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Operating Systems Software

Limiting Kids' Computer Time? 100

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

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  • by JumperCable ( 673155 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @07:59PM (#14268636)
    Come on. Let the little bastards run free. None of this, I don't want the to turn out like me BS.
    • The time they are not computing can be better spent smoking dope and hanging with the crew. I bet it took you more that a half hour to get that script to work. Limits are for work not kids.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2005 @08:01PM (#14268653)
    Set some rules and enforce them. If the kids don't follow the limits you set now for computer use, what makes you think they're going to follow limits you set in a few years when the consequences are a bit more serious? In 10 years will you be writing Ask Slashdot looking for advice on how to limit their car usage based on miles driven, time of day and past usage?
    • by Anonymous Brave Guy ( 457657 ) on Friday December 16, 2005 @08:35AM (#14270976)

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

      • and require very little ongoing maintenance.

        Little ongoing maintenance? Mine cost me almost $200 per year! Of course, for that price I get the use of two of them, but still, hardly fair to call them "free"...
  • Why? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Tango42 ( 662363 )
    Why limit their time?

    Concentrate on making sure they do other things too - encorage them to do their homework, or some kind of exercise, etc. If they're doing that, they're not on the computer. If they don't need to be doing other things, why not let them decide what to do?
    • Why ? Do you have any kids yourself ?
      • You know, little kids cannot estimate time intervalls very well. They do not know exactly if an hour or four have passed.
      • I am a caring father, but there are times the kids have to play themselves, because there are things that have to be done in a family. I cannot give them 100% of my time, as much as I would love to. So you have to have some things they can do alone. Working on the computer is one such thing, but it can be a bd thing if too much time is spent ju
      • What would you rather they were doing? If there isn't anything else you want them to do, why not let them do what they like? If there's something else, then actively encorage them to do that, rather than concentrating on a negative approach.

        Spending time on the computer doesn't do any harm. Not spending time doing other things can, so that is what you should deal with.
      • little kids cannot estimate time intervalls very well. They do not know exactly if an hour or four have passed

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

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

      Allocating one's own fr

  • WHY!?!? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 15, 2005 @08:03PM (#14268671)
    My parents got me a Commodore 64 when I was 12. They didn't even know what a computer was, and they couldn't fathom that it was little more than a toy.

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

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

    Perhaps, OMFG, they're actually DOING SOMETHING USEFUL, like filing emancipation papers!
    • Re:WHY!?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by DigitalReverend ( 901909 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @08:48PM (#14268965)
      In a way I agree here, Computer time shouldn't be limmited but ONLINE and Game Playing time should.

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

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

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

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

      In all seriousness, it's not the time on the computer that needs to be limited, it's the time spent at different activities on the computer that needs to be monitored.
      • Re:WHY!?!? (Score:1, Offtopic)

        by pilot1 ( 610480 )
        You really can't cut them off from the internet and expect them to learn to program.
        Even if you buy them books on whatever language they're learning, they will still need google to look up questions once they get more advanced.
        I see the internet as a necessary extension of a computer, instead of stopping their internet usage completely, why not just monitor it? If they spend too much time on instant messaging/irc/game websites, tell them that you will have to limit their usage if they continue to visit thes
        • You really can't cut them off from the internet and expect them to learn to program.
          Even if you buy them books on whatever language they're learning, they will still need google to look up questions once they get more advanced

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

          damn i feel old..
    • Re:WHY!?!? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by obeythefist ( 719316 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @09:23PM (#14269150) Journal
      Your kids are going to grow up despising you, since you'd be one of very few parents who do this to their kids.

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

      If you think they're spending too much time on the computer, why don't you just take them all outside and play an outdoor sport?
      • Re:WHY!?!? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by pipingguy ( 566974 )

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

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

        Squirt guns, water balloons and general playing mayhem is a great thing to see when you have a bunch of kids to entertain. Everybody ends up laughing and they won't forget the experience.
  • What exactly do the kids do? If they play games all day or chat, then I can understand your concern. But if they are doing something worthwhile, like trying to figure out how the machine works, maybe drawing a picture, or even programming something simple, then I think limiting their time would be more harmful than beneficial. Imagine if you were working, just realized the solution to a problem, and suddenly the machine shuts down on you.
    • Imagine if you were working, just realized the solution to a problem, and suddenly the machine shuts down on you.
      It's called Windows.
    • What do they do is very important. If they are programming, that's good.

