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The Internet Education

Rules for Teenage Internet Access? 2067

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

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  • Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

    by r_glen ( 679664 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:16PM (#7484280)
    By age 15, I'd be concerned if they weren't yet looking at porn.

    As far as the "don't quickly exit from everything" rule, I think that's a bit unfair... there are plenty of legitimate reasons they might want to (emails, IMs, etc.), and even the naughtiest of children should feel they have SOME privacy. Besides, knowing that you trust them is far more important for their growth than seeing a few naked women (masturbation discovery nonwithstanding).
    • by r_glen ( 679664 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:18PM (#7484298)
      On second thought... just block and you should be fine.
    • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by KDan ( 90353 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:22PM (#7484331) Homepage
      Absolutely. Given how central the internet has become to many people's social lives, you may well find that they are exchanging messages with their sweetheart(s) and you have absolutely no business (as a parent or otherwise) being even aware of the specific existence of these messages, unless your kids want you to.

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

      • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by oneishy ( 669590 ) <jczebota.oneishy@com> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:45PM (#7484531) Homepage

        While i agree that you should be able to trust your children, I see many other things from the flip side of the coin.

        It IS a parents business to know what is going on in their childs life. That is nearly THE definition of an involved parent. Todays society shrugs that model but it is the parents job to help guide those *sweetheart* relationships (or to end them if needed).

        KDan aparantly believes in teaching a child to do something once just to learn what it is, even when that something is wrong. I strongly disagree, and by following that logic through hopefully you will to. Example: Murdering is wrong but i should allow my child to experience it for themselves so that they *understand* murdering. Clearly that would not be good parenting. The same prinicple applies with many of the evils online (pornogrophy, violence, fostering bad relationships, etc..) A parent should not encourage these things simply so that a child knows, but rather should keep the absolute stand that they are wrong, and off limits.

        KDan does make a good point about going the harder route and educating your children. It would be good to educate them on good morals, things of character and integrity rather than on bad symptoms that come from poor character and integrity.

        • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:49PM (#7484566) Homepage Journal
          The same prinicple applies with many of the evils online (pornogrophy, violence, fostering bad relationships, etc..)

          Pornography is evil now? Wow, I'm right up there with Saddam Hussen. But where the hell are my 70 virgins!?
          • by Dolly_Llama ( 267016 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:10AM (#7484724) Homepage
            They sure as hell arent on your website!

            and Praise Bob for that!
        • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

          by dbc001 ( 541033 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:14AM (#7484757)
          Example: Murdering is wrong but i should allow my child to experience it for themselves so that they *understand* murdering.
          That's a terrible analogy. my dad gave me a cigarette when i was like 12, and i coughed for like 15 minutes. There was no way anyone could ever talk me into smoking a cigarette after that.

          I plan on drinking my kid's first beers with them, and i plan on smoking the first joint with them as well. Both are very dangerous, but also quite normal and socially acceptable in moderation. similarly, it would be wise to talk openly with children about sex and sexuality (both must be done carefully of course) because if my kid is gonna be a perv, i would rather know about it than have him hide it and end up being a murderer/rapist because of pent up sexual frustration and aggression.

          So what can we learn from the wonderful world of Internet Porn? Well, it turns out that everybody likes sex! Some people like it in different ways than others. Some people went through weird shit growing up, and now they get off on weird shit as adults. Who is to say what is normal and what is abnormal? As far as the kids go - you can't stop them from seeing porn. They will find it. And they will find the weirdest, nastiest shit you can imagine, far weirder than anything we were ever exposed to growing up. So your best bet is to work on building an honest, open dialog with them, and build a trusting relationship. If ya don't, your kids will still find the weird porn, but they won't be able to relate it to society, and they won't be able to bring it into the context of real people. They will hide it and keep it all inside, and that will cause much worse problems.
          • by Sean Clifford ( 322444 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @02:18AM (#7485500) Journal
            I agree, parents should be guides and not overlords. Not necessarily a kid's "buddy", but certainly a trusted person they can turn to. Discipline as needed for violating rules, but make sure the punishment fits the crime.

            I was online very early - starting with CompuServe in 1984 when we rotated back to the States. At home and a buddies house with Commodores, Tandys, and an Apple II. We hacked everything we could and yeah, ultimately got busted by the MIBs who (fortunately) just gave us a warning. ASCII pr0n wasn't exactly what the doctor ordered, so the magazine variety had to suffice. I BBSed with a bunch of other folks, met a bunch of folks online - some I met IRL, others not.

            The big bad Internet is just one of a myriad of tools that people use to communicate. It's replaced the phone for most teens I know. What you do online does not necessarily reflect who you are or what you're going to be. I remember folks spewing warnings about the evil of AD&D when I was a teen, the total overcompensation for it and raid of my personal library, the destruction (at a book burning sponsored by the Catholic Church) of 2 years of gaming notes and characters and worldbuilding and books. All in the name of "protecting me" from an evil influence. I think a lot of parents act *exactly* the same way about computing and the Internet.

            My parents trusted me; every now and then I betrayed that trust and did something incredibly stupid and dangerous and was punished for it if I got caught. The majority of the time I did get caught. As a general rule, I followed my parents' guidelines. I didn't consider them unreasonable. I think I turned out okay so far: love my IT job, happy with my $, happy with my friends & family.

            I smoked cigarettes, I drank alcohol. It was another time (I graduated from HS in '87) and we spent my early adolescence stationed in Spain - 3 years. Alcohol was freely available, I had a lot of money (for a junior high and high school kid) from various entrepreneurial activities. My buddies and I ate breakfast in a neighborhood bar before school and had a few beers there and played video games after school. When I got back to the States I got in trouble for both smoking and drinking, but my parents blew it off - they'd rather have me drinking at home under supervision than binging at some party. I learned moderation from my Mom.

            As a parent, you certainly can shape the kind of person your kid is going to be - for good and for ill. But you are not the only influence on their life and certainly in adolescence aren't the most important one - not to them anyway.

            The best thing you can do is spend time with your kids; I'm not talking hours and hours of mutually boring 'hanging out' or Interrogation 101. But spend some quality time with them, even if it's just a few minutes a day, to ask how they are, how stuff is going. Not a quiz on what they're learning, but ask them about stuff they're interested in - things important to them, how they fit in at school, gauge how happy or bummed they are, etc. Don't be all judgemental or you'll lose a fragile rapport.

            In other words, treat them like a human fucking being and SHOW them you respect them by listening to them. You don't have to agree with them, just *listen*. Mete out discipline as needed.

            Of course, the shoe is on the other foot too.

          • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

            by Psarchasm ( 6377 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @02:34AM (#7485606) Homepage Journal
            That's a terrible analogy. my dad gave me a cigarette when i was like 12, and i coughed for like 15 minutes. There was no way anyone could ever talk me into smoking a cigarette after that.

