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Eric: The Super Secret All Powerful Method To Protect Our Children From The Dangers Of The Internet

Hi all.

There's tons of things, actually, I want to write about. Tons. American legislation that affects us. Cultural events. JLU and West Wing. A crisis of faith I've been muddling through. Some kickass writing I've been doing. Many things. Lots of things.

However, there's something more important to write about. You see, there has been a tremendous amount of emphasis put in my nation and around the world on the massive and overpowering need to protect our children from predation online, from horrific and dangerous imagery online, from immoral and unethical websites that challenge the values that parents wish to instill in them or otherwise simply don't want them to have access to.

It is a natural impulse. It is a correct impulse. I honestly believe that children do need protecting.

So, as a good citizen of my town, state, nation and world, I would like to give you all the super secret method to protect your children from the dangers and images on the internet. From pornography and predation. From immorality and immodesty. From distraction and diseased minds. It is not 100% accurate, but it is vastly closer than any law, any technology, and any censorship that has yet to be developed.

And it is free.

First. Go into your son or daughter's room.

Second. Disconnect the computer. Be careful to note where the cables connect, if you're not familiar with them.

Third. Bring the computer downstairs.

Fourth. Go back to your son or daughter's room. Take the desk the computer was on.

Fifth. Set the computer and desk up in your living room. It should be angled so that wherever you sit when you're watching television, you have a view of the screen. Make certain the child cannot easily block the screen with their body.

Sixth. Verify everything is working.

Now, you're probably going to want to invest in two good pairs of noise canceling headphones. The first should be set up at your child's computer, so they can listen to their music, do their homework or play their games without being distracted by your television watching or other downstairs activities.

The second is for you, so you can watch TV while they're screaming at you for being such a heartless monster -- don't you trust them? Don't you care? I hate you!

You should post rules, stating that at any point, you have the right to walk up behind them without them knowing it and read over their shoulder, and that they have no right to say you can't. When they're using the headphones, this will be easy, so insist that they use them. After all, you don't want to hear their machine squawking all the time when they're using it.

You can use this as an opportunity, by the by, to set reasonable limits for things like gameplay and Instant Messaging. Have them verify their homework is done before they use anything like that, and when bedtime comes, they have to head upstairs.

If they say they can't possibly study down in the living room, even with the headphones, hand them a notebook and their textbooks and wish them well. If they need the internet, e-mail or word processing to complete their assignments, tell them that they're able to use a computer in a classroom without a problem, so they can use a computer in their living room the same way. If necessary, block their view of the TV and once again insist on the headphones.

You might think this is a pain in the ass -- you don't want to have to watch your child like a hawk. You don't want to have to tailor your evening activities around monitoring them. You don't want to be put in that role.

Welcome to parenthood.

Do I sound glib? Maybe so.

But I'm an adult, using the internet. And I'm sick to God of being told all the ways we have to change the Internet to protect the children. Protecting the children is important, but nothing Congress or Parliament (any of them) or SurfControl or any of the rest can possibly do will come anywhere near keeping your child's computer in a public area and not letting them use it in private. Ever.

The power of embarrassment and self-consciousness will work vastly better than all the filter software and censorship in the world. I promise you that.

Posted by Eric Burns-White at May 15, 2006 1:12 AM

Comments

Comment from: Fabricari [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 2:19 AM

Thanks for sayin' what shouldn't have to be said. I have a four year old. I hate censorship, because it's not necessary. Parents just need to parent. We don't let our son watch commercials or violent cartoons. My wife and I see the difference it makes. It doesn't take a lot of effort. Really.

Comment from: xaandria [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 2:42 AM

As a now-college student who had her computer in the family room until the age of 16, I wholeheartedly agree. Sure, it didn't seem fair at the time, especially when I just wanted to play EverQuest for seven hours straight, but not only did it keep me out of trouble in my impressionable preteen and most of my teenage years, it taught me to consciously limit my computer usage even now. I may sit like a blob at my computer most of the day, but I will take breaks and walk around and go outside when my back or eyes start tweaking.

Comment from: oball [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 2:51 AM

Why exactly do we want to stop the kids seeing this stuff? Being exposed to goatse and rotten.com at an impressionable age made me the man I am today!


Now if you'll excuse me, I have to get back to my combo meth lab/rape dungeon.

Comment from: boatface [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 3:06 AM

Hey Eric,

Gear up your pseudo-philosophy blatherings and review what is clearly the greatest web comic in all of existence: http://www.stoffgozhare.net/boatface/

Boatface in its period of dissolution -- a movement of negation striving for its own transcendence within a historical internet webcomic commerce where history is not yet directly lived -- is at once a comic of change and the purest expression of the impossibility of change. The more grandiose its pretensions, the further from its grasp is its true fulfillment. This comic is necessarily avant-garde, and at the same time it does not really exist. Its vanguard is its own disappearance.

Pokey the Penguin and Elftor were the two currents that marked the end of modern webcomic-art. Though they were only partially conscious of it, they were contemporaries of the last great offensive of the revolutionary webcomic movement, and the defeat of that movement, which left them trapped within the very artistic sphere whose decrepitude they had denounced, was the fundamental reason for their immobilization. Pokey and Elftor were historically linked yet also opposed to each other. This opposition involved the most important and radical contributions of the two movements, but it also revealed the internal inadequacy of their one-sided critiques. Pokey sought to abolish webcomic art without realizing it; Elftor sought to realize webcomic-art without abolishing it. The critical position since developed by Boatface has shown that the abolition and realization of webcomic-art are inseparable aspects of a single transcendence of webcomic-art...

Comment from: Erik Larsen [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 3:20 AM

I want to take this article and nail it to the door of every parent that ever complained about violence and sex in the media because it affects impressionable young minds. Better yet, nail it to their foreheads; stupid people are so hard to convince these days.

And instead of slamming Mr. Boatface for the obvious, obnoxious, and completely off-topic plug, I'm going to simply warn the rest of the viewing public away from clicking on that link. Trust me, you and the part of your brain responsible for long-term memory will thank me.

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 4:43 AM

I am SO glad that you were not one of my parents, Eric.
As if that was going to stop any child from surfing porn/picking up 40 year old perverts in chat-rooms/whatever you're trying to control.
They'll just go round to a friend's house where people are nice and not sicko control freaks.
Are you the kind of father who would insist on checking your daughter's virginity after every date?

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:00 AM

The wonderful thing about essay writing is it's like putting a gigantic Rorschach test out for all the Internet to see.

For extra credit, let's review the distinction between definition and advocacy, and then go back and track theses for fun and profit!

Comment from: Gilead Pellaeon [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:10 AM

Oh, thank goodness this is about good parenting. When I first read the title I had great fear you were jumping on the "Net Neutrality" debate, and a chord of fear struck my heart.

