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Household Technology Rules for Kids?

Cliff posted about 8 years ago | from the helping-them-learn dept.


An anonymous reader asks: "My wife and I are in the process of adopting kids- We're hoping to adopt older boys (8 and up) from within the US. We've gone through the state mandated courses, but those courses don't really cover how to limit the kids with respect to technology (the Internet, TV content filtering, cell phones, MP3 players, etc). The latest strong potential son is a 14 year old child that is computer aware. I do not want to completely shelter the child, but I do want to establish boundaries- for example, I'm not going to install filtering software on his computer, but the computer will be in a public place in the house." How would you control a child's exposure to new technologies, especially when a few of those technologies are bundled with inherent dangers in addition to their great advantages (like the Internet)?

"I want to give him the freedom to learn and be creative, but also try to avoid the nastiness on the net (like the RIAA). I want him to have the freedom not just to play on the computer, but to truly use it. From everything I've been told about the kids in the foster system, they do best with a structured environment- something predictable and stable, so I think a set of rules for him to start with would be good. I'm asking for some ideas for appropriate rules/boundaries for kids, including things to watch for, and appropriate punishments (something akin to 'you broke the server, so you'll have to rebuild it, with dad's help')."

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Don't bother. (4, Insightful)

keesh (202812) | about 8 years ago | (#16117492)

Don't bother even trying, you'll just make a fool out of yourself. Your kids already know about everything you think they shouldn't.

Heck, my mother thinks I (who am 23 years old with long term significant other) shouldn't be using the Internet at night in case I find pornography.

Re:Don't bother. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117522)

Heck, my mother thinks I (who am 23 years old with long term significant other) shouldn't be using the Internet at night in case I find pornography.
Then I'd suggest moving out of her basement and move in with your boyfriend.

Sorry, that was too easy.

Re:Don't bother. (4, Insightful)

donaggie03 (769758) | about 8 years ago | (#16117540)

I agree. A 14 year old isn't stupid. If you should do anything, it would be education. Make sure the kid knows about the evils he could find out on the internet, so he can be truly aware of the choices he makes, and thier consequences. But don't try to block him from those choices. If you do, it'll only make a kid (who has had a pretty sucky life as it is) think you don't trust him, leading to secrets and lies and etc. If the kid wants to do something wrong, he'll figure out how to get the job done, whether you are watching over him or not, but NOT watching over him is in itself a bigger statement to convey.

Don't bother-laissez faire (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117658)

"I agree. A 14 year old isn't stupid."

Maybe not stupid, but most certainly not experienced or wise.

"Make sure the kid knows about the evils he could find out on the internet, so he can be truly aware of the choices he makes, and thier consequences. But don't try to block him from those choices."

Johnny! Johnny, stop downloading that RIAA music.

"If the kid wants to do something wrong, he'll figure out how to get the job done, whether you are watching over him or not, but NOT watching over him is in itself a bigger statement to convey."

Johnny! Johnny, don't fire guns at school. You could put someones eye out. []

Re:Don't bother-laissez faire (0, Offtopic)

WilliamSChips (793741) | about 8 years ago | (#16118093)

One of the Columbine shooters was a psychopath by the clinical definition and that's why he ended up doing the shooting.

No limits (3, Insightful)

anomaly (15035) | about 8 years ago | (#16118201)

Why not provide booze and hookers - after all, at 14, he would probably just find those things on his own anyway. In fact, why establish any limits at all?

Boundaries and limits for kids are like the guardrails or jersey walls on bridges across a deep chasm - they provide security and safety. Perhaps a 14 year old knows a great deal about computers - perhaps not. Setting limits, building relationship with him, and "inspecting what you expect" (aka trust but verify) will be a major boon to him.

Not establishing limits - including protecting him from spyware and pornography - is really stupid.

A 14 year old is a big child. Science tells us that his brain will still grow and develop for about 10 more years. He needs structure, discipline and guidance. I highly recommend the book "It's better to build boys than to mend men" by the founder of Chik-fil-a. He has built and operated foster homes for kids and knows a great deal about how to help them.

Re:No limits (1)

LionKimbro (200000) | about 8 years ago | (#16118942)

We have limits in my household:

  • no running with scissors
  • no fingers in the light sockets
  • no hitting

What we don't have, are arbitrary limits, just for the sake of limits.

Structure, discipline, and guidance are not actually required. I mean this really, earnestly, sincerely, factually, observably, empirically.

You can confirm this for yourself by investigating your local Sudbury school. [] You will observe kids who do not have those three things, and yet are doing very well for themselves. They aren't censored, at school, and yet, they come out just fine. They all know how to read, after a certain age. They all teach themselves how to do it, and they aren't particularly special. I have read (but don't have first-hand figures) that the majority bring themselves to college.

To my observations, none rebel, because there's nothing to rebel against, save sensible rules: Don't stick your fingers in a light socket.

There is guidance throughout our society. Every movie offers guidance. Every story. One of the main reasons movies are interesting to us, is because they answer our questions, and so on.

Now, it happens that in your culture, you champion those things you listed: Structure, discipline, guidance. But don't say that they are necessary, or else the child is damaged. Know very well, that there are tons of children, every day, doing just fine without those things. And I challenge you to observe it for yourself.

Re:No limits (1)

RPoet (20693) | about 8 years ago | (#16119739)

A 14 year old is a big child. Science tells us that his brain will still grow and develop for about 10 more years. He needs structure, discipline and guidance.

Likewise, a 19-year-old is a big child. Science tells us that his brain will still grow and develop for about 5 more years. How close to completion must the brain development be before we stop treating human beings like babies?

Re:No limits (2, Insightful)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#16119794)

Why not provide booze and hookers - after all, at 14, he would probably just find those things on his own anyway.

No hookers, but I was allowed a glass of wine with a meal and during celebrations by the time I was fourteen. It doesn't seem to have affected me too badly; in general I drink less than my peers these days.

Re:No limits (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16120257)

"protection from pornography"?! IT'S JUST SEX!!!

Freudian or not, you opted to suggest pornography as a more dangerous concept than violence. Your values are warped.

Of course, that's exactly WHY no one should set limits on what they CHOOSE to do. Nothing is true; everything is permitted.

"He needs structure. He needs discipline." Didn't you see American Beauty?

Re:Don't bother. (1)

Jack Pallance (998237) | about 8 years ago | (#16118427)

If you don't want to resort to a technilogical solution, try an oral agreement with them

They can look at all of the porn they want, but only on Bea Arther. (See also: The Golden Girls)

Listen to your mother! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118469)

Your mother is right! You need to stop using the Internets to look at pictures of long penises and hairy scrotums, and start doing your homework. Mrs. Phelps won't be happy if you don't have your math problems done for tomorrow's class!

Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (4, Insightful)

whoever57 (658626) | about 8 years ago | (#16117494)

Putting all PCs in a common room will strongly limit a child's desire to download dubious material. Do this both ways: use your own PC only in family areas of the house.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (3, Funny)

jazman_777 (44742) | about 8 years ago | (#16117520)

Mod parent up. Pun intended.

Rule 2: (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117582)

"Do not try to find Daddy's stash of porn."