            I plan on drinking my kid's first beers with them, and i plan on smoking the first joint with them as well. Both are very dangerous, but also quite normal and socially acceptable in moderation. similarly, it would be wise to talk openly with children about sex and sexuality (both must be done carefully of course) because if my kid is gonna be a perv, i would rather know about it than have him hide it and end up being a murderer/rapist because of pent up sexual frustration and aggression.

            Your right that is a terrible analogy. My mom laid out a pack in front of me at 10... I smoked five of them... got nice and sick. Now at 33 I smoke 5 a day (after going through my stint of 15 years of a half a pack to two packs a day).

            Its all about timing. At 9 years old I didn't know shit from shinola. It was a stupid age for my parents to try to keep me from doing something (especially using that lame tactic). No, I didn't smoke for another 5 years, but I got around to it because my friends were doing it, and my father did it.

            That said... My kid is 6 (almost 7) and I just recently put an aged 350Mhz G4 in his room (nice 15" Apple Flat Screen (Boy, when I was your age we had 40 colums, and we LIKED it!))

            The computer, much like the television, is here to stay. I for one want my kids to be comfortable using the computer from the get go. And like the television, my kids use of the computer has rules attached to it (btw, no TV in the room, just the computer... and snake... and skink... sigh.) I don't log what my kids do and I'm hoping never to need to. Parenting isn't about spying for me. Its about teaching my kids right from wrong. Making them understand boundaries they set for themselves, and ones soiciety sets for them. Rules and morals... tough fucking job... I can certainly undestand why some parents might log, even if I don't agree with it.

            My kids will eventually find pornography online. But through diligent effort on mine and my wifes behalf I'm confident we can keep them from getting to it through rules and personal watchdogging until we have a chance to teach them and watch them learn about love, desire, respect, sex, and general intrapersonal relationships.
      • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:49PM (#7484570)
        you may well find that they are exchanging messages with their sweetheart(s) and you have absolutely no business (as a parent or otherwise) being even aware of the specific existence of these messages


        Parent of 4 here, and while when I was a teenager I didn't think my parents had any business knowing anything about my private life, I've long ago learned that that view is the view of the child, not the parent.

        A parent has a resposibility to be total aware of what their children are doing at all times. I don't need to know the specific CONTENT of a message, but I do need to be aware who they are chatting with, when they are doing it, and you'll better be damn sure I'll make sure that the other child's parents know it too.

        We have 3 computers in my house, in public areas. If one isn't in use, any kid can jump on it, provided they've done their homework, had it checked by mom and dad, have done their chores, and haven't lost their computer priviliges for some infraction or other.

        Yeah, I'm a neanderthal. I'm the worst parent in the world. My kids will be forever messed up because I make sure I know everything there is to know about their lives.

        Of course, if being honor students, gifted muscicians, eagle scouts, and a 4 of the damn nicest people I've ever had the joy of knowing is "messed up" I'm also damn glad I don't take this view.
        • by JKConsult ( 598845 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:27AM (#7484854)
          Of course, if being honor students, gifted muscicians, eagle scouts, and a 4 of the damn nicest people I've ever had the joy of knowing is "messed up" I'm also damn glad I don't take this view.

          That explains it. If they're Eagle Scouts, then they already see enough porn when the scoutmaster asks them to "stay after".

        • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

          by trotski ( 592530 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:31AM (#7484875)
          Trust me, since I was probably a kid more recently than you have (i'm 21, some may argue I still am a kid). Honor students, gifted musicians, and eagle scount mean nothing.

          I've known them all, and honor students, giften musicians and (in Canada) Air/Army/Sea Cadets or Boy/Girl scouts get just as drunk and have just as much sex as every other teenager. You can't watch your kids all of the time, it's physically impossible, and you have to accept the fact that they WILL try drinking, they WILL have sex and chances are they will try drugs. These are just things kids do in high school, and your restrictivness and controlling attitude may actually encourage these things to happen.

          It doesn't matter how nice your kids seem to you, they WILL surprise you, especially since you can't accept that they may have lives of their own.
        • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Interesting)

          by etymxris ( 121288 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:40AM (#7484943)
          Of course, if being honor students, gifted muscicians, eagle scouts, and a 4 of the damn nicest people I've ever had the joy of knowing is "messed up" I'm also damn glad I don't take this view.
          Actually, that is kind of messed up. I've never met a kid who aimed to be such a "perfect" child without being pushed or shamed by the parents.

          When you teach a child to ride a bike, you eventually have to let go of the handlebars and let them go it alone. And they may crash, many times even. But that is life. Similarly, if you keep an omnipresent eye over everything your child does until they leave the house, how prepared do you think they will be to go it alone? Not at all.

          The people I've met with overprotective parents inevitably went "wild" when they finally got to college. Those that didn't were somewhat "off", and had trouble interacting with the regular populace (and by "regular", I don't mean "party-goer").

          As for me, my parents were practically negligent of my upbringing. I wouldn't suggest others treat their kids the same way, but I've turned out OK. When facing the challenges laid before me by life, such as whether to use drugs, whether to party rather than study, etc, I always knew I was on my own two feet. No one was there to catch me if I fell.

          I never considered, "If I do this, what will my parents think?" They didn't really care one way or the other. Instead, I always thought, "What impact will this have on MY future?" Someone who's set about controlling another's life, whether with good intentions or bad, inevitably stands in an adversarial position to that person.

          That person becomes your "enemy", whether it is spoken or not. Things become wanted and sought after not because of their intrinsic worth, but because in a struggle for freedom the child invariably "rebels" and strives to escape the shackles of the controlling environment. The child doesn't want drugs, or promiscious behavior, but really wants freedom.

          Of course, this doesn't accurately portray every kid. There are plenty that pursue life's vices simply because they are bored or don't care, and get away with it because the parents are negligent. But you should keep in mind that your attempts to control your children are very likely to backfire later in life.

          Kids want privacy, and freedom over their selves. Take those away, and they will hate you, whether they admit it or not.
        • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

          by jfmiller ( 119037 ) * on Sunday November 16, 2003 @02:41AM (#7485648) Homepage Journal
          Greatings Parrent of 4,

          I have no children of my own, but I get to meet yours when they go to college. Working as a campus chaplin, I get to see the results of may different up bringings in the real world. When your 4 kids go off to college, you are not longer be able to protect your gifted eagle scout honor student. With luck they will find a good group of friends some of whom have seen a lot more of the world then an eagle scout project and the subject of which p0rn site is the best will come up over a coffee.

          On the other hand I've met far to many very bright university students who spend ther first year in the dorms with a roommate who just cant wait to rush Alpha Banga Bimbo or Omega Hunka Guy. The moral delima here is whether or not to tell you, there prud of a parent, that your going to be a grandparent sooner then you thought.

          I spent way more of my time then I think is good, helping college student come to grips with real world issues that should have been part of their upbringing. I spend a lot of time trying to convence emancipated eagle scouts and gifted musicicians that freedom from mom and dad means not only being able to make their own choices but having to find their own morals. For far to many there parents were far to oppressive to allow for moral development and once out of the parrents are out of the picture, young adults often experence freshman wiplash.

