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Rules for Teenage Internet Access?

simoniker posted more than 10 years ago | from the just-checking-my-email dept.

The Internet 2067

Kent Brewster writes "Despite dire warnings, we've gone ahead and put computers with Internet access into our adolescent (11, 12, and 15-year-old) childrens' rooms. We've got a nebulous set of rules, which include several like these: Keep the door open when you're on the computer. Don't quickly exit from everything when we walk past. Don't ever lie to us about what you're doing. Unfortunately we've had instances where all of these rules - especially that last one - have been broken, so now we are looking at getting more specific. We'd be very interested in hearing from both sides of the fence: parents with Net-connected progeny, and those who are chafing under their rule. Parents, once you're past making the huge mistake of actually letting the kids have computers in their rooms, what's a reasonable set of guidlines? Non-parents, what are the rules that chap your hide the worst? Do they actually make a difference in your behavior, or do you just sneak past them anyway? Finally, and this is sort of a meta-question from an exasperated dad, does everybody lie about what they're doing on the Internet?"

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FIRST! (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484275)

bwahahahaha! blackhawks down! take that evil empire! iraqi minutemen ROCK!

Trust them (5, Insightful)

r_glen (679664) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484280)

By age 15, I'd be concerned if they weren't yet looking at porn.

As far as the "don't quickly exit from everything" rule, I think that's a bit unfair... there are plenty of legitimate reasons they might want to (emails, IMs, etc.), and even the naughtiest of children should feel they have SOME privacy. Besides, knowing that you trust them is far more important for their growth than seeing a few naked women (masturbation discovery nonwithstanding).

Re:Trust them (4, Funny)

r_glen (679664) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484298)

On second thought... just block and you should be fine.

Re:Trust them (5, Insightful)

KDan (90353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484331)

Absolutely. Given how central the internet has become to many people's social lives, you may well find that they are exchanging messages with their sweetheart(s) and you have absolutely no business (as a parent or otherwise) being even aware of the specific existence of these messages, unless your kids want you to.

And if you're really worried about them finding bad stuff on the internet, why don't you take the slightly longer and harder route of actually educating your kids so they know why it is you would rather they didn't browse certain types of site, and let them browse them to get out the initial curiosity, and then you'll find that they won't bother because they're only interested in 'evil sites' because they're forbidden and they don't know enough about them. Forbidden + mysterious = surefire failure at what you're trying to do.


Re:Trust them (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484435)

You have every right to be investigating every single aspect of your minor children's lives. Furthermore, you have every responsibility to.

Re:Trust them (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484410)

spoken like someone who is obviously not a parent. It is the parents JOB not to trust their kids. You ask lots of questions that annoy them and put up lots of rules that frustrate them because that is your job.

Simple answer to the problem above... no private internet access. Would you let your kids wander on their own through the worst areas of your city?

BTW, even if you did trust your kids, the internet is a communication network. And, you would have to be a complete idiot to be trusting anyone else.

Re:Trust them (1)

Ledora (611009) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484414)

my parents had trust had trust in me. I looked at porn (around 15) but I am 21 now and I think I turned out okay. I wouldn't be TOO concered but you do need to make sure what they are doing isn't TOO bad. They also need privacy for like e-mails and friends.... maybe use a very stealthly key logger and only bring up something if they are truly doing something bad (drugs or maybe violance)

Re:Trust them (1)

pHatidic (163975) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484437)

By age 15, I'd be concerned if they weren't yet looking at porn.

By the time I was 15 I was already bored and jaded by internet porn, erotic starwars fanfic^W^W stories, and the anarchist cookbook. Not that I don't still see what's out there now and then :) Ever since the tilted forum project took down the titty board, the internet just hasn't been the same *sigh*.

Indeed (0, Offtopic)

useosx (693652) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484446)

The only potential problem that comes from masturbation to pornographic images is getting in to bad habits (you know, trying to come real quick because your parents might find you). Trying to come too quick, masturbating too hard, etc. I'm speaking from a male perspective as I am male.

If you have a son, but them The Multi-Orgasmic Man [] . Buy one for yourself, too.
If you have a daughter, buy her Sex For One [] . (Again, buy it for yourself, too).

If your brave, buy them sex toys [] . A Fleshlight for the boys, and Hitachi Magic Wand for the girls. Get to know queer people...they tend to be kinky and healthy at the same time (at least the ones I know).

As for other things, I'm sure Slashdotters agree that MUDing and IRC and whatnot are Good Things.

Give them some privacy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484282)

your not teaching them anything by snooping. Give them some privacy and they will act accordingly.

Re:Give them some privacy (1)

Goldberg's Pants (139800) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484344)

This is why my son is *NEVER* having a computer in his room. It will be in the living room.

As for the fact your children lied... WHAT?! CHILDREN LIED?! What next? Surprise when hitting someone with your car at 60mph kills them?

Snooping is a VERY bad idea. The genie's out of the bottle. They won't want the computer in the living room now it's in their bedroom.

In short, you're screwed.

Re:Give them some privacy (1)

NSash (711724) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484426)

Snooping is a VERY bad idea.

On the contrary, snooping is an excellent preventative tool. My father went that route, and it put the fear of God in my brothers and me. (Of course, later on it turned out that he was bluffing about how much he could really tell... but it was a very effective bluff.)