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (1, Insightful)

jascat (602034) | about 8 years ago | (#16117609)

That's where the difference between parent and child comes in. Parents get priveleges because they are the adults. They have greater responsibilities and know better the differences between right and wrong. I personally would not do this for the fact that I think it is okay to download porn for my wife and I to enjoy in the privacy of our bedroom. The kids (though we don't have any yet), don't have the privelege of downloading porn because they are underage and it may harm their development. They have not had the time to properly develop an appropriate view of the opposite sex and they don't need to be exposed to some of the absolutely bizarre stuff out there. I know this may sound hipocritical on the surface, but why do we not allow children to drink alcohol or smoke? They can't handle the responsibility of it, and while I did drink underage, I didn't realize until I was about 21 that I was completely misusing it as a teen.

My suggestion, let them use the computer, but supervise them. If they come across something that is inappropriate for them, talk with them about it. Give them forewarning that there are things out there on the Internet that aren't appropriate for them. Open discussion is the best thing you can do. I say this from watching my sister, mother of three, who has a teenage son. Technology is huge in their house, but none of the kids ever use the Internet (or watch TV for that matter) without adult supervision. If something comes up that is inappropriate, they close the browser/change the channel and if anything is asked, they explain to them in a noncondescending way that they aren't ready for those sorts of things yet.

Best of luck to the OP! Open honesty will bring you closer to your children than you can imagine. Raised by a father that avoided the tough topics, I can attest.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117635)

The kids (though we don't have any yet), don't have the privelege of downloading porn because they are underage and it may harm their development.

Watch out. This will become an unprovable and nonsense statement as the goal more and more becomes to "develop" children into mindless sex product consumers. Which you already are.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117668)

>The kids (though we don't have any yet), don't have the privelege of downloading porn because they are underage and it may harm
>their development.

Do you really think porn will hurt a child's development? If you look back at when you were a kid, say 13 or 14, I'm sure if you looked at porn them it did no harm (or if it did please explain!) Or perhaps when you say "kid" you mean much younger than that?

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (3, Interesting)

jascat (602034) | about 8 years ago | (#16117963)

I was exposed to porn off and on from about 6 on up. I had to overcome issues with women and the degrading light that some of those images portrayed combined with my naive mind. Being raised by a single parent father without much of a female influence may have had some to do with this, but I did have issues in my view of women when it came to sex later on in my late teens and early twenties. I think there has been plenty of developmental psychological studies that will back me up on that as well, although, I'm sure those are all up for debate.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118105)

Fair enough. But do you think for a child older than that, like ~13+ that it would be bad?

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (2, Funny)

SpacePunk (17960) | about 8 years ago | (#16118308)

You're Alan Alda, aren't you? C'mon, admit it!

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (4, Insightful)

schon (31600) | about 8 years ago | (#16118612)

I was exposed to porn off and on from about 6 on up.

So was I.

I had to overcome issues with women and the degrading light that some of those images portrayed combined with my naive mind.

I haven't.

Being raised by a single parent father without much of a female influence may have had some to do with this, but I did have issues in my view of women when it came to sex later on in my late teens and early twenties.

I was raised by a single mother, without much male influence. Perhaps the issues you had was because of your father and the way he relates to women, rather than the porn?

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (1)

avenj (673782) | about 8 years ago | (#16119502)

I'd have to agree with this assessment. I had exposure to porn quite a bit throughout my childhood and look how well-adjusted I turned out. ...Oooh, is that some gothic sadomasochistic preteen bestiality?! Be back later...

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (1)

drcagn (715012) | about 8 years ago | (#16117692)

Perhaps, but when I was 14, the PC was in my dad's office only, and only really knows how many times I snuck on the PC at night and beat off right there in my dad's chair.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (1)

drcagn (715012) | about 8 years ago | (#16117697)

That was supposed to be "whatever deity you believe in" only really knows how many times..."

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117696)

So, you're saying my wife and I need to move the PDP-11's out of our bedroom? Of course since they're actually Minicomputers, and not PC's maybe this rule doesn't apply...

Seriously though. This is a good rule. Years ago I thought computers were good for young kids, now that I have my own, I don't feel that way. I gave my cousin's twins a pair of Mac Plus's loaded with all kinds of kids software when they were a year and a half old. My 3 1/2 year old still doesn't get to use the computer. When I was a kid, in the early 80's, I had a TV and a computer in my bedroom. Back then it wasn't as bad as it is now, but realistically, it probably shouldn't have been allowed, even then.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (1)

MrNaz (730548) | about 8 years ago | (#16118435)

A TV and a PC in your room as a kid in the 80s? Wow you really did get the jump on the consumerist fetish of the 90s!

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (1)

HatchedEggs (1002127) | about 8 years ago | (#16117732)

I really think it is a great idea to limit the locations of PCs in a house. My wife and I will have one each in our offices... but when we have kids some day there will be a central location as well. Obviously it would be impossible for us to have all of our computers inthe same room (as seperate offices), but we will make te environment less of a double standard by always keeping our office doors open so that they can see that we follow our own rules.

I've known people that have allowed kids to have their own PCs in their bedrooms, and from what I have seen of that it has always resulted in additional problems. There are enough problems floating around on the internet as is without totally removing all barriers from it.

People that say they do not believe in forcing their children to do something aren't really doing them a favor... and certainly aren't acting responsibly as parents. It is a parents main purpose to raise a child, not just to birth them.

Anyways, I agree 100% with your statement.

___________________________________________ []

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (1)

dosius (230542) | about 8 years ago | (#16119275)

Fully agree with you there. Though if I had kids, I might keep a computer and a moron box in my own room in case I want to watch something not appropriate for the kids late at night while they're down, I'd never think of putting either thing in their rooms. They would have to watch TV and use the computer with their parents' eyes on them. I don't believe in arbitrary limits myself but you do have to set some kind of limit. There's just stuff that's not good to expose a budding young mind to.


I'm liberal enough that a movie where good and evil were clearly delineated would fall in my list of movies I'd show to someone possibly as young as 9 (when I saw Batman '89), or worst 11 (when I saw Terminator 2). Even at those ages I clearly knew "This is wrong, don't do it" or "This is right, do it". I still crash on unfamiliar situations but who doesn't?

And of course, I don't believe in buying the latest and greatest tech just for the sake of keeping up with the Joneses. What a bloody waste of money.


Setting your son up for sexual immaturity (0, Troll)

BeeBeard (999187) | about 8 years ago | (#16117951)

Locating PC's only in family areas of the house will maximize the "Surprise!" factor when you accidentally walk in on your son engaged in an act of self-intimacy. He thought the house was deserted for the afternoon, and then there you are, accidentally shaming him. If you're really interested in his welfare, you would provide an environment where he could experiment with himself sexually. Nobody's talking about whips and strap-ons here--a door that can be shut in a room containing some sort of sexual stimulus should be enough.

Jocelyn Elders was mocked and fired when she endorsed masturbation, but oh how right she actually was. Masturbation is a necessary component to human sexuality, and to frustrate your son's efforts could lead to other problems.

Re:Setting your son up for sexual immaturity (1)

karnal (22275) | about 8 years ago | (#16118036)

Holy fucking hell.

I know that masturbation as a teen is a somewhat necessary thing, but to have to have it in the middle of a family room? Please.

Go to the bathroom and lock the door. At least there you can be guaranteed privacy - and use that imagination to keep the staff solid, so to speak.