      Unfortunately, I feel for his poor son... He'd get about 10 minutes of bug fixing in a night, 5 minutes of features, then 15 minutes of compiling before the system forces a shut down.
      • Yeah, that's the problem. Of course, this assumes that what the child is doing, is programming. In fact, I'd go as far to say as that the rule *discourages* kids from programming. It does not provide enough time to code, especially when a child is young and even the simplest of programs take a long time to think about. Instead, a 30 minute limit is perfect for IM'ing when everything goes by quickly
  • parenting? (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by nuggetman ( 242645 )
    Saying "johnny you have 30 minutes of computer tonight" and "JOHNNY! You'd better be off that computer and doing your homework in 5 minutes!" always works
  • by Mr_eX9 ( 800448 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @08:20PM (#14268758) Homepage
    ...I would personally reserve it for punishment situations. A long time ago when my time spent playing games and IMing was seriously out of line, my parents used this to slap me and my grades back into shape. After about a month I got the picture and was back on track (I had the grades to prove it,) buy my parents decided to keep the policy going for another six months. I obviously wasn't happy with it at the time, but in retrospect, it was a really unneccessary move on their part that only made me feel spiteful rather than teach me to manage my time.

    Arbitrary time limitations should be a short-term thing rather than a permanent policy, because you're doing your kids a disservice by managing their time for them, which is a life skill they need to acquire on their own. Making sure your kids' work is done and that they're being social with you on a day-by-day basis is much more effective, and they won't hate you for it.
    • Interesting comment. May I ask how old you are? You didn't disclose it in your post.
    • by miyako ( 632510 ) <miyako&gmail,com> on Friday December 16, 2005 @07:57AM (#14270907) Homepage Journal
      I agree with this. My father used to impose rather insane and completely random time limits on just about everything, and the only thing it did effectively was build up anamosity.
      For example, computer use was limited to 10 minutes per day. I should point out that this was inclusive of both recreational and academic use. Have a paper due tomorrow that you need to type up? Hope you can type the whole thing out in less than 10 minutes (minus the two to three minutes it took windows to boot up, and the additional five it took for word to start). The internet was pointless as we had an old modem (probably 14 or 28k) and it would take longer to actually sign on and load a page than we were allowed to use the computer.
      In the end my Uncle bought me a computer and pretty much told my dad to fark off and gave it to me dispite is oppositions. I can still remember waiting until everyone else fell asleep at night and sneaking out to hook up my modem to the phone line, using NetZero to connect when it was still actually free to do research for school or ssh into the schools server to write and compile my programming assignments.
      In the end, all the rules really made me learn was to hate my father and to have a sort of innate gut reaction that most rules are completely asinine (a gut reaction that actually seems to pan out most of the time upon fruther logical examination) and only exists as something to get around.
      Remember, it only takes 1 or 2 asinine rules imposed on your kids before they'll assume ALL of your rules are completely without a point and ignore everything you say instead of just the stupid stuff.
      • I bet you never do this to your own kids (if and when you have them). I consider myself blessed that my own father was much more understanding about my computer time growing up.

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

        • I agree. I won't even go so far as to say that if I have children I would allow them unlimited time with the computer, to much of a good thing and all that, however I think that computer use is a very difficult thing to put a hard limit on. Would I want my kids to spend 8 hours a day on IRC and AIM? probably not, but would I be happy if they spent a fair amount of that time doing constructive things like using the web to do research and learn new things I would gladly let them while away a day ocassional
    • Agreed! When I was 12-17 (early 90's) my parents constantly bugged me about the time I spent on my computer(s)... they just didn't understand my enthousiasm and dedication to the subject. Yeah, maybe there where times I overdid it a bit, but my grades where good and I had a normal social life.

