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Limiting Kids' Computer Time?

Cliff posted more than 8 years ago | from the technology-now-bedtime-aware dept.

Operating Systems 100

Bibu asks: "As a parent of three, I have to spend a lot of effort to keep my kids away from the computer. Until now, we had a Linux box in which a little cron script would just shutdown the machine after half an hour, when the kids were using it. Does someone on Slashdot have a fancier solution? One that keeps track, controls the total time per user per day, and would warn the user of the upcoming deadline (e.g. in five minutes their time is up)? Since we just moved to Mac OS X, solutions for that platform are preferred."

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Hacking is not a crime! (4, Funny)

JumperCable (673155) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268636)

Come on. Let the little bastards run free. None of this, I don't want the to turn out like me BS.

Re:Hacking is not a crime! (1)

Ashley Bowers (932552) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270400)

I agree with you "let the little bastards run free" I let me kids have as much supervised time behind the computer as possiblle because to them it is still a learning tool and helps in their mental developement instead of just another way to view porn which as an adult I have no problem with other adults viewing such material because I do not want to come off sounding like a prude but let the children learn!

Re:Hacking is not a crime! (1)

ralph1 (900228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277937)

The time they are not computing can be better spent smoking dope and hanging with the crew. I bet it took you more that a half hour to get that script to work. Limits are for work not kids.

Here's an idea... be a parent (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14268653)

Set some rules and enforce them. If the kids don't follow the limits you set now for computer use, what makes you think they're going to follow limits you set in a few years when the consequences are a bit more serious? In 10 years will you be writing Ask Slashdot looking for advice on how to limit their car usage based on miles driven, time of day and past usage?

Re:Here's an idea... be a parent (3, Funny)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270976)

I agree wholeheartedly. My parents used tools known as enhanced youngster examiners to monitor my siblings' and my behaviour. These remarkable devices (also known as EYEs) allow the enforcement of all kinds of policies, not just those related to computer use, allowing the parent to ensure that their child's behaviour is appropriate at all times. Used regularly, they can even distinguish between time spent on the computer playing the latest MMORPG and time spent browsing educational web sites and learning new things, allowing the amount of computer time permitted to vary with the way the time is spent! Best of all these devices are available free to nearly all parents, and require very little ongoing maintenance. I highly recommend them!

Re:Here's an idea... be a parent (1)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271010)

and require very little ongoing maintenance.

Little ongoing maintenance? Mine cost me almost $200 per year! Of course, for that price I get the use of two of them, but still, hardly fair to call them "free"...

Why? (2, Insightful)

Tango42 (662363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268663)

Why limit their time?

Concentrate on making sure they do other things too - encorage them to do their homework, or some kind of exercise, etc. If they're doing that, they're not on the computer. If they don't need to be doing other things, why not let them decide what to do?

Re:Why? (1)

skaldrom (188975) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271278)

Why ? Do you have any kids yourself ?
  • You know, little kids cannot estimate time intervalls very well. They do not know exactly if an hour or four have passed.
  • I am a caring father, but there are times the kids have to play themselves, because there are things that have to be done in a family. I cannot give them 100% of my time, as much as I would love to. So you have to have some things they can do alone. Working on the computer is one such thing, but it can be a bd thing if too much time is spent just glariung into the tft -> You need to set a time limit.
  • Why are you limiting other things like TV or eating chocolate ? Why should they go to bed on a given time ?

Re:Why? (1)

Tango42 (662363) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271319)

What would you rather they were doing? If there isn't anything else you want them to do, why not let them do what they like? If there's something else, then actively encorage them to do that, rather than concentrating on a negative approach.

Spending time on the computer doesn't do any harm. Not spending time doing other things can, so that is what you should deal with.

Re:Why? (1)

schon (31600) | more than 8 years ago | (#14272854)

little kids cannot estimate time intervalls very well. They do not know exactly if an hour or four have passed

You're right. I wish there was a device that could measure time accurately, instead of having to rely on our internal estimates. It would also be cool if this time-measuring-device could emit a sound, or otherwise notify someone when a certain time is reached, or a time period has elapsed, so that you wouldn't have to keep looking at it.

But I guess I'm dreaming - such a device is clearly in the realm of science-fiction. But if there *are* rocket surgeons out there that implement my idea, and make millions of dollars, remember that you owe me some, because it was my idea!

Re:Why? (1)

CptPicard (680154) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313804)

I never understood why some parents seem to have such a huge need these days to control their childrens' time and outright "program" it. Sure, it is important to encourage them to do varied things and get out some and excercise and stuff like that, but isn't it a bit overbearing to tell them what to do on time that is clearly their own time, supposing that they've already done their homework, cleaned their room, done the dishes, mowed the lawn, walked the dog, painted the fence etc?

Allocating one's own free time as best suits you is an important part of a child's freedom and it also teaches responsibility about making choices with what you have... namely time in this case.

Since I was six, I've spent the majority of my free time on the computer, because I chose to. Yeah, a lot of that time was spent playing games and not neccessarily coding something leet, but this was at least the time when it took some understanding of computers to get a game to run in the first place (autoexec.bat and config.sys tuning to get enough RAM, for example..)

Unsurprisingly I got into IT and I can at least claim to be one of those old-school people who have an actual passion for computing instead of being some dot-com-era leftover money-chasing goon from a degree mill.

I do understand that if the kid is turning into a total couch potato or net junkie, it's probably a cause for discussion... but even in that case, just I wouldn't believe in the power of hard limits on usage... would you go confiscate your daughter's violin if she was "spending too much time practising"?

WHY!?!? (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14268671)

My parents got me a Commodore 64 when I was 12. They didn't even know what a computer was, and they couldn't fathom that it was little more than a toy.

Yet, they left me the $#*!@) alone, and I played with it and played with it, and I'm a computer programmer today.

Let the kids have some #$)#@ing joy in their life. If they're on too long, then take them off yourself.

Perhaps, OMFG, they're actually DOING SOMETHING USEFUL, like filing emancipation papers!

Re:WHY!?!? (4, Insightful)

DigitalReverend (901909) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268965)

In a way I agree here, Computer time shouldn't be limmited but ONLINE and Game Playing time should.

Get some programming software and such and let them play with that as much as they want, and show interest in the "cool" programs and stuff they come up with. Come up with different "challenges" for them to program a solution for.

Have a ghost image of the PC standing by when they accidentally wipe out a file. The "Play" PC should not have anything important on it and if they do accidentally wipe something out, let them explore how to fix it and let them help with restoring it.

