When Microsoft's "Family Safety" is unsafe
August 25, 2015 6:12 AM   Subscribe

Microsoft accounts have a feature called family accounts. And with Windows 10, Microsoft automatically emails parents a weekly activity report that includes all websites visited by the child, time spent in apps, etc. if they have a family account set up.

This creepy feature is called "Family Safety" – which completely ignores the fact that many kids for whom family is not safe – especially LGBTQIA kids who aren't out to their parents – vulnerable to abuse from their parents.

LGBT people in tech are very concerned about queer and trans youth being abused thanks to Microsoft, about the current generation of kids not having the Internet as a safe space and support group and attempting suicide as a result, about children's right to privacy, and about how spying on your kids destroys all trust.

Previously: Windows 10 enjoys your sweet, delicious data
posted by floatboth (120 comments total) 36 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks for this. As a young queer, trans woman, I have no idea what I would have done if my Internet history was being monitored by an abusive parent. I wouldn't be where I am now, that's for sure.
posted by lilies.lilies at 6:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [44 favorites]


This is infuriating.
posted by odinsdream at 6:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


OS X also features pretty robust parental controls. In Apple's words, it allows you to "manage, monitor, and control the time your kids spend on the Mac, the websites they visit, and the people they chat with."

That seems kind of like the same thing.
posted by kbanas at 6:30 AM on August 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


This is really crappy. I think of great places on the internet like r/asktransgender and YouTube that are safe havens for kids who are exploring their identity and looking for other people in the world like them, and I hope they will still be able to use them.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 6:31 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Super-interesting.
posted by grobstein at 6:34 AM on August 25, 2015


(As a non-parent) I kind of assumed this was pretty must standard for all parental monitoring/kid protection software. So, if you're a parent who wants to make sure your little proto-humans don't wander too far into the potential underbelly of the Internet, how is it generally handled? I can only think of the 'only use the computer in the living room when I'm around' which seems a bit, well-- sad.

Also, is all this hidden from the kid? If they logged into their account and they got a little HAL character saying 'YOU'RE BEING WATCHED DAVE, BE CAREFUL' it'd feel a lot less skivvy.
posted by Static Vagabond at 6:41 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


I can only think of the 'only use the computer in the living room when I'm around' which seems a bit, well-- sad.

"Sad"? That's not the word I would have reached for. "Reasonable" seems more like it.
posted by Kadin2048 at 6:44 AM on August 25, 2015 [20 favorites]


On the one hand, queer and trans kids should totally be able to access queer and trans resources online.

On the other hand, even the crunchiest of progressive granola parents would agree that they have some kind of right to monitor and control their kids internet access.

These two rights are fundamentally at odds, and there is no way of supporting one without impinging the other. As sympathetic as I am to the plight of these kids, we're a long way (in American jurisprudence, anyway) from having a cultural understanding that children have the right to privacy -- even from their own parents.

Maybe we'll develop that understanding some day, but it'll be a long time coming.
posted by Avenger at 6:45 AM on August 25, 2015 [32 favorites]


It looks to me that the problem here isn't with Windows 10. It's with hostile parents of LGBTQIA kids. Or hostile parents of kids who want to surf anything their parents disapprove of. Isn't this kind of parental control stuff been pretty much a thing for... a while now?
posted by 2N2222 at 6:49 AM on August 25, 2015 [34 favorites]


Virtual machines, kids. Virtual machines.
posted by mcstayinskool at 6:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [14 favorites]


Yes, but giving tools to those people can be quite literally dangerous.
posted by lownote at 6:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


"installing windows 10 on a computer that children will use is straight up child abuse"

I can't decide whether this is serious or parodic hyperbole.
posted by Segundus at 6:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [25 favorites]


Part of the problem is that it's opt-out. Parents are being surprised by these emails.
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 6:53 AM on August 25, 2015 [22 favorites]


Or public libraries!

It's the automatic setup that's new, I think. Back in the day, my parents had to take the initiative to set up parental controls, and even then it just blocked my access - it didn't tell them what I'd been trying to access in the first place.
posted by dinty_moore at 6:54 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


OS X also features pretty robust parental controls. In Apple's words, it allows you to "manage, monitor, and control the time your kids spend on the Mac, the websites they visit, and the people they chat with." That seems kind of like the same thing.

Not even close. It's opt-in, not opt-out, and it doesn't monitor other users by default; that also has to be actively chosen. Certainly nothing like Microsoft's robosnitching.
posted by Halloween Jack at 6:54 AM on August 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


So the problem here is not that Windows 10 monitors these child accounts, but it's opt-out rather than opt in? Seems easy for them to fix then.
posted by Elementary Penguin at 6:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Now, parents, imagine that Windows 10 is sending a similar report of YOUR activities directly to the NSA.

Because it is.
posted by T.D. Strange at 7:02 AM on August 25, 2015 [119 favorites]


So, this is where I'm glad that when I was growing up developers and software makers were still having trouble making things "easy" and "frictionless".

It let me get away with quite a bit because my mother did not understand half the stuff I was doing on the machine.

If I ever have children, after about a certain age, I'm going to feign not knowing how to use The Technology These Days. Though, to be honest, even though I am a developer, I may not have to feign it too much if software goes back to its glory days of being hard to use with strange, impenetrable metaphors.
posted by qcubed at 7:05 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


1. Windows 8 did this same thing, so it's been around for years, it's only coming up now because of the new release

2. You can't say "Don't censor the Internet! Parents have to be responsible!" And then condemn any tools they might use to do that

3. I'm certainly not for abusive parents humiliating their gay children, but I doubt Windows 10 is their tool of choice
posted by fungible at 7:09 AM on August 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


Wait.... are we blaming MS for creating software that can be potentially abused by parents? For reals?
posted by asra at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Tails is a useful tool for anyone to use anywhere to avoid the Microsoft/Apple/Google/etc watchers.
posted by Poldo at 7:13 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


The best thing is the NSA only has to flip one bit and they get copied on all the emails. And not just the kids.
posted by Nelson at 7:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Maybe I've lost my mind, but this made me think that teaching my kids to circumvent tracking software might be the greatest thing I could do for them.
posted by selfnoise at 7:17 AM on August 25, 2015 [18 favorites]


Parents of LBGT kids who are dickbags about the kids being LBGT will be dickbags whatever software they use.

I know, because the mother of one of the boys my son dated in HS called to tell me to report any "gay acting" behavior from her son directly to her so she could "take care of it". He told me she routinely went through is phone and his Macbook. Do you think that OSX requiring her to check a dialog box made a whit of difference on whether he had any actual privacy ?
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:18 AM on August 25, 2015 [23 favorites]


I can't decide whether this is serious or parodic hyperbole.

Oddly enough, that's my exact reaction to Windows 10.
posted by flabdablet at 7:23 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Kadin2048: ""Sad"? That's not the word I would have reached for. "Reasonable" seems more like it."

Sorry, I'll clarify. If I was told I could only use the computer while there was an adult present, then I'm pretty sure I wouldn't have ended up with the career I have in I.T. My time online would have been seriously limited to what my mind craved at that time. Maybe that's okay, I would have walked another path and become a different person, but I think I would have been miserable and incredibly bored.

I was lucky enough not to have been limited in my access, part of that was they were amazingly supportive of my "hobby", even after the truely eye-watering telephone bills (remember when we paid per minute!) and part was likely ignorance about the shape of the 'net.

These days, it's a harder line to walk, people aren't so ignorant of the shit that's online.

So, at least in my case-- if my parents gave me that choice "Adult-supervision only vs. logging", I'd grumble and pick the logging one (then be lucky enough to bypass it...).

Again, in my head, as a non-parent, I'd picture doing the whole "I trust you Mini-Static, explore and grow! Use your best judgement and come to me about anything" and we'd talk it through on a sunlit porch with surging hollywood music in the background while drinking lemonade. When in reality, it wouldn't shock me that it's be more like "I don't want Mini-Statics first exploration of sex to be a gang-bang because she searched for 'Monsters Inc. torrent' and clicked a couple of links."
posted by Static Vagabond at 7:24 AM on August 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


Nobody disputes that parents currently spying on their kids will continue to do so. But parents who had not previously suspected their child of queerness may not have the moral fiber to avoid reading the report that Microsoft sent them. The seed of suspicion is now planted.
posted by LogicalDash at 7:30 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


Also, is all this hidden from the kid? If they logged into their account and they got a little HAL character saying 'YOU'RE BEING WATCHED DAVE, BE CAREFUL' it'd feel a lot less skivvy.

Your internet usage may be monitored for quality assurance.
posted by maryr at 7:30 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Christ almighty. I think of my adolescence, which involved accessing a fuck-ton of sites my very conservative mother did not approve of, and I shiver--because I basically found myself and who I was on the internet. I found adults who thought my interests were worth listening to, I found support groups for my sexuality, I found mentors and writers who showed me how to grow up. I developed my politics there. I connected to my long distance friends there. It was the only place where I got to be myself completely except for books, and books weren't exactly interactive if you see what I mean. Because my parents had no idea what I was doing. And where they did, they made a spirited effort to ban me from doing it. (My adolescence included pitched battles over my involvement in online fandom spanning years. This was literally the only form of rebellion I indulged in.)