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

      Despite the fact they were against it, I kept experimenting, programming, installing differe
  • cron works on OS X too. http://www.macosxhints.com/ [macosxhints.com] has something on this, I believe.
  • by Geoffreyerffoeg ( 729040 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @08:24PM (#14268789)
    Nobody wants to hear your opinion about parenting based on your experiences as a child. If you're a parent, you're qualified to offer an opinion (not impose one). If you're not, don't tell this guy how to parent his children. Regardless of whether you are or you aren't, the fact is that this guy has already made a decision to limit his kids' computer time, and you aren't going to convince him otherwise. He's looking for a technical solution - one that may also help other people who need to automate computer timing controls, perhaps for someone not their kids.

    Now, back on topic: cron's a good start, but AppleScript can help you. Schedule the command osascript -e "display dialog \"You have five minutes left on the computer\"" & sleep 300 && osascript -e "tell app \"Finder\" to log out" - it's probably a little cleaner of an interface that way. Ampersands sic: the single ampersand causes the first command to run in the background, so the timer starts ticking as soon as the dialog appears. The double ampersand waits for the five minutes to finish. (This isn't the idea behind the different syntaxes, but it's close enough for our purposes.)
    • People are entitled to opinions as human beings...there's no merit behind it. The guy can listen, or he can not listen, but the fact of the matter is that this is Slashdot, and people are going to disagree with this particular style of parenting.

      Don't tell him how to parent his children? I didn't, it's just my opinion, and don't think that you can silence me by saying that "nobody" wants to hear what I have to say. You're only speaking for yourself.
    • I am a parent, less than two weeks or within two years (unsure, my child has CP in the language center of his brain, bound to affect how fast he becomes technically literate)- but I've got to say this comes down to *useability* of what they're doing on the computer. Videogames, messaging, slashdot, these things are huge time wasters and very addictive. Just about anything else they could be doing online is actually life skills that are *more* profitable than what they could be learning otherwise- unless i
    • . If you're a parent, you're qualified to offer an opinion (not impose one). If you're not, don't tell this guy how to parent his children.

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

      Further, if you're asking for advice of any kind on here, whatever judgements or questions are raised about any aspect of i
      • You're qualified to offer an opinion regardless. Being a parent doesn't escalate you to some grandious level of wisdom or insight. It means you are capable of combining sperm and egg. Congratulations on doing something dogs and hamsters can do, too.

        It means you have actual experience parenting. Which means your opinion counts more than some armchair expert Slashdotter who still hasn't really grown up and thinks restrictions on his 'rights' of any kind is 'sooooooo unfaaairrr'...
        • So you're saying that simply squirting out a kid makes a parent more knowledgable about being a parent than someone like myself who, having somewhat raised more than one child over a period of time, has none?

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

          Religious fana
    • Just who are you replying to?

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

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

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

      I find it both amusing and disturbing that people who manage to procreate think this imbues them wi
      • It's not that they have more knowledge.. just a different experience. Face it, if you don't have kids, you're unlikely to have wiped crap off butts or had a kid spit up in your mouth as you laughed holding them over your head. It's more of a "been there. done that. understand your situation." kinda thing.
    • Asking only for the opinions of other parents is a bit backwards really. If someone's parents acted in a certain way their impressions and opinions related to that (after a suitable time of course) are valuable data. Will treating my child like this have a positive effect or will it merely make them resent me for the rest of my life?

      On a slightly alternate path it is certainly someone's right to state how not to raise your children. Taking it to an unnecessary extreme if you think that beating your child is
    • If you're not, don't tell this guy how to parent his children.

      I love hearing this argument.

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

      The fact that someone has managed to satisfy a basic biological urge that even single-celled organisms can manage, doesn't really say much about their ability to raise their "fruit of
      • Dude, I'd give anything to have mod points today. I'm surrounded by people who have wayyyy too many kids and have no idea why their lives are such a mess. They're amazed that my wife and I (both 25) have bought a house. Yet they can't understand yet why we don't want to have a child yet. It blows their minds to think that someone could be married and *not* have a kid. The best part is when they ask and I say "We're waiting until we can support kids". They give me this confused look like I'm speaking a
    • Regardless of whether you are or you aren't, the fact is that this guy has already made a decision to limit his kids' computer time, and you aren't going to convince him otherwise.