You make an excellent point, despite what ada may say. People are always looking for a way to duck responsibility, put the responsibility on the government or on corporations or on the internet itself rather than actually get their hands dirty and do some PARENTING. If anything, taking actions like this will at least show your kid that you care.

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:28 AM

I have no intention of ducking my responsibilities. I have a 3 year old daughter and am thus in a position similar to Fabricari's. We take similar measures (luckily she doesn't want to watch particularly violent cartoons at the moment) but I think that, when she is old enough to want some privacy, Eric's solution will be way over the top.
What the best solution is, I don't know. Ask me again in 10-15 years when I find out that mine probably hasn't worked.
I won't even try Eric's.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:41 AM

but I think that, when she is old enough to want some privacy, Eric's solution will be way over the top.

And, if you don't therefore demand that the internet be changed to protect your child, I'm perfectly fine with that.

Let me make this explicit: I'm not saying you should do what I suggest. I'm saying that if you (or anyone) is demanding that legislators and programmers make it so that the internet is "safe for children," that the solution you want is actually a heck of a lot closer to hand. If you want your child protected from the internet, don't let your child use the internet except when you're right there in the room. Certainly, there's no reason a child needs to have an internet capable computer in their room.

If, on the other hand, you have other means of educating your child and exercising your responsibility to protect your child by your standards... then great. Cool. Wonderful.

However. I do not have the responsibility to protect your child. And I actively resent the movement to legislate an internet I'm perfectly old enough to use to Protect The Children.

So. Let me sum up. If you feel your children need Protection from the Internet -- don't let them use it except when you're in the room. If not, or if you think that a fifteen year old who's been raised well and openly should have privacy when they surf or use the net -- well, fine. I'm down with that. But don't expect the Web to change or be censored on your behalf.

Is that clear enough?

Comment from: Kaychsea [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:47 AM

In short: Eric is right. People who won't let their kids go to the shop for a pint of milk in fear of them being abducted are perfectly willing to let them wander where they want without supervision on the web and then try to make out that it's our fault when something bad happens.

I don't have kids and never will. It's a decision I made a good number of years ago now and my partner came to the same conclusion long before we met. But our lives are still expected to be curtailled in order to keep other people's children safe because their parents can't be bothered to.

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 6:07 AM

Eric,

I haven't asked you to do anything at all for me. Nor do I envisage doing so in the future, so there is no need to get so shirty about it. I don't think that censorship is an answer to anything at all; rather it foments interest in the censored subject. [A huge chunk of essay/diatribe/hobby-horse riding on the subject of the legalisation of drugs has been ruthlessly cut here - much to your relief, I suspect]
All I have said is that I find your proposed solution to the 'kids seeing stuff which is not approved of by the parents' problem is way too draconic. Hopelessly so, as any child faced with such a regime, will simply find a way round it. You won't even be able to search their browsing history to get an idea of what they are doing, 'cos they won't do it at home.
I don't have a solution yet, I shall have to invent one - or at least a plan of action - quite soon.
Don't take out your frustration with your namby-pamby, mealy-mouthed, lazy compatriots on me, please.
The easiest answer is: Don't have kids.


Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 6:13 AM

that last line slipped through the edit. It doesn't make any sense at all now. please ignore it.

Comment from: Branitar [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 6:35 AM

I think, the real problem isn't the internet or games. Switch on your TV and you'll see dead people (and how they were killed) each time the News are on. At around 5 (3 on weekends) in the afternoon you'll have the first person killed in a movie or TV-Series.
On the other hand you also had all that stuff in the faery tales that have benn told for centuries now. Old women getting killed in an oven, kids getting eaten by the wolf, the wolf getting cut up, filled with stones, and left to drown, girls cutting off their toes to fit in the she... shall I continue?
It's not what the kids see. It's how you let them perceive it, how you position it in their world view and values.
So please people, think before you shout for regulations. You can't protect children from the real world, but you can help them understand it and draw the right conclusions.

Comment from: Branitar [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 6:37 AM

[edit] ..to fit in the she... should have been: to fit in the shoe...

Comment from: Denyer [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 7:28 AM

Trust 'em. They'll look at porn, but this really isn't a big deal as long as they aren't ineptly parented to confuse media with reality. Possibly get a subscription to IShotMyself and leave it as the homepage...

Comment from: david_wisdom [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:16 AM

I realize that I've been out of high school for a while, but I'm not sure how "parents actually watching what their children do, even unto their internet activity" counts as a "draconian regime". Seems more like "bare minimum job", there. Benjamin Spock, you have much to answer for.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:26 AM

You know, I'm recalling my solution that my mom had about porn when I was a teenager.

She told me right out when I turned thirteen that it was natural for me to want to look at naked people and masturbate (my mom wasn't sure at the time what my sexuality was). She said that as long as it wasn't degrading or depicting illegal acts, she'd gladly buy any kind of porn I wanted.

Now, on one hand, this did make me unwilling to seek the usual paths for young kids who want to look at naked pictures. Part of this was the understanding that if I didn't go through her and she caught it, I could be in a heap of trouble, depending on what it was she caught. So I didn't do that.

But the idea of actually getting porn off my mom was so embarrassing, I couldn't bring myself to ever ask her for any, not even something along the lines of Playboy (which she stated right out that she had no objections to).

I have no idea if it was really a secret plan to keep me away from porn until I could legally get it myself... but it sure worked out that way.

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:52 AM

When I first read the title I had great fear you were jumping on the "Net Neutrality" debate, and a chord of fear struck my heart.

I'm not sure what 'net neutrality' has to do with protecting our nation's children. Net neutrality refers to the concept of every ISP offering identical service to reaching all ports o' call on ther inetnet. The idea is meant to prevent, say, Time-Warner from saying to Amazon 'unless you pay us .5% of your revenues from our subscribers, we're going to significantly slow connections using our cable service to your domain but allow full throttle access to Barnes and Noble'. Or to prevent Cox from simply shutting down all attempts to look up information on DSL.

The fact that some home providers force you to use their own arcane setup to connect to the web and as such actively attempt to prevent you from setting up home networks without paying them gobs of extra money figures into it. I currently use Comcast and they only want to allow you to set up a wifi network if you pay them out the ass for their 'network adapter'. Trust me, if you're setting up your own network without having paid for this, they get pretty touchy about helping you out. Which is to say, they won't. A step up from AT&T though, who threatened to prosecute for theft when they found people doing this.

'Course, that's all a bit off topic.

Erik Larsen says stuff.

Wait, are you the Erik Larsen?! If you get to issue 301, are you gonna just run up to Dave Sim at a con and kick him in the balls?

Ada says 'wooboolooboolooboolooboo

...

Being able to monitor your child's internet use is equivalent to shoving your finger in your daughter's vagina to check the status of her hymen?

...

Really?!

YIKES!