Re:Setting your son up for sexual immaturity (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about 8 years ago | (#16118163)

You make it sound like he needs a computer to masturbate. Or that he even needs porn for that. Untold generations of teenagers learned to play with themselves and develop healthy sexual imaginations without the Web, BBSes, Playboy, pin-up calendars, or even dirty limericks. I've got nothing against porn, but I certainly didn't need it to fuel my imagination, and much of my best play was (and continues to be) in the dark with my eyes closed.

Re:Setting your son up for sexual immaturity (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | about 8 years ago | (#16118892)

I really wonder where I said or even intimated that a teenager would need a computer to masturbate. It's really mysterious that you say that, especially considering that I said "some sort of sexual stimulus should be enough." Magazines, VHS tapes, or whatever else certainly fit that category. Since there's absolutely no correlation between what I wrote and what you claim that I wrote, the only thing that I can conclude is that you're trying to scold me for having an opinion, like I'm some sort of petulant child, just as the moderators have done by modding my post down to a troll.

As far as your claim that teenagers had healthy sexual imaginations (a telltale sign of healthy sexual development) long before the internet and Playboy, I just don't even know how to respond to that. Surely you realize that it is the *lack* of sexual imagination and development from the men of those storied generations that gave them such a negative attitude towards women? And you realize that we feel the echo of that stunted sexual development in many of the problems we have with sexism even today? I mean Christ, it was only in the last century that the U.S. had sufferage...oh but are you going back even further? Like when women used to be banished from the village while they were having their period for fear that they would bewitch others? Those must have been some exciting, pre-internet times, filled with sexually mature, fully-realized men, no?

Oh and thank you for sharing with all of us how much fun you have had touching yourself in the dark. That was precious.

no, but close (1)

r00t (33219) | about 8 years ago | (#16118368)

To avoid prostate cancer, you need to ejaculate. Despite the jokes, Catholic priests have 3x the prostate cancer rate of normal men.

Ideally you'd just get married. (the more wives the better, so that you don't have to pester a sick or very pregnant wife) Masturbation is a lame substitute for the real thing.

This works out well for the women too. Childbirth and breastfeeding greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer.

Breed early, breed often. It's good for you.

Re:no, but close (1)

SeanAhern (25764) | about 8 years ago | (#16118571)

Catholic priests have 3x the prostate cancer rate of normal men.

Please provide a citation. The first study I found claims the opposite: Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=7242091&dopt=Abstract []

Re:no, but close (1)

BeeBeard (999187) | about 8 years ago | (#16118917)

That's a pretty fascinating statistic. IAAL, not a doctor, so I really have nothing to go on here, but isn't it true that cancer can be linked to stress, as well as many other lifestyle factors? Isn't it possible that by enjoying a good relationship with the God they believe in, and that by engaging in relaxing, almost meditative prayer sessions, priests are also lowering their risk of cancer?

Plus, it looks like that study assumes complete celebacy on the part of the priests (i.e. no ejaculations except night emissions), and as the altar boy scandals have taught us, there are no guarantees with that anymore. Google hasn't been too helpful so far, but if anybody can find more information on this that would be great.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (2, Interesting)

Robot Randy (982296) | about 8 years ago | (#16117966)

Actually, I have no problem with putting a PC in the kids room.

I password protected the startup so they couldn't get past BIOS, put a security screw in the case so they couldn't get the side open, and pull the ethernet cable from the switch as I only get that PC on the web when I download patches and updates.

I let them surf on the "common" computer.

Re:Rule 1: no PCs in bedrooms! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118637)

um so is the point of having the pc in their room to store it?

if they can get past BIOS then they really cant use it.

if they can get past it, then can't they just unplug their USB mouse/keyboard and install a usb wi-fi and surf off of a neighbors connection.

Going to a security screw just to keep them from opening the case seems a bit paranoid.. I might do it with an 8-10 year old around, to keep them from breaking it, but it seems a bit weird if your keeping them from opening the case to reset the bios behind your back.

good luck with that.,,,,

Trust? (0)

cheftw (996831) | about 8 years ago | (#16117517)

You trust a child with a valuable bit of technology and then don't trust what he does with it? Dubious is dubious but what about private things? A computer is a personal item! You should be all or nothing on that.

Limited Access (0)

phhan (989565) | about 8 years ago | (#16117532)

Basically, only allow him to access content when you're there. Be the only one to have the password to access the computer and only allow him to access when you're around. As someone else has already suggested, keep it in a common area. If you're going to allow him to have a personal email account, keep the password yourself, and only allow him to get to his email when you log him on. That also lets him know that you have full access to his account and address book. Finally, keep an eye on the browser history, if it's being wiped regularly by him, that means he's hiding something.

Re:Limited Access (4, Insightful)

Elfboy (144703) | about 8 years ago | (#16117620)

damn... good way to prep the future generations for the police state...expecting authority figures to have full access to your entire life at any time for any reason. And mainting any privacy is instant cause for guilty status.

Re:Limited Access (3, Insightful)

Kesch (943326) | about 8 years ago | (#16117742)

No, don't you understand, the GP's draconian measures will help breed the child to subvert such measures in the future. If he starts now by hacking the admin password, using seperate browser profiles for dubious surfing, or maintaining a secret email address, he will be prepared tommorow to use Tor to post political dissents to his blog hosted on a machine in Sweden.

(I don't know wether this deserves a sarcasm tag. I want to go for it, but right now I have a little pessimistic voice inside me saying "Maybe... just maybe.")

Re:Limited Access (2, Insightful)

An Onerous Coward (222037) | about 8 years ago | (#16117739)

If your kid is okay with this, then expect him to live with you until he's 45. Because he has absolutely no need for an independent identity, and therefore little incentive to seek any independence at all.

If your kid is normal, on the other hand, expect nightly screaming matches, much sneaking off to use the 'net at libraries or at friends' houses, and probably a serious bid for emancipated minor status at the age of sixteen.

You sound like the sort of parent who gives his kids rigid boundaries, while giving himself no boundaries at all.

In short, no child could live with this, no child should have to live with this, and if you succeed in your aims you'll most likely turn the kid into a self-destructive partier the moment he's out of your sight. Open, honest communication beats ironfisted control any day.

Re:Limited Access (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 8 years ago | (#16118697)

I agree with the parent poster, and actually, that's why often teenage is often punctuated by conflicts between the teenagers and his parents, it's because parents are too slow to give the teenager the freedoms he will get sooner or later.

In my case, the only difference between when I was 14 and when I was 17 was that when I was 17 I could do anything I would have gotten in trouble for doing at 14 without getting yelled at or anything. Parents just need to adapt themselves faster or get ready to lose their influence/authority/legitimacy/respectability, I guess.

Re:Limited Access (3, Insightful)

harryman100 (631145) | about 8 years ago | (#16117770)

For a child of 14 this sounds extreme. Just put the computer in a public place, and keep an eye on it. Wander up frequently (to start with) and say "What'ya doing?" be curious, and not accusational. You're on slashdot, you know technically how to control his access. But the OP wasn't asking that, he was asking for rules, and boundaries, to be enforced parentally not technologically.

I would say you could go about this two ways:

  - Let him have his own account on the computer, his own email address, etc...
  - Impose limits on WHEN he is allowed to use it (only for 1 hour after school, or 2 hours after dinner providing homework is done, or whatever time limit you think best)

  - Have a single account on the computer, which the entire family shares, let him have his personal email address.
  - Have the computer in a communal place in the house. Somewhere where there's normally people around. Make it social.