My 2 cents as an older brother... (4, Insightful)

bigHairyDog (686475) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484288)

Observing my siblings and their friends grow up I have noticed something - stricter parenting doesn't make children misbehave less, it just makes them better at lying. You have two options -

  1. earn the respect of your children by giving them unfettered access to the web (and risk the obvious consequences)
  2. decide to restrict their access by setting up restrictions / uninstalling chat apps (and risk reducing the value of the web to your children)

Which one all depends on how street-wise you think your kids are. If you think that they are going get influenced by what they see or talk to the wrong people (like paedophiles or Irish people), the dangers are too great so you have to restrict them. If you are just simply uncomfortable with them seeing inappropriate images, bear in mind they'll see them elsewhere if not at home, so what's the point in stopping them?

Re:My 2 cents as an older brother... (1)

Snake_Plisken (666881) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484309)

What's wrong with the Irish?

Re:My 2 cents as an older brother... (1)

bigHairyDog (686475) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484363)

What's wrong with the Irish?

I stand by my comment. If me and my family are anything to go by, there's plenty wrong with the Irish ;o)

I rest on the rule that it's not racism if it's also self-deprecation/P

Re:My 2 cents as an older brother... (1, Insightful)

Treacle Treatment (681828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484334)

Children will not respect you for letting you have free reign on the internet. Wake up. 15 year-olds need rules and guidance just as much as the rest of us.

Re:My 2 cents as an older brother... (2, Insightful)

gregfortune (313889) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484345)

If you are just simply uncomfortable with them seeing inappropriate images, bear in mind they'll see them elsewhere if not at home, so what's the point in stopping them?

Because that is part of your responsibility as a parent. Head in the sand is a pretty weak way out.

Re:My 2 cents as an older brother... (1)

ksandom (718283) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484371)

I would like to extend on this by saying that the more you restrict them, the less they will listen to you. I think guiding them rather than controlling them is the key. However, I have never been a parent, so I don't have many ideas on where to start. There are numerous stories about if you tell a person not to do something (especially children), they will then become curious and do it. Think pea, stone etc up nose. Extremes in any view is likley to lead to problems. Good luck.

Re:My 2 cents as an older brother... (2, Insightful)

EinarH (583836) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484373)

If you choose option 1 above just remember too tell them about the dangers before you let them loose... Don't try to scare them, just tell them that:
-There *are* evil people out there..(again without making them afraid or intrerested)
-Other people out there are after their money.

Tell them to be critical against what they hear and see.
Don't lie to them it will only make them disappointed in a way that they don't trust you.

Age apropriate rules are the key (4, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484384)

For a 15 year old, I wouldn't really be worried. The only real risk would be pervs chatting them up (especially if they were a girl) But even there I'd probably stop worrying around 13 or 14 or so.

Teach your kids that "don't talk to strangers" applies online as well. (Oh, and be sure to tell them what a stranger is. When I was a child I met a girl who though "Stranger" was simply a synonym "pedophile". I told her it meant anyone she didn't know and she didn't believe me).

Definitely tell them not to ever give out their email address, or download software (probably don't want to give them admin access, unless they are a geek, in which case you should give them a Linux machine :))

But you have to be age appropriate as well. Something like the stileproject could seriously warp a little kid. Or at least it seems like it could, I'm not a psychologist.

I OBJECT!!!! (2, Funny)

thedbp (443047) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484424)

I find it disturbing and racist that you would make such a statement that separates two groups of people like that.

Irish people are perfectly capable of being paedophiles and I object to your racist and horrific implication that the two cannot coincide, you insensitive clod!

How were they punished when they broke the rules? (4, Insightful)

DAldredge (2353) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484290)

You mention that the rules have all been broken? What happened when they broke them? Did you take the computer out of the room for a time? If not, perhaps you should in the future.

Re:How were they punished when they broke the rule (5, Insightful)

oneishy (669590) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484394)

To add to the parent poster: Most would agree that there are dangers to the internet, which your rules are there to protect. When those rules are broken, you should have a pre-set plan of consequences. On the part of the child the punishment is a deterent, but you must be strong enough to cary through so that they can also learn from the experience of breaking the rule. I can not stress enough that you should not cave to their 'needs' and be afraid of taking the computer away as punishment.

With your rules it would seem logical that removing the computer (or internet connection) would be a fair punishment.

As the old saying goes: Spare the Rod, Spoil the child. The older I get (I am only 22 now) the more truth I see in that

kleenex (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484292)

Prepare an adequate supply of kleenex or equivalent.

three words (0, Offtopic)

narkotix (576944) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484293)


Re:three words (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484324)

how the fuck is this offtopic?
fucking moderator is smoking crack

i was... (0)

foobar31337 (702156) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484294)

browsing alt.binaries.adolescents for research purposes only. really... i was!

Privacy Invading Software (5, Insightful)

LordoftheFrings (570171) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484299)

I don't know about the rest of the stuff, but as a teenage boy, let me tell you, Netnanny or any of that privacy software DOESTN't work, so don't try that. Also, don't assume the worst in kids, unless they are male, and are pubescent, in which case, the answer is YES, he WAS looking at porn.

Can't touch me (4, Funny)

starfurynz (676822) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484302)

I'm pretty sure my dad's just given up, he's pretty knowledgable about computers (learnt a lot from watching him) but he knows I will find a way around.

lying (5, Insightful)

wolrahnaes (632574) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484303)

does everybody lie about what they're doing on the Internet?


Re:lying (5, Funny)

Ossifer (703813) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484360)

Well I certainly don't read slashdot when my parents are around

Re:lying (3, Interesting)

Shazow (263582) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484374)

No, what are you talking about?! I'm not reading slashdot, I'm doing my homework, I swear!!

- shazow

Re:lying (1)

caffeineHacker (689198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484436)

No mom I was thinking about buying a goat...I came across this site by accident...I don't know how goat_sex.mpeg got on the must have been a virus

Internet access (2, Interesting)

Treacle Treatment (681828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484307)

As yourself this. Would you feel uncomfortable letting your children walk around anywhere they wanted to go unattended any time of the day or night? Turning down that dark alley is just one click away on the internet. Personally I have Norton at least *try* and keep some of the crap out.