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:54 AM

All of my quote tags got removed. Why did I think that they'd work? WHY DID GOD ABANDON ME?!

Anyway, the following lines above should be quoted and properly attributed.

"When I first read the title I had great fear you were jumping on the "Net Neutrality" debate, and a chord of fear struck my heart."

"Erik Larsen says stuff."

"Ada says 'wooboolooboolooboolooboo'."

Daaaaamn yoooou quooootes taaaaaag!

Comment from: Batou [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:56 AM

"Are you the kind of father who would insist on checking your daughter's virginity after every date?"
Apropos of this, Mrs. Batou and I recently discussed future dating rules are to be. And here they are:

1) Her daughter can date when she knows where to get and how to use TWO methods of birth control.
2) My daughter can date those whom she can physically subdue.

We won't be able to make her choices for her. All we can do is make certain that the choices she makes are hers.

So too for the internet - I may well implement an over-the-shoulder rule, but if I do I need to be prepared to deal with what I see in the way that I would have her deal with it - like an adult.

It worked pretty well for my parents; we'll see if it works for me.

Comment from: Botswana [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:57 AM

It sure didn't take long for the whole "They'll just go over to their friend's house and do it" arguement to come up.

I don't understand this it at all? If you can't enforce it 100% you just shouldn't do anything? The point of putting the computer in a public place and making it clear that they cannot traipse about the Internet willy nilly is that it sends a clear message that there are things the parent does not want them doing. At least if they have to do it at their friends house they understand that they are doing something wrong.

If a parent just goes along with the behavior and lets the child do what they want, and this doesn't just apply to the Internet, then it sends the message that the child can do as they like without consequence. This is NOT a message I want my sons to take to heart.

I did things behind my father's back and I wasn't near as sneaky as I thought. Had he been able to prove anything I would have been in a world of trouble. However, I knew I was doing things I would not approve of. It is surprising how effective that was at reinforcing what he was trying to instill in me all along. He suspected most of what I was up to, but so long as he couldn't prove it he wasn't going to crack down on me. I wasn't breaking his rules in his house and I wasn't getting caught breaking them elsewhere. When I was in college we had a conversation that just floored me when I found out that he was aware of most of what I had been up to.

Duh. He was a kid once to.

Kids are about winning the long game. You might piss them off and have them tell you they hate you at some point. My oldest has already done that, and it hurt like hell. Know what though? They don't really mean it. If you are lovingly trying to raise your kids and instill good values in them, it will more often than not pay off in the end.

Trying to come up with excuses why this won't work or that won't work or why you should never do a damn thing to discipline and make them into decent human beings is a copout. Parenting is hard. Do you want a loving, intelligent, and adjusted adult old or do you want to be buddies with them while they are young? You can't have both. My Dad and I did a lot together when we were growing up. We went to movies, read comic books, played video games, but he was never so much my buddy that he wouldn't lay down the law when I messed up. That is part of the job. The reason why I am the success I am today is because he was a good enough parent to put aside his own desires and do right by his kids.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 9:37 AM

If they need the internet, e-mail or word processing to complete their assignments, tell them that they're able to use a computer in a classroom without a problem, so they can use a computer in their living room the same way.

I found it actively difficult to use public computer systems when I was younger. Someone could come up behind me and look at what I was doing, and I'd get nervous and creeped out and unable to continue. There is someone looking at me, and at what I'm doing. If I can't control the interruptions, it gets worse.

To this day, I get jumpy and distractible if it's possible for anyone to come up behind me and look at what I'm doing. The difficulty involved in seeing a laptop from an angle makes it easier these days, but at times when I'm restricted to CRT use it can get pretty crippling.

What do kids who can't work under the constant threat of shoulder-surfing do?

Comment from: Elizabeth McCoy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 9:40 AM

*looks over at the minx, playing Neverwinter Nights on the old tower*

Actually, you should keep the sound on, so that you can monitor when it gets too quiet or too noisy, and it doesn't interfere with you running WarCrack or surfing LJ with the sound off on *your* machine.

The day she's interested in porn, I'll probably embarrass her horribly by handing her the Foglio stuff (and calling it the most warm and caring porn comic I've ever read), and then go assemble a bunch of links to the good smut on the web.

Heck, if she gets an online friend, we can even arrange meetings.

Mind, by that time, I'll have joined the NRA and have a t-shirt saying so. I wonder if New Hampshire licenses concealed carry? ("Officer, I need to apply for concealed carry. I have a slender, blond, blue-eyed daughter who tans instead of burns." Way I figure, one look at her picture, and there's no state in the union that'd deny me the right.)

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 9:57 AM

I realize that I've been out of high school for a while, but I'm not sure how "parents actually watching what their children do, even unto their internet activity" counts as a "draconian regime". Seems more like "bare minimum job", there.

I will admit, this crossed my mind, too.

I also admit, I don't have an eight year old child. But if I did, I think there's little chance I'd let them surf the web without me. I certainly wouldn't let them do it in their own room away from where I could see.

If I had a fifteen year old, I'm actually pretty sure I would let them surf in their room. And I deeply, truly hope that in those fifteen years we would have had a lot of discussions about what I consider appropriate and inappropriate on the web, in IM, and the like. And Wednesday is of course right -- some people can't abide think kind of monitoring, and a parent and child, in a good and supportive environment, must find the balance.

However... the idea that a child can't use a powerful telecommunications device unless they do it where a parent can see them is innately draconian? That seems really, really weird to me. I mean, Hell -- when I was a kid, I wasn't allowed to have a phone in my room. I was never bereft because of it.

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:05 AM

The ridiculous rule about the computer and the internet is obviously a very small part of the whole situation. Imposing this type of control implies excessive control in other areas of life as well.
I would feel really, really sorry for any kid being brought up in the Burns household.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:12 AM

O... kay....

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:17 AM

That's you told, innit?

I'm soooooooooooo bored.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:21 AM

Not so much 'told' as backing away slowly with as nice a smile as humanly possible on my face.

Comment from: Mr Myth [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:25 AM

Summary of my thoughts:

I agree that this is an incredibly easy, common sense method that would actually work for the parents who are (whether irrationally or not) deadset against their child viewing inappropriate matieral.

Not being really one of those people, it isn't something I would ever be likely to go about.

Those people for whom could stand to listen to this common sense suggestion... probably aren't reading this website.

All in all, a great essay, a great suggestion for that subset of people, but I definitely despair of it actually reaching them - or them truly listening if it did.

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:29 AM

They're too damned lazy to want to use it, even if they did think it was a good idea. They wouldn't be able to watch football/soaps/startrek reruns or whatever.
What they need's a damned good whacking.

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:30 AM

Beat the parents, let the kids run wild.

I love the theory there, ada. I look forward to your book.

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:38 AM

Not just the parents, beat the kids as well. And the grandparents.
And the dog/cat/stick-insect as well.

