Opened Eyes

(One of the Non-EVE Posts I mentioned earlier.)

My son regularly tries to access Reddit. He is 12.

He has two iPads (one for school, one for home), an Xbox One S, and a Windows Gaming Desktop. On each I have set up restrictions around age, applications and store purchases, given him non-administration accounts, locked him into child friendly DNS, use Norton and Windows Family software and what not. I also keep a semi regular eye on what he is doing, reviewing his logs and history.

I must annoy him no end when I refuse to allow him to install lots of games his friends do – generally based on if they are too realistically gory or violent, or with concepts that are just too dark.

What I have done won’t protect him fully, but it helps, and it is why I’m aware of his interest in Reddit.

He loves gaming and wants to be a game developer after school. His wayward web searches have always been aboveboard, hunting down game and development tips and reviews and bug fixes. When blocked he knows just to move on and try the next link.

Some of my son’s peers have far more restricted access to the internet. One has an extremely technically minded father who has rewritten their modem’s firmware with all sorts of parental controls over access, times, length, sites visited and what not. A handful are simply not allowed to access the internet at all without their parent sitting with them.

The majority however – the vast, vast majority, have minimal or no restrictions or monitoring on their Internet use. In some cases, they have even circumvented the rudimentary controls that their non-technical parents had tried to implement, or have their older siblings do it for them.

I’m sure there are lots of healthy and useful areas in Reddit, but it really isn’t a platform I want my son to be familiar with at his age. The mind truly boggles at just what the majority of kids must be accessing on their devices, and from such a young age. My god that could mess up the minds of so many kids.

While I make an above average effort to protect my son, I don’t go to the extremes I am technically able to. I use it more as an opportunity to explain why some of the sites are blocked, and he uses it as a debating point on when or why he should have access. I hope the fact that it is something we openly communicate about helps him when he visits friends or sleeps over, and doesn’t have the same sorts of restrictions or protections in place.

3 thoughts on “Opened Eyes

  1. If he is interested in game development, does he have the chance to program? And if yes, how do you decide which sources he can access? It sounds like a huge amount of work.

    • There are multiple tools they use through school and are available online. When I asked he mentioned Stencyl (uses block code), Scratch and Khan Academy (Java based). He does most of his coding in ROBLOX, which he said is or is based on Lua. He asked for Cryengine recently – but we were not able to get it working without Administration rights, which I did not want to give his account. Generally if he finds a google search result blocked he just moves on to the next one. If it is a site which seems particularly useful he will ask, I’ll check and unblock it for him. YouTube is probably one of his best sources of information.

  2. Khan Academy is a great source not only for coding. I really like his approach to teaching math for example. FYI, you can even download all the Khan Academy contents.
    Have you thought about getting him a Raspberry Pi/Arduino?

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