Re:Internet access (1)

matt_maggard (320567) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484411)

Just like it! Except for the fact that the internet protects you from all bodily harm (which is the first reason to turn away from dark alleys).

I'm not a dad but I would make sure the "don't talk to strangers" and "never give out your personal info" (full name, address, phone, etc) rules are followed and help them to understand why.

As for adult content, my opinion is "who cares?" The point is to help the chidren become adults - not block out everything until they move out. Let them grow from the safety of home.

I never lie (1)

No_Weak_Heart (444982) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484311)

But I don't necessarily tell the truth either.

This seems simple... (4, Insightful)

caffeineHacker (689198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484313)

I know the point of ask Slashdot is to make fun of the person asking the question but come on. Simple...log where they are going or set up some advanced Snort rules on a firewall box to alert you whenever keywords come through. But seriously I've been looking at internet pr0n since I was 11, way back in the day(About 1993), it doesn't hurt much just make sure they aren't planning on meeting someone they met in a chat room named SugarDaddy35 and it'll be fine.

Re:This seems simple... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484364)

Hey! I'm SugarDaddy35!

Downward decay of society? (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484314)

My parents, when asked to sign a letter stating that I could get an Internet account from the ISP I was working for, only replied, "Of course there's porn on the Internet, isnt't that what it's for?".

If you, as a parent, have to tell your kids not to:
* Close everything up when you walk by
* Keep the door open
* Don't lie to us.

Then you've got some serious human responsibility issues.

Simple (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484315)

Throw on a keylogger. After a month, bring the kid into your office and go over what he's done.

Haha (1)

wicka_wicka (679279) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484317)

"Also, don't assume the worst in kids, unless they are male, and are pubescent, in which case, the answer is YES, he WAS looking at porn." That's so true. And man, don't worry about it. I'm 15 and I have two comps in my room, my mom just gets kinda upset because she never sees me ;) It's really not that big of a deal, I personally think you are overreacting on this subject.

GET OUT NOW!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484341)



Poor Slashdotters. You have a chance to get out; take it. This life sucks. Every day I want to swallow cyanide.

ahh, to be a teenager (2, Insightful)

carpe_noctem (457178) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484318)

Don't ever lie to us about what you're doing.

Whenever my parents told me crap like this, it inspired me to lie about pretty much everything. Including activities which would probably not get me in trouble. But, when you create an environment of distrust, you're more likely to breed distrustful actions....

From a kid (2, Insightful)

Takara (711260) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484320)

Non-parents, what are the rules that chap your hide the worst? I hated it when my parrents would try to give me guide lines on when to use the computer. "Don't be up at 11 using the computer". That kind of thing doesn't help much. If you ever get in that situation for your kids, tell them that it's late and give them the option of turning off the computer for the night. If they say no, then remind them they still need to get up at 6 the next morning for school, and stick by it. Learning by cause and effect rather than a parrent laying down the law is usually more effective (it just created resent for me).

the only good way (1)

McAddress (673660) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484321)

again, like in everything else parenting, the only way to do it well is to take a serious interest in what your children are doing. Either
A. Constanly be there when they are using the machine. or
B. get an isp which will report all the sites that your children go to. And then go through the list carefully, making sure there are no sites in there you dont want them seeing.

All other ways, such as blocks will not work b/c they will either let in too much bad, or not let in enough good, or both.

Nobody ever said parenting was easy.

Block Yahoo news (4, Funny)

DanThe1Man (46872) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484322)

What ever you do, block teenagers away from yahoo news. [] (not safe for work) 03 1115/482/mjt11411150955&e=4

pass the hot grits, paw! (1)

mekkab (133181) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484355)

It must be true, I saw it on the internet!

Re:Block Yahoo news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484443)

Thank you for that link.

Trust your kids (1)

gkuz (706134) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484323)

Instill your kids with good values and then trust them. Unfortunately this takes time.

They'll end up finding a way to do what they want anyway, and you can't stop them.

[Parent of three, aged 16 through 21]

First. (4, Funny)

PFAK (524350) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484325)

As I'm 16 years old, here's probably the rules I'll have for my kids (yes I know, I'm paranoid.. but look what I've done):

Do not let them have access to the internet. With that in mind, if you do let them have access to the internet, only allow port 80. And only let them have access to Yahoo! Kids. Do not under ANY circumstances give them access to IRC. IRC is by far the root of all evil.

If you are going to give them access to the internet, make sure to stick their computer behind 4 bridges, and a NAT. Filter everything that you could possibly do. In all cases, do NOT let them have access to the internet if at all possible.

Snoop on your kids, msgsnarf is your friend. Firewall logs and snort also help you filter out porn traffic.

In essence, do NOT trust your kids. They will break your trust, it has been proven time and time again. I do not remember the last time I listened to my Dad, uh yeah.. haha.

In his case, I just make sure his computer doesn't get infected with more then 10 viruses. Although he is actually a computer teacher, but that doesn't mean he knows anything about computers..

Don't put the computers in their rooms (4, Insightful)

autopr0n (534291) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484327)

Don't keep the door closed when you're on the computer? Geez, what horrible rule, especialy for the 15 year old.

If you're that freaked out, why not put all the computers in a "family computer lab"? Is it that painful for you to actually spend time in the same room as your kids?