Seriously, I was the kid who snuck out to the library so I could use the computers there when my parents banned me from the internet. I was a good student and I kept myself safe, but I responded to my parents' increasingly restrictive rules about what I could and couldn't read and do by nodding, smiling, and doing it anyway. Those of you who didn't grow up in households like that--with parents who stifled you instead of giving you a base to figure out who you were--well, you try imagining that. The Internet lets you out to listen to new and different people without actually having to figure out how to physically get there, which makes it much easier to find and access support groups as a queer kid or a kid who doesn't fit in your family.

My thirteen-year-old sister is still there, and I know for a fact she's doing exactly the same thing I did. I will need to let her know about this, I think.
posted by sciatrix at 7:34 AM on August 25, 2015 [49 favorites]


You can't say "Don't censor the Internet! Parents have to be responsible!" And then condemn any tools they might use to do that

It is possible to be responsible without being a snoop.

Your kids need to trust you. If they find out you've been secretly going through their shit, they won't trust you, or respect you, ever. And why should they, if you can't trust or respect them?
posted by Sys Rq at 7:34 AM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


With my other kids, we did supervised use as young kids, and random checks on Facebook etc (which they had agreed to when we okay'd the accounts) when they were older kids/young teens, then when they showed they could handle them, handed over total control.

I had a keylogging software installed with a rootkit thing on a teen's computer, with my kid's therapist signing off on it, unknown to the kid. It triggered for certain keywords due to suicide attempts.

It was a judgement call that I would make again and again.
posted by dorothyisunderwood at 7:39 AM on August 25, 2015 [16 favorites]


Also, it's.... for me, I knew internet history (for example) was a thing. I knew NetNanny was a thing, because my parents would mention it as they installed it, mostly to dissuade me from circumventing it. (I got very good at managing both of those.) Aside from that, I relied mostly on inattention and the (correct) belief that my parents would ignore me if I wasn't being actively "disrespectful" or rebellious as I accessed the sites I wanted to. That was true even for sites which were actively banned, like Fanfiction.Net.

I cannot express how horrifying an emailed reminder to my parents of every website I visited would have been. So much for forgetfulness. So much for quiet escapes while being an outwardly obedient kid.
posted by sciatrix at 7:39 AM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


Parents of LBGT kids who are dickbags about the kids being LBGT will be dickbags whatever software they use.

Obviously. But tech companies shouldn't help them. Building tools that spy on what kids are doing online is creepy. Turning them on automatically* is extra creepy.

* Okay, it's not automatically turned on for everyone – the person who wrote the original story had deliberately signed up for monitoring Xbox gaming. But games are a completely different thing than websites! Monitoring web surfing is much, much worse.
posted by floatboth at 7:42 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


This stuff is infuriating, and the above comments are right, if you don't think MS is sending a cc to "marketing partners" and a bcc to the SA of whatever it can, that's insanely naive.

I think I need an ask to see if I can proxy my own internet to try and prevent MS from phoning home even though I have every privacy option checked/unchecked.
posted by maxwelton at 7:43 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It's opt-in, not opt-out, and it doesn't monitor other users by default;

At this point, if it's possible, it's best just to assume that it is being done. There's no such thing as good faith (or smart privacy policies) when it comes to any corporation. Apple has done this sort of thing before. Remember the maps/geotracking thing?
posted by bonehead at 7:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


It seems like Peacefire isn't updated as regularly as it used to be, but the information contained there was readily traded around my friend group in the mid-late 90s to get around parental controls and school computer blocking software. My mother tried to install Cybersitter once, well past the age where I was savvy about this stuff. She, curiously enough, never could get it to work right.

I look at my life now. My career is directly related to my youthful internet activities. I found my fiancé through an internet dating site. My hobbies are still computer-related. I definitely believe I would be a very different person if my internet activities had been heavily monitored or artificially walled off. The vastness of the internet is so amazing when you're growing up in a rural area. And I can't even imagine how valuable that is for LGBT kids. The culture of spying on your kids and keeping them walled in makes me sad.
posted by almostmanda at 7:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


> Monitoring web surfing is much, much worse.

No, monitoring and censoring web surfing for children runs the full gamut from "urgently necessary" to "completely unacceptable" depending on the age and emotional sophistication of the child.

I was a really bright 7 year old. If I had had today's internet at that age, unmonitored and uncensored, I'd have pretty quickly seen things that would have scarred me for life.

Even a few years later, I'd have had much better judgement about what not to see.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 7:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [15 favorites]


This is tricky, I understand the concern. But, man, for all the wonderful things I saw online, the people I've met whom I'm still friends with today...I definitely remember developing "friendships" with grown men online who knew I was 13 or 14 years old, and I do shudder a bit about what might've happened if my parents hadn't been monitoring my activity online.
posted by girlmightlive at 7:54 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


Static Vagabond: "Again, in my head, as a non-parent, I'd picture doing the whole "I trust you Mini-Static, explore and grow! Use your best judgement and come to me about anything" and we'd talk it through on a sunlit porch with surging hollywood music in the background while drinking lemonade. When in reality, it wouldn't shock me that it's be more like "I don't want Mini-Statics first exploration of sex to be a gang-bang because she searched for 'Monsters Inc. torrent' and clicked a couple of links.""

As a parent of a teenager, I can tell you that you pretty much nailed the dichotomy. Add in cyberbullying and rampant misogyny and thinspo and beheading videos, but counter it with tumblr friends and supportive fandoms and instagram art and just the need to explore your surroundings - physical and electronic - that is an essential part of growing up. It's one of the hardest things about parenting, frankly. My wife and I probably err on the side of too much freedom, but that's because we have a kid who, as lupus_yonderboy mentions, we think has pretty good judgement about what not to see. It's really fraught, though, and while I don't think this kind of Big Brother monitoring is the solution, managing kids' interactions with the Internet is a huge and complicated problem.
posted by Rock Steady at 7:57 AM on August 25, 2015 [24 favorites]


Holy shit. Hell with the NSA, let's be honest here: the real freakout is that Microsoft is collecting information on children's browsing habits.

They are storing that information, and even if they're not selling it today, they will in the future. The fact that this information ever goes to a server in the cloud (without explicit consent, even) should be illegal, full stop go to jail the end. We have tons of laws like FERPA to protect the sacred privacy of your child's grade in second-grade English, but a private corporation can harvest your child's browsing history?

This is terrible for so many reasons.
posted by phooky at 7:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [21 favorites]


My son and I got cell phones last year for the first time. He was 14 and picked what turned out to be a windows phone. In order for him to use anything I had to set up this account and then it took me forever to figure out how to disable everything that monitored him. The interface was so baffling to me I actually wept at one point, it probably not as made worse because I was so pissed about the monitoring. (If I had felt that worried I wouldn't have bought him the phone!)

I tried calling the phone company to see if I could get it removed and they said no because I had registered the phone to a minor they were unable to due to Microsoft rules. It became even more frustrating when he couldn't get apps to download without my involvement. Finally I updated his age in his Microsoft account and that seems to have worked.

Ironic that the phone was intended to encourage and facilitate a grsater sense of independence.
posted by chapps at 7:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


Now, parents, imagine that Windows 10 is sending a similar report of YOUR activities directly to the NSA.

And this is even remotely the same thing how?

Parenting is a daunting responsibility. I didn't grow up with internet access, I'm struggling to figure out how to manage my kids' internet access, but I'm pretty sure that giving unfettered, unmonitored internet access to my kids (both under ten) would be utterly irresponsible of me.

For the moment the iMac sits in the living room and mobile phones aren't yet on the menu.
posted by three blind mice at 8:00 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


One day as an adolescent I got on the computer to find that my mom had installed NetNanny or some such. That same day, my mom got on the computer to find that I had uninstalled it. Ostensibly you need a password to close or uninstall the program, but it was trivial to get around that.

We never discussed the incident and she never tried again. I think she just conceded that I knew more about computers than her and was going to get around whatever technical barriers she tried to put in place. She was right about that.

I managed to not be corrupted or exploited by the internet despite the lack of an overbearing adult constantly monitoring and restricting my online activity. As others have said, I consider unrestricted internet access to have been an essential and formative part of my youth.
posted by dephlogisticated at 8:01 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


I was a really bright 7 year old. If I had had today's internet at that age, unmonitored and uncensored, I'd have pretty quickly seen things that would have scarred me for life.

I had unmonitored and uncensored internet as a child. And everyone around me too – pretty much every kid was better at tech than their parents, and "parental control" wasn't a well known thing in this country.

No one was scarred for life. While it wasn't exactly today's internet, we've seen porn and played Grand Theft Auto games. I played GTA San Andreas when I was 9. It was fun! And I also learned HTML → eventually became a programmer.

I believe that it's okay to censor web surfing for really young kids, but it's never okay to monitor it.
posted by floatboth at 8:02 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


This seems like a pretty over the top implementation, but parental monitoring lets parents monitor things they should be monitoring as well. Children are responsible for a lot of harassment and other shitty behavior on the internet, and their parents could really use a heads up.

