New Blog

I am no longer posting on this blog. I have a new political blog called The Burning Itch, which is updated regularly.

June 24, 2007

Parents and Computers

This morning I came across a page on Microsoft's website about interpreting computer slang for parents. It amused me so much I actually laughed out loud. The very image of a person sitting there trying to interpret "leetspeak"is absurdly hilarious.

The idea that someone is trying to learn this, so called, slang is ridiculous. You either know it or you don't. Why would you ever want to learn it? Most people who know it just from playing computer games, such as Counter-Strike, with immature or "special" people who either think it's cool or are using it in an ironic manner.

More to the point, I see parents trying to spy on their kids or control what they do on the Internet and I think it's quite silly. Of course, I'm not talking about really young kids, I mean teenagers mostly. Unless you monitor a teen all the time, you're never going to be able to control all the content they are exposed to anywhere, let alone on the Internet.

Trust me when I say there's a lot of unfounded fears that parents have about the technology their children are getting into. I once worked for a company that made computer security and monitoring software. A specific portion of my workweek was spent on a quality assurance panel that reviewed customer concerns. They had a software package that allegedly allowed parents to control everything about how children used their computer. The biggest concern parents had was stopping their kids from viewing porn, which is understandable. The second biggest concern was stopping creeps from talking to their kids. It is another understandable fear, but it has been fueled too much by the media and taken out of proportion in most cases.

The best way to protect your children from the sickos out there, is to talk to them about it in a manner that's not condescending. Trying to irrationally restrict a teenager's access to something one of the worst mistakes parents can make. If you make something seem taboo, it will only make them want to find out why it's such a taboo. Plus, there's that whole thing about teenagers being rebellious towards authority figures. And if your kids really want to access something on the Internet, they will one way or another, especially with the wide-spread adoption of computers in the majority of American homes, schools, and libraries.

So, don't makes yourself look like an ass trying to learn slang that your kids use. If you're worried about what they might be doing, talk to them.

And don't even get me started on the stupidity of the V-Chip...

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