I mean seriously, putting the TV, computer, etc in the kids room means the kid will spend all their time in their room alone, away from the rest of the family. Put all the entertainment devices in the same place, and you'll find yourselves actually spending time together. That's certainly what I plan on doing when I have kids (which should hopefully be quite a while from now :).

w.r.t your paranoia. There's a lot of fucked up stuff on the internet, and your kids will eventually see it anyway. I wouldn't want small children to see that stuff but the stileproject isn't going to turn a 15 year old into a psychopath.

But anyway, my solution still solves your problem. So do it.

Look at the bright side (1)

aelfwyne (262209) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484330)

The internet just saves them time rummaging around in your sock drawer looking for that Playboy you had hidden. It's safe now.

double check your own machine (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484332)

if you have put your children on the network, you need to do the following.

1. Make sure your porn directory is not being shared.
2. Take the webcam out of the children's rooms. You wouldn't want to see your daughter spread eagle showing her tight shaved clit to the work.
3. Make sure there is always kleenex available in your sons' rooms.
4. if you plan on recording father/daughter sex, make sure you do it in divx and at least 640x480. I am so fucking sick of shitty encoding mpg's or .movi's at small resolutions.

go windows (2, Funny)

Tr0mBoNe- (708581) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484336)

one thing windows lets us do is install firewalls, and block certain internet sites. But... one thing I realized was if you talk to them and act mature about it, tell them that the illicit content they are looking at it designed for more mature people, and inform them that you are going to block those sites. If you do that, then their ball is in their corner. They have 2 options: 1, realize you are right and keep off the pr0n, or 2, they override yer countermeasures and you catch them.

Even the most Cyber Baby'esque child in your house can't totally remove the logs of internet traffic.

Basically, if you cant trust yer kids to keep off the pr0n, don't let them have internet in their room... or put the computer in the living room and only let them use it when yer home. If yer kid is looking at pr0n in the living room and masturbating in the relative public of that place, illicit internet use is the least of your worries.

whatever... trust, or force... its all good.

Squid is your friend (4, Insightful)

Just Some Guy (3352) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484342)

Install Squid and configure it for transparent web proxying. Let your kids know that it's there.

Yes, I think that they deserve a reasonable amount of privacy, but you wouldn't let them hit the town without at least knowing where they're going, would you?

Re:Squid is your friend (1)

SuperQ (431) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484398)

yes.. this exactly what I did for a small school in my area. We setup squid, and blocked access to httpd at the firewall, unless it came from the squid server. We simply said.. "we are not going to block anything, but we have logs with your name on them to see what you are doing if we need to"
Some of the teachers wanted net-nanny software, but I explained to them the flaws in the system, and how it was a social problem, with no technical solution. All students got a NIS login in their lab of linux machines, and there was always supposed to be a teacher in the room when students were there.

I think I looked at the logs once in the 3 years I ran that network.. they decided that the $500/year they spent on my consulting fees was too much.. and probably went out and bought windows to replace all the redhat machines I setup.

As I recently just left home for college.... (2, Insightful)

zarthrag (650912) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484349)

I'm willing to say the biggest thing wasn't the fact that my parents were big on what I was doing on the computer, it was the lack of respect for my own privacy. Believe it or not, your kids opinion of you (and how much he/she will visit you ;) ) depends on how much space you allow them. Now there is a such thing as too much space. However, if you want to protect your kids from p0rn, just make it not such a big deal. If you allow your child to date, chat, and be sure to give'em the "sex talk", it isn't so interesting anymore. (In my experience, the kids with the parents who showered them with information and condoms were the ones who are still virgins.) Most parents only care about p0rn and bombmaking, which is something you don't find unless you are curious. I would say limit your kids time online, but be fair about it. And figure out just what they do with their bandwidth. If the kid has days of music and new games all of the time -- you know what he's doing. But if you notice the harddrive is full, maybe you ought to search for video files periodically. If you find something, *chill out*. Bringing it up isn't going to help unless you're willing to bar them from the internet forever. In the end, every lonely 15 yo kid is gonna see it, you're just dodgning the inevitable. The easier it is, the less interesting. Be curious, but don't be a nazi.

Tell them you have installed software... (1)

PickyH3D (680158) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484350)

that tracks what they do. Either they'll then become good enough with computers to prove you wrong (at which point you don't have a chance anyway), or they won't do anything. If all else fails, really do it.

Re:Tell them you have installed software... (0)

Playboy3k (552242) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484381)

Yeah great idea or not, if i found my parents had install tracking software, and yes i have checked, i would that the biggest insult to my personal privacy, and wouldnt be able to have trust in my own paretns, do you really want you children not trusting you, my parents trust me i trust them they no that as all males yeah i look at porn sometimes, they trust me not to hack which i dont, i dont c the problem, just chill bout it

and now I'm an internet ninja (5, Funny)

ChrisTower (122297) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484352)

I've had a computer in my room since I was eight. Fifteen years later, I'm an out of work web developer who can type really fast and find you a copy of the Paris Hilton video in less than two minutes. Well adjusted? Perhaps not, but my tendonitis/carpal tunnel keeps me company at night and that's all that matters.

Re:and now I'm an internet ninja (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484447)

Mod that funny+++

Mistake? (0)

Treacle Treatment (681828) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484361)

Mistake #1: Letting them have computers in their rooms.

Mistake #2: Not taking them out.

If you love your children you won't let them browse the internet unsupervised.

It isn't as simple as snoop or trust (1)

mikep.maine (585648) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484362)

It isn't as simple as snoop or trust your children. There is also protection, involvement, teaching them, guiding them, and supporting them. Placing them on the Internet in a private setting without any surf controls where they have to make all the decisions is much like sending them to the cinema alone. There are a lot of predators out there. They will feel alone, unprotected, and will make mistakes and bad decisions. I suggest the following: get software that blocks where they can go (parental control). Better, no Inet surfing except in the living room. Work with them and make them feel protected.

