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Geek Parenting

By strepsil in Culture
Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:30:53 AM EST
Tags: Help! (Ask Kuro5hin) (all tags)
Help! (Ask Kuro5hin)

I've recently found myself in the interesting position of being a father. Being that I'm also a geek, and never having had much of what I'd call a father myself, I've had to do a lot of heavy thinking and I'd really like to know what other people have done as far as the geek-related issues of parenting go.


The biggest thing on my mind is the 'net itself. I'm heartily opposed to censorship and the thought of blocking software makes me sick. But on the other hand, I know there's a lot of nasty stuff out there. Is restricting access to the machines unless supervised enough? Will that defeat any natually occuring exploration instincts? Would it be sufficient to just be available for my daughter and try to encourage a relationship where she's comfortable coming to me if she hits something 'not quite right' (and is socially engineering someoe like that wrong in itself)?

Also, like a lot of us (I suspect), I was picked on a lot at school since I never seemed to grasp the social interation skills that everyone else had. How can you help a child deal with something like that (if it happens! I'm trying to be an optimist) when you never quite managed it yourself?

Other slightly less serious things are buzzing around in my mind too ... what's the most suitable OS for a young child? At what age should a child have her first computer, email address or root password for the server?

Any advice gratefully received. More background information can be had at verybaby, a weblog dedicated to our lives as geek breeders. :)

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Geek Parenting | 119 comments (119 topical, editorial, 0 hidden)
You've got a few years. Don't sweat it all yet. (3.40 / 20) (#1)
by XScott on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:07:29 AM EST

I damn near laughed out loud that you're worried about how old your daughter should be before you give her a root password. That's really very funny (in an incredibly geeky way).


-- Of course I think I'm right. If I thought I was wrong, I'd change my mind.
Operating Systems (3.83 / 12) (#2)
by GandalfGreyhame on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:08:53 AM EST

Having never been a parent - hell, I just turned 18 yesterday - I can't give you any help on that parenting stuff. However, for the operating systems, I think I might be of some assistance :)

There's a couple different ways to look at the OS question. One is outright simplicity. From what I've learned, MacOS would win this hands down. However, if your computer is compatible, I would highly reccomend BeOS. Its extremely fast, stable, and easy to use. If you're hardware is compatible, 90% of times it'll work out of box no problem.

However, the second way, and 'better' way I think, of looking at things is that no matter what they learn on, even were it straight UNIX with no GUI or anything, that's going to be very easy for them. For example, I learned to drive on a stick shift, and while it took a little while to get going, once you learn its second nature.

I would say, to maintain family peace, pick the OS you enjoy. And be patient teaching them. If its a Linux, throw on a easy-to-understand GUI. Oh, and root passwords with still-maturing girls are a no-no, I can tell you that much from experience with my little sister. Though, judging from the (very cute) pics on the weblog, you're not gonna have to worry about computers for a while yet :)

-G

Re: Operating Systems (3.28 / 7) (#4)
by GandalfGreyhame on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:15:35 AM EST

btw, only when I was mostly finished with my comment did I look at the weblog / pics. You've got a long way to go before you'll need to worry about root passwords. And who knows, by the time she's ready JLG*, Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, and ________ may fall and be replaced by only-God-knows-what. Interesting thought there. What would the computing world be like if all the OSes we know now were completely replaced in 10 years? Of course, there's always gonna be die hards running Amiga, OS/2, and BeOS :)

-G

* JLG = Jean-Louis Gassee , CEO of <a href="http://www.be.com>Be Inc.

[ Parent ]

Re: Operating Systems (4.20 / 10) (#5)
by strepsil on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:20:47 AM EST

I've thought a lot about MacOS, actually. Especially with OS X around the corner - it struck me suddenly that it would be nice to have a very graphical OS to start with, as language skills are developing. When she's ready, she can suddenly go "what's this 'bash' thing" ... I can't really imagine someone picking up command line stuff before they start reading, but then again, maybe one would help the other.

Unfortunately, that would require a Mac. I think I've got a fairly good cross-section of systems in the house apart from that, although if she decides that Irix is the way to go, I might have to disown her.

(That was a joke, Lisa)

BeOS is an interesting thought. Might have to grab a copy and mess around with it again (been a while).

Oh and as far as the root password goes, I figure it'd be a case of picking the right moment to give it to her, which ideally would be about a week before she learns the word 'rootkit'.

[ Parent ]
Re: Operating Systems (3.57 / 7) (#6)
by GandalfGreyhame on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:31:47 AM EST

BeOS is an interesting thought. Might have to grab a copy and mess around with it again (been a while

Heh, BeOS has changed a bit if you haven't used it in awhile. Its free-as-in-beer, lots of stuff. Email me privately if you'd like to hear more, I doubt the readership of kuro5hin wants me to Be BePushing on here, #kuro5hin already hears enough of that =P

For a demo shot of BeOS sorta kinda flexing its muscles, go http://Mithlond.dyndns.org . Served with Be! :)

-G

[ Parent ]

Parental responsibility (3.57 / 19) (#3)
by PresJPolk on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:12:16 AM EST

Is restricting access to the machines unless supervised enough?

I'd say that until around the age of 15, children should not get any unsupervised internet access.

The internet is a great realm of free speech. That means there are plenty of ideas that go unchallenged. Parents need to accompany children, so that the impressionable ones don't get sucked into a bad situation or point of view.

It doesn't take a village. It takes two mature, dedicated people.



Re: Parental responsibility (4.10 / 10) (#7)
by strepsil on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:33:49 AM EST

I'd say that until around the age of 15, children should not get any unsupervised internet access.

It's great to say that, but I can't see it working in practice. Don't get me wrong - I agree with you, but it might be difficult. Sure, most people can take away the modem or just not give kids the password for the ISP account, but we've got (and will have, for the forseeable future) a dedicated connection and constatly wired PCs. Is an adult always going to be there? Probably for the first few years, sure. But for 15 years? No way.

One thing I know from my own life is that if anyone ever told me I couldn't have something, I wanted it more. So what happens when my child starts figuring out that she can circumvent the measures I've put in place? Do I have to start running log monitoring and use all the little security measures I use for servers on the net on the household LAN as well?

I know - this is way off in the future right now (she's a month old) but it's the lack of easy answers that make me want to start thinking very hard about things right now.

It doesn't take a village. It takes two mature, dedicated people.

I agree - the question is how those two people should dedicate their energy. :)

[ Parent ]

Re: Parental responsibility (4.70 / 10) (#8)
by nuntius on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:41:50 AM EST

They key word is _supervised_.

I almost posted a similar message to yours when I reread PPolk's message.

He's not advocating a censorship tyranny, he's merely stating the simple fact that average American parents need to spend more time with their children.

If you're not glancing over their shoulder, you aren't responsibly pushing them towards positive growth. If you start this when you're child's at a young age, you may be fortunate enough to build a relationship of trust with your child which will last for the rest of your life.

--Give them root and free ISP, just be there to guide them and help when things get rough.

___________
Disclaimer:
I speak this as the fortunate son who can still freely bounce things off my parents after going to college. My opinions may not represent those of my employer. ;-)

[ Parent ]
Re: Parental responsibility (3.77 / 9) (#14)
by strepsil on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:10:29 AM EST

He's not advocating a censorship tyranny, he's merely stating the simple fact that average American parents need to spend more time with their children.

Let me make one small point first - I'm an Australian. :) But yes, it holds true here too ... parents do need to spend more time with their kids. I can only hope that I'm better than that. Time will tell.

If you're not glancing over their shoulder, you aren't responsibly pushing them towards positive growth. If you start this when you're child's at a young age, you may be fortunate enough to build a relationship of trust with your child which will last for the rest of your life.

This is more or less what I'm aiming for. I can just see it being tricky to stay on the "interested and accessable" side of things without accidentally crossing over to "authoritarian and suspicious" - or at least being perceived as such by a child.

I think the thing that worries me most is getting it wrong. I've only got one shot at this, and very little documentation to read ...

[ Parent ]

Re: Parental responsibility (4.12 / 8) (#11)
by billyjoeray on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:51:45 AM EST

I think the answer is alot more simple than you think.

By the time the child gets into "browsing" the web (which I think won't start as soon as you think. My 12 year old sister would rather play games and go to www.nick.com than go to google and search for random words that might come up with porn.) At the point they want to browse the web I think that they will already understand about sex and if they run into porn they will either say "ewwwy" and leave or look at it for about 10 seconds and get bored, but I seriously don't think they will be damaged.

So I think the main points are:

  1. Teach them and don't shelter them from the world.
  2. Watch and guide them through they're first months of "browsing".
  3. Have faith in your children to not become a sevirely damaged, delinquent, porn addict
  4. Please DON'T get afraid and do bad things like installing filtering software.
Oh and I forgot to mention the most important thing... Give your daughter a big hug for me. She's entering into a world at the virge of a major technological and cultural revolution and SHE is the future.