The problem with Eric's solution is that it relies on the will of the parents to be good parents. Once they have that, it probably wouldn't matter too much where the computer was kept. Good parenting is not simply control. (I hope :-D )

Comment from: JoeFF85 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:42 AM

Erik's method is exactly how I had to use the computer untill I graduated high school and putchased my own machine for College. My 16 year old sister uses the machine in the living room as well, and my parents can see her from the couch in the family room, though not the monitor.

She throws a shit fit if they come over and look at what she is doing, which means that they tell ehr to get off the computer for being rude and caustic and I think its hilarious because I never used th ecomputer for activities that I didn't want them to see.

Well, other than the porn, but honestly, I think having to look at pron int he dead of night while nervously listening for the sound of them moving around upstairs helped me branch into the Ninja prestiege class, so its all good.

When I have a kid, I don't know what I'll do. I'll hope to raise them to be more obedient (like me) than less (like my sister seems to be) and more understanding for the parent/child relationship. Sister seems to resent that my parents are in charge and can tell he what to do. I don't remember feeling that way at her age.

Comment from: MagnoliaPearl [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:43 AM

The REAL reason this is an awesome idea is it would prevent children from becoming enormous geeks, because no one wants to do enormously geeky internet things (like writing anime fanfiction) in front of their parents.

I think if parents started doing this more teenagers would get dates.


Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:50 AM

"I think if parents started doing this more teenagers would get dates."

I shall go immediately and open a chain of abortion clinics.

Thanks for the tip.

Comment from: Pooga [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:53 AM

Wow. Eric, you really weren't kidding about that Rorschach test concept. Despite making a fairly clear initial point (if a parent is so concerned about what their children see on the Internet, supervision is more effective than legislation), and further clarifying that this is probably something you wouldn't feel necessary for your own theoretical children by the point where they are interested in exerting their personal independence, ada seems intent on clinging to a worldview where you said, "I think all parents should constantly monitor their children's every action."

Unless, of course, ada is a troll. By this point, I'm getting a definite troll-vibe. Unlike some blogs, Websnark usually doesn't attract the kind of poster that inflexibly reiterates their own point and only responds to those arguments they think they can easily dismiss.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:55 AM

Oh, wow. So much I could say. Distilling down to minimize what would otherwise be a zillion-word monster of a comment:

1) Eric: woohoo! Thank you. I too have a small child and I too am incensed by people who think that protecting the kids means forcing the adults to live in a kid-proofed world. hmm.. there's a rant in there that must be said, but I think I'll save it for my LJ, later on this evening.

2) Ada: draconic? hmm. I don't know about that. I have three sisters, each with a teen boy between the age of 14 and 17. Two of them have PC's in the living area, the third lets her son use the PC in the bedroom. Guess what? The one with the behavior and anger management issue, the one who screams and curses as his mother, the one who tells her he hates her the most? That's right, it's the one who has the more permissive home. He would never admit it to her, but he has, in so many words, told me that he feels her permissiveness means he's not important enough to her to "bother with discipline."

Teens are smart enough to know, even when they hate to admit it, that restrictions are there for a reason. They're also smart enough to know, again despite their words, that they still need a parent, not just another buddy. It's our job as parents to get them safely grown, not to be their pal and watch them self-destruct.

Sure, the other boys gripe and groan some about the PC being in a shared space. But it's a family computer, and it's non-negotiable; if they want to use the computer, they must do so in the living room.

3) Wednesday: one of my sister's kids has ADHD, but she chose to put the PC in the living area anyway, and it works. She just found a somewhat isolated spot in the extended den where she could see what he was doing, if she wanted, but she seldom looks. It gives him the privacy he yearns for, with the ability for monitoring if she ever feels it's necessary.

4) Every parent-child relationship is a little bit different. The real trick to guiding kids into adulthood is to know your child, and to adapt. Some children seem to be born with an inherent ethical code; others.. well, others have to hear "we don't hit people" a million times before they grok it. The biggest thing, as stated above, is being a parent.

Thanks for this. It needed saying!

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:56 AM

ooooh crap. Can you imagine if I *hadn't* distilled that down? yeesh, I'm a wordy thing. I could never be a professional writer. I love the words too much to do that revise, revise, revise thing - not my words, per se.. just words in general. It's a sickness.

Comment from: JoeFF85 [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:07 AM

@ larksilver & Wednesday

I'm ADHD diagnosed myself, though it generally onyl manifests itself as a tendency to websurf instead of write papers anymore. When I was younger, my parents would have me do my homework int eh dining room instead of at the computer or in my room, because it was the only place I really didn't have anythign to use to self-distract. It really worked out well.

Comment from: ada [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:15 AM

That's just the way it comes across. I think that that kind of control doesn't work, and is often indicative of problems with the parents, going to the other extreme from the feed 'em pizza and ignore 'em bunch.

I've gotta go now 'cos it's home time and they've opened to doors of the cage.

If I remember, I'll post an update in 15 or 20 years and let you know what she's addicted to and how many abortions and/or unplanned kids she has.

Have fun.

Comment from: Johnny Catbird [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:16 AM

I have my plan for parenting the little Catbird... though honestly, mine involves a little more technical knowhow. Basically, I'm planning on setting up content filters on the server level and forcing all computers on the network to go through via a transparent proxy.

Then I'm going to inform him at an early age that everything he does online may be logged and reviewed. When I get the "That's not fair" response, I'll tell him that in this world, there is no true internet privacy. Any network that is being used could be watched by a sysadmin. He'll have to deal with this at school, in college, and when he gets a job: someone may be watching what he does.

Comment from: Ford Dent [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:21 AM

You know, my parents kept the computer in my father's home office.

TRY LOOKING AT PORN IN YOUR FATHER'S OFFICE, I DARE YOU. You will be creeped out.

*ahem*

That said, I think Eric has made an excellent point, and one which I actually had to harp on for one of my final papers (video game rating systems only work when the parents actually give a flying fuck, etc.). We need less legislation and more kicking parents in the ass so they do their jobs as parents.

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:22 AM

ada,

Straw man.

Straaaaaw man.

Say it with me.

Straaaaaw man.

Look it up.

Comment from: MagnumOpus [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:42 AM

RE: Fabricari
"I hate censorship, because it's not necessary... We don't let our son watch commercials or violent cartoons. "

but that IS censorship.

Comment from: Pooga [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:51 AM

Heh. After Bahimiron said "Straw man... Look it up.", I actually did check the Wikipedia entry on Straw Man, out of curiosity.

At this point in time, it looks like the entry was almost written based off observations this discussion. :)

Comment from: Bahimiron [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 12:12 PM

I'm just waiting for ada to make the inevitable comparison between Eric and the Nazis.

I'm pretty sure that according to Internet law, that's the only place this conversation can really go from here.