Contrary to what the parent says, there's no point in having a monitored email account, if he wants to avoid being watched, he'll get a hotmail account or something.

Option 1 provides freedom, but a limited time - it provides a structure which the OP says was desirable. The last thing you want is a teenager BORED in front of a computer. That's when they start going to look for the dubious stuff.

Option 2 encourages open-ness, but without appearing to monitor directly. Allow him to monitor you as well. This will build more trust. If you start deleting browser cache, or being secretive - that encourages him to. Rules aren't laid down, but rather they are implicit.

If he breaks the rules, come down hard, restrict the access to the computer - but only for a limited time. (If he does it again, then make the restrictions more pernament).

There's a third option - this is the one I'd go with, but it's also the one which requires you to be the best parent, and it would only work if he has an interest in computers. Teach him about them. Encourage him to learn about them, and to start tinkering, encourage him to do something creative with a computer (be it programming/whatever), then give him a free reign. If he breaks something important - he fixes it (with help if necessary - it must be a learning experience, otherwise there was no point in breaking it). Forget about restrictions. Monitor what he does, but do so by showing pride in what he produces, encouraging him to invite you to see what he's doing. My parents did this. They knew that after a while, I knew more about the computer than they did, but they encouraged me to teach them, and to continue learning. I never broke something so bad I couldn't fix it myself, but I cocked quite a lot up. Encourge him to be responsible online and participate in things (sensibly). Teach him about privacy, about how to keep his own, and how to respect others.

You may want to adjust the rules frequently. Don't be afraid to try something out, it's parenting, you're not supposed to get it right first time...

Re:Limited Access (1)

g1zmo (315166) | about 8 years ago | (#16118965)

Option 1 provides freedom, but a limited time - it provides a structure which the OP says was desirable. The last thing you want is a teenager BORED in front of a computer. That's when they start going to look for the dubious stuff.

Tell me about it. Every time I get bored in front of the computer I always end up here. On Slashdot. And I don't even have the excuse of being a teenager.

Re:Limited Access (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16119080)

Wander up frequently (to start with) and say "What'ya doing?" be curious, and not accusational.

My dad used that line as a code word for "I want to play computer games now".

Re:Limited Access (2, Insightful)

mjvvjm (1003135) | about 8 years ago | (#16117849)

Do you happen to be a parent? (And were you a kid? I suspect you must have sprouted from a pod.) Nothing personal, but I fear for the future of kids raised on such a short leash. This is a terrible suggestion unless the child in question has already shown demonstrably (criminally) poor judgement online. Such measures are likely to either instill the new member of the family with an intense distrust and rebellion against the parents' authoritarian measures, or, if accepted, prevent the kid from developing a sense of personal responsibility. I have never posted before, but felt compelled to create an account and respond to short-sightedness or naïveté of the parent poster (no pun intended).

Don't do anything. (1, Insightful)

drcagn (715012) | about 8 years ago | (#16117556)

Your child will have to grow up someday.

Re:Don't do anything. (1)

kfg (145172) | about 8 years ago | (#16117784)

Oh, I don't know. I think perhaps that he should do just enough to make the kid think he's really hiding his porn. That sort of thing is a part of the maturation process and 14 is the right age to start doing it. 'Bout the right time to start learning how to deal with real, live perverts on his own as well.

Ha, ha, only serious.


Most important rule! (4, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117576)

Every time the kid uses vi instead of emacs, he has to go stand in the corner for an hour!

Re:Most important rule! (5, Funny)

Kesch (943326) | about 8 years ago | (#16117695)

FATHER: Son what is that your looking at on the Internet?

KID(startled): Dad, it's uhh... it's not what it looks like. I clicked on a link by accident, I didn't mean to go there.

FATHER: I'm not talking about the site; I don't care about that. I'm talking about your browser. How could you? How could you use IE? I thought I had raised you properly to surf porn with a secure browser, but I see where I've failed. This is the last straw; I'm putting Linux on the machine.

KID: But, what about my video games?

FATHER: You'll just have to spend all your time signing petitions for Linux ports or sacrifice a virgin to get them to run with Wine.

One hard and fast rule... (1)

Frogbert (589961) | about 8 years ago | (#16117612)

No sliderule until they've mastered the abacus!

Its called parenting (2, Informative)

MarkusQ (450076) | about 8 years ago | (#16117654)

It's called parenting. It involves spending lots of time with your kids. Every day. Talking to them. Listening to them. And enforcing and adjusting the limits and boundaries based on that.

There is no other solution.


We know that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118433)

We know that parenting is the topic we are discussing here. But the questions the topic creator asked are focusing on how to parent, namely in the face of the Internet, video game consoles, and other high technology being so accessible to children.

Just saying, "Be a good parent!" helps in absolutely no way. What we need to know is what, given the factor of technology, are the sort of actions and decisions make one a good parent. What sort of discussion is best? What sorts of limits and boundaries should be used, and what exactly are those limits? We need exact details here, not vague, overly broad suggestions like "talking", or "setting limits".

Re:We know that! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118509)

Limit on time use is easy. No computer/tv until homework is finished. "outside" activities till dark. If homework is done, go nuts! :) (after all its dark out.) No internet access in bedrooms. Monitor on regular basis, any funny buisness detected remove said technology for penalty period x. (x to be determined by severity of transgression.

At 14 the general rules are known. That will be my sons basic guidelines.

Read my post (1)

MarkusQ (450076) | about 8 years ago | (#16118824)

Just saying, "Be a good parent!" helps in absolutely no way. What we need to know is what, given the factor of technology, are the sort of actions and decisions make one a good parent. What sort of discussion is best? What sorts of limits and boundaries should be used, and what exactly are those limits? We need exact details here, not vague, overly broad suggestions like "talking", or "setting limits".

I did not say "be a good parent", I said to spend time with your kids on an ongoing basis and base your actions on what you learn from that interaction. Slashdot can not do it for you. No book can do it for you. Why? Because every kid is different, and they change over time.

What would you say if someone asked "My wife and I are thinking of buying some food. How would you suggest we cook it?"

Or what if they said "There's something wrong with my car. I'm not a mechanic and I don't know of any in my area. How should I fix it?"

For questions like these, even "Google is your friend" is too specific.

But the questions the topic creator asked are focusing on how to parent

I already answered that. You may not like the answer, but there's very little anyone can do about that. Spend lots of time with your kids. Pay attention, and try to learn from the interaction.


Myself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117656)

I'm 24, When I was 8, I used the computer mainly with my Dad, There wasn't much to do on it back then, but we did some programming together. When I was 12, I got my own computer, and started calling BBSes my most limiting rule was No Long Distance but I did get my own phone line when I was 14, Which I used to Host a Board. My computer was located in my room, and if I could have downloaded porn I would have, as it was back then, I got it from my friends on floppy disk, and had a Hidden harddrive that I would unplug, and only use when "needed". Its hard being 14. I did some minor hacking, and I try to dad to teach me about hacking and he always avoided it. I went to high school and slept in my classes, I stay up all night, working on my board, and programming, or using other software packages, I felt very good about privating software, I had no money, and why should only rich kids get good tools/programs. I'm making a good amount of money, more then any of my friends these days, and Things are looking really great, this would not have happen if I didnt have a private computer to hack with all night, and sleeping at school. The Most negative factor was the geek girl factor, which I believe is less now that Ive left highschool, and geeks are cool or whatever, even in my day being a geek had allot of good points.