I know someone whose young son started falling in with Gamergate. She discovered it when he started repeating their talking points, but if she'd been monitoring his activities, she could have caught it sooner. And there are lots of kids whose parents haven't caught them yet.

It is horrible when parents don't support and accept their own children, but the solution isn't to prevent all parents from monitoring their kids' activities.
posted by ernielundquist at 8:04 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


No one was scarred for life.

Except for the people who were. Not everybody got out unscarred, unexploited, unbullied, unstalked, or unexposed to stuff they weren't old enough or mature enough or savvy enough to process and move on from.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:06 AM on August 25, 2015 [17 favorites]


That's not an argument for lifetime monitoring for all kids forever, by the way, but for an appropriate amount of being up in a kid's business until they show they're learning the right kind of self-control and awareness and savviness to handle the kind of things they'll have access to.
posted by Lyn Never at 8:08 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


It seems like Peacefire isn't updated as regularly as it used to be, but the information contained there was readily traded around my friend group in the mid-late 90s to get around parental controls and school computer blocking software. My mother tried to install Cybersitter once, well past the age where I was savvy about this stuff.

This. When my kids were young I was much more comfortable with blocking software than monitoring software. It gave them a walled garden that kept them out of the darker parts of the internet unless they actively worked at getting there. Any the effort to subvert the software at least let them know to be more aware of where they were going.

When in reality, it wouldn't shock me that it's be more like "I don't want Mini-Statics first exploration of sex to be a gang-bang because she searched for 'Monsters Inc. torrent' and clicked a couple of links."

The decision to start using blocking software on was based on my seven year old son searching for "blonde jokes" (an issue in and of itself) on the kitchen and quickly landing on blacksonblondes.com, which turns out to be a very poor introduction to current sexual and racial norms. Luckily, yet embarrassingly, the computer was in the kitchen and the sound was turned up quite high.
posted by rtimmel at 8:12 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


It is horrible when parents don't support and accept their own children, but the solution isn't to prevent all parents from monitoring their kids' activities.

The solution is to talk. At a really young age. It works.

My mom told me to never share personal information when we got our internet connection. As a result, I didn't sign up for anything with my full real name, never posted photos of myself... So I've been paranoid about online privacy for this whole time, way before the Snowden leaks ;-)


Except for the people who were. Not everybody got out unscarred, unexploited, unbullied, unstalked, or unexposed to stuff they weren't old enough or mature enough or savvy enough to process and move on from.

You took that out of context – I meant that my friends at school weren't.

Bullying is indeed a problem, and I've experienced it. Again, it's better to talk about it – and if you spy on your kids, you break all trust, and they won't talk to you when they're being bullied.

About being exposed to "stuff" – I don't think kids really have that "shocked" reaction! They might just not understand it and move on. But yeah, blocking is fine (for really young kids), it's spying that I have a problem with.
posted by floatboth at 8:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


On the other hand, even the crunchiest of progressive granola parents would agree that they have some kind of right to monitor and control their kids internet access.

Nope and nope. Parent of three here.
posted by odinsdream at 8:16 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


floatboth: "While it wasn't exactly today's internet, we've seen porn and played Grand Theft Auto games. I played GTA San Andreas when I was 9. "

It's really not the content of the Internet that is so troubling, it's the people. When your kids are exploring their physical world, you have some sense of the people that inhabit the world with them, because you also inhabit the same physical space, and you are aware of the shitty teenager down the block, or the person that walks by the house a little too slowly, or the car that drives too fast through the neighborhood, and you can protect/warn your kid as need be - sometimes directly, and sometimes so subtly that (hopefully) your kid isn't even aware they are being protected. Online though, you have no idea about the other people who are inhabiting your children's online world -- you aren't going to be a part of that world in the same way you are a part of their physical world -- and it is much easier for people online to mask or alter their identity and their presentation. You also, as ernielundquist says, don't know what kind of person your kid is being in their online world, which can be just as problematic. So, especially for little kids, or kids with not so great judgement, you have to have some monitoring. Maybe that's only going online in the living room, or maybe it is some kind of software, but I can't automatically judge any parent that wants/needs this kind of monitoring.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:18 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


Also, is all this hidden from the kid? If they logged into their account and they got a little HAL character saying 'YOU'RE BEING WATCHED DAVE, BE CAREFUL' it'd feel a lot less skivvy.
posted by Static Vagabond


In Windows 8 and 8.1 a notification pops up at every login that the user is being monitored by Family Safety. My children (boys) are 13 and 9.

I have Windows 10 on my machine, I will be upgrading my children's computers soon. I have been using Windows Family Safety for a couple years now, with my children's full knowledge. For the most part I ignore the weekly e-mails. Age appropriate blocking and time management are the primary reasons that I use it.

My thirteen year old knows the limits and has not tried to get around them at home. Computers are in the family room and I can see the screens from my chair. However, at Dad's house, he got caught surfing porn on grandmother's laptop after everyone else had gone to bed and he should have been asleep. Maybe another three years or so, I'll loosen up, but for now it all stays.
posted by Talia Devane at 8:19 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


No one was scarred for life.

Except for the people who were. Not everybody got out unscarred, unexploited, unbullied, unstalked, or unexposed to stuff they weren't old enough or mature enough or savvy enough to process and move on from.


Yeah, I . . . kinda was. Obviously not in an extreme PTSD-associated way, but some bad guys happened to me. When I was a young teen, internet was dialup. I was left alone with it, simply because I had been able to just barely persuade my parents that the internet was not full of axe murderers, which I think they privately doubt to this day. Guys in AOL chat or instant messages sent me explicit sexual messages and demands that, I now realize, formed my expectations about what men really want from women, especially young women. I was afraid of them, but I did not dare tell my parents what disturbed me, else they would have torn the modem out by the roots.

A week or so ago, there was a viral sensation video about a popular vlogger (whose name I forget) who used Facebook to pose as a young boy and lure teen girls out to meet him at parks. When the girls arrived, they were met by their furious parents, who had been in on the trick from the beginning. It was poor childrearing and pure sensation-mongering, but it is certainly an argument for some kind of regular checkup on your children's internet life.
posted by Countess Elena at 8:20 AM on August 25, 2015 [13 favorites]


>>On the other hand, even the crunchiest of progressive granola parents would agree that they have some kind of right to monitor and control their kids internet access.

>Nope and nope. Parent of three here.


Actually, as a parent you have the obligation to do so in order to ensure your kids are not getting into trouble, or causing others trouble.

I'm no fan of locking down computers to block "bad" websites or foul language or whatever, but would rather teach my kids self-control so I can trust them, and they can trust themselves.

For the time being, though, the computer is used in a family space, and I have access to email (I'm going to give it up at 13).

But as parents we have the responsibility to understand what our kids are getting up to online, but at the same time we need to take a more active, proactive and positive role than getting weekly updates from Windows 10. That's the wrong way to do it.
posted by Nevin at 8:26 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


> Guys in AOL chat or instant messages sent me explicit sexual messages and demands that, I now realize, formed my expectations about what men really want from women, especially young women

That's exactly my fear when it comes to my kids wandering the Internet. The idea that parents are abusive and/or invasive because they want to know who their children are talking to and what they're viewing on-line is puzzling. They're children. They don't have good decision-making skills yet.

Of course, there's a range here. Are we talking about seven-year-olds who are on Minecraft servers or YouTube and need help staying away from assholes and videos of cats being hurt, or 17-year-olds who are looking for support for issues they can't talk about their parents with?
posted by The corpse in the library at 8:27 AM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


My three year old already has a grasp on the notion that we can look up more information about something on the internet. We can find pictures, videos, facts for Mommy to read to her. One day we were talking about circuses and I searched for "trapeze videos" on Bing. Trapeze porn videos were the first hits and I felt really stupid that my previously computer savvy self had walked us into that situation. (Thanks, Bing.) I never closed a window so fast before that. I also believe teenagers need freedom to learn about themselves and the world, but the 3 - 12 year old cohort needs more guidance and supervision.

Besides, it's probably a pretty useful lesson for children to learn that there's no such thing as real privacy on the internet. Great preparation for the teen years when the explorations are more high stakes.
posted by stowaway at 8:29 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


stowaway: "Besides, it's probably a pretty useful lesson for children to learn that there's no such thing as real privacy on the internet. Great preparation for the teen years when the explorations are more high stakes."

That is an interesting take on it - equally pragmatic and depressing.
posted by Rock Steady at 8:31 AM on August 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


I have been using Windows Family Safety for a couple years now, with my children's full knowledge.
It's not that bad if they know it! The problem is possible spying, which implies that they don't.

By the way, it would be awesome if you posted screenshots of the notifications, both before the Windows 10 upgrade and after it.

some kind of regular checkup on your children's internet life
Yeah. That's good (when the child is younger than, say, 13-14). But you should talk to them, not secretly spy on them.

Are we talking about seven-year-olds who are on Minecraft servers or YouTube and need help staying away from assholes and videos of cats being hurt, or 17-year-olds who are looking for support for issues they can't talk about their parents with?
YES. Thank you for bringing this up. Pretty much all of the outrage is about teenagers looking for support. It's not about 7-year-olds.
posted by floatboth at 8:32 AM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


Actually, as a parent you have the obligation to do so in order to ensure your kids are not getting into trouble, or causing others trouble.

