after my dad died. She had been totally resistant to the internet in general until I got her looking at that site.

Also, as others mentioned above, I've got her on Stumbleupon, and she loves Wikipedia and the NY Times. Oh, and Facebook, so she can keep up with family.

Mom (who just turned 70) also loves the Whistling Puppy video (watches it every day!)
posted by MexicanYenta at 8:49 PM on March 30, 2010 [1 favorite]

There are a lot of nice birdwatching/bird identification sites online. And depending where she lives, the local/state birdwatching society may have an email list that updates with recent sightings of interesting birds nearby. (My mom loves this.) Search "bird identification" and the first ten results are all good sites.

Gardening and plant info, ditto. She can find images of plants easily, good information from her state cooperative extension service online about growing plants in her area, which invasive species to avoid, etc.
posted by LobsterMitten at 8:57 PM on March 30, 2010

A lot of the mums I know like Facebook because they keep in touch with their family and friends more easily and there's some games like Wordscraper & Bejewelled. I am a mother too, and I really like news sites, metafilter, wikipedia, weather sites (radar, satellite etc), shopping sites (including Ebay), accommodation booking sites like wotif and lastminute. YouTube. I really like RSS feeds too, so I never miss one lolcat (among 100 other feeds). Is your mother an Oprah fan? That site will lead her to many other places.

Teaching her how to surf (the web) is better than just finding sites for her. Then she'll always eat fish.
posted by b33j at 9:06 PM on March 30, 2010

b33j: agreed. How do you recommend I teach her how to "surf the web"? That was actually the intent of my original question, as ill formed as it was. I would love that.
posted by thebrokedown at 9:30 PM on March 30, 2010

I showed my mom Google and now she loves it; set it so safesearch is on, or whatever, and show her how to image search if she'd like, then encourage her to Google things she's interested in, in the news or whatever; Wikipedia is a great jumping off point, as someone said.
posted by The otter lady at 9:45 PM on March 30, 2010

Seconding Snopes. Every mom needs to frequent that site. It's a fundamental law of the universe.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 10:40 PM on March 30, 2010

Maybe do an tutorial/oral version of this page and then this.
posted by b33j at 10:46 PM on March 30, 2010

Teach her a bit about common web terminology like what wikis, forums, blogs, and Tweets are; show her a few basics like how to enter subjects in a search engine, how to modify her results by using booleans, how to look up information on Wikipedia, Wikihow, HowStuffWorks, and other reference sites; how to research something she might be interested in buying by checking out reviews at sites like Amazon, Consumersearch, and Epinions; how to find info on hobbies or celebrities she's interested in by visiting sites like Gardenweb, IMDB, TVRage, Epicurious,,,; how to score hot deals by visiting the forums on sites like Fatwallet and Slickdeals, etc.

After you've done that and bookmarked her favorites, help her make her own custom portal using iGoogle or Yahoo or whichever portal layout she likes best.

She'll be surfing like a pro in no time. If you're serious about keeping her away from random peen-viewing and stuff like that, you could always tweak the parental filters in her browser to block out offensive content. Make sure you tell her before you do so though; you never know, she might want to view the odd Johnson every now and then (sorry for the visual, I'm just saying!) and secretly resent your well-intentioned meddling.
posted by LuckySeven~ at 11:49 PM on March 30, 2010

I haven't seen Hulu mentioned. I know of one instant where it was a gateway drug to torrenting though. Nothing like a grandma buying a terabyte and a new graphics card to store and rewatch Dark Shadows and Fred Astaire movies.

What are her motivations? News reading, youtube, and facebook farmville are enough to satisfy all kinds of people. Or wikis, huffington post, and craigslist.
Mcsweeneys, digg, theonion. Twitter, metafilter, 4chan. Irc, forums, blogs. Livejournal, deviantart, webcomics. My point is people tend to get locked into regular viewing habits.

Figure out if she's looking to pass lots of time or just look at weather and a lolcat. Of course then you may have to worry about anything from internet addiction to malware pretending to be norton antivirus in a popup.