          The good news is that most student recover by the time they get to be juniors and may even call home on the weakends their third year, just hope its not to ask for help with their kids.

      • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by fleener ( 140714 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:53PM (#7484598)
        Interesting sentiment, but if the law in my state makes me (as a parent) legally responsible for my child, you can bet your ass I'm tracking everything that happens on the computer, even if the computer is located in the living room.
      • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Jucius Maximus ( 229128 ) <> on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:37AM (#7484923) Journal
        "And if you're really worried about them finding bad stuff on the internet, why don't you take the slightly longer and harder route of actually educating your kids so they know why it is you would rather they didn't browse certain types of site, and let them browse them to get out the initial curiosity, and then you'll find that they won't bother because they're only interested in 'evil sites' because they're forbidden and they don't know enough about them. Forbidden + mysterious = surefire failure at what you're trying to do."

        Exactly right. I'm in university now but I've had a computer in my own room since I was maybe 12 or 13, although we didn't have internet access back then. My parents did a good job of impressing the right values onto me so I would be able to tell good from bad and right from wrong. Once you've got that taken care of, then you're basically coasting and it's hard for you or your kids to build up momentum in the wrong direction.

        I damn well did look at pr0n out of curiosity but once the overall rush/thrill of it all gets past you, it's nothing special. Having a real girl/boyfriend is (probably*) a lot better than pr0n. I barely ever fire up the browser and get pr0n anymore because I don't have a reason to do it. And whether I like it or not I did end up having similar morals to my parents and I never, ever, did anything that was truly 'bad' related to the internet. I was never strictly supervised or watched over - it was simply good traditional parenting that set me on the right path.

        Giving the kids the morals to make their own decisions is important because they have to learn how to make their own judgements and opinions. If you make all the decisions for them and control them at every turn, you'll just push them into more underground ways of doing what every teen does and probably contort their viewpoints.

        So what am I trying to say? Here it is: You can and should teach them how to navigate as best you can. But only by letting them truly do it themselves will they develop conscience and maturity.

        My yougest sibling has been on the internet since she was 6 or so but I know she will not get into any trouble. Our parents and I put the smarts and values into her so she doesn't act stupidly without micromanagement from others. A guiding, watchful person is necessary. Not a person who acts as a surrogate conscience and brain.

        (he steps down from the pulpit)

        *As a regular slashdot reader, I was obligated to add 'probably' to that sentence.

    • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:41PM (#7484493)
      I am thirteen years old and have been allowed to have my own computer since I was eleven. My parents figured that I was a fairly clever kid who would have figured out a way of doing the wrong thing if i so pleased. I do not look at innapropriate websites--namely pornography, as a christian it goes against everything I believe in. Additionally, my parents are more likely to figure out what I am doing when I am on a computer, at their house. I agree that, in the end, it is simply a matter of trust. Plus, having a laptop hooked up with wifi rocks!
    • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

      by kfg ( 145172 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:47PM (#7484541)
      I find the current trend to insist that people (and they are people, you have to remember that) under the age of majority remain children at least until crossing that arbitrary border is a bit bizarre.

      As a parent I always considered it my duty to raise them to be adults. Have ever told your kid, "Act your age"? If so, didn't you mean "Act more mature"?

      Well, then you have to teach them maturity, not childhood. Responsibility and self control, not outside control of their every movement. With maturity comes things you might not like. If your kids are past the age of puberty they are sexually mature, whether you are comfortable with that idea or not. They are going to act like they are sexually mature. They are also begining to think of themselves as themselves and not as your children. Help them to do so in a mature and reponsible manner.

      Then you'll have to get out of the way. They'll make mistakes. Sometimes bad ones. Be there for them instead of flying off the handle. Don't think that if you just locked them up tighter the mistakes wouldn't have been made. They'll just be delayed until they're out there on their own without you to support them.

      Isn't it a better idea to teach them how to deal with these issues in a mature fashion rather than try to deny that these things exist?

      Then you're going to wonder why they go to college and go completely off the frickin' wall drinking, screwing and otherwise acting like children out of control.

      Well, it's because you raised them to do that. You set them up for it.

      The issue isn't so much how to control your kids, but how to control yourself to raise your kids as adults, not kids. Ultimately they are going to control themselves no matter what you do.

      Think about it.

      • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Insightful)

        by reverius ( 471142 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:11AM (#7484732) Homepage Journal
        Somebody mod this up. It's the most insightful thing I've read on Slashdot... nay, the entire internet... in a very long time.

        I'm a recently-on-my-own "new Adult". I'm 19, and I'm a freshman in college. My parents were of the more relaxed "he can make his own mistakes" variety, and I'm incredibly thankful for it. If you don't let them -learn- maturity, they'll never have it. Then they'll be 19 and a freshman in college... and they won't know why it's bad to drink in excess 4 or 5 days a week. Trust me, I see it all around me. Adults acting like children.
    • Re:Trust them (Score:5, Informative)

      by spoonboy42 ( 146048 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @01:29AM (#7485239)

      Well, I find that being able to outsmart one's parents definitely provides a measure of privacy. Here's a few steps you can follow at home, kids (don't forget NOT to ask Mom and Dad's permission):

      1. If you have your own computer, install Linux. If your parents have ties to the NSA, better make that OpenBSD instead. The fact is that, unless one of your parents has a beer gut, wears t-shirts with slacks, and hasn't groomed their beard in a couple of decades, they don't know how to use UNIX. You could leave it logged in as root all the time, and they probably wouldn't know what the hell was going on (not that I'm suggesting you do that. Use strong passwords!).

      2. Encrypt your data. You can do this on your own machine or the family one, doesn't matter. GPG is available for Windows, Mac, and loads of Unices. It's also a simple, unobtrusive command-line tool that you can use to pretty well scramble anything.

      3. Hide your files. On UNIX machines where you have root, chown them to root, then put them in a directory that only root can read (su to retrieve them). If you don't have root on a UNIX box, at least give them the standard '.' prefix. In windows, I recommend tacking on a ".sys" extension and hiding them somewhere in the C:\WINDOWS tree. As far as Macs go, just use the ol' unix '.' trick, and Finder will be none the wiser (I think, I don't have a Mac to test this on).

      4. Browse anonymously. Back when anonymizer was free, it was a great solution. Nowadays, you'll probably need a friend to set up a server in a safe, uncensored environment. I recommend school buddies with apathetic/permissive/hippie/workaholic parents, as this lessens the likelyhood that you'll run into trouble. A dedicated *nix server with a simple redirector CGI would be nice, but for all the legions of windows users out there, this [] would appear to be an excellent option.

      5. Cover your tracks. Clear browser history. On Windows, clear the list of recently accessed documents. If you have root on a UNIX box, flush the logs.