Comment from: Batou [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 12:19 PM

Ada said:
"I shall go immediately and open a chain of abortion clinics."

And that, gentle reader, is the genesis of Mrs. Batou's rule that our daughter will know about birth control before she needs it...

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 12:26 PM

Ah, the age-old question of "How am I going to protect my child from such and such?"

Personally, I blame this over-zealous attitude about children in general on Whitney Houston's song, The Greatest Love of All. But that's another post for another day.

Here's my point. We live in a world where the timespan between "child" and "adult" has gotten a lot more narrower than it has ever been. Children are becoming teens at an earlier age than ever before, and thus you have parents who try to lay out their children's complete childhood path so that they know exactly everything they do. Supervised games, activities and camps with unpresidented supervision like never before. And the result is teens and adults in most cases seem too unprepared for the "real world." I mean we're talking about more and more people that Dr. Phil and Jerry Springer (among others) can explo-, er help.

I don't know where I saw read but there was a really good point made about how teens will "play" with keeping away from drugs just as they'd "play" with knowing practicing safe sex or abstinence, or a whole variety of things. And I think the same is true for about being online and being lured away from online sexual predators and the like. I just think parents ought to be more forthright with their kids from the start and treat them as they are. The best thing that my mother ever did for me was to tell me point blank that, "Hey, I'm not going to be able to protect you all of the time and I don't want to. There are going to be times where it will be risky to go to someplace or to go online. And it's up to you to decide how risky a certain activity is going to be. I can help you decide if you want, but you'll have to understand why I am skeptical about such a site and help me understand some of these sites, too."

Grant, she was talking more about paying for something online than looking at online porn or getting yourself snagged by an predator. Which she thinks is a far greater problem than online porn or online predators.

Comment from: jpcardier [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 12:31 PM

As the father of a two and a half year old, I have to say this seems to make sense, personally. I don't think it's especially draconian to have to websurf in a shared space. Personally, I plan on whitelisting my daughters email account until she's a teen.

Let us face facts: the web, and the internet as a whole, is a great place. But like the city in which I live (Los Angeles), it has many very seedy parts to it. There is nothing wrong with adults venturing into said seedy territory. But there is a whole spectra of porn that I would not want to expose my daughter to, or heck, even myself to.

There are no limits to human sexuality. However, more than 3 or 4 standard deviations fall into "ick" for me, and I think for most of us. "Ick" is here on the net, and "ick plus" too. Funny enough, I don't think that limiting access to minors is that big of a thing.

Teen-agers are also a distinct problem from pre-teen kids. The solution for one isn't necessarily the solution for the other. Teens will have much more freedom of movement as well as much more technical prowess. They also may demand more net privacy. That is a thornier issue than "should 8 year olds be able to unfettered net access in private?" I think it is a different problem than what we are discussing, and connecting the two does a disservice to both.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 12:35 PM

Personally, I blame this over-zealous attitude about children in general on Whitney Houston's song, The Greatest Love of All.

Every one of society's ills can be inexorably traced back to Whitney Houston.

Gas prices? Whitney Houston. Global warming? Whitney Houston. American Idol? Whitney Houston (her remake of "I Will Always Love You" is clearly its inspiration, the bitch). Killer meteors destroying the planet? Bobby Brown, but Whitney Houston enabled him.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 12:52 PM

I too have a small child and I too am incensed by people who think that protecting the kids means forcing the adults to live in a kid-proofed world. hmm.. there's a rant in there that must be said, but I think I'll save it for my LJ, later on this evening.

I dunno, I think you've said it all right there.

Comment from: Mazlynn [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 1:43 PM

"What do kids who can't work under the constant threat of shoulder-surfing do?"

You can always have the computer set up in a room with privacy, but no internet connection. (Or that computers wireless access blocked.) Granted, that doesn't solve the problem if the kid needs to access the web to do research, but it will let her word process in privacy. And if internet is needed, a negotiation could be made like the ones other have mentioned, that lets the kid have privacy and quiet, but the parent can unobtrusively check in now and again.

The method Eric mentioned is pretty much the way things always were for us. For the longest time I had an old Comodore 64 up in my room that I could play games on, but no internet. (Although that was mainly because my room used to be my father's office, and he didn't bother to move it when it switched.) When the family finally got a computer that could be used for something more than word processing and the most basic games, since it was the family computer, it was in the living room where everyone could use it. When my sister and I went off to college and got our own computers for use there, that was the only time we would have personal computers in our rooms at home. It never bothered me - of course, I never expected any different. It never occured to me that I should expect to have my *own* computer. I think that is rapidly changing as computers become cheaper and more necessary tools.

""Officer, I need to apply for concealed carry. I have a slender, blond, blue-eyed daughter who tans instead of burns."

Elizabeth - you don't want a concealed carry for that. You want every boy who even considers dating your daughter to KNOW mom carries a large gun, because they've seen it several times. ;)

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 1:54 PM

"Personally, I blame this over-zealous attitude about children in general on Whitney Houston's song, The Greatest Love of All. But that's another post for another day."

Miyaa, you just single-handedly made my day better with this comment. I really can't add anything beyond that.

But for the topic itself, it seems that some people are basically advocating governmental paternalism - that we need the government to determine what we can and cannot do because we are poor idiots that can't decide for ourselves.

I'm not going to go full-on libertarian here, but I think the government shouldn't be involved in determining what I can and cannot do so long as the consequences of these actions do not affect the general public in any significant fashion. I figure, what's the worst that could happen to my future kids if I let them stay online too long? They join Davan's old "fraternity" in Something Positive? Eh, that blindness thing is a myth.

Besides, if this legislation is out for anything, it's to attempt to help idiot parents continue to be idiots rather than instruct them on how to stop being idiots. As much as we want to create an idiot-proof society, society keeps coming up with bigger and better idiots.

Which reminds me, I need to make fun of Paris Hilton later today.

Comment from: Shaenon [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 1:54 PM

The idea of kids having their own personal computers in their bedrooms is kind of alien to me in the first place. I'm going to sound like such an old coot, but when I was growing up, my family had one computer, which was of course always in a public area. I never had a computer, a TV, or a phone in my bedroom. My parents finally broke down and bought me a computer of my own in my senior year of college (I still have it, actually).

Later, I found out that this was because they were trying to force me to go outside and socialize once in a while. Which, come to think of it, was probably a more pressing concern than protecting me from online perverts.

My aunt keeps up on her teenage daughter's doings by reading her MySpace page. Sometimes I'm really glad I'm not a teenager today. Is there anything more embarrassing than your mom telling the whole family that you gave yourself the name of an anime character and listed your dream career as "porn star"?

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 1:58 PM

"My aunt keeps up on her teenage daughter's doings by reading her MySpace page. Sometimes I'm really glad I'm not a teenager today. Is there anything more embarrassing than your mom telling the whole family that you gave yourself the name of an anime character and listed your dream career as "porn star"?"