      Yeah, but we can let him know he's being a grade-A ass and what to expect out of a relationship with his child in the future.
  • by Kawahee ( 901497 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @08:29PM (#14268820) Homepage Journal
    Be a responsible parent. Your kids don't listen to you? Beat them [thebestpag...iverse.net].
  • Why not have a linux box someplace else runing Mr. House, and the computer plugged into an X10 appliance module that they have to enter a user code to turn on? Or Windows 98 and Homeseer? I believe both have just such a TV/Videogame timer in them with upper limit daily & weekly quotas. Any modern operating system ought to be able to recover just fine from a power outage. And since the software is in a separate machine, it's less hackable.

    OTOH, I agree with most of the previous posts- all time spent
  • C'mon! (Score:1, Offtopic)

    by Rewbob ( 89555 )
    Be a parent. Don't rely on technology to monitor your kids. That's YOUR job.
  • # open Terminal (/Applications/Utilities/Terminal.app).
    man shutdown
    man crontab
    man sudo
    # should have you nicely set up it.
  • Applescript is your friend, and most of your cron job stuff should move over to OS X just fine, just read the man page ;)

    On a related note, and perhaps you are not looking for opinions on this, but if your children are doing their homework, eating their vegetables, finishing their chores, etc. then limiting their computer usage will probably feel like more of a punishment than a guideline. You might have better experience monitoring them in person, rather than scripting something. This is, of course, un
  • I can't WAIT until your kids get older and rebel.
  • by Darius Jedburgh ( 920018 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @09:13PM (#14269102)
    What you need is a device like a Basic Stamp [parallax.com] which you can connect to the Mac (possibly using a USB->Serial adapter). You can then connect that to a relay board that can switch high voltages such as this [parallax.com]. Now you install a pair of flat metal plates on the seat your kids sit on when using the computer and hook them up to a relay on the relay board. Now you can write a simple app that gives your kids a 110V shock after a designated time. My kids complained at first because they said it didn't give them much warning. So later I added a pair of step down transformers to give them shocks at 30V and 60V before going for the big one. Let me tell you: I've had no problem with computer overuse.
  • Half an hour? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Lendrick ( 314723 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @09:28PM (#14269171) Homepage Journal
    Seriously, have you ever tried to get anything done in half an hour?

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

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

    Good luck.

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

    P.P.S. Yes, this answer is offtopic. Saying this is worth burning some mod points.
    • I figured out pretty quickly how to defeat their various computer-time-limiting methods.

      Exactly! I can remember when I was a kid, the height of parental control was.. the keyboard lock. Anyone remember those? Funky little cylindrical key which switched between allowing the keyboard to be recognized and not? That one had me foiled for maybe a few days, until I decided to take the computer apart and see how it worked.. and realized it was quite simple to just disconnect the wire - the default state was
  • 0.5 hours?! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by sudog ( 101964 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @10:41PM (#14269458) Homepage
    And how much time do *you* spend in front of your computer?

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

    Don't say I didn't warn you.
    • And how much time do *you* spend in front of your computer?

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

      Don't say I didn't warn you.

      Huh? Is this how you act as a parent? This is modded insightful?

      As a parent, I spend more time on the computer than my kid. I can also drink a beer at dinner, stay up later, watch more TV, and drive. You know what I say to my kid when he complains that I do things he can'

      • "Do as I say, not as I do?"

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

        The more you repeat it, the more the child will get used to the schedule, and the less likely it is that your child is going to use the computer as a tool for anything but email and instant messaging
  • login.conf (Score:5, Informative)

    by bloosqr ( 33593 ) on Thursday December 15, 2005 @10:57PM (#14269539) Homepage
    I may be mistaken but since macos X is a BSD you should be able to just add

    accounted true
    daytime time

    to /etc/login.conf

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

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

    For the exact format take a look at:

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

  • Sit them down. Tell them their time limits. They can budget their time accordingly. If they don't, they should be disciplined. They need to learn how to budget their time, and discipline themselves. Don't impose technical solutions to moral/character issues. This is a great opportunity to help your children become more mature!
  • If you have to use external measures to limit their time, you've already failed.
    • Would this be analogous to saying, "If you have to surround your front yard with a fence, you've already failed?" I mean, they should understand that actions have consequences, and if they're not the sort of kids who grasp the seriousness of running into the road, may as well let them run into traffic and start with a new set of kids.