      6. Encrypt transfers. Enigmail for mozilla and the encryption plugin for gaim are your friends.

      7. Make your data look innocuous. Chatting with some friends on IM? Why not chat in Arabic (if you're on an unecrypted connection, be aware that this method reduces the possibility for parental-snooping, but increases the likelyhood of unconstitutional racial profiling. You've been warned). If you don't have the time or inclination to learn a foreign language, at least learn ROT-13. ROT-13 is so simple that, after a few weeks of practice, the overhead for conversing in it online gets to be pretty low. Keep in mind that it's by no means secure, but it prevents parents from catching naughty words with their peripheral vision. If your friends aren't as "safety-conscious" as you, you can probably write a quick script to do ROT-13 on the fly to incoming messages. Learning to do RSA in your head would be truly impressive (I can do it with small keys with pen and paper, but nothing's stopping you short of the computational limit of the human brain)

      The moral of this story is that clever children can cheat their way out of a lot of parental and societal rules. When I was living at home, I used some of the methods above to keep certain data safe (e.g. IMs with my girlfriend), but curiously, I didn't use it to browse porn and the like. The reason? My parents didn't constantly snoop to make sure I wasn't breaking the rules, they just raised me with the conviction that sexual intimacy is a beautiful thing between two people, and that commercial exploitation cheapens that, and they trusted me to make the right choices when they weren't around. If you never give your kids a chance to make bad decisions, they'll never learn how to make good ones.

  • by bigHairyDog ( 686475 ) * on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:17PM (#7484288)

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

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

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

    • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:28PM (#7484384) Homepage Journal
      For a 15 year old, I wouldn't really be worried. The only real risk would be pervs chatting them up (especially if they were a girl) But even there I'd probably stop worrying around 13 or 14 or so.

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

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

      But you have to be age appropriate as well. Something like the stileproject could seriously warp a little kid. Or at least it seems like it could, I'm not a psychologist.
    • by mark-t ( 151149 ) <> on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:10AM (#7484723) Journal
      My folks were extremely strict... so I endeavored to become good at lying. But you know... every time I didn't do what my parents told me to do, it always eventually came down on me in one way or another.

      I am forever in their debt for being willing to help me back onto my feet when I know, in hindsight, I didn't deserve it, having totally ignored the benefits of their wisdom that they acquired having lived on this planet for 3 decades before I came along.

  • by DAldredge ( 2353 ) <SlashdotEmail@GMail.Com> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:17PM (#7484290) Journal
    You mention that the rules have all been broken? What happened when they broke them? Did you take the computer out of the room for a time? If not, perhaps you should in the future.
    • by oneishy ( 669590 ) <jczebota.oneishy@com> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:29PM (#7484394) Homepage

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

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

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

  • by LordoftheFrings ( 570171 ) <> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:18PM (#7484299) Homepage
    I don't know about the rest of the stuff, but as a teenage boy, let me tell you, Netnanny or any of that privacy software DOESTN't work, so don't try that. Also, don't assume the worst in kids, unless they are male, and are pubescent, in which case, the answer is YES, he WAS looking at porn.
  • by starfurynz ( 676822 ) <> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:18PM (#7484302)
    I'm pretty sure my dad's just given up, he's pretty knowledgable about computers (learnt a lot from watching him) but he knows I will find a way around.
    • Heh (Score:4, Funny)

      by The Tyro ( 247333 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @01:18AM (#7485191)
      I can't wait for my son to get old enough to try his first hack attempt on the home network. He'll probably think he's got m4d 5k1llz, but I was phreaking and wardialing decades before he ever touched a keyboard.

      Might be an interesting contest... I'm kind of tickled by the thought... bring it on.

  • lying (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wolrahnaes ( 632574 ) <sean&seanharlow,info> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:18PM (#7484303) Homepage Journal
    does everybody lie about what they're doing on the Internet?

  • by caffeineHacker ( 689198 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:20PM (#7484313) Journal
    I know the point of ask Slashdot is to make fun of the person asking the question but come on. Simple...log where they are going or set up some advanced Snort rules on a firewall box to alert you whenever keywords come through. But seriously I've been looking at internet pr0n since I was 11, way back in the day(About 1993), it doesn't hurt much just make sure they aren't planning on meeting someone they met in a chat room named SugarDaddy35 and it'll be fine.
  • by DanThe1Man ( 46872 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:21PM (#7484322)
    What ever you do, block teenagers away from yahoo news. [] (not safe for work) 03 1115/482/mjt11411150955&e=4

  • First. (Score:5, Funny)

    by PFAK ( 524350 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:21PM (#7484325)
    As I'm 16 years old, here's probably the rules I'll have for my kids (yes I know, I'm paranoid.. but look what I've done):

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

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

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

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

    In his case, I just make sure his computer doesn't get infected with more then 10 viruses. Although he is actually a computer teacher, but that doesn't mean he knows anything about computers..
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:21PM (#7484327) Homepage Journal
    Don't keep the door closed when you're on the computer? Geez, what horrible rule, especialy for the 15 year old.

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

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

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

    But anyway, my solution still solves your problem. So do it.
  • by Just Some Guy ( 3352 ) <> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:23PM (#7484342) Homepage Journal
    Install Squid and configure it for transparent web proxying. Let your kids know that it's there.

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

  • by ChrisTower ( 122297 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:24PM (#7484352) Homepage
    I've had a computer in my room since I was eight. Fifteen years later, I'm an out of work web developer who can type really fast and find you a copy of the Paris Hilton video in less than two minutes. Well adjusted? Perhaps not, but my tendonitis/carpal tunnel keeps me company at night and that's all that matters.
  • successful tactics (Score:5, Insightful)

    by HBI ( 604924 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:26PM (#7484367) Journal
    • Set reasonable rules. Ie, no online gambling, no porn, whatever it is that you want. Make sure you think that the rules are reasonable and have the willpower to enforce every single one them. Otherwise you are wasting your time.
    • Keep excellent logs. Redirect everything through a proxy if you have to, but LOG EVERYTHING.
    • Never watch what they are doing. It creates the wrong impression.
    • Ask them what they have been doing online if you feel it significant, or they have been spending a lot of time there. Get them used to talking with you about stuff.
    • Do spot checks of the logs based upon this information.
    • Try to get them into a position where they have a choice whether to lie or tell the truth (and you know it). Be slick about this - don't be acting dumb.
    • If they lie, let them walk away. Come back to them the next day with the fact that you know they lied. Don't get angry, but put the cold fear of God into them. Make them suffer. Jerk the network connection for the computer for a week and ground them. Tell them next time, two weeks. Time after that, forever, and keep them in the house for a nice long time. Tell them you can tolerate many things, but not lying.
    • Bask in the glow of having done the best you can for your kids. They will, in general, follow your rules now.

    On a personal note, i'd never try to enforce a 'no porn' rule on teenage boys. It's damn stupid. Even my mom was cool with the porn mags in my night table when I was a kid. We had a don't ask don't tell rule. She didn't clean that drawer - it was my one sanctum of privacy.
  • Double Standard (Score:5, Insightful)

    by thedbp ( 443047 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:28PM (#7484385)
    Sir, not to disrespect, but I'm sure your wife doesn't know about EVERYTHING that you do on the internet. And if she does, something is either very wrong, or very right.