If your kid is smart, let him have his own computer, buy him some books on how to program, or use AutoCad or something.

If your kids an dumbass teach him how to play football.

Re:Myself. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118153)

Why is football just for the dumbasses? It's a fun game and you really should encourage little nerds to exercise.

two things (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117661)

two things come to mind immediatly seperate user account & supervision It is good that the computer will not be in a private room or anyhting that hinders supervision but you still have to actively supervise and let the child know that a surprise visit could happen even when they think they are not supervised. A user account of their own will limit what they can do and make it easier for you as a parent to review such things as history. I would also make erasing stuff like the history punishable with grounding or whatever you think is appropriate.

Real Geekoid Approach (3, Insightful)

InsurgentGeek (926646) | about 8 years ago | (#16117666)

I hate the idea of filters, key stroke loggers, etc. What are you going to do with the results? Telling the kid you caught them doing "x" also reveals the fact that you are monitoring them. My geeky answer has worked for me. I run a squid proxy server in the house. I showed my son how cool it was that I could generate reports on all websites visited, etc. He got the message. Twice in four years I've had to sit him down and say "x" is not OK and no - normal people don't do "a", "b" or "c" - especially with barnyard animals.

Re:Real Geekoid Approach (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118145)

He has different ideas than we do, there must be something wrong with his BRAIIIIN!! That's not normal, and we have to make him normal!!!

Re:Real Geekoid Approach (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 8 years ago | (#16118689)

Twice in four years I've had to sit him down and say "x" is not OK and no - normal people don't do "a", "b" or "c" - especially with barnyard animals.

Agreed with the other AC poster, it's pretty 1984-esque, by doing this you're creating a mini-dictature of the right-thought. When I hear stuff like this I feel glad that my father couldn't even turn a computer on.

Once I spent three weeks in America in a host family, and one night the father of the family who just came back from the computer right after I left it came up to me and asked me "Have you visited any pornographic site on MY computer?". I can tell that it's pretty annoying and irritating to have some old redneck fool going after you to look at what you did and tell you when he doesn't like it.

And anyways your son doesn't need to be told that a woman having sex with a dog isn't "normal", telling him such things is rather a reminder that he shouldn't step outside of the area of OK-ness you arbitrarily defined, but actually that must be more humiliating than anything else.

Re:Real Geekoid Approach (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#16119824)

I'm quite disappointed. I would expect the offspring of a slashdotter to have learned how to bypass a proxy. It will turn out to be a useful life skill. The first time this became apparent to me was when I was trying to use a school machine to look up some things about how to configure XFree86 on Linux, and the proxy decided that any page which had more than a threshold number of 'x's in it was pornography.

I think it is easier than you make it out to be (2, Insightful)

moore.dustin (942289) | about 8 years ago | (#16117706)

You seem like you are going to be a involved parent, so you can take the steps you have already taken and just apply good parenting in general. Since the computer is in a public place, that will help a good deal - I would do the same. Then, just be attentive to what he is doing on the computer. Check the history and programs he has installed. Poke around every now and then and you should be fine. If is able to hide things from you, even when you are looking for them, then that is a good thing I guess. He is learning how to use a computer in more ways and learning the ins and outs, even if it is to hide something from you.

Careful though, if he hides things well and you go through some serious steps to find it, he may look at that the wrong way. A trust issue maybe? I honestly cannot say, but just be aware of it I guess.

Operating system? (1)

Antony-Kyre (807195) | about 8 years ago | (#16117707)

Any suggestions on what would be the best operating system to start a kid out on? I figure if a kid has to start out on something that is less friendly than Windows, it will give him or her less time to do risky things on the Net, if you know what I mean.

Re:Operating system? (1)

topical_surfactant (906185) | about 8 years ago | (#16117953)

OS? Linux. Distro? Slack. Of course, if they _do_ figure that one out, you may end up wishing you stuck with a dumbed-down OS. *g*

Non-standard parenting (4, Insightful)

nosredna (672587) | about 8 years ago | (#16117708)

Since you're adopting a teenager, you're going to have a radically different experience than everyone else here. I don't have kids, but I have two nieces, one foster and one adopted (14 and 7), and there are a lot of things different from what my parents had to deal with from my brother and I.

Since you aren't starting with a child from birth, you have to go through a period of actually getting to know them before you can really decide what kind of rules there need to be. Talk to them, and find out what they know already, and what they're used to, and work from there. A 14 year old new to your family isn't going to react well to arbitrary rules, especially if they're radically different from what he's used to. Anything that's much different from his normal should be explained. You don't have to explain everything, obviously, but you need to be open with them on the reasons for things that they may not agree with.

I recommend keeping the electronic entertainment in common areas, but that's more of a spending time together thing. The last thing you want to do with a newly adopted kid is to encourage them to spend time away from the rest of the family. Give them space, but make sure that they've got some draw to be out and about with everyone else.

A few sijmple rules about technology... (4, Funny)

frank_adrian314159 (469671) | about 8 years ago | (#16117876)

1. Don't take a bath with a plugged in toaster.
2. Don't stand behind a car when it's backing down the driveway.
3. Don't use my electric razor on the cat (or dog, or gerbils, or ...).
4. When the stove has that jumpy stuff coming out of the cooking part, don't stick your hand in it.
5. Do not put the cat in the freezer because it seems warm. THe cat likes it warm.
6. Even if the cat likes it warm, don't put it in the microwave.
7. Don't put your little brother in the dryer to give him a ride.
8. Even if they're called *safety* pins, you still can't stick them in electrical sockets.
9. Do not take pictures of mommy or daddy in the shower.
10. Television will kill you. Really.

Remove X from the machine (1)

bunbuntheminilop (935594) | about 8 years ago | (#16117881)

Then they'll really learn how to use it.

Re:Remove X from the machine (1)

halcyon1234 (834388) | about 8 years ago | (#16118583)

Then they'll really learn how to use it.

The parent is joking-- but that's not a bad idea. I mean, how many of us learned to use computers by slogging through the command lines of our C64/Apple IIe/XT-PCs?

Work with him in defining the rules. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16117893)

It's likely he is already or will soon will be more computer literate than you (kids just learn faster than us old people). Let him work with you on making the rules - bedroom or not / firewall or not / logging proxy-server you can see or not / etc. I suspect that if you get him involved in making the rules he'll respect them more - and surprisingly I find my kids even more conservative about some rules than I would have been. OTOH, If I made the rules singlehandedly they might have rebelled.

Current policy here - he can do what he wants on his computer; but I control the upstream router and can log/etc whatever I want. Too much encrypted traffic, especially outgoing, and I ask hiim about it and can block ports. Just knowing that I can grep for porn sites / anon-proxys / etc in his DNS requests and HTTP requests is probably deterant enough to slow him down for now.

Two things (1)

Scott Lockwood (218839) | about 8 years ago | (#16117935)

Squid, and log reviews. Let the kid have his/her privacy, but monitor the logs for bad things, and correct as needed. For bonus points, don't lock bad sites out of the proxy the first time - but do so for repeat violations.

buy them the Columbine game (1)

vandelais (164490) | about 8 years ago | (#16117940)

and a carton of smokes.

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118001)

Yes, household technology does rule for kids. Next question?