Believing I don't have a right to secretly monitor their usage does not equate to hands-off parenting. As others have mentioned, there are absolutely ways of being involved in your kids' lives (including their engagement with public spaces unrestricted; meatspace or otherwise), giving them the tools needed to become responsible, independent actors, that absolutely do not rely on secretive monitoring systems, which themselves are problematic in terms of false positives, false negatives, destruction of mutual trust systems, and re-enforcement of oppressive authority structures.
posted by odinsdream at 8:46 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


I think linking this software to child abuse as a matter of course is to ignore the fact that unfettered access to the internet, in other families, could also constitute child abuse. Abusers are going to abuse, and they are going to use well-intentioned tools to do so. Wooden spoons are really great for cooking in a nonstick pan, belts are great for holding up pants, and the fact that some parents use these objects to hurt and terrorize their children doesn’t mean those objects are therefore inherently bad.

Many children being exposed to hardcore pornography (and eroticized violence) at young ages are hurt by that (according to their own accounts). Children exposed to predators who find them online are hurt by them, even if they never meet them to be abused in person. Children are curious, and parents who want to allow them to explore and learn online without being traumatized are not somehow bad parents for wanting that.

Do I want children and teens in abusive households to have access to communities and information that helps them feel safe and loved, and that offers them a chance at escape? OF COURSE. But maybe alternative forms of access to info, and resources, and apps, need to be explicitly designed for children and teens in dangerous situations, rather than assuming that parents should trust their kids to know what is best for them.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 8:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


I was a bright and thoughtful teenager (in a lot of ways -- in other ways I had seriously misdiagnosed mental health issues!) and I had basically unfettered internet access and in a lot of ways that was great; it let me talk to my friends, explore my sexuality, all sorts of major stuff. In a lot of ways it was great.

On the other hand, when I was fifteen I joined a Yahoo! group (signs of bad judgement abound) and ended up internet dating a student at a local college who was, of necessity, a good bit older than myself. We arranged to meet and hung out one afternoon. Everything turned out fine -- we made out a bit, sat in a park and snuggled, and she walked me back to school -- and I think she was just feeling lonely and isolated and that's why she ended up dating some teenager she met on the internet, but this could have gone REALLY BADLY. I mean, I made sure we met in a public place and everything, but I didn't tell anywhere where I was going and I knowingly went to meet someone five or six years older than I was who was making the choice to date a teenager. Even as a smart kid (and fifteen is young but it's not, like, twelve) I made a really poor choice.

My parents don't know about this to this day because I think it would only retroactively worry them unnecessarily and, as I say, everything turned out fine, and I don't really have any regrets about this incident, but thinking about how badly it could have gone and the lack of judgement it displays makes me a little wary of advocating for unfettered internet access for children and teenagers.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 8:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


The solution is to talk. At a really young age. It works.

That's dismissive and overly simplistic. Parents cannot just talk to their children about every possible argument or situation they might encounter on the internet, nor can they effectively block all of those things ahead of time. There are plenty of sketchy and unpredictable things lurking in places you wouldn't expect.

This argument is framed in a way that is sympathetic to the case against parental monitoring, but if it were about children making violent threats and cyberbullying, people would be asking why their parents aren't paying attention to what their kids are doing on the internet.

Kids are impressionable and easily radicalized. They don't have much experience with the real world, and there are campaigns and ideologies out there that are designed to exploit that ignorance. And they mature at different rates. Some ten year olds are mature enough to handle propaganda aimed at them, while some 17 years olds aren't. Not all parents are going to be great at assessing that, but they're generally the best qualified. And at some point, you have to let parents make choices that are right for them and their children.

It's definitely not cool to be monitoring kids without their knowledge, but it's parents' job to raise their kids, and the fact that some parents abuse a tool doesn't mean that the tool itself is at fault.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:00 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


I've got this crazy method of monitoring my son's internet viewing. Two desks, side by side. It really works. Just tap him on the shoulder and say no and he's off to something else. Or he's watching totally inappropriate cat videos from this site on my screen.

Kid stumbled across Monte Python, Gilliam's animations specifically. "Dad! Look at this!" The one where the penis turns into a rotating head spouting nonsense. Boy kicked his chair over backwards and I remembered being 9 in the basement of my best friends house with his 17 year old brother watching that on PBS.

I am not spying on him, but he knows I am there. He pretty much self censors now.

This argument is framed in a way that is sympathetic to the case against parental monitoring, but if it were about children making violent threats and cyberbullying, people would be asking why their parents aren't paying attention to what their kids are doing on the internet.


And that is a really good point.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 9:19 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Mr. Yuck: "I've got this crazy method of monitoring my son's internet viewing. Two desks, side by side. It really works. "

It works for you because you can afford two computers and two desks and a job schedule that doesn't force you to be working while your kid is being (ostensibly) watched by an older sibling etc etc etc. Every family is different and has different limitations and challenges when it comes to the parenting decisions they make.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:29 AM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


Thanks to all for your thoughts. This will be a really useful thread for me to look back on when my girls are of internet age. I want them to be able to freely explore, but there are definitely things lurking in the murky waters of the internet that they need to be aware of, and will probably need help avoiding. It's going to be a tricky balancing act.
posted by Existential Dread at 9:37 AM on August 25, 2015


Now, parents, imagine that Windows 10 is sending a similar report of YOUR activities directly to the NSA.

I just got a laptop with my cable subscription and it's the first time I've had a PC in many years. I knew it would happen eventually and I've been buying games on sale on Steam knowing I couldn't play them on my Mac. I figure I'm OK now, both on NSA spying and my now-toddler surfing the internet: all my browsing will be "how to get past this part in Skyrim?" and my daughter will never, ever get any time on the computer because I will be on it still playing an ancient video game when she's a teenager.

Anyways...

Could a workaround be handheld devices/smartphones? I'd have to think the average kid could check whatever terrible horrible sites they want to in the privacy of their rooms with their phones these days.
posted by Hoopo at 9:48 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


A lot of discussions like this frame the problem as only a problem of kids with parents who are shitty human beings, and lets face it there is no technological fix to shitty parents. But looking back on my own experience of small town dial-up internet and coming out online, I would have been much worse off if my parents monitored my internet activity (the only monitoring they did was "get off the internet! I want to make a phone call!"). Figuring out your sexuality can be a fraught experience even if your parents are of the generally accepting type who aren't going to kick you out of the house (or whatever).

When I was a teenager there was, or I perceived there to be, a lot of judgement and shame around being gay and the internet was the one place where I could go and disabuse myself of that notion. It all started with nervously poking around forums and quickly deleting the browser history (even though my parents didn't know what that was) just in case anyone found out. It is not that I imagined any specific harm would come to me, or that my parents would do anything particularly bad, but when I was a kid being gay was one of the worst things you could be and just thinking that I might be was filled with irrational fears. If I knew that my parents were getting reports of where I was visiting, I'm pretty sure I would have self-censored myself into being a much worse off adult, even though my parents would have been awkwardly accepting.
posted by selenized at 9:50 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


> Could a workaround be handheld devices/smartphones?

Yes, as long as they don't run windows, because these family settings can be set to migrate from device to device as long as the child is logging in with a microsoft account. A local user won't do this, but of course it takes a little extra effort and know-how to make a local user now (as of Windows 8, apparently) that MS login is the default way to log into Windows.

I'll add the caveat that while it's not nearly as much of a problem as it used to be, handhelds still don't have the universal support for online resources that desktops do.

> Believing I don't have a right to secretly monitor their usage does not equate to hands-off parenting.

Believe it or not, you have the right. Whether you choose to exercise it, or whether the idea of exercising it is odious to you, it's your right. As long as we're cherry-picking some worse-case scenarios, some people need to invade their kids' privacy to keep their self-harming kids alive.
posted by Sunburnt at 10:01 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


It works for you because you can afford two computers and two desks

I was not trying to criticize or guilt trip anybody .

You can get desks at Goodwill for 20 bucks around here and I got an old computer refurbished for 45. I found a job that works around his schedule, not a great job, but it is enough that we get lots of off-time together.
posted by Mr. Yuck at 10:03 AM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Could a workaround be handheld devices/smartphones? I'd have to think the average kid could check whatever terrible horrible sites they want to in the privacy of their rooms with their phones these days.

Hoopo, you're a step ahead of my thinking on this, because that is exactly what my children did. When I first set up their Nintendo DS's, I had disabled internet browser access. At some point it was re-enabled, probably by an update. Both kids also have iPods, browsers are disabled there. And the older boy lost his dumb-phone because it had a browser that could not be disabled.
So, yes, things slip through the cracks and then you must clean up. That's how it goes with all aspects of parenting, I have found.
posted by Talia Devane at 10:03 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


This is all so hard. We have a kiddo who is starting to ask about playing games online, and it's not that I want to block him from doing things, it's that I want to block other people from targeting him.

We are also hoping that really good sex-ed approaches mean that when (not if) he stumbles on pr0n, it will not be his "first introduction" to sex. While still putting that day off as long as possible. We don't think he's seen anything, since we monitor his usage, but eventually, something will get through. Or a friend will show him on their device.

