Parenting and the Internet

On Saturday, I escaped into the city to meet up with some old friends. Over a beer at a pub in midtown, we chatted about life. One of my friends said that her school is now holding mandatory workshops for parents and their children about Internet security, bullying, and privacy. Our school could use those workshops.

In a recent article, the New York Times discussed this new wave of concerns.

The first wave of parental anxiety about the Internet focused on
security and adult predators. That has given way to concerns about how
their children are acting online toward friends and rivals, and what
impression their online profiles might create in the minds of college
admissions officers or future employers.

Here are our cellphone rules.

One of my readers e-mailed me to ask which parental security software that we use at home. We don't have one yet. Does anyone have a suggestion?

In related news, websites and blogs are making it harder for people to leave comments anonymously. Sockpuppets, trolls, cowards, and bigots revel in the anonymity of the Internet. It's too bad, because there are legitimate reasons to leave an anonymous comment or to use a pseudonym while blogging. 

Dog40

12 thoughts on “Parenting and the Internet

  1. Sockpuppets, trolls, cowards, and bigots revel in the anonymity of the Internet.
    I’m not sure trolling fits in with the others. The others are really not dependent on skill (assuming enough brains not to sockpuppet as “Epstein’s Mom), but a really good troll is something to watch. Sure, it usually isn’t done well, but nobody stops reading novels because most of them are poorly written.

  2. That MH, he’s got opinions. And they maybe are, and maybe aren’t, the dominant ones in his workplace. I myself have opinions – in areas widely separated from my work life. And I think it would be distracting to folks I work with, publio with whom I interact in the work day, to have to know that I – well, voted this way or that, think we need to rethink the pension system in states which are going broke, etc. Sometimes I make a comment which is sort of playful, no workplace-appropriate. It’s not that I’m hiding a NAMBLA persona, or anything, but I think it would be kind of a burden on my work life if one of the people on whose applications I have to make a finding had to think about these unrelated views. So – pseudonymy.

  3. We have no parental security in our house for the internet. We have parents. We pretty constantly monitor what the kids are doing online. All the computers are in one room, so that it’s rare that a kid is online without a parent able to look over their shoulder. I think those security programs often lull you into a false sense of security and you quit paying attention to what your kids are doing. I’m spending more time watching Geeky Boy’s Facebook site than anything else. Nanny software isn’t going to do anything about that.

  4. “And I think it would be distracting to folks I work with, publio with whom I interact in the work day, to have to know that I – well, voted this way or that, think we need to rethink the pension system in states which are going broke, etc.”
    Out in real life, there’s a woman here on campus that I don’t know that walks around with a large, arty bag with Obama’s head about 12″ tall on it. I think that she’s probably channeling and limiting her social life by this kind of continual display in an area where people generally follow the traditional strictures on not talking socially about politics. I don’t know if there is more to her than Obama-love, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get to know her.

  5. I think that she’s probably channeling and limiting her social life by this kind of continual display in an area where people generally follow the traditional strictures on not talking socially about politics.
    I can guess that in many circumstances I might well want to limit my social life. There’s a large group of people I don’t really want to spend time with. Now, I doubt I’d do it this way, but I can well imagine that people who get too up tight about “Obama love” might well have some other traits I don’t find pleasant. Who knows about any particular case, but the world is full of people, and even if you miss out on some good ones via your way of screening, that can sometimes be worth it to miss out on others you’d rather just not know.

  6. A longer comment just got eaten, but one of the things I was going to say is that I’m sure carrying the bag all the time attracts both fellow Obama admirers (I’m sure that has its attractions for a liberal in Texas), but also attracts a lot of kooky and argumentative people, while filtering out people (like myself) who would just walk on by (not that I’m not argumentative, just not so much out in real life). If you want to have a realistic sense of what your fellow man is like, it’s a big handicap, like voluntarily putting on a huge pair of blinkers.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blinders

  7. I admit there are potential absurdities in not being forthcoming about political orientation. I once babysat several days a week for a graduate family in DC for over a year before I discovered that they were Republican, too.