I think (0)

bossesjoe (675859) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484366)

As long as you've raised your kids right the internet is a great thing, it connects you to the world, it broadens you views and it helps you learn alot. Porn, extremist sites, bad influences are things you want to hide your kids from, sure, but as long as their responsible it won't have any effect on them. And by the way, if your male child doesn't get to look at porn, he'll suffer in social interactions, while this seems weird, its true.

successful tactics (4, Insightful)

HBI (604924) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484367)

  • Set reasonable rules. Ie, no online gambling, no porn, whatever it is that you want. Make sure you think that the rules are reasonable and have the willpower to enforce every single one them. Otherwise you are wasting your time.
  • Keep excellent logs. Redirect everything through a proxy if you have to, but LOG EVERYTHING.
  • Never watch what they are doing. It creates the wrong impression.
  • Ask them what they have been doing online if you feel it significant, or they have been spending a lot of time there. Get them used to talking with you about stuff.
  • Do spot checks of the logs based upon this information.
  • Try to get them into a position where they have a choice whether to lie or tell the truth (and you know it). Be slick about this - don't be acting dumb.
  • If they lie, let them walk away. Come back to them the next day with the fact that you know they lied. Don't get angry, but put the cold fear of God into them. Make them suffer. Jerk the network connection for the computer for a week and ground them. Tell them next time, two weeks. Time after that, forever, and keep them in the house for a nice long time. Tell them you can tolerate many things, but not lying.
  • Bask in the glow of having done the best you can for your kids. They will, in general, follow your rules now.

On a personal note, i'd never try to enforce a 'no porn' rule on teenage boys. It's damn stupid. Even my mom was cool with the porn mags in my night table when I was a kid. We had a don't ask don't tell rule. She didn't clean that drawer - it was my one sanctum of privacy.

Simple rules are best (1)

edwardd (127355) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484368)

I've shown my 15 year old a little ablout how I can track & log all of his actions on the internet. Then I let him pretty much do as he wants. The idea is to let him decide what's appropriate, knowing that his parents will also be able to see his choices. I think this gives him a fair ammount of privacy, since we're not looking over his shoulder, but still gives us the ability to monitor what's going on.

This one is easy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484370)

Put the computer in the room, no rules, be there to support them and answer their questions honestly.

sniff their packets (2, Insightful)

docstrange (161931) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484372)

You allready pretty much summed it up.
You don't trust your children.

If you want to If instill Big Brother.
You could always install a product like spector pro [] on the pc's and review their actions on a daily basis.

Let them know that it's on there, and that they have no privacy and they'll be sure to behave.

Then again, you could just trust them. And let them actually confide in you without fear of being punished for every little thing.

An example:
(Would you rather have your kid
(1)call you "I'm too drunk to drive home" from a party,
(2)Try to drive home drunk afraid that if they didn't Mom and Dad would know they were drinking.)


Hmmm... (2)

Bagels (676159) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484376)

do I detect the taint of *bias* here?

More seriously, from the teenager's perspective there's not a whole heck of a lot that most parents can really do when confronted with a teen that's resourceful enough. I speak from experience - I'm a teen, and quite honestly I *have* hidden my actions on the 'net from my parents on occasion - because, for example, it might be a little hard to explain away some of the images on the webcomic Road Waffles [] (warning: may not be work safe), which regularly has topless ladies in it, though it has plenty of redeeming value beyond that (just like an R-rated movie, it can have that sort of thing without it becoming the focus of the story, or indeed terribly important to the story).

My advice to parents is this - if you want to control what your teens access on the net, you'd better be ready to get really tech-literate. As in spending a few hours getting to know the computer properly literate. But therein lies the problem - most parents simply don't have the time to get as literate on the computer as their teens do, because they have *jobs* to do in the afternoon when the teens are home alone after school with the computer, learning all of its secrets. That means that you've got to spend some of your precious free time on the weekends - and I know that my dad would rather spend his free time playing Bicycle Bridge.

Gateway (2, Insightful) (221619) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484377)

Something I'm thinking of doing when I've got little ones running around is putting their pc's behind a special gateway. This way I can block off specific websites, ports, etc for their subnet. Maybe even a way to disable/enable the internet depending on the time of day. (chron jobs maybe?) You could also log everything because all the net traffic would be comming over one line. I know it isn't the perfect answer but it seems better and cheaper if using linux than software solutions. If I had it logging some stuff I'd just do random checks of the logs for stuff that wasn't allowed. This would all be pretty invisible to the children too. Keep the gateway under lock and key and I'd consider my self pretty lucky if my kid was 1337 enough to hack my box.

Leave Them Be (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484378)

Kids are curious by nature, I know I was. No matter what you do they are going to get their hands on exactly what you don't want them to, so why bother trying? Censuring your childrens' access to the internet is only going to cause them to resent you more and place more obstacles in the path of having a positive relationship with them. I grew up with a computer in my room connected to the internet! (my parents didn't know about that though... they are quite computer illiterate and didn't seem to notice when I crawled under the house with a couple hundred feet of CAT 5. But now I am about to graduate with a BS in Computer Engineering. So, let your kids be, they will turn out all right.

No rules at our house (1)

MrSoccerMom (529763) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484379)

There are computers in the teens' rooms, but the good computers (the ones they want to use for gaming) are in the downstairs office. That's where they (and we) usually sit. They know that the home network is accessible from my company's intranet, and that pr0n access could cause me to lose my job. It's not a problem.