There's a very good argument that says that just naming yourself after an anime character and listing your dream job as "porn star" *ought* to be more embarrassing than your family finding out, to be honest.

But my first widely-known alias on the Internet came from a video game character, so I'm really not one to talk.

Comment from: Darth Paradox [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 2:08 PM

Well, 32, I'm pretty sure that for any embarrassment X, "your mom telling the whole family about X" is more embarrassing.

I'm not about to embark on a proof here, but there's my hypothesis.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 2:23 PM

You might be right... my near-total inability to be embarrassed might be working against me when talking about the subject. I'm generally the sort that refuses to feel any embarrassment for anything I'd actually do.

I mean, I could throw out my phone number here, and the only embarrassment I'd get is if Eric used this information to sign me up for a bunch of telemarketing lists. And that'd be mostly because I'd inherently trust him to not do that.

Comment from: Eric Burns [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 2:25 PM

That has actually happened to me. Internet celebrity: all the harassment, none of the restaurant perks.

Comment from: 32_footsteps [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 3:01 PM

Heh, is that a less-than-subtle reference to the infamous (at least around here) shot Wiley Miller took at Scott Kurtz in the one time you snarked about Non Sequitir?

Eh, I kind of know what that's like. I never had anyone put me on some sort of telemarketing list. But I did manage to get myself on some mailing lists that people around here would hate even more than tons of email about Viagra and the like.

And let's be fair, Eric - Internet celebrity has its moments. You get all sorts of shout-outs in webcomics (I know you saw Penny & Aggie last week)and get some neat gifts from it. I mean, it's not quite like you get free books and widespread acclaim. But it has its moments.

Comment from: Wednesday White [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 3:10 PM

3) Wednesday: one of my sister's kids has ADHD, but she chose to put the PC in the living area anyway, and it works. She just found a somewhat isolated spot in the extended den where she could see what he was doing, if she wanted, but she seldom looks. It gives him the privacy he yearns for, with the ability for monitoring if she ever feels it's necessary.

Is this the unmedicated child? In his position, that situation probably would only have been workable and effective for me if my back had been to the wall.

Bluntly, I'd much rather see parents running some form of remote desktop management solution if they feel the need to monitor what their child's doing as they're doing it. Yes, it involves having half a technical clue (not that much of one, though), and it would still have the feel of betrayal from the child's perspective (it'd be something you'd want to have discussed with the child ahead of time). But giving a child inviolate physical space is vital, as is giving him or her the ability to trust that that space will remain inviolate. And keeping tabs on a distractible child in a way which doesn't involve actually having to interrupt him if it's not essential makes it worth the tradeoff for me.

Comment from: Aerin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 3:35 PM

Children have an expectation of privacy? News to me. Spoiled little wankers. I shared a room with a sister (the older one first, then the younger one) until I was 16. The only form of entertainment I had in my room was my books. (Well, and when I managed to snag the Game Boy, but that usually lived in a drawer in my brother's room.) The video games were all hooked up to the main TV in the downstairs living room, and the family computer was in the living room upstairs. (Except when we moved, when we put the computer in the kitchen for lack of any place else to put it.) The first additional computer to come into our house was the ancient Thinkpad brick I bought off eBay with my babysitting money because I was tired of having to rip my sister away from her Sailor Moon fan fiction so I could write my novel. (I was 14. I was not a normal child.) I still have that computer. It has no Internet capability, and was used solely for Word and solitaire. Come to think of it, I didn't have ANY Internet access until junior high, because I remember babysitting at a house that did and being utterly amazed.

And I don't want to hear any "back in my day" ribbing, because I turn 20 next month. "My day" was five years ago.

If I ever have children, they're not getting their own computers until they are in high school. A child has no need of their own computer before then. Seriously. They need to do school work? They can do it on the family computer. Want to talk to their friends? Family computer. Play video games? Family computer. My concern would be less that I need to be supervising what they're doing than that I need to be limiting the time they spend in front of the damn box. There's time enough for that in college ($DEITY knows), they should get out and play instead of living on their computer.

Comment from: Aerin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 3:49 PM

I'm generally the sort that refuses to feel any embarrassment for anything I'd actually do.

I feel you on that one. I recently took a bet with a friend over a contest, and it took a very long time for him to come up with something I had to do if I lost, because everything he suggested was something I would do without compunction. I think it comes from my theatre background.

(If you're curious, it was decided that I would have to spend my next day off riding "it's a small world" from park opening to park closing if I lost. I won the bet.)

To actually make this a somewhat on-topic post, in response to Wednesday: a remote management system would be exactly the sort of thing I would use, but only if the child demonstrably needed it (as opposed to the other options listed). Working in noisy, distracting environments growing up got me used to it, and makes it easy for me to work in such environments now. Unless my kid proved physiologically incapable of it, I would probably give them the same sort of training.

Comment from: kellandros [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:05 PM

Never messed much with remote desktop; but from what I've seen most are designed to be easily disabled(for mainly security reasons).

The seperate proxy server would require more work, but seem much more effective.

The least work intensive(and most incomplete) would be just using a keylogger(heck, ThinkGeek stocks some purely hardware ones). Dump to a text file and make it search for specific key words. Of course this would miss all mouse-based input, but its the quick and dirty way...

(Or maybe set up an automated process to save a screenshot every minute?)

Comment from: Aerin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:21 PM

A keylogger would give you an accurate idea of what sort of chatting and e-mailing they were doing. Combine that with perhaps some way to disable clearing out the browser history, and you've got all the draconian surveillance you could want.

You know, if that's your thing.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 5:30 PM

My dad likes to say of parenting, "Everyone who completes a job becomes an expert." Now that my kids are out of the house, though, I can't look back and specify anything in the way of conscious policies employed. Except I never walked against the light with them when they were little.

Comment from: Leesha [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 6:15 PM

These kinds of discussions make me even more glad than usual that I'm never having kids. So many things to worry about that I never want to think about and lose sleep over! Blech. No thank you.

As for those of you who do have to worry about this sort of thing, I think Eric's solution, while it sounds a bit extreme, generally gets across the right idea. It's not the Internet's fault; it's the parents'. If you're really that bothered by your teenager telling you s/he hates you, then you didn't really think the whole "having kids" thing through, because that's what teenagers do. Always have, always will.

Comment from: larksilver [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 7:03 PM

Is this the unmedicated child? In his position, that situation probably would only have been workable and effective for me if my back had been to the wall.

Nope, he's the medicated one. However, his back *is* to the wall. To see what he's doing, she would have to go over and look - again, something she seldom feels a need to do. He's so bloody transparent, even at 17, that he practically shouts "I'm doing something I shouldn't do!" when he's walking the edges of acceptability. Of course, my sister is okay with his desire to look at girls, too - she's not much of a prude. Her only request is that he stay within certain limits and that he keep the laying hands to more private moments. I dunno, it works for them.