Get her firefox with adblockers. Explain how rss feeds work. Tell her the pros and cons of going through google or yahoo. Local libraries often offer a variety of computer classes so you may want to look into those.
posted by beardlace at 12:43 AM on March 31, 2010

My mom posts to flickr and plays on Yahoo Games.
posted by backwards guitar at 4:52 AM on March 31, 2010

My grandparents (quite possibly the same demographic as your mom) really love the "say it out loud" feature on dictionary websites.

My mom really loves Hulu, and I'm slowly getting her to use IMDB instead of sitting around speculating what TV show that person was on before.
posted by anaelith at 6:00 AM on March 31, 2010

How do you recommend I teach her how to "surf the web"?

Focus on the power of Googling to lead to interesting content about anything in the world. Being given a list of 50 pre-approved sites might be nice, but what's even nicer is being given a sense that you have the power to find new sites on your own. So, ask her to give an example of something she's interested in -- she might say "bird watching." Go to Google Blog Search and do the most obvious possible search. There you go: a quarter million blog posts about bird watching. If that's overwhelming or too broad, narrow it down by adding a particular bird or location. And so on.
posted by Jaltcoh at 7:01 AM on March 31, 2010

How do you recommend I teach her how to "surf the web"?

Well part of it is figuring out what interests her and giving her a few starting points. The next part is letting her know how to find more stuff like this. Some people are curious and want to forge ahead on their own, some people like going to the same places over and over. You know your Mom better than we do, but keep that in mind generally. A few things I do with both my parents and my students [I teach novice users about technology as a side job]

- have a "landing page" of some sort of that shows up when she opens the browser. This can be her email, one page that she likes, or even a set of favorite sites depending on the browser and how it works.
- show her google and/or other search engines. If she uses firefox, the smart keyword idea can be great for repeating common searches over and over without navigating to a site
- make sure she knows how to navigate to a site by typing in a URL ["a web address, it's like a phone number for a web page"], by clicking a link and by going to a bookmark.
- if possible, make sure she's using firefox and customize it in a few ways that are helpful [pop-up blocker (make sure she can turn it off) and maybe a nice theme and ad-blocker] and make her browsing experience sinmpler
- send links over email from time to time. Lately I've been talking about the OwlBox with my folks and it's been a nice small topic of convesation. The idea that you can see and hear a mom owl and her baby owls really seems like space age, and she can watch the comments fly by if she's interested.
- Encourage her to look up URLs that she sees and heard in her daily life, URLs from ads or from tv shows or from work/school stuff. Show her how places often have websites with more information, and you can get information without making phone calls [again this depends on interests, but bargain shopping or sports or bird photography are all really rich topics where the web adds a lot to what you can get via a book or even a TV show]
- try to minimize failure; explain why things sometimes don't work and what you can do about it. Explain that it's pretty impossible to break a web site but that things do go wrong sometimes. Encourage experimentation and exploration
- explain the weird login system that sites have. Encourage her to have a ready username/password if she needs to log in to buy a book or comment on a website. Explain CAPCHAs

Realize that for a lot of the advice and info you give her, only a small amount will likely stick, but once she's more savvy and experienced it will be good for her to have the grounding and see you as a go-to person for her questions moving forward.
posted by jessamyn at 7:46 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

Please remind me of some sites that Moms might really like.

I'm a mom, and I like Metafilter.
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:59 AM on March 31, 2010 [1 favorite]

You might find some good answers in this previous question.
posted by The corpse in the library at 9:02 AM on March 31, 2010

Ask.Mefi with relevant tags? with relevant tags?
posted by jasondigitized at 9:25 AM on March 31, 2010

Like anaelith, I've found that IMDb is a good site to point people to. Everyone has had the experience of looking at a guest star on their favorite TV show and thinking "where do I know him from?" And now that we have the internet, you can easily find the answer. My grandmother loved the idea of IMDb when it was presented to her that way. She also loves Facebook, because she can see what all her kids and grandkids are up to and see all the pictures they port easily.

The other one that proved to be a popular suggestion was the web site for the local paper, so she could see all the news that she cared about that wasn't going to make it onto the NY Times web site or CNN.
posted by timepiece at 10:56 AM on March 31, 2010

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