Right now he's mostly about Youtube Minecraft playthrough videos, and we check on his history periodically (there have been a few incidents with sexist language that we weren't happy about, but that's it so far), but we'll have to give him more freedom eventually. It's just hard to know when and how much.

He's not the kind of kid who hides what he's doing, so far. But then we don't smack him around and make him feel bad about asking questions either.
posted by emjaybee at 10:05 AM on August 25, 2015


I'm one of those kids who grew up with unfettered internet access that helped me become who I am, married to who I am, and doing what I do. I had an extremely rough childhood and if I wasn't allowed to escape like that, I would not be alive today.

But.

I have a younger sibling whose internet activities led to frightening phonecalls from several police departments (and then someone from the FBI) with "Have you been in contact with [X]?" And learning that some psycho who attempted kidnapping of several kids across state lines has had prolonged and intense conversations with sibling and photos of our house and other sensitive information that made it really fucking scary. (He's jailed and sentenced now.)

So I'm completely torn on this subject. In broken family dynamics unfettered internet access can go either way, and it's all extremely real to me.
posted by erratic meatsack at 10:11 AM on August 25, 2015 [11 favorites]


Avenger: “On the one hand, queer and trans kids should totally be able to access queer and trans resources online. On the other hand, even the crunchiest of progressive granola parents would agree that they have some kind of right to monitor and control their kids internet access. These two rights are fundamentally at odds, and there is no way of supporting one without impinging the other.”

Actually, this seems to be a very, very strong argument for increasing youth access to semi-private public terminals. Like, say, kids being able to walk down to the local library and use a computer with a privacy screen on it.

It's funny, because a few years ago there was a hubbub when San Francisco Public Libraries decided to install privacy screens rather than ban porn viewing. Whatever you think about the ability of patrons to view porn, it's actually rather ingenious to have all that publicity, in a way, because it says to any kid who hears about it: you can look up the resources you need to look up, even if they have words in them that might be scary to your parents, like "gay" or "sex."

I would like a world where kids have that understanding. And I feel like this is an excellent niche libraries can fill. They certainly did when I was a kid.
posted by koeselitz at 10:11 AM on August 25, 2015 [12 favorites]


He's not the kind of kid who hides what he's doing

Or he is good at it.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 10:11 AM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


> Now, parents, imagine that Windows 10 is sending a similar report of YOUR activities directly to the NSA.

> Because it is.


Wait, is it? I assume/know that some details of the traffic I generate is passed by ISPs to the NSA*, and they can probably tie it to my computer's MAC address, but I didn't know that traffic reporting is happening at the OS level. Have people detected Windows 10 doing so?

*Or more accurately that the ISPs provide a tap-in point where they can gather what they want.
posted by benito.strauss at 10:18 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


He might be, save alive, but he's awfully young and not a hacker-prodigy type. Actually, I've had to remind myself that the cliché "kids today know all the internet tricks" is actually not always true. They can be very clueless about things like privacy, safety and how to operate, because they're kids and no-one has taught them that stuff yet. I've had to teach him and his friends some things that were pretty basic, and I don't think they were acting.

It used to be that the only kids on the internet were the hacker types, but now they all are, and a lot of them are just normal kids.
posted by emjaybee at 10:20 AM on August 25, 2015


Not letting an 8-year old play on a Minecraft Realms server with their friends would be a pretty big restriction on some of the kids I know. Socially crippling, certainly.
posted by bonehead at 10:21 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


It does not matter whether you monitor your children's online activities, nor whether you try to block their access. It does not matter which OS you use, nor whether the display is visible to you at all times.

It doesn't matter whether the kid is an innocent 7 year old, or suffering through the bewildering onslaught of adolescence. It doesn't matter if you read their email or their browser history or their search terms.

Because I guarantee you that they've got a friend with an iPhone who's parents don't have a clue about technology, and you can bet that they satisfy their every curiosity outside your watchful gaze.

You know this is true because you did exactly the same thing.
posted by johnnyace at 10:38 AM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


On the one hand, queer and trans kids should totally be able to access queer and trans resources online.

On the other hand, even the crunchiest of progressive granola parents would agree that they have some kind of right to monitor and control their kids internet access.

These two rights are fundamentally at odds, and there is no way of supporting one without impinging the other.


I think they're not at odds the way you think they are-- crunchy progressive granola parents would not, one hopes, object to their LGBT teen or tween looking for resources and support for their identity on the Internet. Kids who feel safe to be themselves in their homes won't mind their parents knowing that they spent 45 minutes looking up historically famous lesbians on Wikipeda, or reading up on current best practices in medical transition, or Skyping with closeted friends in other time zones.

Those are also kids who might end up have an excruciatingly uncomfortable conversation about the erotic fanfiction they've been reading on Wattpad, but it would be no less awkward than the conversation those same parents would have with their straight child who's just discovered how to torrent het porn.

Queer and trans kids whose families are not supportive, however, have it hard enough without losing their one escape hatch to a world where their identity isn't shameful. Even worse, the idea of those kids being outed to disapproving, potentially abusive families because of what they thought was their one safe place-- well, that's appalling.
posted by nonasuch at 10:52 AM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Because I guarantee you that they've got a friend with an iPhone who's parents don't have a clue about technology, and you can bet that they satisfy their every curiosity outside your watchful gaze.

Okay but there's a big difference between "can look at porn sometmies" and "has frequent unmonitored access and thus can get into problematic and long-term relationships". You're not exactly dropping a huge bomb on the parents in this thread. We all know that kids will find ways around lots of restrictions and we can also try to keep an eye out for them and minimize the amount of danger in which they are able to put themselves.
posted by Mrs. Pterodactyl at 10:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


I like Will Smith's take on it (he was speaking of his son and social media, but I find it works for ubiquitous surveillance as well):

"I was very dumb when I was 14... I was very dumb, but I was dumb in PRIVATE."

Alas, those days are gone until whatever catastrophe is coming gets here.
posted by Mooski at 10:58 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Good lord GLEAM, did nobody notice this and mention it?
posted by rmd1023 at 10:59 AM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Really, at the end of the day, parents can debate how much online privacy their kids can have – but to me the main takeaway here is still that MICROSOFT IS MONITORING AND RECORDING THE ONLINE ACTIVITIES OF CHILDREN, which, uh, seems really weird and gross and not at all okay, no matter how you feel about parents themselves monitoring their kids.
posted by koeselitz at 11:01 AM on August 25, 2015 [8 favorites]


ernielundquist: "This argument is framed in a way that is sympathetic to the case against parental monitoring, but if it were about children making violent threats and cyberbullying, people would be asking why their parents aren't paying attention to what their kids are doing on the internet. "

Yep. After five years doing discipline hearings for K-12 students, parents, you NEED to know what your kids are doing on social media. Because there are a lot of smart, good kids making incredibly bad, life-altering choices on social media, including some that I have personally seen end in jail time.

And then there are the kind-of shitty kids who are coming at your smart, good kid via social media, possibly including -- and again I personally saw this -- that shitty kid's shitty parent going WITH THEIR KID to jump your kid on the way home from school and "beat his ass."

I think good parents have to practice a great deal of constructive ignorance of things they actually know, where you PRETEND you don't know your kid is in the bathroom masturbating for half an hour in the shower because kids do need space to find themselves. Parenting connected kids seems to me to be one of those spaces where you really need to know pretty thoroughly what your kid is doing, but you need to NEVER SPEAK OF IT unless it's actively dangerous. (Personally I think you tell your kid their being monitored or subject to spot-checks or whatever; I don't think you do it secretly without a fairly compelling reason. But mine are young enough that they're only allowed screen time sitting next to a parent anyway, so take it for what it's worth. Teenagers are way harder.)
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 11:31 AM on August 25, 2015 [10 favorites]


bonehead: Remember the maps/geotracking thing?

You mean the thing where Apple was mirroring the same information that the cell phone company has on you on your device, but not on Apple's servers? The one where it wasn't actually using GPS, but triangulating off the nearest cell phone tower, which may not even get your location accurate within a few miles? The one where the file wasn't accessible unless your phone was jailbroken, or until a couple of hackers wrote an OS X program that would have to be installed on the same Mac that you synced your phone or iPad to? That one? Again, not even in the same league.
posted by Halloween Jack at 12:00 PM on August 25, 2015 [7 favorites]


FYI I found that video I was talking about. THE THING NOT TO DO.
posted by Countess Elena at 12:08 PM on August 25, 2015


I managed to not be corrupted or exploited by the internet despite the lack of an overbearing adult constantly monitoring and restricting my online activity. As others have said, I consider unrestricted internet access to have been an essential and formative part of my youth.

You were very lucky.

This argument is framed in a way that is sympathetic to the case against parental monitoring, but if it were about children making violent threats and cyberbullying, people would be asking why their parents aren't paying attention to what their kids are doing on the internet.

I think a lot of parents of kids who are on /pol/ or threatening to rape women on Twitter absolutely need to know what their kids are doing online. No question. This, to me, trumps the argument that kids need privacy to figure out their adult selves. I don't disagree that they do, but the Net Nanny isn't keeping them from doing that entirely, just at home. They're restricted to shorter and less-private means of accessing the Internet, but they can do it.