I'm 14... (2, Informative)

Venesectrix (712553) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484380)

I've had unrestricted internet access since before i can remember. My parents have tried to restrict my access in many ways without actually having to pull the plug (because I still need it for school), but so far I've gotten too smart for them ;-). My parents are non-tech people, so they just enabled the mcafee privacy something that needs a password to get on the internet. No problem, all I need to do is control-alt-delete it and I'm in. They also tried imposing Internet Explorer's restrict-certain-websites thing, but there are numerous ways to get around something like that (I downloaded firebird, and even if I was forced to use Internet Explorer I could just route my connection through a proxy server :P).

Squid (2, Informative)

Zak3056 (69287) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484382)

Since you've got three machines connected to what I assume is a broadband connection of some kind, I'm also going to assume you have some kind of router/firewall in place already.

Rip it out and replace it with an old pentium running some flavor of linux, BSD, whatever you're comfortable with, and set up Squid on the box as a transparent proxy.

Your kids will not be able to bypass this--at least at the workstation level (I'm not going to speculate on the ability of your children to hack your firewall) and you'll have a log of EVERY URL visited from any machine on your network.

Add something like Webalizer to make the log files more friendly, and you're done.

Double Standard (4, Insightful)

thedbp (443047) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484385)

Sir, not to disrespect, but I'm sure your wife doesn't know about EVERYTHING that you do on the internet. And if she does, something is either very wrong, or very right.

See, it all boils down to the fact that the internet is just like any other information medium, be it the library, the video shop w/ an "adult" section in back, or Pigsty, the dirty little kid who hangs out on the playground singing "milk milk lemonade..." That is to say, you'll never be able to keep it in check. It is outside of your sphere of influence.

What can you do? Prepare your kids for what they may run into. Give them feedback and guidance on how to deal with certain situations. Tell them what is appropriate and what is not. After that, its all up to them. As it should be. Humans need practice making decisions for themselves and not having everything honed down, toned down, and spoon fed to them. To do so is a disservice to both the human spirit, and your children's ability to function and think on a level that you may not be comfortable with.

The fact is, you can't protect them. You can only help guide and instruct them.

And if its really such a big deal, take the computer away and be a mean parent. They'll forgive you eventually, and its probably for the best anyway. Its not like its the end of the world, and there's no need for you to cave just cuz Johnny S and Susie Q have computers in their rooms.

Anyway, its all about the trust, man. Trust that your kids know what they're doing and if it gets out of hand, offer help and advice instead of anger and retribution. We get enough of that from The Christain God.


Drugs or Masturbation (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484387)

Which is worse, kids spending their allowance money on drugs or on internet access downloading porn to masturbate to?

"Don't forget to clean off your keyboard when you're done."

"Mom, that wasn't me. Last time, Dad didn't clean off the monitor either. And I didn't visit Jizzfest.cum. He used my profile!"

Filter (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484389)

First of all, enforce the rules you make for your children. If they break the rules, they need to learn the consequences.

Second, get a cheap computer that has the sole purpose to serve as the router to their computers. Set up a parental control list on the server (using something like NetNanny or Norton Internet Security) that blocks what you want it to block. Filters aren't perfect, but they usually catch most of what you want them to catch. Because the filter is on the server, which they have no way of accessing, they'll never be able to circumvent it.

WTF (1)

Old Wolf (56093) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484390)

Enough of this namby pamby "let them do what they want" stuff. The first time you catch them lying, ban them from the PC for 2 months. The second time, make it 6 months. Children have to have respect for their parents.

big bro (1)

holzp (87423) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484392)

proxy the shit out of what they are doing and watch everything. If they can't get around it they will be safe enough, if they can get around it they will be safe enough.

tread carefully (1)

jdkane (588293) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484396)

Not only are you piping potentially anything into their rooms, it is opening up a whole entire world. Everybody has different values that dictate what they will and will not allow into the house. Make sure you understand what could potentially be coming into their rooms. I would even wager a guess that no matter where you set your standards for what is allowable, the Internet will provide stuff to them that is way beyond where you draw your line. Remember that kids don't have to go looking for bad things on the Internet because bad stuff can also potentially find its way to them (e.g. ever get any surprising or unusual emails that are mass-marketed?). I'm under the impression that kids and teens are more impressionable than adults -- they are forming their own values at those ages. For most grown-ups the values have been decided long ago and we're used to what we have decided to go with.

You make the rules. (2, Insightful)

yuri benjamin (222127) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484397)

I know this is not a popular view these days, but whatever rules you make about internet use in your house are fair - it's your house.
Keep in mind, though, that all teenage boys wank over naughty pictures - this is normal. And no-one wants to admit that to their parents - that would be embarrassing for the kid.
If you're concerned, have all internet traffic enter your house through a box you control, and install dans guardian on it. I'm too lazy to link to it - GIYF.

an open policy (0)

frogsarefriendly (723785) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484401)

Let them go where they want on the internet. Maintain a log of URLs they and you visit. Make this list available to all in the family. You won't have problems with them going to anything "wrong" or "bad" if it's under family/peer review. At the same time, you must follow the same policy, do as I say, do as I do. Or you could just allow unmonitored access and let things work out. Natural selection and all...

Don't block your kids, teach them! (3, Informative)

infestedsenses (699259) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484404)

We have unlimited access at home, each of us kids have our own computer (3 of us, me being the oldest "kid" at 21, the youngest is currently 15), plus my dad has a few PCs and a central server for the home network (6 or 7 PCs in total). None of us have been damaged by what we have seen on the internet.