[ Parent ]
Re: Parental responsibility (4.00 / 6) (#37)
by hypatia on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:33:00 AM EST

By the time the child gets into "browsing" the web (which I think won't start as soon as you think. My 12 year old sister would rather play games and go to www.nick.com than go to google and search for random words that might come up with porn.) At the point they want to browse the web I think that they will already understand about sex and if they run into porn they will either say "ewwwy" and leave or look at it for about 10 seconds and get bored, but I seriously don't think they will be damaged.

My 14 year old sister, on the other hand, is flirting with 20 year olds on IRC and escaping from random porn javascript-jungles. It didn't bother her - she didn't want my parents to know in case they pulled the plug...

Maybe the time to ease off on blocking is when the child has realised there's bad stuff out there. I know in my 12-year-old world, there where a lot of real-life things that scared me more than running across hardcore porn on the web would have (anachronism - this was '93). Some of it was sexual comments and questions from 15-year-olds, some of it other nastiness from kids at school. Stuff on the net was removed from my world, it would have seemed less threatening.

It would have seemed hypocritical to me if my parents were really uptight about books/magazines/media and all the time they were sending me off to school :)

Yeah, there are parts of a kids world that are great (people have spoken about innocence -> a world of possibilities, and that was still true for me at that age) but most of the disillusionment for me came from other kids, not intrusion from the adult world.

[ Parent ]

Re: 15? (3.22 / 9) (#12)
by CYwolf on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:54:52 AM EST

Let me think.. 2 years ago.. oh yeah, I was writing Java applets for an e-commerce site. ;D

The younger children start, the faster and the more they can learn. In my 4-5 years of web access I have definately seen the dark side of the Internet, but I have also willed myself away from it. Of course, having a 'clean' web would be nice, but we would inevitably lose much of the current content. I wish I could write more, but I am extremely tired.

[ Parent ]
Re: 15? (4.25 / 8) (#15)
by PresJPolk on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:14:20 AM EST

Yes, we all like to think we're special, and are the exceptions. :-)

The ability to program a computer, and the knowledge of how the internet works, do not make a person better capable of evaluating a set of ideas.

I worry about young people getting misinformed by web pages that subtlely distort, misrepresent, and lie about facts in order to convert the unsuspecting. Many adults are not knowledgeable enough about history to tell the truth from a lie; How are the young expected to know the difference?

No, I'm not trying to say "There are people I disagree with out there, so I must keep the children away from them!" I'm saying that the internet is full of one-sided debates, and a parent can guide children so that they see multiple sides of a debate.

Well, maybe I am. When kids run into the KKK, the Communist Chinese embassy, Pat Buchanan, or Al Gore, I don't want them swayed by the one-sided presentations they provide. I want them to see the facts that each leaves out, or interprets differently, so they get a fuller picture of the world.

The internet can be a great medium for connectivity, but demagogues can use it to divide peopole and win them over. Since a web page can be a one-on-one dialogue, social inhibitions can be lowered, and people can be convinced of things they'd otherwise reject. Sometimes people get into a "hypnotic" suggestible state after long hours in front of a computer. With a parent guiding a child, and to talk with the child, the youth can be safer from the demagogues of the internet.

[ Parent ]
Re: 15? (3.71 / 7) (#24)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:44:14 AM EST

Yes, we all like to think we're special, and are the exceptions. :-)

Well, the post you're responding to didn't seem to me to have anything about that, but I'll respond to it anyways.

So if we're not the exceptions, then doesn't that mean that people around the age of 15 are capable of evaluating others opinions? That they don't neccessarily need much of the world blocked off from them?

Because really, that's what it is. You're not just preventing the world from reaching in to them, you're preventing them from reaching out to the world. A wall blocks both directions.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Re: 15? (4.20 / 5) (#35)
by PresJPolk on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:22:13 AM EST

Well, the post you're responding to didn't seem to me to have anything about that, but I'll respond to it anyways.

Of course it did. He was suggesting that if a certain 15 year old can code internet applications in java, then that 15 year old ought to manage alright on the internet.

However, one's ability to code is totally irrelevant to the subject at hand.

So if we're not the exceptions, then doesn't that mean that people around the age of 15 are capable of evaluating others opinions? That they don't neccessarily need much of the world blocked off from them?

Because really, that's what it is. You're not just preventing the world from reaching in to them, you're preventing them from reaching out to the world. A wall blocks both directions.

Two points:

  1. Not everyone's the same. I suggested 15 as a ballpark figure. A parent will know when the kid is intellectually mature enough to be able to evaulate ideas and arguments.
  2. I did not suggest at any point that anything be censored. I do not endorse filtering software, or any other kind of censorship, either by government or by individuals. Exploration of the world through the internet is fine. It's just that the young are not equipped to do that alone.

There's a lot of stuff out there, and not all of it is good. I'm not calling for parents to filter what is bad, or for government to ban what it is bad. I'm just calling for parents to help their kids navigate through it all, and not abdicate their responsibility.

I don't think parents should indoctrinate their children any more than I think a government school should. Proper parenting isn't done through the control of information, because the lessons parents teach have to stick even when the kid isn't under the parents' thumb anymore.



[ Parent ]
Re: 15? (2.50 / 2) (#64)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:14:01 AM EST

2.I did not suggest at any point that anything be censored. I do not endorse filtering software, or any other kind of censorship, either by government or by individuals. Exploration of the world through the internet is fine. It's just that the young are not equipped to do that alone.

I completely agree with you. The important part is that parents guide their kids rather than trying to hide the world from them. The world's a bit big to play peekaboo with. =)

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Re: 15? (3.50 / 2) (#83)
by CYwolf on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:54:52 PM EST

He was suggesting that if a certain 15 year old can code internet applications in java, then that 15 year old ought to manage alright on the internet. However, one's ability to code is totally irrelevant to the subject at hand.

Actually, the point I was trying to make is exactly that. I was not taught to code by my parents, I learned via the Internet. It was through my own process of trial and error that I managed to find the appropriate information and apply it. I was not "sucked into a bad situation or point of view" along the way. I would say this is more likely for children who only use the web for entertainment, in which case perhaps they should be supervised. When somebody is actively seeking out information, they would tend to reject information that wasn't related. When it's just entertainment they want, switching from one topic to another wouldn't even be remarked upon.

[ Parent ]

Re: 15? (none / 0) (#92)
by PresJPolk on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:45:55 PM EST

Fine. Who's to say 14 year olds can't learn off of the internet?


Just do it with your parent sitting there, OK? :-)

[ Parent ]
There are websites... (2.75 / 12) (#20)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:14:44 AM EST

...that no child under the age of 18 should ever see.

Period.

And if you're under 18, reading this, and thinking "how dare you!", well, trust me on this one. There's stuff you can't handle yet.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: There are websites... (3.00 / 9) (#26)
by billyjoeray on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:58:55 AM EST

I'm half asleep and I'm in the mood to argue with you on this one. Although I just turned 18 (August 14th), I'm 100% sure that before I was 18 I have seen anything that you might consider "stuff I can't handle" and gosh darnit I've handled it fine!

Age has nothing to do with it. Maturity, yup, but then again I don't consider myself THAT mature so I would say that atleast 50% of 16-17 year olds I know can "handle" anything the web can dish out.

Life is tough and I concede that there are things in the Real World (tm) that a 17 can't handle but a website is nothing like being in the middle of a bloody battle field during war (which personally I think even 18 year olds shouldn't have to handle (actually no one should for that matter but I'd like to see a 21 year old age limit for sending young people into battle)).

[ Parent ]

Oh please (3.25 / 8) (#28)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 04:35:50 AM EST

Don't be comparing web sites and war. That's a daft comparison, and you know it. But you did say you were half asleep :)

War sucks. We both know that. And there's a whole discussion about how society no longer prepares its young men for fighting to the death as it once did, and how the age at which a child is considered an adult has risen, and how there is no longer a clear-cut separation between child and adult...

Why do you think we have 18-rated films?

Hell, some of the stuff I've tripped over on the net has given me restless nights, and I'm knocking on the door of 30...
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: Oh please (2.25 / 4) (#39)
by billyjoeray on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:41:56 AM EST

I think what I was trying to say was that I have become desensitized to violence/sex on the Internet/TV/and movies and what gives you restless nights would probably give me butterflies in my stomach for about 20 seconds and then I wouldn't be bothered by it anymore.

So websites, tv, and movies don't bother me but that doesn't mean that if/when I am faced with real life hate/violence/etc that I won't react like a normal human being. It just means that the media is not taken as seriously by young people today as it was by previous generations.

media desensitization != real life desensitization

[ Parent ]

Re: Oh please (3.83 / 6) (#41)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:59:22 AM EST

media desensitization != real life desensitization

I'm not sure that's 100% true. Most of the information we get these days comes through some form of media (TV, radio, web sites). If you are desensitised to the images of suffering (of real people!) on your TV then you have become desensitised to real life. Yes, when something happens in front of you, maybe you'll react 'normally' (whatever that might be!), but our reactions to things that affect us is different to those that don't anyway.