Ostensibly so can the neo-Nazis in training, I suppose. But I think less access for them means time to step in before they are out of the house as adults and possibly make a change for the better.
posted by chainsofreedom at 12:17 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


I really didn't monitor my kid's internet access, but he's almost 30 now. For most of his childhood, we had dialup.

But I was always less concerned about the one-off stuff like Baby's First Goatse than I was about what was being modeled. Kids absorb the social norms they see modeled around them, in real life, in movies and TV, and on the internet.

Yeah, kids are going to be able to seek out things they're specifically looking for, but it's more just the casual background bigotries that often inform their worldviews in ways that you can't even always put your finger on. I'd be much more worried about a kid who was spending an inordinate amount of time on the front page of reddit or in other general discussion groups like that than about a curious kid looking up weird specific types of porn every now and again. (Although: Warn your young children not to look up naked pictures of kids their own age. I've heard of that happening innocently.)

Responsible parents have plenty of good reasons to keep an eye on their kids in various arenas. I have plenty of issues with this specific implementation, but the concept of monitoring, while often abused and poorly implemented, is also a necessary thing if you're going to raise a smart, well adjusted kid.
posted by ernielundquist at 12:38 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


It's not just that it's opt-out rather than opt-in, but it's opt-out on the most widespread and ubiquitous operating system in the world. So it's not just that millions of children will be monitored by default, but that millions of children's and parents' expectations will be set by this, moving the next generation one step closer to seeing ubiquitous surveillance as the default, invisible and uninterrogated except by crazy old loons like us.
posted by chortly at 12:41 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Windows is only the most popular OS for general purpose computers, and lots of kids don't use regular computers. The most popular OS overall is Android by a pretty far stretch.

I haven't used Windows in some time, so I don't know how creepy and invasive it is overall, but I can't imagine it's any worse than Android as far as corporate control and monitoring.
posted by ernielundquist at 1:04 PM on August 25, 2015


I had un-monitored Internet as a kid and I didn't even try to get into anything very troublesome until I was in middle school. And the only kids I knew who had to go through NetNanny or whatever had really controlling parents. I do think things are a little different with broadband - it's not like when I was thirteen and waiting 45 minutes to see a single pornographic image. So I don't know what I would do I think ideally you just put the computer in public space but that only works if someone has time to be there.
posted by atoxyl at 1:15 PM on August 25, 2015


A little bit on the value of, well, transparent transparency in kids' Internet habits.

I have an eight year old son who's just getting interested in game walkthrough videos, and just figuring out that he can interact with people on the Internet. And impress them! With his wit! About butts, mostly!

So, we kind of share a fairly locked-down Youtube account, or rather, he has an account but I get a ton of emails and updates associated with it, partially because he doesn't know how to email, and partially because I want to see what he's up to. Spoiler: most of it is asking Dan the Diamond Minecart Guy to do some specific thing, or participating in a commenting contest.

Anyway, he found some video from what a few clues indicated was either the Middle East or South Asia, that involved someone standing, wearing what might have been a chador, face covered, in heavy traffic without flinching. The video asked "is it a ghost?" and my son had commented, "Maybe it's a terrorist!" So I deleted the comment, but then also took the opportunity to talk about how someone from that part of the world might feel reading that: "Does that guy think we're all terrorists?" To his credit, he was mortified that he might have made another kid feel bad, and I haven't seen anything remotely similar since. But I was delighted that I saw the comment, and that we got to talk about it.

I think when he has unmonitored access it will be unmonitored, but for the moment I am totally comfortable with zero Internet privacy for my shorties.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 1:34 PM on August 25, 2015 [6 favorites]


In addition to VirtualBox incompatibility, there's been enough issues with data getting out of Windows 10 that I'm seriously considering switching (again) to Linux. Or at least I'm holding off on Win10 adoption for a few months to see how things iron out.

Gaming and video are my big holdouts.
posted by CBrachyrhynchos at 1:56 PM on August 25, 2015


The thing I'm having the hardest time with in this thread is the idea that "the Internet is so much worse than it used to be", which seems exactly like the sort of thing you hear from weird conservatives lamenting the State Of The World These Days before driving Junior to middle school instead of letting them walk or whatever, completely ignoring that (1) the world was a lot shitter back when they were a kid than they remember it being, and (2) the world today isn't that bad, and is actually probably a whole lot nicer/safer/more civilized than it was Those Days, and if it seems worse it's probably sample or confirmation bias.

The Internet is similar, only lower-stakes. I think people are remembering it through rose-colored glasses. There was some pretty ugly shit on the Internet starting in the Mosaic/Navigator era. (The Internet: prompting kids to say "hey, you wanna see a dead body?" since 1997. )

And the idea that it's somehow easier to find smut today also rings hollow. Anyone remember Whitehouse.com?* Early search engines didn't have "Safe Search" modes. And just in general, at least by the late 90s, the fraction of the Internet that was nothing but hardcore pornography seems spectacularly higher than it is now. Even sites dedicated to fairly innocuous stuff like video games routinely had banner ads for porn sites, because that was where all the money was for a while.

It's been a while since I tried to play Andy Ihnatko's "Web That Smut" (a sort-of-game in which you start off at a random website and try to get to porn in as few clicks as possible), but I suspect that the number of required clicks is probably higher today than it was in the dialup era. Not because there's a shortage of porn, but because it's become less common to link or run ads that link directly to porn on mainstream web pages, and at the same time the amount of other content on the web has increased. Now that basically everything happens on the Web, with the death of walled-garden services like Compuserve and AOL, and the migration of email and Usenet discussion to web forums, the web in general has become a lot less seedy. (It's also become a lot less shittily sexist; there was a time when "no girls on the Internet" was a meme; today it wouldn't really even make sense, at least outside red-light districts like 4chan.)

I mean, hell, we don't even have Goatse.cx anymore. Or we do, but now it's a fairly complicated in-joke about domain names featuring a lawyer, instead of some dude's ass. That pretty much sums up 20 years of Internet evolution.

* For those who don't, it was a porn site, hilariously and very much not accidentially named so that people ran into it when they were looking for Whitehouse.gov. I can only imagine that it was the bane of grade-school computer lab operators everywhere.
posted by Kadin2048 at 2:00 PM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


> It is not that I imagined any specific harm would come to me, or that my parents would do anything particularly bad, but when I was a kid being gay was one of the worst things you could be and just thinking that I might be was filled with irrational fears. If I knew that my parents were getting reports of where I was visiting, I'm pretty sure I would have self-censored myself into being a much worse off adult, even though my parents would have been awkwardly accepting.

Agreed. There was no internet when I was a kid, but I roamed the library freely sifting through reference books to follow meandering trains of thought; I would (and do) totally do this via web-surfing now.

As an only child of anxious parents who have some boundary issues, a weekly report of my noodling around would've been utterly emotionally and intellectually stifling. They would have wanted to know why I had looked up the things I did, was I worried about something? Was this for school? No? (Wait, was I wasting time that I should've been spending on schoolwork? No?) But they're JUST CURIOUS about what I wanted to know when I was wondering about snail anatomy followed by the actual definition of "socialist" followed by the symptoms of sleeping sickness followed by the difference between a broadsword and a cutlass. (Let alone looking up various religious practices and political upheavals and yes, practices and attitudes around human sexuality.)

It's good to be curious about your kids' thoughts and interests and encourage them to share whatever bits and bobs and pieces of string they've got in their metaphorical mental pockets. It's not good to require them to share all of their private thoughts with you.
posted by desuetude at 2:04 PM on August 25, 2015 [9 favorites]


OS X also features pretty robust parental controls. In Apple's words, it allows you to "manage, monitor, and control the time your kids spend on the Mac, the websites they visit, and the people they chat with."

That seems kind of like the same thing.


Guess which platform does the thing that is opt-in and which does the thing that is opt-out.
posted by a lungful of dragon at 2:08 PM on August 25, 2015


> The thing I'm having the hardest time with in this thread is the idea that "the Internet is so much worse than it used to be",

I'm not seeing that in this thread.
posted by The corpse in the library at 2:09 PM on August 25, 2015


PArenting is hard. It was hard for my parents in the pre-Internet days (where the porn was passed around at school and the IMing with unknown strangers was on CB), and it was hard for me and my kid's mother in the Internet days. One judges how far to take the reins off by the knowledge you have of your child. If I was an abusive parent, then I could have done a lot of bad things, with or without Windows 10. He didn't get his own computer until I thought it was something he could manage, and we certainly had plenty of discussions about what the dangers were (which were and are many; they've certainly not all been mentioned in this thread) before that happened, and plenty of supervised use.

I trusted him to tell me if things were going wrong (they did, he did), but I didn't trust him to manage his time responsibly (genetics, eh) so I didn't snoop but I did run that router with a rod of iron. (Actually a good way to winkle him out of the bedroom - log on, block MAC, count "five four three two one" and "Daaaaaaad! Thinternetsdown!" "Can't hear you, son...").

Do your best, know it won't always work, trust that being a concerned, involved parent is already most of the way to doing the job just fine.
posted by Devonian at 2:31 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


chesty_a_arthur: "Dan the Diamond Minecart Guy"

DanTDM 4 LYFE!