My 4-year-old has his own PC. Granted, the only things on it are Dora the Explorer, Nemo, and Thomas the Tank Engine games, and it doesn't have internet access at all, but still... when I bought a new one, it seemed natural that he could have the old for his educational software. I grew up in a house with a family PC, and that was (and still is!) fine; still, there are times, when it's rainy out, or when he's not feeling well, when it's nice for him to have a quiet activity that's more interactive than the boob-tube... and I don't have to share.

His PC is in the dining room, and will stay there until he's old enough to a) ask for it, and b) gain some trust. We *will* talk about predators, just the same way as we are now talking about strangers. We *will* monitor his activities, at least remotely, but the biggest thing is to educate him... oh, wait, that's parenting. Right. Nevermind... we already *said* that.

Comment from: Darth Paradox [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 7:26 PM

My dad actually set up a VNC server on the computer in the study that my little brother and his friends like to use, and monitored it from the kitchen. (I'm pretty sure they were informed of the arrangement.)

There was an.. incident with one of his friends, who came up with the wonderful idea of Googling some of the dirty words that he knew. Sigh.

Comment from: Morganite [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 7:28 PM

32_footsteps, in the funniest thing I've seen all day, wrote:

"She told me right out when I turned thirteen that it was natural for me to want to look at naked people and masturbate (my mom wasn't sure at the time what my sexuality was). She said that as long as it wasn't degrading or depicting illegal acts, she'd gladly buy any kind of porn I wanted."

I can't help but wonder how I would have reacted to that. And then I remember that hey, I didn't even become interested until at least a couple years later. (Besides, I've always preferred half-naked people...) Though I might have asked "What's degrading?" (An issue I'm still not quite sure how to handle... but that's really going off on a tangent.)

In the "Your kids will hate you if you make them use the computer in the living room/other public area" thread... If the computer has always been there, I suspect it'd be quite a while before the possibility of it being someplace else occurred to them. Of course, with multiple children, it would get more complicated, but at least with one by the time they start wanting one in their own room, they can probably handle it.

Now, for me, the computer was always in my room, but there was never an internet connection until I was older. (Prior to that there wasn't much worth having one for anyway.)

On the keylogger/proxy/remote desktop/whatever idea... I'm not sure that wouldn't feel even more like an expression of distrust/invasion of privacy than just having the computer in a public area. It's true that all sorts of other places in the future your use will be monitored, but that might be a hard concept to explain to a young person. (Also, a person can do a lot without doing anything a keylogger would pick up... it'd just take longer.)

Comment from: Fabricari [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 7:47 PM

MagnumOpus quoted out of context:

[quote]
RE: Fabricari
"I hate censorship, because it's not necessary... We don't let our son watch commercials or violent cartoons. "

"but that IS censorship."
[/quote]

Taking someone's words and chopping it to change the meaning is the worse kind of censorship.

And. No. I don't want the contents of television or the internet to be altered for the sake of my son's personal development. We just don't let our son watch it. There's a difference. We choose our content. Until he's old enough to choose on his own. As a parent you _get_ to shape your child's development.

My point is, just like Eric's; if you don't want your kids to watch it, don't let them. Just because I don't want my son to watch Cartoon Network, that doesn't mean that I think they should take it off the air. I happen to like a lot of the programming, and when _I_ think he's old enough, I'll let my son enjoy it as well. That could be next month or next year - not up for anyone but his parents to decide.

I don't want content providers or the government to make that decision for me.

Parenting is one of those things that will stir up more opinions than politics or religion. There are as many variations as there are parents. Watch how the office lights up with banter if you bring it up at work.

Comment from: abb3w [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:08 PM

FWIW... this is pretty much the method my sister is using on her oldest daughter. (13 year old ignatz; the seven year old rugrat doesn't go online without mom, period.) My sister's asked me once or twice (since I'm more of a geek) as to whether I thought such-and-such was reasonable. So far, it has been. The ignatz has grumped once or twice, but adapted. My sister has also warned them both that if she suspects anything funny going on, she may call me in to surreptitiously provide her more comprehensive monitoring than just "watching over the shoulder." They also know I've shown her how to find out what they've been doing... and for signs they're trying to hide it.

On the other side of this, parents need to work to understand what the heck the kids are saying online. Just occasional glances to check that you don't see anything wrong, doesn't mean that all is right. A POS is no protection against TLA tactics trying to KPC. As far as kids having privacy... meh. Parents who intrude on privacy should bear in mind that kids need to transition to adults, and react to whatever they find with that process in mind. You can't keep the kid in the crib forever.

No matter what methods you use, the key is to keep involved with your kids if you hope they stay out of trouble and out of harms way.

Comment from: Aerin [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 8:18 PM

It is difficult with multiple children, granted. After all, that's the reason I ended up getting my own computer. But I grew up in a family of four siblings very close in age (older sibs are four years older than me, little sis is a year and half younger), and we made it work well enough. We went by a system of "Priority, then Seniority": schoolwork always took precedence over playtime, and if two of us needed to do homework, the kid with the most pressing deadline got first dibs, usually with the admonition to be quick about it. If it was just a matter of playtime, the oldest got it first on a short time limit (usually half an hour or so) and we'd rotate. Hell, it wasn't until the little sis started stretching the "You can have the computer all evening and do whatever, but Aerin gets the computer at 10pm" rule ("Just let me finish this chapter!" "Okay, fine." An hour later: "Just let me finish this chapter!" "You're on a new bloody story and you know it, it's my turn.") that I started saving for my own compy. It seems a little complicated, but it worked.

Though, IIRC, these were rules that we sorted out ourselves, and that my mom just enforced when she was around. So perhaps they were just overly complicated because they were kid rules.

Comment from: Joshua Macy [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:02 PM

"We live in a world where the timespan between "child" and "adult" has gotten a lot more narrower than it has ever been."

Compared to having to work from the time you're old enough to do any useful chores and getting married when you're about thirteen? I'm thinking not so much.

Comment from: kirabug [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 10:23 PM

My sister turns 17 on Wednesday. She's had a computer in her room since she was about 13.

It has traditionally been the oldest, most worn-out computer in the house, totally unsuitable for anything except word processing if she's lucky. It comes with a desk I had when I was a kid and a folding chair. She hates it.

As a result, she'll only use *her* computer if she has to. The rest of the time she uses my brother's desktop, or more recently, his laptop. Of course, those can only be used a) when he's in his room or b) on the livingroom sofa.

My parents have never had to say "you'll use the computer in the shared spaces". They made it seem like her choice.

She's had an online presence since 13 with an AIM ID that I set up (complete with "no one can IM you if you don't put their IM ID on this buddy list" protection) and two email addresses, set up by my brother and I. I've got all the passwords. I've only checked her email twice but she knows I can do it any time. (Heck, last time her computer was acting up and she *asked* me to.)

