Now that all our high school kids have a laptop, I occasionally get them to submit economics homework via email. One of them forwarded the following message to me yesterday – I guess by accident after clicking “send to all contacts”. Judging by the huge number of email addresses in the chain at the beginning of the message, this may be quite widespread!

“Hey Guys & Girls, you all know how it feels when you’re talking to someone online, and your mum is standing right behind you, reading every word that appears on the screen. Then, of course, the person swears or talks about how much they love you, or they’re your crush or something and your mum reads it and tells you to get offline that instant and not talk to that person anymore. Well, what can we do about that? To solve this problem, we have now started the ‘code 9’ system. In code 9, you simply type the number ‘9’ when your parent or sibling is watching over your shoulder as you type. The person you’re talking to will know what you’re talking about, and start a conversation on homework or something. When your parent or sibling leaves, type ’99’ to let the person know that they are gone, so you can begin a normal conversation again. Please send this to everyone you know so that code 9 can go into effect.”

Ingenious! I’m not completely sure why you have to write in code “99” after the adult has already left. Maybe it’s quicker than typing “we can begin a normal conversation again now!”.