My kids LOVE DanTDM and I admire the work he puts in to making his videos family-friendly and appealing to kids; there are a lot of Minecraft video creators we've had to boot from their playlists because their language isn't appropriate for little kids, or their attitudes towards women are really problematic, or they're too scary or angry. Dan does a really nice job making interesting stories of his playthroughs without any of that, and even when he does a part of a story where he's "scared" or where he actually gets frustrated, he expresses those things really appropriately and verbalizes in a kid-friendly way what he's feeling. Now when my kids die 27 times in a row on the same part of a video game, I hear them saying, "Oh no, this is SO frustrating!" in exactly Dan's intonation and they remind each other that Dan died a billion times in a row on that one walkthrough and that he got frustrated but he eventually made it.

Kadin2048: "The thing I'm having the hardest time with in this thread is the idea that "the Internet is so much worse than it used to be""

The thing that I saw is that with ubiquitous connectivity and with social media, "home" is no longer a safe space to get away from the pressures of school, and "the internet" is no longer a place you can go to be anonymous. Kids who are having problems at school -- with friends, with boyfriends/girlfriends, with school -- do not have safe place to retreat to where they are out of reach of teenaged drama, or where the drama has a gatekeeper. If your daughter starts dating a guy and his ex-girlfriend decides to target your daughter with a non-stop onslaught of accusations that she's a slut and a whore, this isn't something she just does in the hallway at school or in the lunchroom when there's no adult supervising teenaged interactions, and then your daughter comes home at the end of the day and escapes it because the other girl has to go through an adult (family phone line, knocking on the door) to get to your daughter. No, now the Mean Girl can come after your daughter literally 24/7 via social media, with no adult supervision or intermediation and with NO BREAKS.

In teenaged beefs where there's no social media involved, they all go home over the weekend and kinda forget about it. The intensity dies off over the weekend and they come back Monday maybe still grumpy about it, but most of the active fights died with two days off. (This is part of why teachers hate travelling season for sports or activities, where kids on the team spend the entire weekend all up in each others' faces ... they get more and more emotionally involved in each others' drama and no breaks to settle down.) What happens now, though, is that time away from school is time when they can actually INCREASE the intensity of the fights, happening at lightning speed over social media and instantaneously published to an audience of thousands. We have so many more instances now of teenagers who have a fight that, instead of settling down like it would have in the past, bubbles along in the state of constant stress and threat for the teens involved, with outsiders egging them on via social media, with no adults even aware it's happening, until it explodes -- sometimes into violence, but often into very ugly and public insults, threats, attacks, secret-telling, and so on.

And of course mistakes you make once are there to follow you throughout your high school career. I do think that people will care less, as time goes on, about dumb things you said on the internet when you were 17. But when you're 17 and being targeted or tormented by other emotionally-immature teens, they're going to use every little thing they can find.

The internet immeasurably enriches my kids' lives -- I never thought I would have opinions on Minecraft videos, of all things, but I admire DanTDM and his storytelling and I feel like he's a good influence on my kids! My little one is obsessed with Madagascar and the internet lets us learn so much more about it than the few offerings at the library. We can show them videos of cool places and things, share pictures, and this is before they're really doing any READING on the internet yet or using it for school -- just the way it opens a window on the world for us to share with them is fantastic and amazing.

But at the same time, the internet creates dangers and pressures that didn't exist for kids before, and some of those are really harmful, and I have seen, firsthand, dumb teenaged internet mistakes destroy young lives. Kids kill themselves over these things sometimes. When I was 14 and online, the internet was a very anonymous space. Not that many people I knew in "real life" were on the internet, and there wasn't the wealth of doxxing data available that there is now. You had a lot more CONTROL over your identity on the internet. For kids today, it's really different. Everyone they know, from grandma to their best friend, is online. All of their personal information is relatively readily available to anyone with an internet connection. It's sort-of like having a family reunion where all your aunts are talking about how hard you were to potty train, in the middle of your high school lunch period. Your "local community" where everyone knows everything about everyone and they're all up in each others' business all the time now extends to THE ENTIRE WORLD and you have very little control over your interactions with it. It's like living in the same small town where you grew up so your lawyer is always saying, "HEY REMEMBER THE TIME YOU PUKED AT THE CHURCH PICNIC?" every time you take a client to execute a contract and you don't have the option to present yourself as you wish to to people who've known you since you were in diapers; you're already known. You can't start over, change, be a different person, without reckoning with the fact that other people in the town will still know you and know everything about you. A lot of people find that so stifling they move.

Well, for teenagers today, the internet is that small town, except you can't move away, because it's everywhere and everything.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 2:58 PM on August 25, 2015 [24 favorites]


Yeah, I think the primary difference is there was less internet. Not as much content, not as much commercialized content, and not in your pocket or your locker or out in the woods, and not pervasively social.

Yes, of course, if you wanted to see a boob or a really gory dead body (which is a thing I did when I was 27ish, when websites started getting more pictures, and still regret and can't un-see today at 43), you could. It was harder and more technologically complicated to get your hands on the sort of hardcore misogynist racist brutalist porn that I assume I could be watching in 2-3 minutes if I tried right now, but I am sure it was possible then if you were determined enough. But it was a lot harder to Final Cut my frenemy's face onto it and send that to the entire junior class. You frequently HAD to go AFK because you couldn't take the computer to the bathroom or your grandma's house or mom wanted to use the phone.

And at the same time, I used USENET for a number of years and had an online journal and participated on many forums and I don't think I got called a bitch or threatened with rape or told to make someone a sandwich until somewhere into the 2000s. I saw my first "I'd hit it" around then. And it's not that I couldn't arrive in a chat room and get PMs as soon as I a/s/l'd, but it was more hopeful than entitled back then. A couple of times (once I bought that $500 1megapixel camera) a creeper emailed me via my journal and asked for pictures of me smoking, or pictures of my feet, but they were super polite about it.

It was a different internet, and it moved differently, and there were different boundaries. It's fine for people to acknowledge that parenting now with Internet Everywhere is harder and different and more complicated.
posted by Lyn Never at 3:29 PM on August 25, 2015 [5 favorites]


FYI I found that video I was talking about. THE THING NOT TO DO.
Oh. My. God.
I think a kidnapper would actually do a better job of parenting those poor kids.
posted by fullerine at 3:41 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


> Could a workaround be handheld devices/smartphones?

Yes, as long as they don't run windows, because these family settings can be set to migrate from device to device as long as the child is logging in with a microsoft account.


I think most kids are going to be pretty safe there.
posted by running order squabble fest at 3:57 PM on August 25, 2015 [1 favorite]


Childhood is, and has always been, a totalitarian regime. The best one can hope for is a benevolent dictator.
posted by acb at 4:00 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


When I was a teenager my mom searched my room on a regular basis. She thought I was on drugs when really it was just undiagnosed mental illness. I still have difficulty trusting her.
posted by Ray Walston, Luck Dragon at 4:15 PM on August 25, 2015 [4 favorites]


This is a very editorialising fpp.

I am wondering if being reasonably tech savvy is a good thing or a bad thing in this context; as dad of a seven year old girl, I'm confident I can probably stay ahead of her on the tech curve until she's a teenager, but that feels like a really bad battle to get into.

I'm presuming she'll eventually be searching for dreadful things whether deliberately or accidentally and will find them because internet, and then we'll talk about them, if she wants. And that doesn't feel such a bad route?
posted by Sebmojo at 4:15 PM on August 25, 2015


I have a 12-year-old daughter (and two younger sons, but the 8-year-old cares about nothing but Minecraft, and the 4-year-old just wants his Netflix) who is stepping into the world of social media.

I try to be on top of her internet use, who she emails, what services she's on, etc. I have all her passwords, she has to friend me/give me the same access as anyone else to her accounts (she's not on FB), I get copies of email in and out, and she knows that I will spot-check her texts at any time. In exchange, I don't monitor her every minute online, she's allowed to use devices and computers in her room, etc. We have been talking about this forever, since she was very young, and we're doing the same with the boys. My big thing is THE INTERNET IS FOREVER NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK IF YOU PUT IT OUT THERE ASSUME EVERYONE YOU EVER MEET WILL SEE IT, INCLUDING YOUR GRANDPARENTS. This seems to have worked for the most part. So far.

My husband was doing whatever version of internet existed in the mid-to-late-1980s in Utah when he was 12-16 (made money from it even). He says he wants to raise our kids to defeat any kind of restrictions (software, tracking) we might conceivably use to monitor or limit their access. He'd let all three of them have their faces in screens 24/7 if they wanted. He was that kid in his room with the dial-up modem and the self-built equipment, and sees absolutely nothing wrong with that scenario.

As you might guess, this creates some tension. I haven't upgraded any of our machines to Windows 10, but if I do, this will have to be discussed. Right now, I generally lie about my daughter's age when we sign her up for accounts (like the Apple Store, Jesus, I do not need to approve every teen-pop song she buys, she's 18, OK, leave me alone!). Some 12 year olds are ready for that. Some aren't. It is definitely different parenting - not harder, just different - than my parents had to do with me. Maybe that's why there's such debate about it - this isn't a settled issue.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 4:51 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


Should parents monitor what their kids are doing on the internet? Absolutely. Should the monitoring be at the OS level and inescapably all-pervasive beyond a helicopter parent's dreams? I'm not so sure. There's space for the sneaky google while Dad steps away to answer the door, for the boundary-pushing, for the exploration — even if you find something you don't like and have to learn to step back from.