      Kids do self-destructive things. Not the ones without consciences. Not the irresponsible ones. Kids. Left to themselves, they'll watch twelve hours of television a day, li
      • Thanks for saying this. There are a lot of comments here that seem to suggest that any kind of automatic enforcement is wrong, but I agree that these sort of restrictions are similar keeping alcohol or guns in a locked cabinet or even installing protectors in power points.

        Also - few people seem to be considering the age of the children. My 18 month old can already push a chair to the computer, climb up on it, and switch the computer on. She doesn't talk yet (except mama/dada), so she's not quite capabl
        • these sort of restrictions are similar keeping alcohol or guns in a locked cabinet or even installing protectors in power points.

          You are wrong because:
          _x_ Amazingly Bad Analogy

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

          a Batman movie which he wouldn't normally be allowed to watch. Batman? BATMAN? Even mormons and fundamental islamics wouldn't
  • I think some routers allow you to set which times during the day an ip/mac address can connect to the internet. I would be bored as hell on my computer without an internet connection.
  • The pool timer will shut down electricity at a specified time, the UPS will give the kids a warning, along with an annoying beep. As long as the kids don't have physical access to reroute the power, you shouldn't have a problem.
  • by man_ls ( 248470 )
    There's tons of apps...SoftwareTime is one of them... http://www.softwaretime.com/ [softwaretime.com]
    It looks pretty robust, probably takes advantage of a fair amount of the features built into Windows, by the looks of some of the interface screens.
  • by Michael.Forman ( 169981 ) * on Friday December 16, 2005 @03:15AM (#14270383) Homepage Journal
    The program you're looking for is called Mac Minder [lumacode.com]. I've used it to monitor the amount of time my young sisters spend on their computer at home and it works flawlessly. If you're also looking for a filtering solution try Dan's Guardian which has been turned into a package for MacOS users called DG Complete [lopata.net].

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

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

    As an aside, I can
  • I'm going to have to disagree with any kind of monitoring or restrictions on time use. I did nothing but game at first, then moved on to learning how the computer worked while trying to fix my games and modify them(mods, extra levels, etc). If I only had a half hour a day, I'd probably never have done that. I'd only have enough time to get a little deathmatch in and then that would be it. And then chat isn't all bad. Slashdot has taught me a lot. I don't understand time restrictions on the computer.
  • ... when I was a kid my parents allowed me 1 hour a week with my computer. Considering the thing took 35 minutes to boot up...erk! I used to write programs out in the back of my schoolbooks and have a great big pad of code ready for my weekly session. Later, when I was a teenager, my parents locked the computer away 6 days a week. However they kept forgetting to lock away all my spare parts, so I used to build a new system from the spares while they were at work and disassemble before they returned home. Th
  • Disclaimer: I'm just a teenager myself (age: 15.5) but I have perfectly valid reasons for spending 90% of my non-educational time tinkering with computers. I should not (and never have been) considered similar to other people my age, rather as an adult.

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

    Kids don't have cars. If they had a chaffeur to drive them around at their request they stil wouldn't use it. IM is the wonder product for people of their age and I'd suggest you be careful in trying to l
    • Okay, I've pondered it a bit, and I give up - how on earth is the 'broken' US education system overvaluing exercise? As a product of the 'broken' educational system, I find it laughable to read it suggested that it stresses fitness at all, let alone overemphasizes it.

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

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

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

  • by cr0sh ( 43134 ) on Friday December 16, 2005 @03:21PM (#14273605) Homepage
    I am going to date myself a bit here...

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    All I am trying to get at here is how my life would have, could have,

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

"Conversion, fastidious Goddess, loves blood better than brick, and feasts most subtly on the human will." -- Virginia Woolf, "Mrs. Dalloway"