The frightening thing is the thought of a generation that is only concerned when things happen to them/in front of them, but ignores anything in the slightest bit remote because they're no longer capable of empathy for others.



[ Parent ]
Re: Oh please (3.25 / 4) (#43)
by billyjoeray on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:19:31 AM EST

You can have empathy for others without being "damaged" every time you see a head thats been blown in half or some guy with his *beep* up some womans *beep*.

I care a lot about what is going on in the world and I even have some opinions on how to fix things.Though when I see violence on television I don't need to run and go wash my eyes out with industrial strenght soap.

You do have a point, though you're wagging your finger at the wrong group of youngsters. The children who are raised by loving familys and may spend some time online and run into objectionable things and become desensitized to violence arn't the ones who we should be worrying about.

The children to watch out for are the ones who hang out on the sidewalk after school when they are younger and drink and bash mail boxes when they are a little older, and go to college because they're parents payed for it and in the course of things NEVER stop to think about anything as profound as "Whats going on in the middle east?" or "Why are the people in Africa starving while I eat fast food every day?".

I'm over generalizing here a bit but thats who we need to worry about not someone who can watch a video of someones head being cut off without nearly puking.

[ Parent ]

Re: Oh please (4.00 / 4) (#45)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:46:31 AM EST

I would hope I wasn't wagging my finger at anyone (I'm not old enough to want to do that yet!

I agree with your comment on the family background - after all I grew up watching films that might be considered unsuitable, and enjoy playing violent video games, but they haven't turned me into a blood-craving monster.

That all being said, in the UK we do have a problem with a trend in rising thoughtlessness - maybe it's linked to violent programmes and games, maybe it's not - but it's a worrying trend, and I know people who are a bit desensitised, and it does appear to be from films etc. OK, they're not at the stage where it makes them less human, but you worry about the cases where it could be the extra influence that leads to someone snapping.



[ Parent ]
Re: Oh please (2.16 / 6) (#52)
by PresJPolk on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:57:04 AM EST

That all being said, in the UK we do have a problem with a trend in rising thoughtlessness

When the prime minister's own kid can't behave, you're in deep trouble. :-)



[ Parent ]
Don't forget... (2.33 / 6) (#56)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:15:05 AM EST

...that the leader of the Opposition, a man who fancies himself as the next Prime Minister, used to drink 14 pints a day.

Here in the UK we are fearful for our future...
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Web sites vs War (3.33 / 3) (#51)
by PresJPolk on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:53:32 AM EST

It all depends on whom you ask.

Some people will tell you that war can be a great noble thing, and is never bad to show people, but that there are some things that are fit for nobody to see: sex, among other things.

Others will tell you the opposite: That we should "make love, not war."

[ Parent ]
Troll tactics (Warning: Do not click the links!) (3.28 / 7) (#42)
by Mrs Edna Graustein on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:59:32 AM EST

There are websites..

...that no person over the age of 18 should ever see.

/ Period

And if you're over 18, reading this, and thinking "how dare you!", well, trust me on this one. I can't be bothered to track down a quote from Rusty on the subject, but I am well over 18, and should have taken his advice to leave the page well alone. I actually followed a trojan link from slashdot.

Sorry about the last two links- I couldn't resist

Anyway I do have a serious point about this- 18 is no hard and fast limit- what we are able to cope with increases gradually with age, and does not reach maximum at 18. Also there are things that no one should ever see, and you should also gradually increase responsibility- but if you suddenly jump the amount up, they shall see what they can now do. I would suggest monitoring the history file and such to see what they have been browsing, rather than specific blocks because once the blocks come off your child will suddenly start hunting for what can be done with the new priveliges.There are also sites that my university has blocked (that link is safe) despite the fact that there is nothing damaging to us there. (Apart from Slim Shady and such...:-) And they aren't stored there anyway).
--
And if any of you put that in a .sig, I'll hunt you down and kill you twice. ;-)
Rusty
[ Parent ]

Re: There are websites... (3.00 / 3) (#66)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:16:23 AM EST

Well.

Provide examples, please, of websites that no one under 18 should see, period. You needn't list URLs or the like; I'm interested in knowing what content you think no one under 18 should see.

Yes, 18 year olds have seen more of the world than, say, a 16 year old or a 14 year old. But I have known 16 year olds that I would trust with my life, and 35+ year olds that I wouldn't trust behind the wheel of a car or in a voting booth. Age is not the only measurement of maturity, though in an imperfect world where the resources to examine each individual on a case-by-case basis are lacking, it's a handy guide.

[ Parent ]

Re: There are websites... (none / 0) (#100)
by pwhysall on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 05:25:48 AM EST

The autopsy and crime scene photos available at a certain website whose name might suggest decomposition; the movies at a site whose name might be arrived at if you placed the letter F at the beginning of a word meaning the opposite of pretty. And that's just for starters.

There's plenty of stuff.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: Parental responsibility (4.00 / 1) (#88)
by Girf on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:26:53 PM EST

I'd say that until around the age of 15, children should not get any unsupervised internet access.

I disagree with that, my parents allowed my unsupervised internet access and I turned out fine. However, there is one difference between my as a small child and small children today. When I was a child, I used DOS, children today likely use Windows (unless they are lucky). When I was a child living in the middle of rural Ontario, we didn't get the Internet til '94, before that I did the BBS thing (even bought my own time); on BBSes there were no 'bad things' (at least not on the BBSes that existed in rural Ontario.

Then the Internet came, but to access it you had to dial into the ISPs Linux box and use Lynx, and tin, and pine, and all those other good things. Back in '94 I don't think there was very much bad stuff, but if there was.. hey I think your favourite p0rn star would look awfully good in Lynx's [IMAGE] placeholder <G>.

I think that is how kids should be shown computers. Spend time with them on the computer, but don't say no online time unless papa is with you. Possibly give them the command prompt first. Kids don't need computers before they can read. And keep it simple. (It was possibly good for me, because the first computer I used had 20megs of HDD. It was possibe for my as a 5 year old to figure out what every single file on that computer did.).

Basically instead of introducing them to the web, let them on the Internet. Erase mozilla/NS/IE.. Use Lynx. let them use Lynx. Find them a kids IRC server (I don't know if KidLink still exists..)

James deBoer

[ Parent ]

Re: Parental responsibility (4.00 / 1) (#89)
by Girf on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:27:26 PM EST

I'd say that until around the age of 15, children should not get any unsupervised internet access.

I disagree with that, my parents allowed my unsupervised internet access and I turned out fine. However, there is one difference between my as a small child and small children today. When I was a child, I used DOS, children today likely use Windows (unless they are lucky). When I was a child living in the middle of rural Ontario, we didn't get the Internet til '94, before that I did the BBS thing (even bought my own time); on BBSes there were no 'bad things' (at least not on the BBSes that existed in rural Ontario.

Then the Internet came, but to access it you had to dial into the ISPs Linux box and use Lynx, and tin, and pine, and all those other good things. Back in '94 I don't think there was very much bad stuff, but if there was.. hey I think your favourite p0rn star would look awfully good in Lynx's [IMAGE] placeholder <G>.

I think that is how kids should be shown computers. Spend time with them on the computer, but don't say no online time unless papa is with you. Possibly give them the command prompt first. Kids don't need computers before they can read. And keep it simple. (It was possibly good for me, because the first computer I used had 20megs of HDD. It was possibe for my as a 5 year old to figure out what every single file on that computer did.).

Basically instead of introducing them to the web, let them on the Internet. Erase mozilla/NS/IE.. Use Lynx. let them use Lynx. Find them a kids IRC server (I don't know if KidLink still exists..)

James deBoer

[ Parent ]

I have a 11-year old with unlimited ADSL (4.00 / 1) (#90)
by Anonymous Hero on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:13:16 PM EST

So far, it's been nothing but pokemon, nintendo news and school project work after over a year of use.

You see, I just sneakily rsh in and check the browser history logs on his Linux box sometimes. If some fishy trend were to develop, I guess I'd have to approach him about it. But so far I haven't had to.

Being a parent is essentially being a guardian angel: you're never noticed until you actually turn out to be needed in their lives.

Your job is to make yourself as unnecessary as possible.

[ Parent ]

Kids and computers... (3.00 / 11) (#9)
by mwilson on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:44:39 AM EST

From a few studies that I've seen recently, computers can actually stunt the development of young children. (of course, windoze can stunt the development of an adult...) Anyway, I think that with my kids, while I won't banish them from the computers, I plan to monitor all usage, and limit time.