  8. “I don’t know if there is more to her than Obama-love, but I’m not going to go out of my way to get to know her.”
    Not the political sign I wear about my person, but I can imagine doing so if it would prevent the stories I hear from those not obviously non-identifiable as being Democrats in Texas (i.e. not brown or vocal) (i.e. casual racially targeted statements — practically every white person I know has been offended). Better to forestall. It would be very interesting if you were to find out her reasons for the handbag choice, fodder for interesting discussions on motivation. Effectively, by not talking to her, her world view of Texas has probably been confirmed — liberals + crazy bigots. She probably thinks that a reasonable Republican is an oxymoron, and her experience will have confirmed it.

  9. Don’t Republicans have a hanky code that they can use to identify each other without everyone else knowing?
    It’s entirely possible that Obama bag woman is doing her best to get many people around her to walk on by, you know, precisely because she knows what her fellow Texans are mostly like.

  10. I’ll second Laura’s comment about supervision, not security. My kids are young, so we haven’t entered the full scale independence/internet use. But, I can’t imagine the security being very useful without also being very limiting.
    We do the following:
    1) computers in public places
    2) computer sharing enabled (on the mac), so that I can peek in on the computer whenever I want
    3) continuous conversation about what’s OK and what’s not. They’re told not to sign up for sites with their password
    4) “safe search” enabled on google — of course they can change it, but they haven’t had a reason not to, and this limits accidental stuff
    5) comcast limited email addresses that limit incoming mail. This is a huge handicap, and we can only use it because they’re young. It’ll have to go when they actually start using email.
    No cell phone yet, but when there is one, we’ll have to revisit use. Our main security is that so far, we say that the children don’t have privacy — we reserve the right to monitor their communications, internet use, and phone use. I believe the privacy rules will need some modification as they grow older, but right now, that’s our rule.
    We’re not at an age when they have their own internet personas so I don’t have advice on that yet. But, again, I think supervising rather than relying on automatic restrictions is going to be necessary, even if it is time-consuming and privacy invading.

  11. “Not the political sign I wear about my person, but I can imagine doing so if it would prevent the stories I hear from those not obviously non-identifiable as being Democrats in Texas (i.e. not brown or vocal) (i.e. casual racially targeted statements — practically every white person I know has been offended).”
    I’m not saying it’s some sort of wonderland of racial tolerance, but I do notice that there is an extraordinary number of biracial families locally (white/Hispanic, white/black, black/Hispanic), more than in any other place I’ve lived in the US. It seems like any time we go to a fast food place or Walmart, we bump into a biracial family or two. I think it’s mainly a lower-middle class phenomenon, but if you spend a 100 years all living in the same area (although maybe not the same neighborhoods), eating basically the same food, and going to similar (although probably not the same) churches, there’s going to be a certain ease and familiarity, even if you aren’t wild about each other. I actually wonder how “offensive” the offensive remarks were, since I’ve heard a number of conversations between lower-middle class Texans that were friendly, without being PC. Here are two examples:
    1. (I’m just opening my door to welcome two cleaning ladies, one black, one kind-of-white) The kind-of-white cleaning lady is just asking her colleague to explain the etymology of “cracker.” “Is it because of the skin color?” The black cleaning lady laughs and I don’t get to hear her explanation of “cracker,” which I’m dying to hear.
    2. I’m at a checkstand in my college/poor folk grocery store, and a black female checker is talking about making tortillas and giving her kind-of-white colleague who is bagging groceries a hard time for not making homemade tortillas. “What kind of Mexican are you?” she asks (but in a friendly, joking voice).
    I note that in these parts, I have never yet heard anyone of whatever race use the “n-word.” Admittedly, my white milieu is largely upper-middle class and academic, but it’s still interesting that I’ve never heard black locals use the word, either, which was not at all true in DC or LA.

  12. “Don’t Republicans have a hanky code that they can use to identify each other without everyone else knowing?”
    Not really. I think academic conservatives tend to camouflage pretty well (my husband is always getting emails from untenured people who don’t want to put XYZ (usually something extremely innocuous) under their own name, but could he do it for them?). My DC friends friends that I babysat for were vegetarians, which put me off the scent. Down the street, we’ve got a friend who looks like a surfer dude, and he was telling us about being totally misread by our liberal neighbor across the street who puts a Planned Parenthood kids day camp sign up in his yard every year. I don’t discuss politics here with anybody who doesn’t bring it up (it’s a violation of local etiquette), and I try to make as few assumptions as possible. Religious affiliations, however, are one of the first things that people ask about (Have you found a church yet?).

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