My 3 year old loves Doom II (3, Interesting)

way2trivial (601132) | about 8 years ago | (#16118039)

he calls it "bad guys"

(he'll ask, "can I bad guys")

I know I'll burn in bad parent hell, but he can type iddqd and idkfa by rote, and has a jolly good time.
he launches it, randomly selects a level, and starts it from the windows wrapper..

his favorite really is the chainsaw, he laughs and laughs..

I don't intend to set limits, but his only computer where he plays is two feet to the right of my main computer & rig

I watch what he does, and he watches what I do- and he hates to play deathmatch mode with me.... he dies a lot...

he can finish the first three levels all on his own..

the little bugger is three... so- my tolerance is probabbly too high, and not at all helpful...

Don't Give Restictions (4, Insightful)

drt1245 (994583) | about 8 years ago | (#16118184)

As a 16 yr old, I feel compelled to answer.

By putting restrictions or limitations on computer/internet/etc usage, you will accomplish nothing. It will signify your lack of trust, which is a bad way to start. Additionally, with even a small amount of computer knowledge, such restrictions are generally easily bypassed.

The same applies to TV filtering. By doing so, right off the bat, you are basically saying there is _no_ trust, and that is a very bad way to go.

That said, it would be a good idea to make sure that he understands what you allow and what you don't, however, long discussions are a bad idea, especially on topics he probably isn't comfortable discussing with you. Remember that he probably knows you won't be happy to catch him downloading illegal music, so repeating it is just annoying. Short and sweet is your best friend.

As for rules/boundaries, several things should be kept in mind. If he spends a lot of time on the computer, so be it. Remind him and encourage him to do other things, but forcing him to not use the computer will just piss him off, and who knows, maybe he'll end up as a computer science major. If he seems to be switching windows every time you walk by, he's probably doing something he shouldn't be doing.

As for punishment, remember that there are a lot worse things that he could be doing than illegally downloading music or watching porn. If you see him downloading music, at least you know he isn't out doing drugs. And if you catch him watching porn, the embarrassment he goes through would be far worse than any punishment you could give.

Re:Don't Give Restictions (1)

Shados (741919) | about 8 years ago | (#16118381)

I both agree and disagree with you.
I definately see where you're coming from here, and honestly, it makes sense. There are few gotchas around though

For example, while you as a slashdot reader are probably slightly more understanding of the technological world than the average, a lot of teens are flat out retarded when it comes to it (like older folks, really).
That causes an issue, where the things thay you tell them are out of bounds, simply don't compute. Remember a large amount (the majority?) of teens don't even KNOW about certain laws, for example with piracy, and don't even know why its bad to install every single thing that pop up while they're using the family computer. So unfortunately, at least the first time, long speeches tend to be needed, as long as they are kept mature and make the teen feel like they are discussing with an equal, not being belittled.

Repeating is indeed bad, so we have to make sure it is UNDERSTOOD first time around. By understood, I mean attaching a -reason- to the "ban", including a way for the teen to understand the reasoning and be able to track down the steps that lead to the banned thing being seen as "bad". Of course, certain things like porn are obvious (but then again, porn really isn't that bad... I've been exposed to it since I was -7-, and since I simply wasn't curious at all and knew just about everything about the subject eventualy, I can honestly say I made all the "right" decisions in that part of my life, and didn't make a single mistake, so banning porn is probably not that important =P )

All around, making sure there's a clear understanding is the primary concern. Beyond that, it should work the same way as handling any other kind of rules, no exceptions for tech stuff.

Re:Don't Give Restictions (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16119628)

I've registered three /. accounts so far, but it's always months between uses, so the UN's are well and truly gone from AC it is. As another 16 year old, I'll chip in here too....

Monitoring is probably wasting your time. A 16 year old will always find a way...if you set up a proxy and monitor everything coming in through the net, he'll find another way...get a mate to burn him a few DVD's a week, perhaps. In my opinion, this leaves protection and education as your options.

Education isn't easy...personally, I always was fascinated by computers, so I read a lot, and quickly picked up the right way. Most teenagers aren't. They need to be taught. Viruses and spyware are the obvious ones - if you can convey the idea that you shouldn't trust a free lunch till you've seen how it's made, you'll have taught a valuable security concept, and have explained one of the many benifits of OSS. Since much spyware piggybacks on "freeware", this could well save a lot of grief.

Protection is a technological issue....there's a hundred ways to do it, but my solution is outlined below.

I would seriously suggest the use of emulation software (take your pick) on linux (take your pick) to control the environment allowed to your teenager. By using a package that allows changes to be tracked before being committed, a safe environment can be created - your teenager will require your assistance to install any program permanently, and any damage done merely requires a restart of the virtual machine. Explain to the teenager the advantages of using this environment.

However, I would also suggest encouraging use of the underlying Linux system. Grant permissions there sensibly, so the system can't be broken, but allows your teenager to LEARN how the system works, and how to use it. In time, if you're paying attention, you'll know how your teenagers skills have developed, and you'll be able to increase boundaries and trust accordingly.

Of course, I could be completely wrong. I've always had access to root on these machines, and my parents trust my judgement, so the concept of limitations is a bit abstract....but I know from restrictions in place at school that a teenager will go to great lengths to circumvent any system that sufficiently annoys them.

My $0.02,
The Seekerr

Re:Don't Give Restictions (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118957)

As a 16 yr old, I feel compelled to answer.

As a 16 year old, you have very little to contribute to the discussion. You have neither the life experience to know what you need nor the maturity to desire it.

By putting restrictions or limitations on computer/internet/etc usage, you will accomplish nothing.

Case in point. Since you don't want restrictions, you assume and loudly proclaim they "accomplish nothing". On the other hand, every single rational adult with any experience with children knows that's ridiculous. You (as in children) need restrictions, even if they're as simple as "No computer until homework is done". What kind and how strict is a judgement call that can be debated, but to say restrictions on your computer usage "accomplish nothing" combined with your constant advice to avoid unpleasantness and that the "embarrassment is worse than punishment" sounds just like a kid trying to avoid a well deserved punishment with semantics and fast talking.

Additionally, with even a small amount of computer knowledge, such restrictions are generally easily bypassed.

All children think they're smarter than their parents. Especially teenagers. Very rarely is it true. Sometimes they come up with new variations on an old theme, sure, but a competent and aware parent knows when you're up to no good even if they don't know how.

Ignore 90% of the advice here. (2, Insightful)

tverbeek (457094) | about 8 years ago | (#16118223)

This isn't a technology question; it's a sociology and psychology question. What on earth makes you think that we're qualified to help with it? While there are certainly some people on /. who have some applicable parenting experience (and they'll probably post it), the apparent demographics of the /. population suggests they're a small minority. In fact, I'd anticpate that the majority of people responding are closer in age, experience, and attitude to that 14-year-old than they are to the parents of one. Hell, I'm biologically old enough to have a kid that age, but I don't... which gives me just enough wisdom to understand that I don't know a thing about how to parent one. The college students and twentysomethings her don't even have that. If you want parenting advice, better to ask Doctor Spock, than Mister Spock.