We've also provided her with all the scare-the-shit-outta-you abduction and murder stories that we've deemed necessary to scare her away from strange people contacting her out of the blue. Seems to be working.

I agree with Eric. I don't need my internet childproofed just because someone else has kids.

Comment from: MagnumOpus [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 15, 2006 11:42 PM

RE: Fabricari

""MagnumOpus quoted out of context:

[quote]
RE: Fabricari
"I hate censorship, because it's not necessary... We don't let our son watch commercials or violent cartoons. "

"but that IS censorship."
[/quote]

Taking someone's words and chopping it to change the meaning is the worse kind of censorship.""

i wasn't quoting you out of context, i was juxtaposing your own words to show the contradiction in your statement.

it doesn't matter if the government does it or if you do it, it's all the same from the kid's perspective.

"And. No. I don't want the contents of television or the internet to be altered for the sake of my son's personal development. We just don't let our son watch it. There's a difference. We choose our content. Until he's old enough to choose on his own. As a parent you _get_ to shape your child's development."

again there's no difference for the kid. just because YOU get to watch whatever you want doesn't mean you aren't censoring TV.

censorship doesn't have to be at a government level.

now personally i don't care if you don't let your kid watch Predator, but you can't be intellectually honest in hating censorship and then turn around and do it.
practice what you preach.

i feel due to the above sentence i should point out that i was indeed raised uncensored, i saw predator when i was 5 or 6, personally i thought it was boring as hell, unlike bugs bunny cartoons, there were stretches of 15-20 minutes in which nothing happened. terminator 2, aliens and universal soldier i probably saw the first time around the same age. of course my mom had also read the entire lord of the rings to us and all of the existing redwall books.

Comment from: neongrey [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 16, 2006 12:47 AM

Honestly, I'm still baffled by the notion of kids having their own computers. When I was living at home, we had one computer. Everyone used it. And we were all good enough at listening that nobody saw each other's porn.

Except my dad, he would do it at ten in the morning on weekends. Accidentally caught an eyeful a few times.

Now my parents have two computers. One is the same one, still in the living room. The other is in the rec room in the basement, for the kids, and sees even more traffic than the living room.

Who has a computer for each kid, anyway?

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 16, 2006 1:54 AM

I didn't have cable, a computer or air conditioning for almost my whole youth. Other than learning how to live without a television, I could adjust to having none of those again really easy.

Comment from: neongrey [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 16, 2006 2:52 AM

I've never lived with air conditioning and I singularly hate everyone who does.

Comment from: miyaa [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 16, 2006 4:08 AM

A quote: (Since I have no idea how to do that box thingy.)

My aunt keeps up on her teenage daughter's doings by reading her MySpace page. Sometimes I'm really glad I'm not a teenager today. Is there anything more embarrassing than your mom telling the whole family that you gave yourself the name of an anime character and listed your dream career as "porn star"?

~~~

Try having a name given from a specific puncuation. Do you realize how many people like to have tilda and ampersand as their "handle?" Maybe I should try whatever they call that Swedish zero with a slash in it. Or maybe an umlat. That might work.

Comment from: Steve C. [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 16, 2006 12:26 PM

We had two computers when I was growing up - both in common spaces (one downstairs in the living room, and one upstairs in the big hall between all the bedrooms). Of course, in that house there was really very little room to put a computer in anyone's bedroom. Just no space.

When I have children, we'll either have all the computers in the common space (and probably only have one desktop and one laptop) or if we have an office, one common computer that the kids can use and my desktop and the wife's laptop in the office, locked down and inaccessible (except with permission).

This post had no real content other than to offer another "me too!" response. :)

Comment from: Gorthaur [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 17, 2006 2:36 PM

I'm greatly amused by all of this. My parents and I had a loose understanding- there was to be no porn (not that it ever stopped me, really), privacy was a priveledge and not a right (a priveledge that could be taken away if misused... by the by, that word, priveledge, will be coming up a lot), and the only electronic things I could have in my room were a lamp and my stereo.

Punishment worked like this- you had the freedom to do whatever you wanted, at all, for any reason. If your reason sucked, you lost a priveledge. And everything that you have is a priveledge that can be freely taken away from you for decent purposes.

Spending too much time on the computer? No more computer. Going to porn sites? No more computer. Watch too much TV? Mom cancelled our cable.

I actually was spending so much time reading in my room, late at night, that my schoolwork began to suffer from it (due to lack of sleep). So I lost my lightbulb. When I began using my room for things my parents did not approve of (smoking pot, having sex), I lost my door. Yeah. My door- it was taken off the hinges. I never had a lock on my door.

It sounds absolutely ridiculous to think back on it. I hated it when it happened, and to a degree I hate it now. My mom believed firmly in the philosophy of "You don't need a lock on your door if you have nothing to hide", which is a paranoia breeding experience.

Did it work? Abso-fucking-lutely. I began sleeping at regular hours, I didn't smoke pot (in my room) anymore, and I stopped doing a lot of the things that were 'wrong'. I didn't need privacy, because I was actually following the rules.

Weirdest of all, I always understood why those things happened. It wasn't some random punishment, my mother did not come down out of the sky to randomly take away things that I had a right to. I had no rights. Only priveledges. This made me grateful for things I took for granted. I had squandered my privacy and thus I lost it. I didn't bitch about having no computer in my room, because I was not trustworthy enough to have one.

I had really, really 'draconian' rules. But they had purpose and it worked- it really fixed a lot of things I was doing wrong. And when I had my mother's trust back, I got a door, I bought a TV which I put in my room, and I enjoyed having the trust of my mother (which gave me the freedom to do whatever I wanted).

When I have kids, I'll repeat it. It was very, very harsh, but it was fair. Very, very fair.

And one day, far in the future, when they look at me and say, with pleading eyes... "Why can't I have a computer in my room?" I will say "For the same reason that I don't let you go to parties unless I know there are adults there, and why I want to meet your friends."

Comment from: kellandros [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 18, 2006 10:16 AM

I think that is probably the key idea- fairness.

Well, fairness isn't exactly right either. Angry kids of any age will cry and scream that something isn't fair when they see someone else doing something they aren't allowed.

I guess what I'd say is a consistent, evenly applied set of basic rules. Conflict between parents where one will say yes and the other will say no, constantly making exceptions to rules, blatant parental hypocrisy, all will undermine how kids will act.

Of couse, looking back at my youth(though I'm not even 25 yet) I can see lots of times where I was a jerk and an idiot. Sort of wonder how much of it will be outgrown.

Comment from: Paul Gadzikowski [TypeKey Profile Page] posted at May 19, 2006 4:50 PM

The real problem here, as with many other things, is that people think there's one solution that'll work for everyone, but there isn't.

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