It's a lot like telivision, sesame street is good, pokemon is NOT. The kids can play with educational software (which is actually quite fun if your brain is sufficiently fried) but keep them away from the serious stuff until they have learned enough about real life to handle it.

Ages of demarcation (4.42 / 21) (#10)
by cme on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:48:21 AM EST

Remember that every person is an individual. By the time that she's old enough for you to need to worry about unsupervised access, you should have some idea of her personality and should be able to decide what you think will be okay *for her*.

As for the ethics of social engineering... children *need* feedback from their parents on what's okay and what's not okay. Children who don't get enough (or forceful enough) feedback on what's okay become what's often known as "spoiled brats". When I was still of a babysitting age, nearly all of the children I sat for were horribly spoiled and unmanageable with their own parents. But my mother had never been one to put up with crap, and I didn't either- and all of those spoiled obnoxious children loved me! I was the only babysitter for the families I sat for because their children liked me that much. When children know what's okay and what's not okay they know where they stand with you (whether or not they've done anything wrong lately) and where they stand with other people. They can then judge other people's behavior (websites) and stay away from things that are "wrong". And at least in my experience, they will do so.

Basically, once children are old enough to hold a conversation with you, they're old enough to understand verbal negative feedback. And your negative feedback should be tailored to the child and to your relationship with the child- as a babysitter an excellent tactic was to look troubled and disappointed and say "Come on.... I *know* you know better than that. Don't you." And they would look chagrined, and their behavior would improve remarkably. A large part of the reason this worked, though, was that I wasn't a family member and therefore was an outsider and there was some inherent value to impressing me positively. As a parent you might need stronger measures. (Amusingly enough, this would even work with friends' children when they visited, sometimes with their own parents in the same room... :P )

So basically... try to know your child, and let your child know what you think is okay, and they'll help you take care of them.

All IMNSHO, of course... I'm very opinionated on this subject and could rant for hours. :)



A Geek Dad's Perspective. (3.81 / 16) (#13)
by platypus on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:08:12 AM EST

My K-5 and 2nd grader have their own Win 95 boxes to run their games and surf the Internet. I run a proxy that gives them access to a few sites that I have approved. This gives them the opportunity to only visit the approved sites on their own. Each of them has their own e-mail account that we check together, on a supervised basis, at my non-filtered, password-protected box. This has helped my oldest become a Windows power user and both children are light years ahead of most children their age in computer and Internet skills. Their generation will rely on computers 1000's of times more than we do today, so I believe this is just giving them a jumpstart on their future. Just be sensible and control the access that your children will have to the Internet and all other media. Children need to stay innocent for as long as possible. Their is no need to let them be exposed to something that may frighten them or that you may have a hard time explaining. (I know that I have seen enough things on the Internet that has left me without explanation.) However, the benefits of parent-moderated access exceed the 'dangers' of the Internet or any other media.
Duck-bill mamals rule.
Re: A Geek Dad's Perspective. (3.54 / 11) (#18)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:32:24 AM EST

I'm curious: why do children need to stay innocent as long as possible?

If they can't deal with not being "innocent", yes, that's a good reason. But if they can deal with it.. why?

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

From Geek Dad #2 (3.66 / 12) (#19)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:09:49 AM EST

The innocence of children is precious, because once it's gone, it's gone forever.

I don't particularly want my 7 year old knowing some of the stuff I know, because his little brain isn't equipped to deal with it in any kind of sensible context.

As an adult you can take some event or idea and place it in the context of all the other stuff you know and have been learning for n years, but a child just gets it raw.

I offered my son more-or-less unlimited access to the PC (with my supervision, naturally) but other than playing with his colouring program, he's not really bothered. And that's great; any 7 year old shouldn't be sat in front of a computer, they should be out falling off their bike and playing with their friends, learning the social skills that too many kids are growing up without.

That said, he's perfectly comfortable with the thing; he can type a bit, and he can drive the mouse to make it do what he wants. He's familiar with the idea of icons and windows, and he can do what I've never managed to teach at least one person, and that's drag with the mouse.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]

Re: From Geek Dad #2 (2.50 / 8) (#25)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:50:42 AM EST

The innocence of children is precious, because once it's gone, it's gone forever.

What's so great about innocence?

I don't particularly want my 7 year old knowing some of the stuff I know, because his little brain isn't equipped to deal with it in any kind of sensible context.

I agree with you there. If someone can't deal with something, it's not productive to tell them about it. Of course, this may slow down when they become able to deal with it, but by introducing things that they can deal with with your help, and helping them, you can help them move along.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Re: From Geek Dad #2 (4.42 / 7) (#32)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:26:15 AM EST

What's so great about innocence?

The fact that once it's gone it can't be reclaimed.

The fact that it's innocence that makes a childs world so magical (belief in Santa Claus, magic, etc)

The fact that it allows parents to share in some of that innocence that they have lost.

The fact that for most of us the real world is not that nice - it's a nasty, stressful place. Wouldn't you like to live in a world where maybe the biggest problem is you have to eat your dinner before your allows the ice cream?

I assume from your question (please correct me if I am wrong) that you are not a parent - if so, you may well chance your views when you have a small child to whom everything is exciting and magical, and who gets excited by the simplest things - I bought some AA batteries for one of my daughter's toys, she talked about it for over a week as if it was some incredible event - that's innocence!



[ Parent ]
Re: From Geek Dad #2 (3.25 / 8) (#36)
by IoaPetraka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:25:23 AM EST

The child's life being magical has nothing to do with believing in lies about reality.

Common Myth

I did not believe in any of those sugar coated lies, and I had a plenty magical childhood. You know what else I had? Honesty with my parents, they let me know what was coming. They taught me how to protect myself from it. They let me know how special I was to them.

So, instead of crashing into the world like most people do, I eased right in with an understanding that was far above my age group. As a result I've been thinking about the world a lot longer than the average person my age. As a result I feel that I'm better equiped to deal with tragedy around me because I understand it. Thing's aren't so horrible and stressful once you see past them and notice the sunset casting its orange glow on everything. That is what my parents taught me to do, to always watch the sunset and keep my eyes on the road. The bad stuff comes and goes but your little house is just over the next hill, and when you realize that, you realize that you've been sitting in your house the whole time. You just didn't notice it before.

Would I like to live in a world where my biggest problem was the ordering of food? NO WAY and I suspect you wouldn't either. I enjoy life's complexities and intricacies. I'd be bored silly if all I had to bother myself with was ice cream and green beans.

I see in your last paragraph that I'll instantly morph onto your side of the case when I have children. I disagree. Somehow my parents managed to not morph, so I know it's possible to overcome the weaknesses that parents feel when wanting to protect their child from everything. I know it wasn't easy for my parents to have to tell me about the bad things out there, I'm sure they would have rathered let me pretend that some big fat red suited man gave me presents every year. But they stuck to their guns. They knew what was right, and they overcame the temptations. I am forever indebted to them for that.

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

I will be fascinated (3.50 / 8) (#38)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:33:45 AM EST

by what you think after having been a parent for seven and a half years, as I have.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Re: I will be fascinated (3.00 / 1) (#74)
by IoaPetraka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:52:10 PM EST

nod

You have a right to be incredulous. It is human nature. Personally I believe in the following:

"Never assume the person you are looking at is going to make the same mistakes you made."
-IAP

I happen to believe in the way my parents brought me up. Seeing how they managed to bring me up in the exact way I'm describing, I really don't see it a problem. If they did it, then it is within human ability to accomplish.

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

Re: From Geek Dad #2 (4.40 / 5) (#40)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:48:20 AM EST

Who said anything about believing in lies about reality? Children exercise their imagination and live in a world where anything is possible - since when has imagining something that isn't real been a lie? It is the innocence of belief I was defending.

I also never said that anyone would instantly morph onto my side because they had children. What I said was (and I think it was quite clear) that Michael may well change his views when he has a child who has an innocent view of the world (and children do by themselves).

You will disagree with me, but I do feel sorry that you think knowledge of reality is more important at the age of 3 than an innocent and untarnished view of the world. I am not talking about lieing to children, but letting them enjoy the world the way they already see it. There is plenty of time for reality later.



[ Parent ]
Re: From Geek Dad #2 (5.00 / 1) (#73)
by IoaPetraka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:46:03 PM EST

Who said anything about believing in lies about reality?

You did, right here:

The fact that it's innocence that makes a childs world so magical (belief in Santa Claus, magic, etc)
- since when has imagining something that isn't real been a lie?

Come now, if you fall for an urban legend that has no factual basis, and it later turns up that this urban legend has now moved into the category of "Hoax" you have officially believed in a lie. What we are talking about is no different. Children are bombarded with these fictional stories. Everything from Santa Claus, to the Gummy Bears, ect. They are officially believe in a lie.