In almost any situation in a young person's life.. (1)

Rockinsockindune (956375) | about 8 years ago | (#16118244)

Supervision and limitation are the most important points. I would say that making your monitoring twofold would be the best approach. Let him know that you will be able to trace his footprints online without you having to look over his shoulder, as well as letting him know the boundaries. Also, being physically present in the room when the computer is being used a good portion of the time will discourage the _innapropriate_ behavior. Don't give the message that you are going to be sitting next to him whenever he is using the computer, so you will see whatever he types in his e-mail. But rather a moderate supervision. The last part is to be consistant, don't let your rules reflect what kind of mood you are in. I would say, at this point in his life, he is 4 years from being considered legally an adult, and you should think of him as an adult that needs extra boundaries and guidance, rather than a very clever 3 year old.

Use technology to manage technology (1)

denbesten (63853) | about 8 years ago | (#16118286)

We have a teen that likes to fart around late into the night being distracted by various technology items instead of sleeping and/or doing homework, so we use technology to control technology:

1) The TV is plugged into an ordinary lamp timer (7-day programmable). It kicks in at 35 minutes after curfew, so that she can not watch TV late into the evening. If she finds the timer, my next step will be to lock the timer in a box.

2) I bought commputers for everyone in the house (that is old enough to use one). All computers have screensaver passwords and everyone uses only their own computer. This protects me and my wife against the crap that always seems to get on the kids PCs. It also gives the kids a feeling of ownership and control. However, I keep a ghost image of their computers on the network drive and they are required to disclose screensaver passwords to us. I periodically verify that the AV and patches up to date.

3) My firewall (ipcop with blockouttraffic) blocks all IP addresses in the house at curfew, except for the IP phone and my computer (I need to support work 24x7). We require the computer to be in a public location, with the screen facing the center of the room, so that we can keep an eye on things as we walk by.

4) Due to downloading "issues", I started by blacklisting ports used by p2p programs (see the sans-top-20 for a list of ports). Over time, I have switched to a whitelist approach, since it offers better defenses.

5) Mobile phone chargers live in the kitchen so that she can not sleep with the phone (at least not every night). If things start slipping out of control, we require her to turn in her mobile phone at curfew and the charger lives in our bedroom.

6) We have a number pad on the front door (weiser powerbolt), so that none of the kids can lose keys and none of us have to carry keys (which is really nice). This also helps prevent kids from sneaking in at night because the button beeps are loud enough to wake me.

7) A normal lock on the laundry room door that we use if kids decide to start her laundry too late (which wakes us up and we go down and lock the door).

Re:Use technology to manage technology (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118852)

My parents exhibited just such an adversarial stance towards their children. It didn't help; 3 out of 4 left home before they turned 17.

Re:Use technology to manage technology (1)

TheRaven64 (641858) | about 8 years ago | (#16119849)

Wow. I am very, very glad that I was not your child. I had a computer in my room from about the age of 10. First it was an 8086 machine that I learned the basics of programming on. I also managed to hose the OS a few times, but since it was my machine it was my responsibility to fix it (no ghost images floating around), although my father did help out when asked.

When I was 15 (I think - maybe 14), I got a 'phone line installed in my room. This was my parents' idea, so I could use the Internet while they were on the telephone. I sometimes used it for calls, but more often for Internet access. I was responsible for paying the 'phone bill, which meant I had to ration my Internet usage to what I could afford (this was the UK, so calling an ISP cost about 1p/minute).

I was the only person with administrator access to my machine, and I had unfiltered Internet access. In the process, I learned a great deal about computers. I didn't have parents watching me, telling me what to do or think. By the time I was a teenager, I was expected to have learned self-control. My parents were people I respected, who I could go to for advice, not tyrants trying to control my life.

Why did I not think of this? (3, Funny)

Profane MuthaFucka (574406) | about 8 years ago | (#16118292)

I really want to adopt an 18 year old Korean girl. My plan is PERFECT!

Re:Why did I not think of this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16120186)

Ok... a Woody Allen's idea TM... Fire the Patent's lawyers at sight man!

Public (0, Redundant)

zackeller (653801) | about 8 years ago | (#16118340)

Simple: Put the computer in a public room. No computers in the bedroom. Same with television. Have only one, MAYBE two.

This eliminates 90% of the problems you're likely to face.

My approach (2, Interesting)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 8 years ago | (#16118446)

My girlfriend has a 13 year old daughter. We debated endlessly about whether or not to allow her to have internet access in her bedroom. In the end what we decided to do was to let her with the admonition that as the network admin, I have the ability and the right to watch and dissect any traffic going across my network. We showed her that I can do it at my leisure. We also told her that we'd respect her privacy unless she gave us a reason not to.

What this comes down to is randomly sniffing traffic to see what websites she's visiting and who she's IMing with. As long as nothing appears to be out of sorts, we don't look any deeper into it. Using WireShark, and originally Ethereal, I can see who she's talking to without taking the extra step of seeing what's being said. Kids from school? No problem. Some unfamiliar name? We ask her about it and if we're satisfied with her answer the issue ends there. If we think something is up, we'll read the traffic.

I realize that for some parents it's impossible but we are geeks, there's no reason to let your children's mastery of technology surpass yours.


Re:My approach (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 8 years ago | (#16118660)

Using WireShark, and originally Ethereal, I can see who she's talking to without taking the extra step of seeing what's being said

Without seing what's being said? You must look away from what's being said then, because no matter whether she's using MSN or AIM, you'll see her messages in clear in WireShark.

Anyways, I can tell from my personnal experience, the worst part about having a computer in your bedroom when you're a teen is not to watch porn or to have paedophiles who might cyber-rape you (lol, seriously sometimes I wonder what you guys are scared off, looks like all you parents shit on yourselves when thinking about the great dangers that await your child in the wilderness of the cyber space, and yet you guys don't worry nearly as much about what could happen in other settings such as school, I mean you guys won't monitor your kids at school to make sure they're only talking to known school mates), but rather to go to bed at 2am.

Re:My approach (1)

Lord Kano (13027) | about 8 years ago | (#16118672)

Without seing what's being said? You must look away from what's being said then, because no matter whether she's using MSN or AIM, you'll see her messages in clear in WireShark.

There are different levels of detail that are plainly visible. Some of them are collapsed by default. It takes only a single click of the mouse to read them, but unless I have a reason to, I don't.


My Experiance... (1)

Darundal (891860) | about 8 years ago | (#16118457)

Well, my parents got my little sister (7) a computer last christmas (socket A goodness, you can figure out the rest of the approximate specs), and while they want to make sure that nothing bad happens, they honestly know nothing about computers (to the point where before that, I had the only computer in the house, and was the only user). So, it was tasked upon me to try to bring my sis up right as far as tech is concerned. The computer is in her closet (something I most assuredly think is a bad idea, maybe older but not at 7) and she basically has carte blanc with it as far as non-net stuff is concerned (use whenever she wants, change whatever settings she wants, only doesn't get a password I don't know). As far as net stuff, while there are no filters set, if she wants to use the net she has to ask us and tell us what site she is going to. I check in on her every so often, and I do keep a firm hold on what appears in her history. Plus, she isn't allowed to have an e-mail account. She generally knows that I can keep up on anything I say I can do computer wise (with her personal proof being me using austrumi to reset her password when she changed it). Moreover, on my computer (not running Windows, but running Ubuntu) she has an account that she uses. Actually, she prefers Ubuntu to Windows, although her mother won't let me make any "changes" to her computer (whether sis wants them or not) because she wants to be able to use it. As far as hardware is concerned, I have tried to make sure that she develops a certain degree of comfort a familiarity with the innards of a computer (I have purchased several machines from garage sales for us to part out together). As far as games are concerned, I let her play anything on my computer (including HL2 when I still had Windows). Hope you can get something useful out of my post, and best of luck to you.