Limiting their online time is what you really need to do, and it's easy if you have a router or a gatway, just disable the port that that PC is on except for the times you want to allow them on the net, and keep the router in a separate room, or locked up somehow. And when they are on the net, never be where you can't see the screen and when you are done supervising their internet time, disable the port again.

Computers of them selves are nothing but tools, they can be good for kids. Look how well most of us slashdotters turned out. :)

In all seriousness, it's not the time on the computer that needs to be limited, it's the time spent at different activities on the computer that needs to be monitored.

Re:WHY!?!? (0, Offtopic)

pilot1 (610480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269553)

You really can't cut them off from the internet and expect them to learn to program.
Even if you buy them books on whatever language they're learning, they will still need google to look up questions once they get more advanced.
I see the internet as a necessary extension of a computer, instead of stopping their internet usage completely, why not just monitor it? If they spend too much time on instant messaging/irc/game websites, tell them that you will have to limit their usage if they continue to visit these websites so much. You're the parent, if they don't listen to you it's your responsibility to punish them.

Re:WHY!?!? (1)

mrzaph0d (25646) | more than 8 years ago | (#14277637)

You really can't cut them off from the internet and expect them to learn to program.
Even if you buy them books on whatever language they're learning, they will still need google to look up questions once they get more advanced


heh..i find this comment really funny considering i learned BASIC in the early 80's before i even knew what a modem was.

damn i feel old..

Re:WHY!?!? (3, Insightful)

obeythefist (719316) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269150)

Your kids are going to grow up despising you, since you'd be one of very few parents who do this to their kids.

I know this might sound unusual, but instead of assigning your kids the "30 minutes alotted compartmentalised computer enjoyment period", you could stay by the computer with them?

If you think they're spending too much time on the computer, why don't you just take them all outside and play an outdoor sport?

Re:WHY!?!? (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14269333)

Shit I would have my family computers and hook up a network and shit and if they want to play online games, daddy plays too you little bitches. Then I would know what's going on, that and several network and computer security certifications I already have will help me keep the little bastards in line while online.

Re:WHY!?!? (2, Insightful)

pipingguy (566974) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270007)


If you think they're spending too much time on the computer, why don't you just take them all outside and play an outdoor sport?

You know, this comment is very insightful, especially for fathers (single or not).

Squirt guns, water balloons and general playing mayhem is a great thing to see when you have a bunch of kids to entertain. Everybody ends up laughing and they won't forget the experience.

Re:WHY!?!? (0, Troll)

kcidymkcus (922839) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270355)

how the fuck is that insightful? You're probably the perverted kinda fucker that likes to squirt kids with your "gun". Let's play shower kids, here comes the water. Ah daddy why is it yellow and why does it smell funny. Hold on Jr. Let daddy make some shampoo for you. You're a fucking retard and you like playing gay ass fag with children.

Re:WHY!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14272795)

If you think they're spending too much time on the computer, why don't you just take them all outside and play an outdoor sport?

Better yet, why not start protecting and guiding your kids, instead of controlling them? I would ask the following questions:

  • Is the activity physically harmless to the child?
  • Is the child meeting all of their responsibilities (e.g. getting good grades in school)?
  • Is the child staying physically healthy?

So long as the child is operating within those constraints, why impose what you want on the child? (i.e. forcing them to go outside) If the child enjoys playing outside, then they will do that. You don't need to force them.

If the child violates the constraints (i.e. starts getting bad grades), then that's when you start managing them. That teaches the child that if they discipline themselves, then you won't have to.

Re:WHY!?!? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14296909)

Metamods please - how on earth is this offtopic?

Why limit their time?/What do they do? (2, Insightful)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268673)

What exactly do the kids do? If they play games all day or chat, then I can understand your concern. But if they are doing something worthwhile, like trying to figure out how the machine works, maybe drawing a picture, or even programming something simple, then I think limiting their time would be more harmful than beneficial. Imagine if you were working, just realized the solution to a problem, and suddenly the machine shuts down on you.

Re:Why limit their time?/What do they do? (1)

Ankur Dave (929048) | more than 8 years ago | (#14289124)

Imagine if you were working, just realized the solution to a problem, and suddenly the machine shuts down on you.
It's called Windows.

Re:Why limit their time?/What do they do? (1)

g-san (93038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14289515)

What do they do is very important. If they are programming, that's good.

Unfortunately, I feel for his poor son... He'd get about 10 minutes of bug fixing in a night, 5 minutes of features, then 15 minutes of compiling before the system forces a shut down.

Re:Why limit their time?/What do they do? (1)

hahafaha (844574) | more than 8 years ago | (#14294437)

Yeah, that's the problem. Of course, this assumes that what the child is doing, is programming. In fact, I'd go as far to say as that the rule *discourages* kids from programming. It does not provide enough time to code, especially when a child is young and even the simplest of programs take a long time to think about. Instead, a 30 minute limit is perfect for IM'ing when everything goes by quickly

parenting? (0, Offtopic)

nuggetman (242645) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268676)

Saying "johnny you have 30 minutes of computer tonight" and "JOHNNY! You'd better be off that computer and doing your homework in 5 minutes!" always works

Re:parenting? (3, Funny)

lunarscape (704562) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269348)

...unless your child is not named Johnny.

Re:parenting? (2, Funny)

empaler (130732) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270558)

She'll just have to learn to live with that moniker.

Re:parenting? (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271111)

She's not called 'Monica' either.

As a child of parents who used to do this... (4, Insightful)

Mr_eX9 (800448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268758)

...I would personally reserve it for punishment situations. A long time ago when my time spent playing games and IMing was seriously out of line, my parents used this to slap me and my grades back into shape. After about a month I got the picture and was back on track (I had the grades to prove it,) buy my parents decided to keep the policy going for another six months. I obviously wasn't happy with it at the time, but in retrospect, it was a really unneccessary move on their part that only made me feel spiteful rather than teach me to manage my time.

Arbitrary time limitations should be a short-term thing rather than a permanent policy, because you're doing your kids a disservice by managing their time for them, which is a life skill they need to acquire on their own. Making sure your kids' work is done and that they're being social with you on a day-by-day basis is much more effective, and they won't hate you for it.

Re:As a child of parents who used to do this... (1)

bergeron76 (176351) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269769)

Interesting comment. May I ask how old you are? You didn't disclose it in your post.

