Just a couple of thoughts from my own experience.
Our daughter just turned 12 and is the most delightful human being I've ever met. I'd like to report that I have the precise formula for child raising, but, alas, all I can offer are these brief comments on what we did. As always, YMMV.
First, we never addressed our daughter using baby talk. From day one, we've spoken to her utilizing the same vocabulary that we use when speaking to adults. We would always strive to assure her that she was an equal, full fledged family member. Her attitudes, thoughts, feelings, and comments are every bit as valid as ours, only they are coming from a person with less "life experience".
Second, when making any household decisions which might affect her (that seems to translate into "most" household decisions), we always ask for her viewpoint and after the decisions are made, take the time to explain to her how we arrived at those decisions.
Third, never, ever, stretch the truth, water it down, or be anything other than 100% open, honest, and truthful. She'll learn soon enough that many people in the world will try to deceive her, we want her to know that she can always count on us for the truth. (ahhh, as we perceive it to be) For example, the first time she questioned the Santa Claus thing, we confessed!
Fourth, on the computer issue: She's had her own P-75 for a couple of years now and runs Linux on it. She's not really geeky in the computer sense, but she's learned what a valuable tool it is. Since she enjoys graphics, she's even given me many tips on using the Gimp!
Internet wise, she has unrestricted internet access. I know this probably sounds alarming, but if we expect her to be trustworthy, we have to trust her. Natually, she's been taught to never give out her email addy, real life addy, age, sex, or any other personal info. By spending time talking with her and hearing how school was today, what's new, etc., we believe that we'll notice if anything untoward is afoot.
We've always treated her as an adult, try to teach her to think her situations through before acting upon them, and give her our full trust.
As to teaching social skills, yikes! Having none of my own, I've tried to counsel my daughter on the importance of respecting and being true to ones self. I've endeavored to teach her that she has to find her own path in life and if she's the only one on that path, so be it. Somehow, though, whether it's her ability to laugh, or her kindness, or her self assuredness, she's picked up social skills way in excess of what I could teach. Maybe it's because she's been taught that she's 'normal' and she doesn't get 'corrected' about how or what she thinks or acts, she just get shown other viewpoints with no one claiming that this is right and that is wrong. This total acceptance of her individuality may have prepared her to accept the individuality of others without trying to label them as right or wrong. That's my best guess here.
That's what we do. Here's what we received for our efforts.
We have a daughter who knows how to laugh, both at herself and at the insane situations that life brings. She's rather intelligent, does well in school, and the only time her grades will slip is when she's trying to beat the system for an easier ride. Of course, we explain that we invented that trick and why it's not going to work, and then the grades go right back up. She's sensitive, kind to others and to her animals (pets), and has many friends at school. This year, she's taken quite an interest in sports and is doing well there, too. Natually, I'd prefer that she be keener on academic pursuits than sports, but then again, it's her life. I'm just pleased that she has found passion in her heart and who knows, maybe someday when she's ready, volleyball will be replaced by hacking.
It's exciting to hold a conversation with her, seeing how she forms her thoughts into words, using language learned from us and incorporating language learned from others, examining her sentence structure as she learns to express herself, and being amazed at the freshness of her viewpoint and her perspective.
Children readily respond to everything you say, do, teach, and sometimes think. Spend the time to teach your child about your heart, values, and thoughts and they will make you the wealthiest person you know.
Yeah, I'm a proud poppa!
root access????? Nope, she'll have to get hers the same way I got mine. (Hint: buffer overflow) ;)