To protect your kids from stuff on the net we all deem "evil", such as unsolicited email containing fraud scams and porn, teach them how to identify it instead of blocking it from them. If you want your kids to walk on their own feet one day, help them see the world as it is. And about porn, I'm sure most of you (male) parents went looking how to get a copy of Playboy when you were the age. The net just makes the access a little easier.

Punishment (1)

Bob Wehadababyitsabo (629809) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484405)

If your kids _DO_ break the rules, what are you going to do about it? If your kids have an ounce of brains, they will get around any limits you put in place. The most important thing is trust... you obviously trust them enough to put computers in their rooms. Stop kidding yourself into thinking they won't look at pr0n if you put safe guards in place.

The one time my dad tried something on me (yanked the Cat 5e out of the keystone), I decided to have some fun and SSH'ed into his box from school, null routing his SMTP server. Not being to send email for 6 hours was a big enough deal that he has never disconnected me again.

Important note (1)

caffeineHacker (689198) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484406)

Block anything that comes in that contains japan and porn, hentai, or doujinshi. It'll save your kid alot of nightmares from having to see things with titles like "DickGirl Extreme: Scat Edition".

/. those kids (2, Insightful)

krray (605395) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484407)

I love it. /. parenting. Finally.

[me]: "HONEY -- I'm ready now ... you can go off the pill"

The sad thing is I grew up with a C=64. My parents didn't understand what I was doing. Thus they didn't _want_ to know. Nothing illegal, of course... :) It was a good setup.

Today, they _still_ don't understand what I do or how I do it. Fine by me -- and now it pays the bills. Almost ironical.

My .02's? Kids need privacy. Kids need discipline. Kids aren't the parents. Install some snooping software. Just like my mom used to pick up on the phone extension -- though she never knew I knew how to wire up a few parts from Radio Shack and a blinking led always told me of a 2nd extension going off-hook.

Oh yeah. Tell them about using protection (!) PLEASE. Too many Windows boxes spewing spam from virus'. Or go buy them a Mac if you're tired of the patches, but I digress.

The worst punishment I ever got was getting grounded to my parents room. No computer. No TV. Oh my gosh, only books. Funny -- I still like to read.

proxy them? or let them grow (1)

puzzled (12525) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484408)

You could install some sort of proxy and view every web site name they visit, but that puts you in a position of holding them responsible if a friend mails them a link to something inappropriate.

If they're all boys they're going to look at porn. Deal with it - did you raise them to respect women? Do you respect your wife? If this is the case it is mostly harmless ... have the talk with them and let it be.

Do shield them from creeps on the internet. Part of my job used to be training police officers in computer forensics and I found I just don't have the stomach to hear about the stuff they're chasing. Explain what a sexual predator is to them. Even if it makes YOU squirm.

My eldest is going to be seven and he just got a web mail account but I've dated a couple of women with teenagers ... you're merely the dad, remember? :-(

It's similar to letting them hang out with friends (1)

Knetzar (698216) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484409)

Think about it this way, how is it different then letting them hang out with friends? The evils of drugs and liquor are out in real life and the evils of piracy, hacking, etc are on the internet. The best thing you can do is to a) trust them to do what's best, b) gain their respect so that they don't want to let you down, and c) explain to them what you consider really bad and WHY you consider that stuff really bad.

For c, make sure to keep it to the really importent stuff because as the above post said they'll be looking at porn no matter what, but you need to make sure that they understand that faking credit card numbers or stealing passwords to gain access to anything is unacceptable. By explaining why you disapprove of something, you are showing that you respect them because it's more like your trying to convince them that something is bad instead of just saying it's bad.

As a 23 year old who had a computer in his room and internet access through most of high school I can say the main thing that kept me out of trouble was me not wanting to disappoint my dad, but the freedom he gave me allowed me to grow.

My daughters are ages 14, 12, and 8... (4, Insightful)

ChaoticCoyote (195677) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484415)

...and the two oldest have unfettered access to the Internet. No censorship, no restrictions, no looking over their shoulders. How can I teach them that censorship is bad if I censor them?

Since she's sitting next to me, playing Diablo 2, I asked my 14-year-old daughter about her net access.

"I find little weird web sites, I look at them," she says. "When I close the [browser] window, it's just an automatic reaction to parents in the room, a matter of privacy."

Yes, I've caught my eldest daughter reading disturbing web sites -- CNN, Christian fundamentalists, anime, Slashdot. Lord knows, she's found some very strange online comics. She asks the most damnable questions sometimes -- and that's just fine with me.

I can't teach my daughters to respect my privacy by snooping in her activities. I trust my kids. They know their parents trust them, and that they can come to us with any question; we know what they are doing, where, and with who, not because we dictate, but because our kids want us involved in their life.

Internet in the privacy of their own rooms? (1)

phliver (258960) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484416)

I would probabally NOT let them have computers in their rooms, not at that age. I never did. Keep the computers in a more public area like the living room or the den. Let them know that if they behave well that when they turn closer to 17 or 18 they can get one in their room. Thats if they are still living there.

Ideas... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484420)

In terms of time, my linksys router has a neat feature that lets me limit the times that the computers on my network can access the internet.

In terms of web content, it's a fruitless venture to limit it. You can try all you want, but if a kid wants to get porn, they'll get porn... even if it means going old school and checking out victoria's secret's website.

If your kids are idiots however (and you know if they are or not parents), you can use a simple web content program. We-blocker ( is a pretty good one and it's free, which is even better.

...does everybody lie about what they're doing...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484422)

Umm, no dad, I don't! And those pictures, they must have been popups or something! Not that I looked or anything.

Install Jesus inside... or don't ask don't tell (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484428)

Don't ask don't tell

It's a good policy, you don't invade their privacy, they're going to do whatever they want any ways. Thus you don't know and will be happier not.