Re:As a child of parents who used to do this... (3, Interesting)

miyako (632510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270907)

I agree with this. My father used to impose rather insane and completely random time limits on just about everything, and the only thing it did effectively was build up anamosity.
For example, computer use was limited to 10 minutes per day. I should point out that this was inclusive of both recreational and academic use. Have a paper due tomorrow that you need to type up? Hope you can type the whole thing out in less than 10 minutes (minus the two to three minutes it took windows to boot up, and the additional five it took for word to start). The internet was pointless as we had an old modem (probably 14 or 28k) and it would take longer to actually sign on and load a page than we were allowed to use the computer.
In the end my Uncle bought me a computer and pretty much told my dad to fark off and gave it to me dispite is oppositions. I can still remember waiting until everyone else fell asleep at night and sneaking out to hook up my modem to the phone line, using NetZero to connect when it was still actually free to do research for school or ssh into the schools server to write and compile my programming assignments.
In the end, all the rules really made me learn was to hate my father and to have a sort of innate gut reaction that most rules are completely asinine (a gut reaction that actually seems to pan out most of the time upon fruther logical examination) and only exists as something to get around.
Remember, it only takes 1 or 2 asinine rules imposed on your kids before they'll assume ALL of your rules are completely without a point and ignore everything you say instead of just the stupid stuff.

Re:As a child of parents who used to do this... (1)

rvw14 (733613) | more than 8 years ago | (#14272815)

I bet you never do this to your own kids (if and when you have them). I consider myself blessed that my own father was much more understanding about my computer time growing up.

Our first computer was an IBM XT that must have cost him an arm and a leg. He spent the time to teach me how to use the computer, and allowed me and my brothers to use it as much as we wanted to. Of course we had to learn to share with each other, and the taking away of computer privledges was a punishment worse than any spanking.

I am trying to model this with my own daughters. I teach them how to use the machine, and I only take away the computer when they start fighting over it, or as a punishment for other infractions.

Re:As a child of parents who used to do this... (1)

miyako (632510) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273781)

I agree. I won't even go so far as to say that if I have children I would allow them unlimited time with the computer, to much of a good thing and all that, however I think that computer use is a very difficult thing to put a hard limit on. Would I want my kids to spend 8 hours a day on IRC and AIM? probably not, but would I be happy if they spent a fair amount of that time doing constructive things like using the web to do research and learn new things I would gladly let them while away a day ocassionally.
Of course I think it also depends a lot on the age of the child. I was 16 before we ever got a computer. Speaking as someone who is not a parent, I would venture to guess that by 16 micromanaging a childs time is much less important than whe they are 6. Besides, a 10 or 12 year old will get much more out of activities with their parents, whereas by the time a child gets to 16 or 17 if their interests are significantly different than that of their parents, there may not be a whole lot a parent could teach them (for example, it's easy for a parent to work with a child under 16 or so and help to teach them math, writing, history, etc. Whereas if I had a 16 year-old who was interested in something like, for the sake of argument, biology (something I know very little about), then it would probably be more productive for them to use the net to do research with my encouragement instead of my interference).

Re:As a child of parents who used to do this... (1)

big ben bullet (771673) | more than 8 years ago | (#14291103)

Agreed! When I was 12-17 (early 90's) my parents constantly bugged me about the time I spent on my computer(s)... they just didn't understand my enthousiasm and dedication to the subject. Yeah, maybe there where times I overdid it a bit, but my grades where good and I had a normal social life.

There was no internet in those days, and I had no modem (wasn't allowed to hook up a phone line) to log on to my friends BBS.

Despite the fact they were against it, I kept experimenting, programming, installing different OS's (MS/DR-DOS, OS/2, Slackware, SCO System V,...) and playing games... this caused a lot of tension between them and me and basically shed a bit of a shadow on my relationship with them.

I still love 'm, but nowadays they have to put up with an occasional sarcastic remark when I'm at their place fixing _their_ computer.

Little extra story: my dad once installed an old pulse phone (yep, one with a dialing disc) just to be able to put a _lock_ on it! He never knew I could still make phone calls by 'pulsing in' the numbers ;-)

Anyway, I guess the point is to not try to control your kids life too much. If you observe them, and interact with them like a good parent you'll know when something is wrong and only then you will have to take such extreme measures.

As for me: The first Jr. is on its way now ;-) And I hope he/she finds something in which he/she can put the same passion and dedication that I had for computers...

And finally, an answer: (0)

mike_lynn (463952) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268776)

cron works on OS X too. http://www.macosxhints.com/ [macosxhints.com] has something on this, I believe.

That's not the question (4, Informative)

Geoffreyerffoeg (729040) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268789)

Nobody wants to hear your opinion about parenting based on your experiences as a child. If you're a parent, you're qualified to offer an opinion (not impose one). If you're not, don't tell this guy how to parent his children. Regardless of whether you are or you aren't, the fact is that this guy has already made a decision to limit his kids' computer time, and you aren't going to convince him otherwise. He's looking for a technical solution - one that may also help other people who need to automate computer timing controls, perhaps for someone not their kids.

Now, back on topic: cron's a good start, but AppleScript can help you. Schedule the command osascript -e "display dialog \"You have five minutes left on the computer\"" & sleep 300 && osascript -e "tell app \"Finder\" to log out" - it's probably a little cleaner of an interface that way. Ampersands sic: the single ampersand causes the first command to run in the background, so the timer starts ticking as soon as the dialog appears. The double ampersand waits for the five minutes to finish. (This isn't the idea behind the different syntaxes, but it's close enough for our purposes.)

Re:That's not the question (1)

Mr_eX9 (800448) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268896)

People are entitled to opinions as human beings...there's no merit behind it. The guy can listen, or he can not listen, but the fact of the matter is that this is Slashdot, and people are going to disagree with this particular style of parenting.

Don't tell him how to parent his children? I didn't, it's just my opinion, and don't think that you can silence me by saying that "nobody" wants to hear what I have to say. You're only speaking for yourself.

Re:That's not the question (1, Offtopic)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268927)

I am a parent, less than two weeks or within two years (unsure, my child has CP in the language center of his brain, bound to affect how fast he becomes technically literate)- but I've got to say this comes down to *useability* of what they're doing on the computer. Videogames, messaging, slashdot, these things are huge time wasters and very addictive. Just about anything else they could be doing online is actually life skills that are *more* profitable than what they could be learning otherwise- unless it's to get them to exercise, leave them alone.

Re:That's not the question (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14269263)

I hope your absurd sense of self-satisfaction [slashdot.org] doesn't rub off on your kids, douche bag.