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

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

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

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

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

  • by ChaoticCoyote ( 195677 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:31PM (#7484415) Homepage

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

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

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

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

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

  • by Spinality ( 214521 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:33PM (#7484432) Homepage
    By the time your kids are in or approaching highschool, the groundwork has been laid. Either you have a strong, nurturing relationship, and your kids have learned to think responsibly for themselves; or they're snotty brats who distrust their overbearing and indifferent parents, who will lie to you at every opportunity, and who will bend with the winds of peer pressure. Either way, they have already been faced with every temptation you wish they didn't know about.

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

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

    So I laugh at the folks who are aghast at their 16 year old kids running Grand Theft Auto Vice City. But I shudder at my friends who bought it for their ten-year-old son. WTF?
  • by trav3l3r ( 666370 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:34PM (#7484445)
    I have 3 children (16,10 and 5), they all have computers in thier rooms that have unfiltered Internet access. The only real hard and fast rules we have is that they are not allowed to talk to people on IM or e-mail that they do not know, never give out your e-mail address to people you don't know, and never agree to buy anything. The last one became necessary when my 10year old joined Columbia records and got 10 free CD's for a penny!!! Now the gotcha's. My kids know that I can see everywhere they go by checking my firewall logs. If I check my logs and and see anything I feel is worth discussing then I will. Nothing will stop a 16 year old from viewing porn like having to face dad for an open and frank discussion that starts out as "so son, notice you've been looking at a lot of sex pages..Do you think all women are like that?? I noticed you were spending most of your time on pages where the women were doing X. Why is that ?? " He would much rather I just yell at him and forbid it, but I refuse. Basically I am using shame as a weapon..Will probably have to pay for it via therapy for them later...Oh well.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:01AM (#7484661)
      "Basically I am using shame as a weapon.."

      As any good Christian would.

    • by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:20AM (#7484813) Homepage
      Why do you feel you need to shame your child into not learning about something that is completely natural? Why do you feel you need to use a weapon against your kid?

      Guess what, no matter how much you know about computers, your kid will be able to see it if he wants to, he just has to go to a library or a friends house. Do you WANT your kid to grow up socially handicapped? I mean, for gods sake, what is the problem with a 16 year old looking at porn? He's gotta have SOMETHING to masturbate to. Unless that is something you feel you need to shame him into not doing either.

    • by krumms ( 613921 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:22AM (#7484819) Journal
      Big Brother, is that you? :P

      Nothing will stop a 16 year old from viewing porn like having to face dad for an open and frank discussion that starts out as "so son, notice you've been looking at a lot of sex pages..Do you think all women are like that?? I noticed you were spending most of your time on pages where the women were doing X. Why is that ?? "

      If you can't trust your 16 year old son (who is probably already well aware of things like "X") to make up his own mind about that kind of shit, and instead willfully associate fear and/or shame with sex ... well, uh ... shame on you. Assuming he's not tracking down pictures of naked eight year olds, I'd bet he's pretty safe.

      Perhaps you should be more worried about things that are important -- hard drugs for example -- instead of pulling a headfuck on your child with regard to something that is pretty common and healthy in adult (and - god forbid - teenage) life. But then, this is slashdot. No Sex Here.

      Do you really distrust your own kids that much?
    • by MSBob ( 307239 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:24AM (#7484831)
      Yeah, keep thinking your son has not yet discovered the wonders of a http proxy...
    • by KewlPC ( 245768 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:42AM (#7484956) Homepage Journal

      Nothing will stop a 16 year old from viewing porn like having to face dad for an open and frank discussion that starts out as "so son, notice you've been looking at a lot of sex pages..Do you think all women are like that?? I noticed you were spending most of your time on pages where the women were doing X. Why is that ?? "

      And nothing will give a 16 year old a complex about sex like that, either. Trying to discourage any sort of behavior through needless embarassment will do just that: needlessly embarass him. If you really are enough of an uptight, sexually repressed parent that you absolutely forbid that a teenage boy be interested in sex or women, well, good luck with that. Either your son will turn out gay, be afraid of sex and women, or become a sexual freak (weird/disgusting fetishes and whatnot).
  • by autopr0n ( 534291 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:44PM (#7484520) Homepage Journal
    What exactly is your goal in doing this? To prevent them from looking at porn? To keep pedophiles from chatting up your kids? Under your rules, your kids could look at porn all they want as long as they're willing to let you know about it, in other words, you hope your children's shame in their parents knowing about their sexual predilictions should keep them in line? Or you just want your kids to be honest about their sexuality with you? Both of those seem a little weird to me.

    If I were you, I'd just use some kind URL sniffer on, and check to make sure they wern't looking at anything really weird.
  • Simplest rules: (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dr. Photo ( 640363 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:45PM (#7484527) Journal
    1. Any rule that you yourself don't abide by will be instantly disregarded as hypocritical the moment your back is turned. And rightly so.
    2. If they haven't seen it on the Internet, they'll learn about it at school. And most likely do it after school. Make sure they know about condoms and safe sex. Practice your "Way to go, son!" speech just in case they get lucky.
    3. Allow them to view any content (within reason) that they're willing to explain, and talk about. Conversely, forbid anything that they're too ashamed to bring up. Let their own moral compass pester them for you, and save yourself the trouble.
    4. Make sure they realize that cutie_doll17 is actually a sweaty, overweight, 45-year-old truck driver named Jim. Don't let them meet online people in real life except in a public place when you are present. (That's a pretty standard blurb in any internet-safety pamphlet. Ironically those pamphlets have cause more paper-cut-related deaths than the number of lives they've purportedly saved. Avoid hardcopy and sharp corners.)
    5. Make sure they realize that script kiddie shit has consequences. Punish them severely if they root any box with a script that they did not author themselves. This will teach them that plagiarism is wrong.
    6. No dessert until all their software is patched and up to date. Ground them if they leave unnecessary services listening on open ports.
    • Re:Simplest rules: (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Lord_Dweomer ( 648696 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:24AM (#7484828) Homepage
      "3. Allow them to view any content (within reason) that they're willing to explain, and talk about. Conversely, forbid anything that they're too ashamed to bring up. Let their own moral compass pester them for you, and save yourself the trouble."

      I agree with all your points except the one I quoted. Why should your child have to be willing to converse about masturbation with you? It is a very personal, private thing for many people. I certainly would never talk to my parents about it, nor do I feel I should have to. It is called PRIVACY. Also, what if your child had a social/mental issue that they wanted to handle themselves and didn't want you involved in? What if it was between them and another friend? Do you feel you are privy to that information?

      Kids who grow up in families where they are allowed no privacy become very good at creating their own, in whatever way they can.