You're children are vastly less innocent and sweet than you were or that you might even think they are.

by the time I was 15 I was already working on porn sites, warezing, stealing, committing fraud and so on quite well, although back then Internet porn was pretty crummy any ways...

Since then I found God and have changed and would never go back.

So if you want to keep your kids away from the dark places of the Internet, make sure they became zealot Christians. :)

Already zealot Christians? then stop worrying and just pray

I wouldnt worry about it.... (1)

D-Cypell (446534) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484430)

Your kids already have to contend with a father that thinks slashdot would be a good place for parental advice ;o)

Twins by any chance?

I hate those rules... (1)

vlad902 (694817) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484431)

I'm 14 and I hate stupid crap like this, I just start lying for fun, closing random windows, ARP poising and taking down my network when I'm pissed, etc.

I'd recommend you back of any kids above 13-14 as they're old enough to understand what's right and wrong and francly [sp] unless you live in Nebraska, they already know everything there is to know... If you just start bugging them then they'll just resent you and go to school the next day and talk about what an evil dad they have, anything younger I'd have rules, but don't be too strict, or absurd.

Don't worry about teenagers, just little kids (5, Insightful)

Spinality (214521) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484432)

By the time your kids are in or approaching highschool, the groundwork has been laid. Either you have a strong, nurturing relationship, and your kids have learned to think responsibly for themselves; or they're snotty brats who distrust their overbearing and indifferent parents, who will lie to you at every opportunity, and who will bend with the winds of peer pressure. Either way, they have already been faced with every temptation you wish they didn't know about.

You need to give them the tools to make good choices: self-respect, self knowledge, curiosity, empathy, fairness, and the other strengths of responsible adulthood. And if they have a healthy amount of curiosity and are not malformed, OF COURSE they'll be fascinated by porn. Weren't you? Like the other poster said, isn't that what the Internet is for?

Little kids are another story, of course. They are still assembling their tool kits. You need to guide them through the discovery of life's seamier chapters. But fortunately, little kids won't know how to circumvent firewalls, and they don't need computers in their rooms. You have a few years to get them ready. And what they need from you has nothing to do with technology.

So I laugh at the folks who are aghast at their 16 year old kids running Grand Theft Auto Vice City. But I shudder at my friends who bought it for their ten-year-old son. WTF?

As a 17-year old (1, Insightful)

DSLAMngu (715456) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484439)

I got a summer job and bought my own PC. So I'm golden on that front.

My parents tend to learn computer stuff from me. Thus I do not discuss History Lists around them.

I get home from school before my parents get home. This leaves me about two hours to do whatever.

I have a brother, and we tend to keep the fappage details secret from each other. It's not good to look at porn when the other brother is in the room; that's just our moral code. I know he looks at lots of crap and he has mostly given up on hiding it; he still closes windows quickly though. And it's not like we rat on each other; he who has not sinned may cast the first stone, I always say. But still, I categorically deny anything that may show up in my History, intentionally or not.

I must be pretty lucky compared to other teens "chaffing under the rules." My parents have recently grown a little concerned after I posted some of my Photoshops of teachers on my blog that got me suspended for ten days and got me kicked out of the National Honor Society. But otherwise it's cool.

Oh crap! I'm starting to think they might not care!


Teenagers break rules by nature. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 10 years ago | (#7484441)

That's why I think that it's a good idea to set things up in a way that let's you monitor what's happening on their computer from somewhere else. I understand that the /. crowd isn't a big fan of corporate "big brother" software, but putting all of the computers on a lan and having some of this installed would allow you to see what they have been doing, and some would also let you see what they are doing while you check. Also, using an OS that let's you place limits on what software they can install and access can help you decide the rules and let the system enforce them.

Shift the Focus, perhaps? (1)

StaticEngine (135635) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484442)

Maybe instead of concentrating on all the things they shouldn't be doing (because really, they're going to do them anyway, at some point), the focus should be placed on encouraging them to use the computer as a tool to learn about software development, art, music, creativity, writing, and things other than Pr0n and A/S/L chatrooms. Back in the days when all I had was a BBS to log onto by night, my C64 (and eventually Amiga) allowed me to explore all sorts of musical, graphical, and software development endevors. It's almost sad that the Intarweb is this big shiny thing that wastes the time of anyone without the discipline to back themselves away from it and do something self-improving with their computer.

So yes, change the focus to productive computer usage, trust them to behave (reasonably), and talk to them candidly and in a non-judgemental way about what they find that may be offensve on the Web. If you're really scared about what they're going to find on the internet unsupervised, take a walk with them around your nearest Inner City area, so you can see what nastyness really is.

Childs Internet Access (4, Insightful)

trav3l3r (666370) | more than 10 years ago | (#7484445)

I have 3 children (16,10 and 5), they all have computers in thier rooms that have unfiltered Internet access. The only real hard and fast rules we have is that they are not allowed to talk to people on IM or e-mail that they do not know, never give out your e-mail address to people you don't know, and never agree to buy anything. The last one became necessary when my 10year old joined Columbia records and got 10 free CD's for a penny!!! Now the gotcha's. My kids know that I can see everywhere they go by checking my firewall logs. If I check my logs and and see anything I feel is worth discussing then I will. Nothing will stop a 16 year old from viewing porn like having to face dad for an open and frank discussion that starts out as "so son, notice you've been looking at a lot of sex pages..Do you think all women are like that?? I noticed you were spending most of your time on pages where the women were doing X. Why is that ?? " He would much rather I just yell at him and forbid it, but I refuse. Basically I am using shame as a weapon..Will probably have to pay for it via therapy for them later...Oh well.
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