Re:That's not the question (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14272509)

I hope it does- it's a vital component of paranoia, which is the only rational attitude left to take in this world where everybody else is your competitor or your enemy, and your very ability to take care of your famiy and pass on your culture is always under attack from the outside, by people like you.

Re:That's not the question (3, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269154)

. If you're a parent, you're qualified to offer an opinion (not impose one). If you're not, don't tell this guy how to parent his children.

You're qualified to offer an opinion regardless. Being a parent doesn't escalate you to some grandious level of wisdom or insight. It means you are capable of combining sperm and egg. Congratulations on doing something dogs and hamsters can do, too.

Further, if you're asking for advice of any kind on here, whatever judgements or questions are raised about any aspect of it are completely legitimate. For example, if I said "I'd like to kill my husband. How could I device an undetectable poisonous meal that will kill him over the period of about one year?" - I wouldn't have the testicles to say "hey - I don't care about your judgement over me killing my husband! For whatever reason, I've decided that's what I'm going to do. All I want from you is advice on how to kill him!".

Anyway, I always found (as a child as well as the step-dad-type person for more than a short while) that the best way to limit computer, television and other activities is a not at all fancy one. And it's not at all new. See, you work hard to be a consistant and firm parent who has the respect of the child involved. When you have this, the child knows "the television goes off at 10:00 PM" means just that. They may ask if they can stay up and watch it a little longer, but they rarely argue or cry or throw a tantrum. They know what's expected of them and that it's okay to ask for more but they also know that what the adult says is what they're going to have to do. It's no too strict and it isn't depriving them of growing up or developing some sense of self-governance. It's just called parenting.

Believe it or not, children can be given expectations and rewards and punishments and still be very happy, balanced, behaved, good kids. If there is any sort of stress or violence or anger or fighting involved in something as simple as turning the television or computer off - then there are much greater problems and avoiding dealing with them by implementing mechanical means is a rather passive and ineffective way of attacking such a problem.

Note that I'm not saying this idea (the article's submitter" is a bad one at all. Just that there could be vairous circumstances that make it a good or bad choice. We don't really have enough information to judge, frankly (not that it would stop me or most of us). Hell, I wouldn't put it out of the realm of possibility that a child might ask his parents to implement something that tracks and limits his time becuase he doesn't want to get in trouble, but knows that he would have an easier time keeping track of and obeying the rules if there was some automated way of seeing how much time he had left or had used (not to mention, mom and dad won't think he's sneaking time on it when they go shopping or something).

But you know . . . I hope most parents don't go overboard, either. You're not going to produce the next Lins Torvalds if you limit the child to AIM and certain websites and one hour of computer time per day. They do need ample time and freedom to really explore. Just think back to your own heyday of exploration (though for some of us that's still ongoing!).

Re:That's not the question (0, Troll)

drsquare (530038) | more than 8 years ago | (#14281304)

You're qualified to offer an opinion regardless. Being a parent doesn't escalate you to some grandious level of wisdom or insight. It means you are capable of combining sperm and egg. Congratulations on doing something dogs and hamsters can do, too.

It means you have actual experience parenting. Which means your opinion counts more than some armchair expert Slashdotter who still hasn't really grown up and thinks restrictions on his 'rights' of any kind is 'sooooooo unfaaairrr'...

Re:That's not the question (2, Insightful)

Seumas (6865) | more than 8 years ago | (#14282498)

So you're saying that simply squirting out a kid makes a parent more knowledgable about being a parent than someone like myself who, having somewhat raised more than one child over a period of time, has none?

Is there some magical thing handed out to parents that makes them infinitely more wise and experienced simply for having spread their legs and dropped seven pounds of gooey baby? If so, why are so many parents apparently not receiving this magical gift and doing such a shit-poor job at it?

Religious fanatics aren't nearly as self-rightous as the average defensive parent is.

Re:That's not the question (1)

Matt Perry (793115) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269427)

Just who are you replying to?

Re:That's not the question (0, Offtopic)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269554)

He's talking to Mr. Strawman. He made up a hypothetical argument which nobody had yet made, and knocked it right down. He wins.

Don't be ridiculous (parent vs non-parent) (1)

sczimme (603413) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270950)


Nobody wants to hear your opinion about parenting based on your experiences as a child.

Maybe you don't want to hear it. Perhaps you should let the submitter of the question decide what he does/doesn't want to hear. Oddly enough, that is not your decision to make.

If you're a parent, you're qualified to offer an opinion (not impose one). If you're not, don't tell this guy how to parent his children.

I find it both amusing and disturbing that people who manage to procreate think this imbues them with knowledge far beyond that of non-parents. If you think the opinion of a dullard who happens to be a parent is more valuable than the opinion of an educated, well-read non-parent, then I fear for your children.

Re:Don't be ridiculous (parent vs non-parent) (1)

KermitJunior (674269) | more than 8 years ago | (#14272614)

It's not that they have more knowledge.. just a different experience. Face it, if you don't have kids, you're unlikely to have wiped crap off butts or had a kid spit up in your mouth as you laughed holding them over your head. It's more of a "been there. done that. understand your situation." kinda thing.

Re:That's not the question (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14270972)

I guess all parents take some class that makes them an expert on child rearing? or did you read the manual that came with the baby?

Re:That's not the question (1)

Belgand (14099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270992)

Asking only for the opinions of other parents is a bit backwards really. If someone's parents acted in a certain way their impressions and opinions related to that (after a suitable time of course) are valuable data. Will treating my child like this have a positive effect or will it merely make them resent me for the rest of my life?

On a slightly alternate path it is certainly someone's right to state how not to raise your children. Taking it to an unnecessary extreme if you think that beating your child is the way to resolve perceived problems then outsiders have an obligation to interfere. More importantly we're the ones who are going to have to live with your children and if you screw them up now it's just going to make life harder for the rest of us.

Children are not you own personal domain where you are the absolute authority and cannot be questioned. They belong to themselves, not to you.

Re:That's not the question (1)

pla (258480) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271093)

If you're not, don't tell this guy how to parent his children.

I love hearing this argument.

I have the wisdom not to go out and knock some chick up. I may at some point CHOOSE to reproduce, but I consider both financial stability and a detailed understanding of developmental psychology as prerequisites to that decision.

The fact that someone has managed to satisfy a basic biological urge that even single-celled organisms can manage, doesn't really say much about their ability to raise their "fruit of the womb" into a responsible adult.