Now, your other point was that there is not anything wrong with that. Even if it is a lie, let them believe in it. That my friend is lying to your child. Letting them believe in the easter bunny by neglecting to bring up the fact that it is false is the same as telling that story to them as if it is the truth. So then, what is the best policy to hold with your children? One of casual deceipt? Little white lies? It doesn't really hurt them? I beg to differ.

Just, the whole attitude of "Kids will be Kids, let them be" is not very wise in my opinion. This is the kind of attitude that leaves kids with no sense, or grounding in reality and they end up shooting their sister with a gun. Why not, Mel Gibson gets shot in every movie and he's always back for more! I'm not saying you should deliberately introduce your kids to danger, or the darkest parts of humanity from day one. I've never said that or implied that. Why do you think heavy crimes like these are starting at such an early age? Because the state of society now encourages putting your children in this fairy tale land and beaming at how silly and innocent they are. Then when the get a bit older and commit an atrocity because they are living in a fantasy world with no consequences, we all scream in horror and wonder Why on Earth did this happen!

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

Re: From Geek Dad #2 (none / 0) (#97)
by blane on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 04:11:14 AM EST

As already stated, a lie has to be active. Not informing someone of something is not a lie. Your commenr that letting a child believe in something that is untrue is lying to them is incorrect. Sorry, but it is just plain wrong. If you don't believe me go and ask a lawyer.

I truly don't understand why you are against children believing in a world that doesn't exist for a while. Your example of films is puerile - there is a major difference in letting a 3 year old believe that there is a tooth fairy, and letting an older child live in a fantasy world where guns don't kill people. Can you distinguish between the two? I can, and I will make sure my child does - that is part of decent parenting - making sure a child is raised to take responsibility for his or her actions, is nothing to do with refusing a child his or her right to imagination.



[ Parent ]
Re: From Geek Dad #2 (none / 0) (#102)
by IoaPetraka on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 07:14:02 AM EST

On a stricly legal stand point, you might be right about the first paragraph. I really don't have the urge to look that up because I consider the judicial system to be perverse, and choose to live on a higher level of ethics than it holds one accountable for. So, we'll assume that it is a good thing to let somebody keep believing in a falsity by keeping silent (do you really actually believe that?) Tell me, how often are you able to excersize this legal form of clean denial with your child?

In other words, if your child runs to you all screaming and crying because the Better-Informed-Billy across the street just blew Santa's cover and made fun of your child for believing in such a silly story, what are you going to do?

Another example, day to day running around and playing with a set of action figures. This child believes these action figures come from a real place far away where people can do magic. The child is always talking to you about it, and asking if 'we can go visit'

Now, to be legal (I'm assuming) you would have to portray a lack of understanding towards the basis of the question, as if the material of the question made no sense. If you actually did this you would make your child feel like you don't care, or that you never listen to their stories and question.

You would have to give either a positive or negative answer. The moment you do that you are affirming your understanding of the topic, and promoting the reality of this place. Legal options out the window, you have just lied. Personally I find it a little less distasteful that you would promote lies, then treat your child like a court case, but that is just me.

What I am talking about here is not refusing the right to imagination. There is nothing wrong with creating fantastic worlds in your mind, either then or now. What I am opposed to is parents promoting false stories. Oh you drag out your lawyers and prance around the truth with a legal system that lets OJ walk and sex criminals back out into the world every 4 years. Go right ahead, you brought that reputation upon yourself. I wash my hands of that, and I in no way use the legal system to defend my actions. Neglecting to inform is promoting inaccuracy. This is common sense.

Again, I'm not attacking imagination, I'm attacking parental inaccuracy, and all of the psychological problems it causes for both the parent and the child.

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

Re: From Geek Dad #2 (2.33 / 3) (#54)
by platypus on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:07:18 AM EST

An obvious parent. =)
Duck-bill mamals rule.
[ Parent ]
Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say when (4.00 / 11) (#23)
by Commienst on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:35:42 AM EST

Maybe a better question will be do you want to keep your children innocent for as long as possible or ignorant for as long as possible?

There are bad things in this world and if you teach them only about the positive and try to hide the rest of the world for them you are doing your children a disservice.

True example:
When I was young my father was an ok guy till he started going to the race track and gambling. I do not know how old I was when he started this habit but I was real young. He quickly fell into the wrong crowd and startind doing some nasty drugs like cocaine and coming home real late (4:00am) at night. My mom really hurt me in the long run by trying to shield me from the truth. She divorced him after a few years of this going on and the only explanation she gave my six year old self was "sometimes marriages just do not work out." You can not hide the truth, the bad stuff in life from children, better for them to learn about it gradually then all at once.

Two years ago my father moved to Queens and he attempted to make contact with me(when I was 16). I remebered my dad came home late and never really was around from childhood and had been told by my mom he did drugs since then. When he came then I learned the truth that my mom try to hide from me after meeting him a couple times, my father is beyond all hope and its best I stay away from him. I had to learn this the hard way when my mom could have explained when I was young in a way I could understand that "your father is a bad man". It is better to tell your children about the bad things and even show them some of the less mild stuff about the the internet, then have them find out for themselves. My example is very extreme but you get the point about keeping kids ignorant or trying to have them live in a fantasy positive world.

[ Parent ]

Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (4.33 / 9) (#34)
by IoaPetraka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:09:46 AM EST

My parents were followers of this doctrine you speak of, and I am greatful for that every day. Some people say "awww that is so sad that you never believed in Santa Claus." Well, I beg to differ. I never was confused over how Santa operated because I always knew it was just a nice little story the people told each other around Christmas time. I knew where presents came from, I knew that my mom boiled eggs and hid them around the yard in spring. I knew what bad people did to children who weren't careful around them, so I stayed away. When I asked where babies come from, I got an anatomically correct explaination, and a little disclaimer on how special it was for parents to choose to bring a child into the world.

I wasn't ever kept 'pristine' or innocent. I knew the world at an early age, not because I had to, but because that is the best way to do it. You'll notice in the above paragraph, all of those common lies that parents tell children actually detract from their own character. My parents bought me presents because they loved me. My mom spent the time to make those eggs and paint them all pretty because she cared, they made that ultimate choice to bring me into the world, and that made me feel important to somebody!

There is nothing wrong with being honest with your children and educating them to understand the principles of morality. Never underestimate a child's ability to comprehend right and wrong.

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (4.00 / 6) (#53)
by platypus on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:05:41 AM EST

How on earth does lying to a child protect their innocence? And why does 'protecting a child's innocence' make you think of lying in the first place? My small children do not believe in Santa Claus, in their world the Easter Bunny is a myth, and there is no tooth fairy. They know of the common childhood myths and know that they are just fun stories. When they ask about reproduction, they will get an 'anatomically accurate' description. I said supervise their access to the Internet and other electronic media; to protect them from hardcore images, to protect them from propaganda that you may find disagreeable, to protect them from online stalkers, to protect them from adult images. I did not say lie. As a parent you have the responsibility to be aware what your child accesses and to supervise it accordingly. I tried to condense how I maintain my kids access to electronic media. If a parent wants to expose their children to graphic images of sex, death and violence, to make them 'know the world', well that is their own prerogative, however I just do not believe it is healthy choice for the child. My K-5 and 2nd grader will not have access to this type of material. If they would ask about such things, I would give them an honest, appropriate answer. INNOCENCE does not equal LIES!
Duck-bill mamals rule.
[ Parent ]
Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (2.66 / 3) (#69)
by IoaPetraka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:36:50 AM EST

Excuse me? Why are you directing your anger at me? I wasn't even talking to you. I was discussing the advantages and disadvantages of honesty with children with somebody else here. I wasn't talking about exposing children the hardcore porn, or taking them to harlem in the off chance that they can witness death early on!

My comments are not relevant to you since they were aimed at a different topic.

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (1.00 / 1) (#94)
by platypus on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 12:14:20 AM EST

ok.
Duck-bill mamals rule.
[ Parent ]
Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (4.00 / 4) (#47)
by platypus on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:31:48 AM EST

Ummm, I believe that protecting a child's access to hardcore beastiality porn helps maintain their innocense. I know that this is a strong example, but I did not say lie to your children. Lying is a bad solution to any problem. Maintaining supervision of their activities little to do with the plight that many other people face. I am sorry for your family problems, but I was not construing that we should lie to children. I maintain that we should control their access to prevent them from stumbling accross material, like the example I made above, at an age that they cannot understand. Obviously, a small child could not understand hardcore controversial issues, it's up to the parent to decide. Hell, I don't understand the rationale of some of the hardcore images that I have seen. But, I am an adult and not a small child still learning how to cope with my emotions and thoughts.
Duck-bill mamals rule.
[ Parent ]
Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (3.00 / 4) (#49)
by Commienst on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:42:29 AM EST

Not telling people the truth is considering lying. Most parents lie to their children all the time.

I have no idea how you brought hardcore porn up or why from my post. But regarding sex if asked you should tell kids at an early age when they ask where kids come from a simplified version of the truth, instead of saying the Stork (the easy way out that most parents take).