Your not a parent if you have to ask slashdot (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 years ago | (#16118507)

Maybe you should freeze your sperm until the rest of the planet has your IQ?

Public place is a good idea (1)

gweihir (88907) | about 8 years ago | (#16118695)

Basically I think that the web is not that much more dangerous than a reasonably stocked public library. TV is more dangerous. Expecially the news. Take an interest in what they are doing and respect that they might not want to share everything. Just make sure they can come to you with any kind of question and need not have any fear of being punished, ridiculed or embarassed by you. Of course they still will not talk to you about everything. But if something really disturbes them there is a good chance they will trust you enough.

Also takling to them about things like sex, violence, money, power from time to time in a casual fashion is probably a very good idea. The values found out there are sometimes pretty bad. Nothing you can do to block, the world is screwed pretty badly in some respects. But you can explain stuff and put it into perspective.

Still, some children are cretins and cannot be helped. A parent can do only so much.

What dangers? (1)

4D6963 (933028) | about 8 years ago | (#16118752)

especially when a few of those technologies have are bundled with inherent dangers in addition to their great advantages (like the Internet)?

I don't mean to sound like a troll, but where on internet is the danger for a 14 year old boy? I can understand that we consider it's not safe for an 8-year old because the sight of porn could disturb him, but not a 14 year old I mean, when you're 14 usually the porn you see is what you want to see, so where's the danger? Chatting with "predators"? Again, I fail to grasp the realness of this "danger", and a few guidelines such as don't give away your name/address and don't try to meet anyone you know off the net unless you've seen them on webcam and that they're not adults should be sufficient to keep anyone perfectly safe behind your computer screen, so if someone could explain to me how Internet is such a dangerous place...

And then, the governement doesn't spy on you to protect you from such dangers as phishing, so why spy on your kids?

but also try to avoid the nastiness on the net (like the RIAA)

What.. the.. heck.. in what the RIAA is something "nasty" to your kid?

From everything I've been told about the kids in the foster system, they do best with a structured environment- something predictable and stable

You know, I think that in that structured environement, whether or not you ask him who he's chatting with is not such a crucial element, I mean it's not like your kid will lose his sense of boundaries and limits and get depressive if you do not maniacally spy on what he does on the computer.

From my non-biassed view: (1)

guruevi (827432) | about 8 years ago | (#16118932)

Ok, my credentials: I am a 23 year old person, have been married, almost father, against "bad things" like RIAA, had very restrictive and religious parents and I have a very big problem with any authority thus being a white hat hacker was kinda cool and turned black hat against certain authority (school). As of my 16 I have been drinking alcohol, never smoked or did drugs though, had a bunch of girlfriends without parents consent or knowledge. I have been working as sysadmin and computer tech in different companies. I have been working with computers totally addicted from my 8 and I never liked games.

My point: unless you're a freakin' good network and sysadmin and you know what you're doing and you let all your network traffic go through a dedicated and hardened linux box you're going to get nowhere. My parents went with me through the whole computers-are-bad, computer-games-are-bad, violent-games-are-bad, Internet-is-bad etc crap you hear from Jack Thompson-type persons etc. Even then, there's always Tor, HTTPS, Tunnels...

At a certain point they had locks on the computer room, they tried the computer in the family room (which in the end of the previous century wasn't always noiseless), they tried getting my computer being checked out and locked down by a co-churcher who is now a senior engineer for Cisco. I always circumvented all of their rules, regulations, checks etc. because it was too easy to be figured out and I was smarter than them in that area. Kids are freakishly inventive if it comes to breaking rules and the more restrictive you get, the more extreme they will be in their ways. In school we smuggled alcohol as water. Empty a bottle of water and fill it up with something that looks like water (Pure vodka is among the only alcohols that is both easily available and looks like pure water!). I went 'sleeping over' and ended up at a rave that I HAD to stay on since I couldn't go home and I have no idea what happened to me between 2 and 4 am. Dangerous, yes, fun, yes, do it again, no.

What I personally would do in case I get a kid on my computer: Set some simple rules and be firm about them. All kids (especially boys) will get their hands on porn in one of another way. Implement squid as a proxy server and block all ads to do yourselve and the computer a favor. Block all "evil" IP-ranges (I block personally all RIAA, MPAA and government IP's) using iptables both ways. Make sure that bad things like virusses, spam and other things don't get in as easily. Make sure you're not hosting an MP3-loaded P2P-node if you live in the USA.

Get aquainted with your kid's music. Put it on a share on the network and share your technological resources for a good thing, Death Metal or Eminem is not always evil, you might even like it or it might be a point for discussion. Make sure you have an open communication about everything that goes on in your son's life. If you block certain things they could be interested in, they will see it as something they shouldn't do or get in trouble for, so they'll sneak it instead of talking about it. They will go wrong, if they do, don't go off punishing them right away or taking away their computer rights, communication is a solution and they might have to face with the consequences of their actions but talk about it first. If you get pulled over for speeding, usually you get pulled over, they ask you if you are aware of the violation, then they give you a ticket, a period where you can defend or confirm your actions and then the punishment comes and even that you can appeal. It's not the other way around and you shouldn't implement that kind of thinking in your kid. Only extremist do that and certain people in our government would like that too, but it's not how it should work.

Imho a parent is there to guide a person into life as an adult. It's not to form them with a certain viewpoint or restrict them from everything that is "bad". They will get/do/know bad anyway, if not at home it will be at a less controlled place like school or at friends where they have less guidance than at home and may eventually get into serious problems.

Re:From my non-biassed view: (1)

jrobinson5 (974354) | about 8 years ago | (#16120268)

So what exactly are the ip ranges of the government, the RIAA, and the MPAA? More importantly, would blocking these IP ranges prevent you from being detected on BitTorrent by the **AA?

Bah (1)

mqduck (232646) | about 8 years ago | (#16119401)

Quick answer:

I'm 21 now. The generation gap worked in my favor so that I had no effective supervision on my computering, and I had access to the Net since I was... 9, i think. Maybe 10. Point is: it didn't harm me. "Oh teh noes, my son/daughter might talk to just about anyone!" "Oh teh noes, he/she might look at dirty pictures!" I think most people really need to sit down for a moment and consider why these things seem so damaging to them.

(Side note: a whole generation - mine - is growing up with access to pornography from a very early age. I hold out hope that my kind will never manage to "understand" what all the fear is. Also, is there some extra high percentage of people with sexual issues in my generation? I don't believe so.)

Trust him (1)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | about 8 years ago | (#16119630)

More than likely as a kid in the system he knows far more than you do about how much the world can suck and already knows pretty much everything there is to know about sex, drugs, and perverts. Theres nothing you can say that he probably hasn't heard already.

Set him up with a really low-end computer and firefox in his room and stick a badass machine out in the family room. If he wants to have a private convo he can do it in his room, otherwise 90% of his time will be spent outside with you.

Just tell him that if he is going to go searching for porn, and he will, then to at least go to websites you know are reasonably safe (peachy18, etc). Tell him that it's normal and healthy for a young man his age, but FFS go somewhere that wont download 4 fuckajillion trojans and try to at least be subtle about it.
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