On that topic, one of my revent peeves involves the direct contravention of that heuristic - The idea that the government should pay grandparents to take care of their grandchildren when the real parents can't do so adequately. Let's think about this for a moment - We want to pay people who have ALREADY FAILED to produce socially viable offspring, to fail once again with the next generation? Yeah, great use of my tax dollars.

Re:That's not the question (1)

kniLnamiJ-neB (754894) | more than 8 years ago | (#14290683)

Dude, I'd give anything to have mod points today. I'm surrounded by people who have wayyyy too many kids and have no idea why their lives are such a mess. They're amazed that my wife and I (both 25) have bought a house. Yet they can't understand yet why we don't want to have a child yet. It blows their minds to think that someone could be married and *not* have a kid. The best part is when they ask and I say "We're waiting until we can support kids". They give me this confused look like I'm speaking another language and then say "hmmm. yeah, that's cool..." as if I'm some kind of weird idiot for not making babies all the time.

Re:That's not the question (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273504)

Regardless of whether you are or you aren't, the fact is that this guy has already made a decision to limit his kids' computer time, and you aren't going to convince him otherwise.

Yeah, but we can let him know he's being a grade-A ass and what to expect out of a relationship with his child in the future.

Responsible Parenting (3, Funny)

Kawahee (901497) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268820)

Be a responsible parent. Your kids don't listen to you? Beat them [thebestpag...iverse.net] .

Re:Responsible Parenting (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14269465)

What do you tell a kid with two black eyes? Nothing, you already told him twice.

Re:Responsible Parenting (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14272457)

That is the funniest fucking thing I have seen in years!

Works on everything: Overly complicated (1)

Marxist Hacker 42 (638312) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268872)

Why not have a linux box someplace else runing Mr. House, and the computer plugged into an X10 appliance module that they have to enter a user code to turn on? Or Windows 98 and Homeseer? I believe both have just such a TV/Videogame timer in them with upper limit daily & weekly quotas. Any modern operating system ought to be able to recover just fine from a power outage. And since the software is in a separate machine, it's less hackable.

OTOH, I agree with most of the previous posts- all time spent on the computer not in "addictive" activities such as web browsing, messaging, slashdot and gaming is indeed profitable later on in life. Most likely MORE profitable than any homework the kids might have.

C'mon! (1, Offtopic)

Rewbob (89555) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268909)

Be a parent. Don't rely on technology to monitor your kids. That's YOUR job.

obligatory rtfm post. (1, Redundant)

holy zarquon's singi (640532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14268911)

# open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app).
man shutdown
man crontab
man sudo
# should have you nicely set up it.

Is it obligatory? (2, Informative)

dimfeld (247690) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269187)

A quick read of the post reveals that he's already doing that. Here's the relevant quote:
"Until now, we had a Linux box in which a little cron script would just shutdown the machine after half an hour, when the kids were using it. Does someone on Slashdot have a fancier solution?"

Re:Is it obligatory? (1)

holy zarquon's singi (640532) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270094)

That was entirely my point:
$mac_solution == $linux_solution

I think you saw some good answers already (1)

Morgalyn (605015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269015)

Applescript is your friend, and most of your cron job stuff should move over to OS X just fine, just read the man page ;)

On a related note, and perhaps you are not looking for opinions on this, but if your children are doing their homework, eating their vegetables, finishing their chores, etc. then limiting their computer usage will probably feel like more of a punishment than a guideline. You might have better experience monitoring them in person, rather than scripting something. This is, of course, unless you're doing this because of a scarce resource. Depending on how determined your children are, and their skills, you might find them circumventing you within a short period of time (fostering problem solving skills and self reliance, but at the expense of your authority).

I can't WAIT until your kids get older (0, Offtopic)

caffeinex36 (608768) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269056)

I can't WAIT until your kids get older and rebel.

Re:I can't WAIT until your kids get older (1)

wild_berry (448019) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271131)

His computer and $sys$porn files will be pwned!

This is easy (3, Funny)

Darius Jedburgh (920018) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269102)

What you need is a device like a Basic Stamp [parallax.com] which you can connect to the Mac (possibly using a USB->Serial adapter). You can then connect that to a relay board that can switch high voltages such as this [parallax.com] . Now you install a pair of flat metal plates on the seat your kids sit on when using the computer and hook them up to a relay on the relay board. Now you can write a simple app that gives your kids a 110V shock after a designated time. My kids complained at first because they said it didn't give them much warning. So later I added a pair of step down transformers to give them shocks at 30V and 60V before going for the big one. Let me tell you: I've had no problem with computer overuse.

Half an hour? (3, Insightful)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269171)

Seriously, have you ever tried to get anything done in half an hour?

That said, your kids already know how to boot up knoppix, temporarily shut off your cron script, reboot, play games, turn the script back on, and shut down the computer before you get home. And if they don't know it yet, they'l figure it out. Nothing motivates kids like excessive and arbitrary restrictions.

When I was a kid, my parents did similar things. It only served to make me angry. The time I spent using the computer was a lot more useful than, say, the time I spent running around outside or reading school books for no reason. I figured out pretty quickly how to defeat their various computer-time-limiting methods.

Good luck.

P.S. I have to know... is this Ask Slashdot a troll? Did the editors approve it because they knew people would get riled up?

P.P.S. Yes, this answer is offtopic. Saying this is worth burning some mod points.

Re:Half an hour? (0, Troll)

MissingDividends (911755) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269349)

I still am a kid. Lendrick is totally right; I just find ways around it... at one point my parents were using some crazy login alternative that tracked time like they do at cyber cafes, but I just dled slax (knoppix wouldn't have been bad either) and got all the time I wanted using that by editing the log files (they were plain text, just in the "administrator" account directory, so you couldn't get to them as any other Windows user)...

Kids will find a way. Trust me.

Even now, I'm 'limited' to 1 hour a day. I've been on just over 11 hours already...

Do I have a Social Life? Nope. Do I need one? Nope.

Just let your kids grow up nerds. It's good for them. Think of their future.

Re:Half an hour? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14269488)

11 hours in one day? I think you should keep that a secret.

Re:Half an hour? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14272102)

P.P.S. Yes, this answer is offtopic. Saying this is worth burning some mod points.

Ah, the magic "I'll bet I get modded down" crap to guarantee upmods. This wasn't even remotely offtopic, and you knew it.

Re:Half an hour? (1)

Lendrick (314723) | more than 8 years ago | (#14272278)

Sure it was... I completely failed to answer the question.