[ Parent ]

Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (3.25 / 4) (#59)
by platypus on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:34:24 AM EST

'My example is very extreme but you [don't] get the point...' Small children need to have adult supervision when accessing electronic media. To quote: 'There are bad things in this world and if you teach them only about the positive and try to hide the rest of the world for them you are doing your children a disservice.' No, allowing children access to adult themes, i.e. hardcore porn, is a disservice. I never said only teach the positive or to lie. Why do people associate childhood innocence with only teaching positives and telling lies? Perhaps a better word is artlessness: natural, pure, simple, unsophisticated. I don't know. The theme of my article is providing your child with supervision and guiding their electronic experience.
Duck-bill mamals rule.
[ Parent ]
Re: Kid your staying in Fantasy Island till I say (3.20 / 5) (#61)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:38:34 AM EST

Not telling people the truth is considering lying

Sorry, but that's simply not true! Lying is telling someone something that is untrue. Not telling someone the truth may not be lying - if I don't tell you dragons don't exist, I haven't lied, simply omitted to tell the truth. If I tell you they do exist I have. It's a subtle difference.

Apologies if this is not what you meant, but your initial statement is slightly ambiguous.

Most parents lie to their children all the time

Also wrong. Many parents lie to their children sometimes is what I think you mean. They do not continually feed their children lies every waking moment, which is what your statement implies.

Yes, parents do tell lies to children. Sometimes because the parent doesn't want to explain. Sometimes to protect the child. Sometimes because the child actually does not need to know the truth (yet). Parents have to make difficult decisions about how to raise a child - those decisions dependon both the parents views, and the personality etc. of the child. Remember we are talking about the interaction of unique individuals - what might be right for some is not necessarily right for others.



[ Parent ]
Re: A Geek Dad's Perspective. (3.25 / 8) (#30)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:13:28 AM EST

I'm curious: why do children need to stay innocent as long as possible?

Because childhood is the only time that you get to be truly innocent and it should be protected as long as is sensible. Children live in a magical world where they believe everything is possible, and everyone is friendly until proven otherwise. Parents, of course, are super-human. Why should they have to grow out of this until it is necessary for dealing with the real world?



[ Parent ]
Re: A Geek Dad's Perspective. (3.00 / 4) (#48)
by platypus on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:36:35 AM EST

Umm, and why does a small child have to be given free access to hardcore images on the Internet at a young age? There will be plenty of time, i.e. the rest of their life, to be exposed to all of the adult things on the Internet and life itself.
Duck-bill mamals rule.
[ Parent ]
Re: A Geek Dad's Perspective. (4.50 / 2) (#78)
by Joshua on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:07:14 PM EST

Perhaps you could define "innocence" for us, because I'm a bit confused. In what way does looking at pictures of people have sex (or other stuff you'll find on the net) destroy "innocence"?

I'll tell you one thing though, children are innocent. I say this becuase we look at things, even some beautiful things, and we see the worst of them. We make up all kinds of unpleasant-sounding words for sex like "dirty" and "nasty" and "raunchy", but I suspect, that children would see beauty far more readily than we would, because they are innocent.

We have rediculous taboos, implanted in us by a rediculous culture. Don't speed this process in your children, and do all you can to prevent it!

[ Parent ]
Following in your footsteps? (4.20 / 20) (#16)
by mike-c on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:17:48 AM EST

I think an important part of geek parenting is preparing yourself for the possibility that your child won't be the quite geek you are. Even with the headstart they will undoubtedly have, for better or worse, it might not happen.

I think it's great that to consider the most appropriate way to introduce your daughter to computers and the net, but maybe that's all you should do: introduce it, and see that she also gets a proper introduction to sports, music, and other hobbies at the same time. If you can help your child find something as fascinating to her as technology is to you, then I think you can be just as proud a parent.

Good luck, strepsil. Cute kid.

p.s. 8 was too young for me to have unsupervised access to my Apple IIgs: I dropped the System folder in the trash can. Boy, was my dad pissed.
-- "If things don't go your way, just keep complaining until your dreams come true." -- President Clinton to Lisa Simpson

Re: Following in your footsteps? (3.50 / 10) (#17)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:30:43 AM EST

p.s. 8 was too young for me to have unsupervised access to my Apple IIgs: I dropped the System folder in the trash can. Boy, was my dad pissed.

On the other hand, I knew more about our computer (a 386 running Windows 3.1) by 9 than anyone else in the house, and was repairing other people's big mistakes, not making my own.

People make mistakes like that at any age. I accidentally overwrote the FAT on our window's box about a year ago. And this is why we read the manual page for LILO very thoroughly before using it to do something weird...

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Good point (3.66 / 6) (#44)
by spiralx on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 07:33:37 AM EST

Chances are your kids will follow someway in your interest in computers and technology as they'll be exposed to it a lot more than most kids, but the "normal" stuff that kids do when growing up is just as important, if not more. There's a real difference between geeks who are shy and uncomfortable in social situations and those that go out regularly and enjoy meeting people and so on in terms of self-confidence and self-respect, and I think it helps to have friends who aren't geeks as well - otherwise you end up lacking new experiances and outlooks.

I was a lot more of a geek before I started going out, now whilst I love computers and technology, they're not the sole focus of my life, and I think I'm better for having that variety. The more experiances your kids have, the more well-rounded people they'll be and all the better equipped to deal with life.

The stereotype of the geek as socially inept and generally awkward looking us an unfortunate on IMHO, and one that doesn't need to exist. Enjoying technology shouldn't be the whole point of anybody's life.


You're doomed, I'm doomed, we're all doomed for ice cream. - Bob Aboey
[ Parent ]

Just to say... (2.16 / 12) (#21)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:15:43 AM EST

...she's a sweetie!
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
I identify, but will our kids be using PCs like us (4.10 / 10) (#22)
by Shiftless-Jungle-Bum on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:16:54 AM EST

I think you need to just observe your daughter and see what kind of person she is. The is no hard and fast rule that applies to all children. Before you start thinking about her surfing the Net, think about introducing her to the PC. My 4 year old son got frustrated when I first introduced him to the computer a year ago so we held back a bit after that. Now he's just content to type in his name (or what he calls his name) and play, with my assistance, with the Kids Games over at Bluemountain. He calls up his "email" on my desktop calculator. He'll let me know in his own way when he is ready for something more. My prediction is that he'll want to do some drawing (the Gimp) or like to look at a CDROM full of animal pictures.

As far as email is concerned, I think we're all probably showing our age. I think our kids will more than likely be trading instant messages and pictures on nextgen cell phones than email on a PC. In Europe and Japan cell phones that take a phone card can already be had for the cheap and many teenagers own one.

As geeks, we are so immersed in our world, don't be dissapointed in your child if s/he doesn't share your enthusiasm for computers and technology in general.

Re: I identify, but will our kids be using PCs lik (4.14 / 7) (#29)
by blane on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:08:16 AM EST

I think a better question might be should you involve yourself and assist with any activity your daughter is doing - even if it's just to observe and gratefully accept the end results.

My 3 year old has been "using" the computer for about a year now ("using" including playing with an old spare keyboard etc.). She is now at the stage she can quite happily put a CD into the drive, start up the game she wants, and happily play away (her mouse control skills are pretty good now).

I think most children find computers attractive (after all it's colourful (when on), has bits to push etc.), even more so if it's something that Dad or Mum use (and therefore MUST be of interest).

[ Parent ]
Non-geek stuff.... (4.13 / 15) (#27)
by 11oh8 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 04:20:54 AM EST

Being as i'm only 20, i can't offer any firsthand parenting advice but i can offer advice as someone who was not-too-long-ago a teen....

If you're a geek (which i assume), your children will grow up in a geeky environment... Whether you try conciously or not, they will probably be computer users before most of their peers... They'll learn a lot from simply watching you.. But make sure that you also expose them to non-geek stuff... if you have to, force them to partake in some sports or social activities....

I was always a geeky kid.. i would rather stay in my room and read a good sci-fi book than play outside... my parents tried to tell me to go out and play but didn't want to force me too much.. i kinda wish that they had forced me a little... i love being a geek but i feel like i missed a part of growing up.. so just make sure that your kids are exposed to ALL aspects of growing up...

$.02,
11oh8

Re: Non-geek stuff.... (3.66 / 6) (#33)
by IoaPetraka on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:53:43 AM EST

Yup, I'll back this up. I'm also in my early twenties. My dad was one of the original computer geeks, so as long as I can remember we have had a computer. From the old Commodore 16 (pff 64? That's new and razzle dazzle) with no hard drive and two floppies, to the first IBM "Portable." A truly cool computer the size of a modern Case with a flipdown keyboard, a miniture amber monochrome CRT mounted into it. On and on.