  • by I_redwolf ( 51890 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:49PM (#7484561) Homepage Journal
    First as a parent, (i'm not one) you should trust your children. The internet is like any public place, you can't be with your child 24/7. Maybe it's because I'm not a parent, but my parents always instilled the expected behavior from me and then let me choose what it is I was going to do. This has made me a better person in life as I've made my own mistakes and have learned that what they usually say is true. So I tend to listen and accept what they have to say not as rules but as life learning experience.

    Point two; I dont want to sound demeaning but parents such as yourself who set rules on things they have little to no control over end up having children who lie to your face. They end up at Billy's house using the internet to talk to some pedophile. Something you could of had control over if it wasn't for the gestapo rules as it would of been in the open. So instead of saying listen, talking to X people over the internet isn't cool and having a positive discussion with your child. You simply have no idea what's going on. Your child ends up on the run with some pedophile in Mexico and you are wondering what happened.

    With children I think that the best thing is to simply let them know is that just like anywhere else the Internet is a public place. Just like I will teach my child not to talk to strangers, I'll teach them not to talk to strangers on the internet. At least not in a personal non-academic way and when they are old enough to make the decision that they feel they can do what they want, then thats their choice. However rules like "keep the door open" while on the internet will do nothing for you. Your major mistake is believing that your rules will stop a curious child, they won't. Instead of being a rule gestapo, explain to your children the positives and negatives, tell them what they need to hear so that they can expect certain things and already be alert.

    Lastly, be parents. I think the problem today is that alot of parents think that setting "rules" is all they need to do when in reality understanding their children and inquiring about their lives is what parenting is all about. Teach your children, rules mean nothing if they don't know how to handle life like situations. The internet isn't the mistake, public schools aren't the mistake, life situations aren't mistakes. Stop blaming society or the internet or whatever because simply, they are here and everything has problems. It's how your child conceptualizes the problems, issues and general life situations they will have to deal with on daily basis that will determine if you are a parent, or simply a care taker. That choice is truly the parents, and the behavior of the child is truly reflective upon them. My mom used to say, "the smartest children aren't just the ones that can win spelling bee's, or get straight A's. They are usually the ones who can tell if you're bullshitting or not and have toyed with you just to get to see you cards." I guarantee you, your kids can't call a bluff, you've never even explained to them what a bluff looks like.

    Heh, I think i'll call my mom now and thank her. She really prepared me for life, not just tell me to follow rules.
  • by BrianH ( 13460 ) on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:52PM (#7484590)
    Or do what I do and just TELL them that you're logging their traffic. Knowing that anything they say online can be used against them by dad does wonders to keep them honest.

    And don't give me lip about not trusting my kids...I trust my kids with my life. It's the million other perverts who would lure them to the local Motel 6 that I don't trust. Children, even teenagers, need guidance and need their parents to keep an eye on them and prevent them from getting into potentially dangerous situations. In my case, I do that by occassionally snooping on their communications. Considering that I've already caught my nine year old daughter posing as a 13 year old, AND caught a local high school kid propositioning her, you'll have a heck of a time convincing me that monitoring is a BAD thing.
  • by flogger ( 524072 ) <non@nonegiven> on Saturday November 15, 2003 @11:59PM (#7484638) Journal
    I don't want to preach; but, to me, the trust issue (as mentioned earlier) is the key to raising children. Trust them and let them know you trust them. But, children will screw up and loose that trust. Let them know that the trust is gone and let them know what it will take to get that trust back. And LET THEM EARN THE TRUST BACK. I have seen many parents that "give up" when a child becomes untrustworthy. When that happens, the child doesn't have anything to strive for in his/her parental relationship. Is this "Trust See-Saw" easy to handle? No, of course not.

    Let me get back to the topic: Start young with teaching children what is appropriate and inappropriate. (For the parents with teens, it may not be too late to start, but it will be tough if you have to convince you child that certain clothes he/she has been wearing for two years are now inappropriate.) Is it easy to discuss this with children? It shouldn;t be hard.

    Let me use a personal example: My son, at the time was age 9, went to spend the night at a friends house. While there they watched an austin powers movie. This came out in conversation a couple of days later. My wife and I were horrified that this happened, but we didn;t yell and hoot and holler. We asked about the movie and he told us about it (We had seen this movie a couple of years before at a friends house (Strange how things work out)) During this conversation we talked about attitudes toward women and sexuality. And we talked about whe we found certain things objectionable. But it wasn't a lecture. we were having a conversation and he understood why it was inapproriate when we had finished.

    You may say, "Bah, kids can't handle that kind of talk." Well, you'd be suprised. It you are honest and open with your children in ALL areas, they will learn and respond in this type of conversational enviornment. A few months ago, My son was at an overnight with a few friends and a movie was going to be shown. He asked what it was rated and got a couple of friends to go into another room and play cards (or a board game, I can;t remember. He's in bed now, or I would ask him). But I think that takes some maturity. Maturity that comes from learning how to think along the lines of what is appropriate and what is not.

    How does one get to a point where we can trust the kids to make good choices? As parents we should make good choices ourselves and explain these to the kids. Dinner is a great time for these discussions. And whenver something comes up, don;t hide it from the kids. Let them in one what is happeneing. Another example: A student from where I teach was kicked out of his house. We let him stay with use for a bit while things got straightened out. My children were, of course very curious about what was going on, and we told them about the neglect, abuse, and everything going on. My children were very welcoming and treated this person as a brother fot the time he was here. Since then, my son has volunteered his time at some charities in the area for other "transients."

    Again, bak to the topic: In the manner of the internet, as with all areas, be open and honest. When you are deleting spam from your email, there is a great learning experience for the kids. "Look at this junk. Enlarge your breasts..." and get into a discussion about the previlence of sexual attitudes in society. It works, kids listen, and they will understand. Yesterday, When I was playing my father-in-law on some online chess and my kids were helping out, I got an offer across AIM (Through trillian) to check out some girls webcam. (Yea right.) Well what a great learning experience about the inappropriateness of the internet. We even went to the link, and sure enough, it was filtered out.
    which leads me to...
    Don;t let children surf without proper filtering. All of our computers run through an E-Smith server [] (modified red-hat small office gateway and server) which runs an excellent free SquidGuard filter. This doesn't mean that you don;t t
  • by rocketfairy ( 16253 ) <> on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:19AM (#7484801) Homepage
    I'd think specifically about what your worries are before laying down laws. A well-adjusted young adolescent won't be Scarred for Life by anything on the internet (except the stuff that scars us all :). I'd worry more about whether or not they're able to contextualize what they see or read -- since they WILL encounter porn, hate speech, etc. eventually, rules or no. In any case, I'd drop the "door open" policy, at least for the older ones: adolescents need some privacy to be able to start leading their own lives. And I'd be wary of surveilling your kids in general, unless there is something specific to worry about (i.e., lots of gun-related websites).
  • Wake up! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by painehope ( 580569 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @12:33AM (#7484893)
    Firstly, a meta-answer to your meta-question :
    No. I mean, not too often. Well, sometimes. Okay, fine, I'm not really 6'4", fabulously wealthy, and have a 9 inch cock. Under my red mini-skirt. Which I wear when I pick up hot 18-year old sluts who will do anything for money!