Re:Half an hour? (1)

Morgalyn (605015) | more than 8 years ago | (#14272329)

I figured out pretty quickly how to defeat their various computer-time-limiting methods.

Exactly! I can remember when I was a kid, the height of parental control was.. the keyboard lock. Anyone remember those? Funky little cylindrical key which switched between allowing the keyboard to be recognized and not? That one had me foiled for maybe a few days, until I decided to take the computer apart and see how it worked.. and realized it was quite simple to just disconnect the wire - the default state was recognizing the keyboard.

Of course, then they started just taking the keyboard away. That was a little more tough to get around.

DICK-PUNCHING (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14269193)

I'll tell you how to limit your gay kids computing time - punch them in the dick whenever they're using the computer. Problem solved.

You owe me $100.

0.5 hours?! (3, Insightful)

sudog (101964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269458)

And how much time do *you* spend in front of your computer?

They'll notice that you're allowed to play on the computer more than they are, and for longer stints, and they're going to get resentful.

Don't say I didn't warn you.

Re:0.5 hours?! (1)

jvj24601 (178471) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271223)

And how much time do *you* spend in front of your computer?

They'll notice that you're allowed to play on the computer more than they are, and for longer stints, and they're going to get resentful.

Don't say I didn't warn you.
Huh? Is this how you act as a parent? This is modded insightful?

As a parent, I spend more time on the computer than my kid. I can also drink a beer at dinner, stay up later, watch more TV, and drive. You know what I say to my kid when he complains that I do things he can't? I tell him that (DUH!!!) "There are different rules for kids then there are adults." And I don't just say it - I've been explaining that rule since he could walk and talk. I explain the *reason* for the rule (safety, kid's best interest, etc.) If there's not a good reason for the rule, then there should be no rule.

Per your comment - of *course* they may resent the fact that you (as an adult and parent) get to do things they can't. But as a parent, you'll get much less resentment if you explain why.

Re:0.5 hours?! (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273532)

"Do as I say, not as I do?"

Quite a stellar bit of reasoning there, Plato.

Re:0.5 hours?! (1)

sudog (101964) | more than 8 years ago | (#14313023)

You forgot to mention something: the reason why more than 0.5 hours at a time in front of the computer is bad. In fact, I would say that nothing useful *can* be done in front of the computer in 0.5 hours or less, and all you're doing is preventing your child from truly engaging himself in anything but frivolity.

The more you repeat it, the more the child will get used to the schedule, and the less likely it is that your child is going to use the computer as a tool for anything but email and instant messaging. Children thrive on repeating, regular schedules, but you shouldn't discourage your child from engaging his ability to concentrate for long periods of time on a single task. That's the only way complex crafts can be done or learned!

What should be done, instead, is to *spend that time WITH* your child and guide him through programming, design, critical thinking, exegesis, tricks and traps, applications.. Learn a programming language together.

They modded me up because it's a poorly-planned and poorly-executed policy, and I was pointing out that engendering resentful feelings in a child is not a good idea when the aim is to encourage learning and expertise with one of the most important tools on the planet.

Besides that, I hardly think comparing time spent on the Internet with drinking alcohol (a.k.a. addictive poison) is anything but trolly. Therefore, you are stupid, and I'm not going to respond to you anymore.

login.conf (4, Informative)

bloosqr (33593) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269539)

I may be mistaken but since macos X is a BSD you should be able to just add

accounted true
daytime time

to /etc/login.conf

where accounted turns accounting on and where time is the time in seconds but can prefixed in the unix way i.e. 2h is 2 hours.

daytime limits the total wall clock time allowed per day. You can also set per session limits (sessiontime) and total times per week (weektime) as well, if you would like as well.
use the command warntime to set the end of time warning, but it may send this to the login tty rather than to X (or whatever the mac graphics are).

For the exact format take a look at:

http://www.onlamp.com/pub/a/bsd/2001/01/17/FreeBSD _Basics.html [onlamp.com]

A technical solution isn't needed. (0, Offtopic)

jpsowin (325530) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269543)

Sit them down. Tell them their time limits. They can budget their time accordingly. If they don't, they should be disciplined. They need to learn how to budget their time, and discipline themselves. Don't impose technical solutions to moral/character issues. This is a great opportunity to help your children become more mature!

Their own consciences should govern such things (0, Offtopic)

Kalzus (86795) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269576)

If you have to use external measures to limit their time, you've already failed.

Re:Their own consciences should govern such things (1)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269986)

Would this be analogous to saying, "If you have to surround your front yard with a fence, you've already failed?" I mean, they should understand that actions have consequences, and if they're not the sort of kids who grasp the seriousness of running into the road, may as well let them run into traffic and start with a new set of kids.

Kids do self-destructive things. Not the ones without consciences. Not the irresponsible ones. Kids. Left to themselves, they'll watch twelve hours of television a day, live entirely on pizza, and spend any money they get within an hour of the getting. If they were capable of consistently making responsible choices, we'd call them "undersized adults" and give them the vote.

Children require rules. Children require parental enforcement. But they also require physical safeguards that constrain their behavior. You can't just tell them to eat lots of veggies; you have to make sure that they frequently have the opportunity to eat healthy foods, and rarely get access to junk food. You can't just tell them "don't visit bad websites." You have to install filters to buffer them from the weird and twisted on the 'Net.*

So if this guy wants to let the computer itself constrain his kids' computer usage, I don't see anything particularly wrong with that. It's hard to make value judgments about "being on the computer" given the wide variety of activities that people do with them. But if the goal is to get the kids to have interests other than the computer, this doesn't sound half bad.

* By the time they're old enough to disable the filters, it's time to let conscience take over anyways.

Re:Their own consciences should govern such things (1)

boldra (121319) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270531)

Thanks for saying this. There are a lot of comments here that seem to suggest that any kind of automatic enforcement is wrong, but I agree that these sort of restrictions are similar keeping alcohol or guns in a locked cabinet or even installing protectors in power points.

Also - few people seem to be considering the age of the children. My 18 month old can already push a chair to the computer, climb up on it, and switch the computer on. She doesn't talk yet (except mama/dada), so she's not quite capable of cracking the windows administrator password.

OTOH, her 9 YO brother managed to search the various network resources and found somewhere I'd temporarily copied a Batman movie which he wouldn't normally be allowed to watch. He later confessed that he and his friend watched the start of it but didn't like it. My reaction was to reward him for experimenting with the computer, and review/tighten up security.

I see absolutely no problem in using the computer to restrict what the kids do, especially if trying to get around the restrictions teaches them more about the computer.