SO, as a result, I was programming (albiet BASIC) on the first computer because that is what my dad was learning, so that was good enough for me! I was probably 6 or 7 at the time. I remember the coolest thing about the IBM when we got it was the fact that it came with a copy of Microsoft Flight Simulator. Yup, no numbers or anything after it, just the Flight Simulator. Quite an advanced piece of software for its time. It was such a tiny little program, and you could fly around in a fully 3d environment, no tricks.

I'm not sure I totally agree with you though. I have no regrets of my childhood, that aspect of it anyway. It may be because I grew up in a home that moved every six weeks. So having friends, going to school, being on a team, all of those 'normal' things were impossible anyway. So while I know there were things I missed out on, I don't really care, it isn't possible to experience -everything- If I had been out playing on sports teams and running around in the trenches with pastic guns I probably wouldn't be the programmer that I am now.

I've got some great memories from the old days when 'online' was hardly a word. I wouldn't trade those memories for a million football games or popular kids birthday parties.

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]

To pick a nit (none / 0) (#99)
by pwhysall on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 05:20:22 AM EST

The Commodore 16 came out AFTER the Commodore 64, as a cheap and cut down version.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
Re: To pick a nit (none / 0) (#101)
by IoaPetraka on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 06:51:40 AM EST

A valid nit, I looked it up.
Hey I was six years old at the time. :) I'll try to get my chronology more down pat in those early years.
Thanks.

.:.
Ioa Aqualine Petra'ka
[ Parent ]
Re: Non-geek stuff.... (3.16 / 6) (#50)
by PresJPolk on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:47:48 AM EST

if you have to, force them to partake in some sports or social activities....

What happens if the kid is completely out of place in such activities, and is completely uncomfortable in them? Do you still believe that the activities should be forced?

Trying to make everyone fit into the same mold can be a very destructive activity.



[ Parent ]
Re: Non-geek stuff.... (4.66 / 3) (#80)
by ocelot on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:59:28 PM EST

Is there anyone who is truly out of place in all such activities? There's a huge variety of activities available for kids. The kid who hates team sports may love martial arts or ballet or something. Or maybe they really don't like sports at all, but they'd enjoy a creative writing or art class.

It's one thing to say "You're going to play soccer and invite a friend over every afternoon, whether you like it or not". It's another to say "You're going to get out of the house and do something. You can choose what it is, but you're not just going to sit around here all day." Throw the YMCA/Rec center catalog at them and tell them to choose something that looks interesting.

If they're not happy doing something, don't force them continue. But Newton's first law comes into play here. If they don't get out and do something, they're a lot less likely to find something that they enjoy doing, or find other with similar interests. Think of it as breaking a cycle, or helping them to explore their interests, rather than forcing them to do something they don't want.

[ Parent ]

Re: Non-geek stuff.... (3.50 / 2) (#82)
by 11oh8 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:32:12 PM EST

Exactly... Maybe I didn't make myself clear engouh.. i don't recommend being forceful to the point of making your children resent you.. But kids (and adults for that matter!) are fearful of trying new things.. especially geeky kids (if the new things are outside their normal realms).. They need a little pushing (note, "little") to take that risk.. When my parents have done that, I either didn't like it and quit or I actually enjoyed it (ice skating lessons come to mind) and was glad that i was initially pushed (or maybe nudged)....

Either way, this is based solely on *my* experience as a child... I have no professional or parental basis for my opinions...

$.02,
11oh8...

[ Parent ]
Re: Non-geek stuff.... (2.66 / 3) (#70)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:39:29 AM EST

Forcing kids to do activities they don't enjoy and don't want to do is a sure way to make them resent you. I know I resented my parents (and other relatives) when they did that to me, and from talking with my friends I've found they feel the same way.

That whole attitude of forcing your kids to be what you want them to be seems very prevalent lately. I see parents forcing their kids into extracurricular activies because it'll look good on a college application. They make them take classes they don't feel prepared for, because after all, a harder class is a better class, right? They even write their essays for them when their kids' performance isn't up to scratch, and they want to make sure they get the "best".

Present the opportunities, see what they're interested in, and encourage them to follow their interests.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Re: Non-geek stuff.... (3.50 / 2) (#72)
by woofbot on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:22:44 PM EST

Although I mostly agree with you here, I think there are instances where a parent should force the child to do things they don't want to do, particularly if its something they haven't done before. Sometimes the reason a child doesn't want to do something is because they are afraid of trying new things or meeting new people (this was and continues to be a major problem for me). If after they've tried something a few times and they still don't like it then you should stop forcing them.

[ Parent ]
My $0.02 (3.69 / 13) (#31)
by Lance on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:24:53 AM EST

I'm only 15, so obviously I can't offer any parental advice. My father is, however, a geek and I can tell you it has had a profound impact on me as a person. I have certainly had a much greater exposure to computers than the average child. This has definitely fueled my interests in computers. I began by playing games on my dad's Atari at about age 4 or 5 and then when I was 10 I received my first computer as a birthday present. That was the point where I think I really became a geek, whereas before that I mostly just played games. Now I use Linux, *BSD, program in C++, etc. I'm not sure whether I would be a geek if it had not been due to this influence, but I certainly think it has contributed in some way.

New(ish) parent myself (4.08 / 12) (#46)
by DesiredUsername on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 08:08:42 AM EST

I have a 20 month old (boy) and another on the way (unknown). I've had these same questions: When (if?) to start teaching programming, "junior admin" status, etc. Like a lot of other people here, you have to get to know the child as a person. There are no hard and fast rules ("no unsupervised net access before 15", indeed) that will cover all cases well.

My basic philosophy is this: Treat the child as an adult by default. If they show they can't handle it, put them on "probation" for that activity until they can act responsibly. Example: Let the child have a computer in his room--if you find he is spending all his time looking for porn (or just spending all his time on the computer, period) tell him to move it to the living room for 6 months. But meanwhile, if he is doing a good job keeping his room clean, don't make any rules about that.

It's just like real life: Only as much regulation as is needed--no more, no less.

Play 囲碁
Regarding Social Engineering (4.46 / 15) (#55)
by kunsan on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:10:16 AM EST

> "and is socially engineering someone like that wrong in itself?"

Absolutely not! In fact, it is your RESPONSIBILITY to nurture and develope your child. To guide them through life's rough waters.

I am a parent myself, and I face the same questions you are facing every day. I have never considered my influence on my child as "social engineering", but now that I ponder it, that is exaclty what I am doing. I can not, and will not allow my childs moral, ethical, or social developement to progress with out direct input from my wife and I.

I am sure you are not considering letting your child develop on her own, all I am trying to say is that you ARE doing the RIGHT thing! Do not doubt yourself.

Good luck :-)
--

With a gun in your mouth, you only speak in vowels -- Fight Club
Re: Regarding Social Engineering (4.50 / 2) (#84)
by nuntius on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 04:54:05 PM EST

"Social engineering" by parents is not wrong.

Unfortunately the phrase is often used as a part of a government effort to segregate children into different disciplines. Like feudalism of old, these school-to-work programs limit the education to a particular discipline. Instead of opening all the possibilities to children, the (government-run) schools decide at a young age what types of labor will be needed and train their pupils for these specific tasks.

Parents were meant to raise their children and guide them. In this aspect, they are "engineering" their children's lives.

The government was meant to maintain an "fair" society. Their involvement in raising children often steps ourside of their rightful place of authority.

Never back down to the government on this. My sister wasn't being taught phonics in gradeschool--state funding was based on the teaching of "sight reading." Despite the school "authorities," they pulled her to a private setting where she finally started thriving academically.


[ Parent ]
Re: Regarding Social Engineering (none / 0) (#111)
by goosedaemon on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 11:58:53 AM EST

You'll forgive my ineptitude, but I don't understand the second half of your comment, about the government's relation to this ... would you mind elaborating?

[ Parent ]
just turst them zand respect their judgement (3.50 / 10) (#57)
by hepatitis_bee on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:19:04 AM EST

I think it is wrong to try to have your kid follow in your footsteps, especially at such a young age, if you try to make your child to become a "geek" as you all are self proclaimed, your child will become a "geek" for all the wrong reasons. Most of us who are interested in computers/programming got that way because we are naturally different people, certain stuff fascinates us that others don't wuite udnerstand, so instead of trying to make your kid become a "geek" i would recommend letting your child explore, and that means everything and let them choose for themselves and back them all the way.

I am technically an adult now and have moved on to college, i am persuing a telecommunications engineering degree (combination cs and ee) at a college collectively known as the nerd herd around here, by many standards it can be about as geeky as it can be. I had an interest in computers since i was in the third or fourth grade, i would walk from school to my dads office so i could play with one of the spare computers, ever since then my parents have pretty much let me make my own decisions and supported me even when i did some stupid things, and if you want your kid to be a "geek" then i think that's the route you should take but if your kid doesn't seem to be innerested in that kind fo stuff, of well, still let them make their own decisions they will love you for it.