    Now that I've gotten my smart-assedness out of my system, I think it's time you looked at the basics of human development.

    Kids grow. In doing so, they will expect their own privacy and freedom. With that goes responsibility. Would you let your 11 year old go to a party unsupervised? Probably not. Would you let your 15 year old? Well, judging from your attitude, probably not. I would. As long as your kids are getting good grades and have their shit pretty much together, let them do their own thing. If they want money from you, make them mow the yard. If they want a ride, tell them to clean up their room first. If they choose to walk rather than that, don't bitch at them. It's their choice. You need to slowly relax the reins, so that when they are 18 and go off to college, they have the skills and maturity to adjust, rather than just going "Woo-hoo! I don't have to listen to anyone anymore! I'm gonna fuckin' party". That's a big part of the problem. If you think your kids aren't interested in sex, intoxicants ( drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, whatever ), bands, parties, etc., you're wrong. Weren't you? It's a matter of degrees, and knowing what is healthy.

    And doesn't it strike you as odd that your child feel the need to lie to you? My personal experience has been that it's easier to tell the truth, so I don't waste time lying unless it's worth it. Ex. : if you could just tell a cop : "Look I busted my headlight last week, but I haven't had time to replace it" and he just gave you a warning, would you feel the need to to tell him you hadn't noticed it, someone must have hit your car in the parking lot? I wouldn't bother if I could, but is telling the truth worth the hassle of going to court and paying a fine? Not in my books, because whether the cop believes my lie or not, noone is hurt ( except for maybe the county, who is deprived of a $150 that they could waste as well as my tax dollars are ).

    A computer is a tool. Internet access is a problematic tool, because it's a gateway to so much. What are you really worried about? Kids looking at porn? What, and you never looked at porn? Never masturbated? If you say no, you're full of shit. Being exposed to violence/hateful themes, etc? That's around kids every day. Same for drugs. So, unless I'm missing something, the only thing that kids are exposed to on the internet that isn't around regularly, are sexual predators. And those are there in the real world too. Basically, the only thing I would be worried about are the people that they might interact with online. But if you haven't explained to them that are people in the world that would like to hurt them, and that they need to be careful in who they trust, then they're not equipped to walk down to the cornerstore, let alone do anything else.
    So the same basics that apply to the real world apply online. And please don't rob your children of a chance to mature in a healthy, human, responsible manner. If you're going to worry about anything, get on them about their grades, try to interest them in science, art, nature, etc.
    If they want to look at pictures of naked chicks, or read about guns, drugs, whatever, don't sweat it. ( hell, the eleven year old is probably just looking up pictures of guy/girl he/she thinks is cute/smart/cool/whatever and doesn't want dad to know because he/she's embarrassed ). In my opinion, expose children to the world, let them read, talk to them, and most of all : tell and show them what you think, and then let them make up their own minds.

  • by TimTheFoolMan ( 656432 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @02:04AM (#7485430) Homepage Journal
    It's interesting to read some of the rantings of people who don't have children, but who are (in their opinion) experts in parenting and raising kids, simply because they were once children. This is rather like football players thinking that they can coach, simply because they've played the game. Yes, good coaches frequently were good players, but many of the finest KNEW what to do, but weren't necessarily as gifted at doing it. However, they are almost always the product of good coaching themselves.

    Likewise, good parents generally are the product of a good example, even if they aren't perfect and morally pure as the driven snow. Good parents generally trust their children, but also remember what it was like when they were kids themselves, and will use that knowledge to verify that their own kids aren't doing things that might endanger them.

    Yes, I trust my sons, but it's not blind trust. They know that I will come into the room unannounced, and that I will want to know who they're chatting with, who they're exchanging e-mail with, and so on. They know why I'll do this.

    BTW, on a lark, I posed as an older female one time to chat with my son and one of his friends. It was enlightening (to say the least) some of the language I saw. I offered to "teach them a lesson. They eagerly agreed. My lesson?

    "Never ...
    Never ...
    Never ...
    chat the way you have here, unless you are certain you know who you're talking to. This is your dad. Go to bed."

    I pointed out that I could have been a nutcase (which I am), or worse, the father of my son's girlfriend. I pointed out that my son would've never seen her again if it had been her father posing as this older female.

    Open door where the computer is? Check.

    Unannounced walk-ins? Check.

    Same rules for dad as the sons? Check.

    Trust my sons? Check

    Verify that they're being honest with me? Absolutely.

  • As a parent (Score:4, Interesting)

    by rossz ( 67331 ) < minus language> on Sunday November 16, 2003 @02:21AM (#7485514) Homepage Journal
    I'm a parent of a 13 year old girl. Our daughter's computer is NOT in her bedroom. There is zero chance it will ever be in her bedroom. I've also taken extra steps regarding email. I run our own mail server so I have complete control. I gave my daughter her own "vanity" domain and she can have any number of personalized email addresses that she wishes. I've also told her she can offer her friends email addresses, though no one has gone for that. All email going into and out of her domain is archived. I do NOT read the emails, however, it's just a safety precaution. I hope I never have a need to poke through her personal messages. BTW, I've never looked in her diary, either.

    I've implemented reasonably good filtering of email (both her domain and my own) via SpamAssassin, so spam is extremely rare - porn spam has been non-existent. My daughter does not have the ability to change the SpamAssassin settings. All email attachments are scanned for virus by the mail server (clamav). Some file attachment types are refused completely (exe, scr, and other dangerous types).

    I will NEVER EVER use any type of content blocking software such as NetNanny. They don't work, they are politically motivated, and they are complete shit.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday November 16, 2003 @02:35AM (#7485616)
    I'm sure we'll get the entire spectrum of views on parenting here. Everyone wants to convince everyone else that their approach (or their parent's approach) is the best/worst/whatever.

    Let me jump in, then ;)

    So my parents robbed me of my Human Right to Rebellion. Any time I tried something "forbidden," they merely co-opted it, and took the thrill out of it.

    Starting with building fires (as an eight year old), I was given full permission to build fires, with a few constraints. Dad taught me how to kindle a good blaze with only a single match and twigs. While I wasn't strictly forbidden from using paper, lighter fluid, plastic, or candles, they were regarded as being beneath contempt. I wasn't going to stoop to that level. Not even to shock my parents. Well, with all that, I had to give up my dream of becoming an arsonist.

    So I got caught sneaking some wine a few years later. So Dad split a beer with me. Not long after, he mixed up some martinis. Did I want to drink? OK. I could, but it had to be at home, or I had to promise to call for a ride home if I were somewhere else. That was much too reasonable to rebel against, and, to this day, I have failed to be an alcoholic.

    Then I wanted to stay out late with friends, or on a date, or something. This was the clincher -- I knew they couldn't come up with a reasonable way of relinquishing control. But they did. OK. I could do it. They were counting on me to be responsible, not get arrested, not get anyone pregnant, not get in trouble. But if I did, I shouldn't hesistate to call on them, and they'd pay my bail, rescue me, or do what they could to help out. Damn! Defeated again.