Re:Their own consciences should govern such things (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273613)

these sort of restrictions are similar keeping alcohol or guns in a locked cabinet or even installing protectors in power points.

You are wrong because:
_x_ Amazingly Bad Analogy

Kids that play too many video games can not do well in school, grow up antisocial, or get fat. Kids that find guns or play with electricty had a strong chance of dying Slippery slope surrenders?

a Batman movie which he wouldn't normally be allowed to watch. Batman? BATMAN? Even mormons and fundamental islamics wouldn't have a problem here. Look out for an ass-kicking when your son realizes he's grown bigger than you.

Computer time vs television time / exercise / etc (0, Offtopic)

r7 (409657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269643)

I know too many kids who sit at their computers to avoid going outside and playing with other kids. If this is your reason for limiting their time at the keyboard then it is a good thing, though 30 minutes is unrealistic. I wouldn't be too concerned until the 3rd hour or so.

It fundamentally depends on what they would be doing without the PC. If they would be watching TV then by all means let 'em type. PCs make kids smarter whereas TVs only make people lazy and stupid. Both PCs and TVs, however, contribute to the skyrocketing rate of childhood obesity and that's a _very_ bad thing.

As long as they're walking or cycling to school, playing sports afterwards, and not overweight then I don't think you really want to limit their computer time.

Stop them at the router (1)

xornor (165117) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269697)

I think some routers allow you to set which times during the day an ip/mac address can connect to the internet. I would be bored as hell on my computer without an internet connection.

Probably redundant (-1, Offtopic)

heinousjay (683506) | more than 8 years ago | (#14269962)

So actually watching your kids isn't possible? Probably because it's tough being a parent, and you want to do stuff that doesn't involve your children. Too fucking bad. You lost the right to do anything aside from watching your kids when you reproduced. Now live up to your responsibility instead of asking Slashdot how to do it.

Pool timer + UPS... (1)

Daniel Wood (531906) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270232)

The pool timer will shut down electricity at a specified time, the UPS will give the kids a warning, along with an annoying beep. As long as the kids don't have physical access to reroute the power, you shouldn't have a problem.

Apps (1)

man_ls (248470) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270238)

There's tons of apps...SoftwareTime is one of them... http://www.softwaretime.com/ [softwaretime.com]
It looks pretty robust, probably takes advantage of a fair amount of the features built into Windows, by the looks of some of the interface screens.

Moron... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14270239)

This guy is a moron... half an hour may not even be enough time to COMPLETE THEIR HOMEWORK -- most teachers want stuff TYPED these days, and espically papers. Instead of limiting their time, let them learn on their own.

Mac Minder and DG Complete (2, Informative)

Michael.Forman (169981) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270383)

The program you're looking for is called Mac Minder [lumacode.com] . I've used it to monitor the amount of time my young sisters spend on their computer at home and it works flawlessly. If you're also looking for a filtering solution try Dan's Guardian which has been turned into a package for MacOS users called DG Complete [lopata.net] .

Michael. [michael-forman.com]

I am not a parent, but, I have a LOT of friends... (1)

really? (199452) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270392)

... who have kids. Being a bit of geek I get to make/rebuild/refresh/re_what_have_you a lot of boxes for my friends' kids. So, although I don't have personal experience, I have seen A LOT of cases.

Basically, as I am sure others will no doubt point it out, YOU have to take responsibility. Don't rely on the box. I can honestly say that _I_ haven't heard about any of my friend's kids have a problem with spending too much time in front of the computer. No doubt it hapens in some cases, but ...

As an aside, I can tell you for a fact that having free - as in not timed - access to computers has actually improved the grades of quite a few of my friends' kids. Basically, their parents said "After you are done with your chores and your homework you can "play" with the computer." The story I most often hear from my friends is that while it used to take all afternoon for the kids to finish everything, they are now done in a couple/three hours. Also, since they know that they get reduced computer priviledges for messing up, they do a better job of everything. You can take this with a grain of salt, as this is, statistically, a relatively small sample, I think I heard that from about seven or eight of my friends only. Their kids are from about 7 to about 13 years old, and they are involved in a lot of other activities.

As another aside, some of the kids, mainly boys, but also a couple of the older girls, have asked me about "that Linux" and a few have asked me to load it on their previously Windows running machines.

don't restrict them unless they do bad in school (1)

Greventls (624360) | more than 8 years ago | (#14270784)

I'm going to have to disagree with any kind of monitoring or restrictions on time use. I did nothing but game at first, then moved on to learning how the computer worked while trying to fix my games and modify them(mods, extra levels, etc). If I only had a half hour a day, I'd probably never have done that. I'd only have enough time to get a little deathmatch in and then that would be it. And then chat isn't all bad. Slashdot has taught me a lot. I don't understand time restrictions on the computer. I could have either been playing Asheron's Call all night on the weekends, or hanging out at the mall or going to parties experimenting like all the other teens in middle school and highschool.

Back through the mists of time... (1)

Cros13 (206651) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271017)

... when I was a kid my parents allowed me 1 hour a week with my computer. Considering the thing took 35 minutes to boot up...erk! I used to write programs out in the back of my schoolbooks and have a great big pad of code ready for my weekly session. Later, when I was a teenager, my parents locked the computer away 6 days a week. However they kept forgetting to lock away all my spare parts, so I used to build a new system from the spares while they were at work and disassemble before they returned home. They never caught on...
Those were the days...

Forget it (1)

mcbridematt (544099) | more than 8 years ago | (#14271056)

Disclaimer: I'm just a teenager myself (age: 15.5) but I have perfectly valid reasons for spending 90% of my non-educational time tinkering with computers. I should not (and never have been) considered similar to other people my age, rather as an adult.

Do you have any real reason why you want to limit time?

Kids don't have cars. If they had a chaffeur to drive them around at their request they stil wouldn't use it. IM is the wonder product for people of their age and I'd suggest you be careful in trying to limit it. Despite what you think, school (and specifically recess time) is not a perfect place to socialise, so don't use bulls*it excuses like "You can talk to x tomorrow". Let your kids try to manage their own time and let them bite the consequences if they manage it incorrectly - TIGHTARSE PARENTING DOES NOT WORK. I HAVE SEEN IT FAIL MANY TIMES.

Excercise? Seriously, its time someone tries to create a new wonder drug to burn fat doing less work. Sport is overvalued in the world, thanks to you Americans and your broken education system. Thanks a lot for making my life difficult by having class mates that have no ambitions whatsoever than to be free advertising space for their favorite surf brands. Ok, end rant. If they want to excercise, they will. Encorage but do not force.