This, to me, mirrors some of the problems society is having dealing with what technology allows us to do in terms of data collection and supervision now.

Speed limits for cars? Absolutely: valuable and necessary ... and everyone breaks them from time to time, when the cops aren't around. The government fitting chips to the ECU to monitor and automatically fine drivers if they break the speed limit regardless of circumstances would be going too far, right? Speed cameras are bad enough.

Wiretaps and communication monitoring? Absolutely: Law enforcement needs to be able to find out what criminals are saying over common communication channels. But bulk, wholesale, massive collection and threats to outlaw encryption? Too far.

Police beats to make sure an area's safe? Absolutely: police should have a presence on the streets for a whole number of good reasons. But pervasive London-style CCTV where you can't walk 10 metres without being monitored by faceless people in windowless rooms for unknown purposes? Too far.

Ultimately, I think this boils down to motivation. The ECU chip doesn't encourage safety so much as it creates revenue. The CCTV and data-scooping don't encourage good policing so much as they create a surveillance state.

I don't know exactly what this will create — a mistrustful generation inured to monitoring, forever looking over their shoulder and adept in subterfuge would be my guess — but I don't see it encouraging the growth of self-sufficient independent adults who know their minds and their limits.
posted by bonaldi at 6:12 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


THE INTERNET IS FOREVER NO MATTER WHAT YOU THINK IF YOU PUT IT OUT THERE ASSUME EVERYONE YOU EVER MEET WILL SEE IT, INCLUDING YOUR GRANDPARENTS.

Stuff on the internet isn't forever. The trick is to be really boring
posted by Hoopo at 6:43 PM on August 25, 2015 [2 favorites]


The thing I'm having the hardest time with in this thread is the idea that "the Internet is so much worse than it used to be",
... the web in general has become a lot less seedy.


For my experience of the Internet of the late 90s and early 2000s, seedier was definitely right. There were more epic flamewars, offensive content was closer to hand, goatse'ing people was a normal thing, and there were all sorts of politically incorrect ideas like "gay people should be allowed to marry" and "legalize weed".

On the other hand, I recall a lower incidence of Internet Death Threats. "Doxxing" was not a word and people did not tend to go after each others' jobs and other such IRL things. "Swatting" was also not a word and I don't particularly recall too many bomb threats.
posted by save alive nothing that breatheth at 7:03 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Stuff on the internet isn't forever. The trick is to be really boring.

She is 12. Sometimes a smack in the head with a brick is too subtle. Hyperbole is necessary.
posted by Lulu's Pink Converse at 7:10 PM on August 25, 2015 [3 favorites]


Kids will figure an easy way around anything like this. All it takes is one smart kid being snitched on one time to create the incentive. Being grounded just creates more development time. Being thrashed just adds drive. Then they all share it and use it. And parents never again know what their kids are up to online, what they are watching and reading, what they are masturbating to, who they are talking to, who they are arranging IRL meetups with, etc., though the parents continue to think they know what's going on. Even if parents block physical access to phones and computers while the kid is at home, kids will find a way around it. In the spycraft game, kids will win.
posted by pracowity at 3:50 AM on August 26, 2015


Stuff on the internet isn't forever. The trick is to be really boring

Try selling that strategy to a teenager
posted by Lanark at 6:53 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


pracowity: "Kids will figure an easy way around anything like this."

I'm really not sure that is true anymore. It used to be that, in order to be a kid using a computer you had to have some level of technical knowledge, or at least an interest in technology and a willingness to learn, but most of my daughters friends have very little knowledge of or interest in how their computers/phones work. I think it's analogous to driving a car in the 20s & 30s. If you wanted to drive, you had to be a mechanic at least a little bit, because you had to go under the hood so often just to keep the thing running, but today many drivers don't even know how to change their oil (raises hand).
posted by Rock Steady at 7:58 AM on August 26, 2015 [4 favorites]


What I didn't say earlier is that, even though I will be monitoring my kid a while longer, I also do not want that monitoring automatically turned on by a giant corporation in a creepy manner. We will not be upgrading to 10 until we know more about the workarounds, and honestly, I would prefer to find an alternative to Microsoft that wasn't hard to use and allowed us to run the stuff we already own. Their software keeps adding bloat and not improving the things that we actually use and are frustrated by. Macs are too expensive, and have their own issues.
posted by emjaybee at 8:49 AM on August 26, 2015


I know a fair number of young people, and overall, they are not all that technically adept.

These are mostly well-off middle class kids and young adults, so it's not from lack of access to computers and broadband, but many of them don't have general purpose computers, and most of those who do only use them for a few limited things like gaming and doing homework. Most of the time they're on the internet, it's through walled garden apps on mobile devices, and I don't get the impression they're really all that discerning about or interested in how they work. Hell, just go look at some popular apps and see all the really invasive and unnecessary permissions people are agreeing to.

It's not just that they don't know how computers work. It's like a kind of learned helplessness. And that's why this feature being opt-out is a big deal. The people I know aren't stupid or generally incurious or anything, but I'd guess that very few of them would even think to review those settings beforehand. People have gotten very acclimated to ceding control over their technology and their personal information to anyone who asks.
posted by ernielundquist at 9:00 AM on August 26, 2015 [3 favorites]


lupus_yonderboy: If I had had today's internet at that age, unmonitored and uncensored, I'd have pretty quickly seen things that would have scarred me for life.

Yep, that's pretty much it. Finding a "Playboy" in the woods might have been titillating for some people, but there is stuff on the Internet that even as an adult appalls me.

Children don't have the framework for understanding some things, and it's up to parents to help them learn. If their idea of love is no more complex than "I love baseball" or "I love my dog," then how do you expect them to understand what happens in, say, a BSDM relationship? (Note: not anti-BSDM, just using it as an illustration that complex emotional issues are complex, while kids are still simple.)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:19 AM on August 26, 2015


Fascinating statistics in this article: Web browsers account for just 10% of smartphone use. Maybe kids will coincidentally defeat this kind of monitoring by using apps to go online instead of the World Wide Web like us olds. It sounds like this family monitoring thing only measures time spent in various apps, rather than where you go in those apps. It's pretty easy to tell Mom you are on Facebook with your Minecraft buddies instead of on the local LGBT youth support page.
posted by Rock Steady at 9:27 AM on August 26, 2015


Could a workaround be handheld devices/smartphones?

Well, you can't see those screens, so you're never quite sure what they are doing there.

I set our router to send all DNS requests to OpenDNS, and set every device in the house to use OpenDNS (via DHCP), and then I checked the "filter the really worst stuff plus malware" from any results on the OpenDNS control panel. I told the kids (three of whom understand it and the fourth just nods along) that all web sites are logged at the network level and that I am monitoring the list periodically. They know I work in IT and am interested in information security, so they believe me.

Well, I'm not actually reading the DNS logs, duh, but I probably could, and this gives them just that nudge back into being just a little afraid of surfing the really bad stuff, which OpenDNS would block anyway, so they are forming good habits.

Could they beat this? Probably -- I know I could. Will they? I doubt it, until they are old enough to start questioning things, at which point they are becoming mature enough to make judgements of their own. (At which point, God help me with smart kids! :7)
posted by wenestvedt at 9:34 AM on August 26, 2015 [1 favorite]


Corporations have a simple way of handling the legality of their snooping on employees behaviors...

... When you log into a (most) corporate machine, you'll have a login banner explaining that the usage may be monitored.

Monitoring with notification is generally accepted (particularly if you own/control/administrate the resources), monitoring without notification is often illegal (and certainly unethical).
posted by el io at 10:28 AM on August 26, 2015


pracowity: "Kids will figure an easy way around anything like this."

Rock Steady : I'm really not sure that is true anymore. It used to be that, in order to be a kid using a computer you had to have some level of technical knowledge, or at least an interest in technology and a willingness to learn, but most of my daughters friends have very little knowledge of or interest in how their computers/phones work.


This is something I've increasingly noticed as well.

Parents will either have a decent level of technical knowledge or be able to access it through friends or even something like a Genius Bar, in contrast to the generally minimal know-how about how computers worked in the generation prior. Maybe the better way to put it is internet fluency. Parents know a little better the risk to their kids by unrestricted usage and what technology options are available to manage those risks. The idea of malware scanning, port-blocking or port-scheduling and firewalls are all conversations I've had with new parents concerned with their kids use of the net. This sort of monitoring fits well in that sort of discussion. I can totally understand why MS added it. It's an utterly typical request parents have, particularly those with younger kids.

Kids are also kids. Many of them are bored by techie stuff, and are mostly interested in entertainment or social uses. They're not tech-heads. Those that are aren't always getting the unrestricted, unfiltered access that many of us got through ignorance. I'm sure some do, but in my perhaps privileged circle, the current crop of parents are at least a little better prepared than their parents were.
posted by bonehead at 10:46 AM on August 26, 2015


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