    Then again, I had a college friend whose father used to beat him with a heavy oak dowell anytime he ever broke a rule. Now there was a kid who didn't know the meaning of "limits" when it came to drinking, smoking dope, and getting in trouble. Still, he got it out his system, and today we're pretty much both responsible (hah!) citizens. So ya never know.
  • by leereyno ( 32197 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @05:39AM (#7486222) Homepage Journal
    I've always found it to be very strange when people talk about wanting to protect children from certain kinds of things, like porn for example, or violent movies, or "bad" words especially. When I was growing up I never could figure out exactly what it was that I was being protected from. I did of course see and hear everything that I was supposed to be shielded from. Since I'm a human being and not a walking tape recorder I was no more affected by it than an older person would be.

    Now that I'm in my 30's I've come to realize that the motivation that drives parents and society itself to engage in information control and censorship is not that any young people will be harmed by the things we hide from them, but that we are somehow uncomfortable with the idea of them seeing certain things. The whole protection bit is just a post-hoc justification.

    The truth is that surfing the web is about as safe an activity as can be imagined. The real dangers lie outside in the real world, not in cyberspace. Now to be fair there are predators online, both sexual and financial. But if you haven't seen to it that your kid is street smart enough to identify and avoid them then you're just a piss-poor parent.

    If you feel uncomfortable about the idea that your children might see certain things online then maybe you should investigate why you feel that way, because it sure as hell isn't because they're going to be damaged in some way from seeing it. A person would have to be force-fed something on a continual basis for an extended period for it to have an effect upon them.

    Young people are human beings, not tape recorders and not pets with the power of speech. Their view of the world is formed from the conclusions they reach based upon the sum total of their experiences. The only real difference is in how much experience they have to draw from. By the time they are old enough to know how to use a computer, the basic nature of who they are is already in place. By the time they're teenagers they're basically as grown as someone can be without having been out on their own. There is not special transformation which takes place on the eve of their 18th (or 21st, or you name it) birthday whereby they are suddenly transformed from being an malleable infant into a mature adult.

    I'm starting to ramble here. Really what I'm trying to say is that there isn't anything you need to protect your children from seeing or hearing because none of it is going to affect them in any special way. Also it isn't like you can protect them from the things you don't want them to find out about unless you lock them in a closet, and if you think that is a good idea please get psychiatric help soon.

    Childhood is more of a cultural construct than anything else, at least how childhood is understood in our culture. The lies and deceit that children have to deal with is nothing short of criminal. I don't know about you, but I didn't much like being lied to when I was a kid. What made it worse is that the lies that are told are so pathetically transparent that I'm amazed anyone is fooled. I kept thinking that there must be something I was missing, some piece in the puzzle that would make the things I was being told make sense. It wasn't until I realized that most people were idiots that I understood that the way children are treated is simply an extension of that stupidity.

  • by theolein ( 316044 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @09:43AM (#7486769) Journal
    As someone who had a hell of a childhood and was beset by complexes (handicapped from birth) and loneliness (my father died when I was 9 and my mother's later boyfriend treated me like a dog), I can just say there are some things you should know and do if you're interested in your childrens well being:

    1.Talk to them. It sound so simple, doesn't it? But is it? We all know as adults just how difficult the modern world is and how litttle time we have, but that overdone cliche about spending quality time with your children is damn important. Controlling your kids too much will make them fear you and lose your trust. Show them that you love them and are interested in their lives. Make them feel like home is a place of warmth and saftey and that you will protect them with everything you've got.
    2.Treat them like real human beings. There are so many guides that advocate rules and strict parenting, but neglect the fact that your children are real human beings with their own personalities and feelings. Treating them with respect (privacy is important for them too) will help them when the time comes on the internet that some sicko doesn't treat them with respect.
    3.Have a set of rules about what you can and will accept. This might seem paradoxial to what I said above, but it isn't. If you explain to your children why you set those rules instead of just being the parental nazi, they will be more likely to follow them. Having rules is important, very important, in that it shows children to realise and know what other people's limits are i.e. they realise as well that you are in fact a real person.
    4.Never break their trust. This can be damn difficult, but it is damn important. Don't be too harsh if they break a rule or do something stupid. Show them you're angry or worried (yell if you need to, penalise them in a SMALL way if need be i.e. one week no internet or extra task around the house) but don't leave it at that. Talk to them afterward to show you're still interested. Learn to forgive your kids for breaking rules, and show them that it's ok. We all know how difficult and unforgiving life and society are. They don't need that at home as well, because then there's no difference between home and the wild for them.
  • My Advice (Score:5, Insightful)

    by CAIMLAS ( 41445 ) on Sunday November 16, 2003 @10:47AM (#7487008) Homepage
    I'm sure I'll get moderated as flamebait for this, but.... I hardly doubt anyone here has any advice that's either informed or from the perspective you're looking for.

    By this I mean two simple things: most slashdot folks are likely 16 through 27 or so (I'd imagine, since they're likely to have the most free time), are extremely liberal (most liberal folks I know are of the "don't discipline your child, it might scar him - until he's a teenager, then start", and "let kids do what they want, they're intelligent" persuasion - which is not to say all are), and are more likely to not have a family than to have one.

    All these conditions, in my mind, make any advice gotten here something you might not want to consider.

    That being said, this 21 y/o father and husband thinks that if, by the time they're 12 or 13, and they're still lying to you, something was done wrong from the beginning. There's evidently a trust issue. Recalling back to the few years to my adolecense, I'd say that this lack of trust is likely due to the fact that they're alienated by you and/or see you as the enemy.

    My experience is that if you're the enemy (and I don't just mean your child is upset with you for a couple days, I'm talking about long-term resentment and/or distrust), then it's most likely that you weren't open enough with them when they were younger, aren't open enough with them now, and communication lines need to be cut and re-laid. Tell them that you trust them. Let them know that they've got someone they can talk to if they need to. Be interested in -them-, and care about the things they do. This means spend time with them if they'll allow it. Develop a report with them more sophisticated than the simple "this is how my day was" kind of conversation. You'll thank yourself later.

    As for the actual guidelines that I'd suggest (from a fairly liberal-right kind of guy): back off for now, and develop that relationship. If that doesn't seem to be working, let them know that you don't appreciate it. Check their browser caches and/or history, if you're paranoid and/or want to be restrictive of their behavior: if they're bad, let them know about the harms/dangers of whatever they're doing, don't chastize them or punish them. By the time a kid reaches adolecense, they're likely too independent (depending on the kid) to be disciplined effectively, unless the infraction is quite severe. Dolling out punishments like cheap doctor's office candy just causes hatred towards you - they'll see you as being mean.

"How many teamsters does it take to screw in a light bulb?" "FIFTEEN!! YOU GOT A PROBLEM WITH THAT?"