Do police any bad engrish that you see - computers aren't mobile phones. Believe it or not though, using proper english on "teen-centric" IM networks such as MSN gets you called a nerd by some idiots, so be careful not to destroy social lives.

One therory I have about the over use of discipline is that once you start using it excessively on a person, such person will quickly lose any motivation and be more willing to do something wrong*. Don't be an arse, you are only creating more problems.

* I suppose that holds up with the long standing fact that teenagers will deliberately break rules. By punishing them, you are giving them rules to break. Encorage use of common sense not strict enforcement.

overvalue exercise? (1)

Dirk Pitt (90561) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274763)

Okay, I've pondered it a bit, and I give up - how on earth is the 'broken' US education system overvaluing exercise? As a product of the 'broken' educational system, I find it laughable to read it suggested that it stresses fitness at all, let alone overemphasizes it.

I'm not a sports fanatic by any means, but what's wrong with helping your child balance physical and intellectual disciplines? Your post seems to suggest that children should be allowed to dismiss any modicum of moderation; I think this is a recipe for disaster in adulthood.

Apologies in advance if I missed a joke. I'm but a poor dimwitted ex-student of US origin.

Re:overvalue exercise? (1)

Fafnir43 (926858) | more than 8 years ago | (#14298883)

I'd guess he's talking more about the stereotypical US high school culture, wherein the jocks are looked on as gods and the nerds are considered an underclass. Of course, as a UK student I have no idea whether or not this is actually accurate - feel free to ignore me if it isn't.

And the guy did say "Encourage, but do not force." I don't think the rant was about encouraging a sense of balance between physical and mental abilities - rather, valuing physical abilities over mental ablilities.

Be a parent! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14272451)

Here's an idea. Try being a parent and monitoring them. Worked wonders for previous generations.

How times have changed... (4, Insightful)

cr0sh (43134) | more than 8 years ago | (#14273605)

I am going to date myself a bit here...

My parents were never rich. But they did want me to have a good education. In the 1980's, everybody and their brother just knew that the secret of a good education was to get your kid(s) a computer. Now, of course, the leader of this charge was mainly Apple, with their IIe and IIc lines (the Mac had just barely come out, and it was expensive and not targetted toward kids), Radio Shack had their Color Computer line, Atari had the 600 and 800, and Commodore had the Vic-20 and 64. Hardly any of the schools had computers - I remember when my elementary school got its first Apple IIe, they wheeled it around on a cart, and each class got it for a week. Our school was small enough that we managed to get it twice a year (!). It was popular enough, though, that in a couple of years they openned up an Apple "lab" next to the school library, with about 20 Apple IIe's for the kids and teachers.

Play your games, learn typing, learn spelling, play with LOGO, and if you really knew what you were doing, you could play with BASIC.

Those were the days - me and a few of my friends all had computers. One of us had a Timex Sinclair (ugh), a couple of us had C64's, I personally had a TRS-80 Color Computer. None of us cared about incompatibility - we played with BASIC, traded code written down on paper or printouts - I remember the effort we put in to get a maze drawing program working that a friend of my friend who lived nearby, who had a TRS-80 Model 4 (power!), had given him. We were in the 5th grade. Our computers were hooked up to TVs in our bedrooms, and we were hooked.

A couple of years passed, most of us had floppy drives by then, and a few of us got lucky: we begged, we pleaded, and we got modems. Not anything fancy, most of us got 300 baud manual dial/pickup things - one of the lucky guys got a 1200 baud screamer. This was in the 7th grade. We BBS'ed and had a blast dialing locally when we could. I had a friend who was a little more daring (and in high school) at the time, who had a phone junction box outside his bedroom. He managed to get it open, jack into someone's line, and would dial long-distance to LA, and bring back rare downloads from places like the the MetalShop BBS (I still have a printout of those files I traded with him, somewhere)...

We surfed the beginning - I later discovered things like TymeNet and such, but never managed to get internet access (not possible unless you were really lucky and went to one of the local universities or colleges) - that had to wait. But BBS'ing was where it was. I was a kid, and still I managed to get that dreaded evil of parents: Porn. Yeah, it was black and white or 4 color at best, blocky, and not the greatest stuff - but yeah, I delved into teh 3v1L. We all did. We all had fun. We went to school, we came home, we hacked our machines. I still have a lightgun I fashioned for mine out of junk parts, a toilet paper tube, some cardboard, and a magnifying lens - grafted onto a joystick. We coded. We learned. For all of it, we got an education, learned to program, improved our grades, and stuck with it through school...

Today, I am proud to say I am a professional software developer. I am proud of my skills, in software, and in hardware. I continue to increase my knowledge of these magical boxes daily. I don't know where I would be today had my parents never bought me one so long ago.

My parents never limited my time - unless my grades got low (yeah, I had problems just like every other kid). That would happen, my computer would be taken away for a while - that forced me to be a better student, to study more, and to keep my grades up. I learned how to use my machine to allow me to make my grades better, to learn how to learn. My computer was always in my room, and eventually, I got others (just before leaving high school in 1991, I had three computers in my room, two of them "networked" via the serial ports - the third was a laptop).

All I am trying to get at here is how my life would have, could have, been radically different had my parents limited my computer time. Of course, that was a different time - you didn't really have the internet, anything you wanted to accomplish, most of the time, you had to code yourself (I only dreamed about having the kind of computing power we take for granted today). I wonder if limiting computer time for kids today hinders them, or helps them? We may never really know...

Get BumperCar. (1)

jeblucas (560748) | more than 8 years ago | (#14274541)

Assuming you have an Internet connection, you should get BumperCar from Freeverse [freeverse.com] . It's got a whitelist, timing functions, tracking, etc. It's robust too, a company I worked for ran several "kiddie" stress tests against it--using denary addresses, trying to proxy around, homemade javascript, etc. I can confidently say that very few 8th graders can beat it if you set things correctly. I cannot say the same for things like CyberSitter--those are comically poor at keeping your kids away from porn, gambling, and warez.

For the Simon Legree in us all: (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14276780)

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Squid (1)

extremescholar (714216) | more than 8 years ago | (#14279253)

I have squid and squidguard set up on my firewall box. The kid's computers are proxied through there. Yes, they'll eventually figure it out, if they're tech savvy, but thene again, that's what I'm counting on.

To be Debian centric: apt-get install squid squidguard chastity-list

Configure to your heart's delight.
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