A Geek Parent (4.60 / 25) (#58)
by hexmode on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:23:15 AM EST

First, let me say that I think you are focusing on the wrong stuff. I have three children under four years of age. Sure, I've thought about the censorship thing and when I should give them their own email address, but the reality is that a three-year-old is just beginning to learn about verbal communication and social interaction. That is a lot to conquer before they move on to what is currently a textual realm.

The hardest things I've had to deal with are my extreme introversion and reaching out to a child. Believe me, it takes a lot of effort to connect with a child and it is not something that is really simply or exciting. You have to sit with them, play with them, talk to them -- and all this time, they are learning how to respond to what you are doing, so they sitting, playing, and talking is mostly a one-sided effort for quite a while.

My wife and I have had quite a few discussions about how I am often more likely to stay up hacking away at some project than I am to wake up in time for breakfast with them. It has been a real struggle for me to set aside geekly pursuits so that I can spend more time with my children.

I'd suggest thinking about these things -- which have much less to do with the 'net or email -- because by the time your child is old enough to care what it means to be online will have probably changed so that your speculation now will be fruitless.

Mark.

Age to start with a computer (4.53 / 15) (#60)
by jade on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:36:10 AM EST

I think that if your child shows an interest in the computer as she gets a little older, by all means, don't discourage her. But encourage her just as you would if she shows an interest in art, music, reading, sports, etc. I don't think you should be planning "when should I teach her computers?".... wait and see what she grows interested in.

There's a long article at Atlantic Monthly called The Computer Delusion that brings up some important issues. Even though it's from 97, I think it has a lot of interesting points.

More interesting is this link to the Children's Software Review, Six Myths About Children and Computers. The last one on their list:

Myth # 6: Making my child computer literate now will better prepare her for the future.

There is some truth to this notion. Familiarity and comfort with computers is certainly useful for daily survival, both in and out of school. The risk associated with this myth comes from placing too much emphasis on the computer as a "must" for children's future welfare. It's a better mindset to regard computer use as simply one more experience that can support the development of good old fashioned learning skills such as being able to read and write, think logically, and solve and analyze problems. It can also enhance the learning process by allowing kids to have experiences not possible without a computer.


Re: Age to start with a computer (3.00 / 1) (#76)
by bort13 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:10:32 PM EST

When I get into conversations on this issue with some teachers I know, they tend to have some reservations about computer- or web-based learning, especially in the earlier ages. Using the web as a research tool tends to keep one on the surface of an issue, or to quickly handle the major points. See FAQs for example -- you can read a long FAQ on a subject on which you know nothing and be conversant, albeit briefly, with an expert.

This is neither good nor bad, but I think in young/developmental ages, a child needs to be prepared for dealing with learning that may not be easy or instantaneous. I think a young web denizen might have some problems with a show-your-work approach, having had the experience of readily available, well executed work done by others. Later in life, there is certainly a need to be able to skim a topic to gain a greater picture of what you may be doing, and redoing work that has been done is wasteful. Developing an expectation of learning based on how/what you learn on the web might hamper progress when they get into a school context. They might lose critical neural-pathway or perhaps heuristic-building in the process.

Hence, I think there might be an age before which you'd probably want to have them playing with other children, building-block type of toys, or outside!

[ Parent ]

One word: LEGO (4.18 / 16) (#62)
by xtal on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:16:47 AM EST

I'm a hardcore geek, and I'm also one who's been moderately successful in life (Finished university, have a mate, etc). My parents weren't especially involved in my life growing up, but they let me do what I wanted (although they thought computers were a waste of money, something I chide them about today :).

That said, one of the best toys for fostering a creative mind isn't a computer. It's lego. I love lego. I still play with legos (albeit nifty technics ones with motors and microcontrollers, but still). Lego rocks. Whenever I'm buying gifts for kids, they get the lego appropriate to their age group (no choking, hehe).

However, the minute your kid starts asking about computers, get them one of their own that they can break/destroy (ghost the hard drive on occassion). :)

Let your kids do what they want, give them a set of rules to work in (in other words, teach them about responsibility) at a young age and let the chips fall where they may. And, of course, having a good choice of mate might stack the genetic odds in your favor some more. :)

Best of luck!

Whoever says computers are a waste of money (1.00 / 7) (#63)
by pwhysall on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:24:31 AM EST

...is absolutely 100% right.
--
Peter
K5 Editors
I'm going to wager that the story keeps getting dumped because it is a steaming pile of badly formatted fool-meme.
CheeseBurgerBrown
[ Parent ]
A female geek's perspective. (4.82 / 17) (#65)
by domesticat on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:15:50 AM EST

I have a slightly different viewpoint on all this, and I almost wish that my father was a k5 reader so that he could chime in on how they chose to raise me.

An explanation: I'm almost 24, a thorough geek, female...and married to another geek.

My father had the same dilemma twenty years ago, back in 1980. He had just gotten a TI-99, and he wasn't sure whether or not it was appropriate to let a child so young play on this expensive electronic toy.

At the time, they were grasping at straws to find things that would interest me. I was reading well before my third birthday, and they quite honestly didn't know what to do with me. They were unsure of the appropriateness of this toy - especially for a girl.

What they did for me, I would recommend that you do for your daughter. I would make it available to her, but don't push it on her. You'll need a graphical OS - chances are, she's not ready for a text-based interface yet. Let her watch you work on it. Show her how to do a couple of things.

If she is interested, she will gravitate to it. Kids are possibly the most curious critters ever created. Show her that a computer is not something to be feared, but a tool, both for learning and for entertainment, and if she's interested, she'll take it from there. My parents allowed me to move at my own pace, and in a few years were confused at how I always managed to know how to fix the computer when my father screwed it up.

As for net access: for the next few years, you will be the best judge of your daughter's ability to handle the vastness of the web - both the good stuff and the bad stuff. I would restrict her access now, but be realistic. You need to concentrate more on teaching her the values that you and your spouse think are the values she needs - that is your duty as a parent. It's not social engineering. Make her understand that you're there to answer questions if she finds something confusing or uncomfortable - and that you won't judge her. She'll only learn about the world from exploring it - and she's going to explore. You just want to position yourself so that she'll come to you with questions, instead of someone else.

Social interaction skills are a tougher issue. Focus on her self-esteem. Yes, that term is bandied about far too much these days, but it's a good thing to instill in a child. It's hard to teach a female child that they have intrinsic self-worth that isn't measured by what other people think of her, but try. Do that, and she will have a reserve that will get her through the dealings with other kids. Kids can be pretty heartless.

It might sound a bit elitist to say it, but if she appears to be academically gifted, try to make available to her activities like summer camps with kids who have similar needs. She might find friends more like herself there - the friends I made from situations like that gave me the social boost I needed to survive the hell that was high school. (That, and going to college at sixteen, were the best things that happened to me.)

All in all, you'll manage. It's good to see a parent thinking ahead instead of just blindly reacting to the current problem their child's having. With this much foresight and thought, your daughter's lucky to have you as her parent.


[ boring .sig here ]
Re: A female geek's perspective. (2.00 / 2) (#71)
by JediLuke on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:06:29 PM EST

I have to agree. this is a good solution to not push it on the, but have it avail. Thats what my mother did back in 89 with and Apple IIgs. I have two half sisters, one born when i was 13 and the other when i was 15. watching these two grow up is interesting. the first one, Maggie, she has no qualms with approching someone and saying "HI!, i'm Maggie, who are you?", the other younger one, Katie, is very shy. Why? we'll (or at least me) never know.

my recommendation is let them be their own person. reward them for good things, punish the bad. give them the tools avail to be kids. have fun because kids aren't kids long.
-JediLuke
"You're all clear kid, lets blow this joint and go home." -Han Solo
[ Parent ]

To geek or not (3.71 / 7) (#67)
by Maniac on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:17:42 AM EST

Hmm. I have two boys, 12 & 8 - both quite capable of using the computers we have [a variety of Mac's]. But as parents (both of us with technical jobs), we don't focus on the computer aspects. We tend to focus on:
  • their health - one is ADHD, the other tends to copy his brother
  • their good grades - spending a little time each day on homework and projects
  • fun - organized sports, TV, games - a balance
There are other issues to address - those are the ones that come to mind right now. The computer is certainly a tool to help where it makes sense. Producing a typewritten report makes a world of difference for the child who has problems with writing & struggles reading what he wrote two days ago [let alone the teacher being able to read it]. However, its not the focus of their life.

My Experience (4.40 / 15) (#68)
by slycer on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 11:35:10 AM EST

I have a 2 year old (this weekend!!) girl. While I haven't pushed computers on her yet, she definately shows interest already. She will lean on my knee and watch me code Perl for quite some time (Not that I do it a lot when she is awake). She is also very interested in the hardware portions of the PC, I am constantly running with my case cover off, and she likes looking in (I have taught her not to touch) and asking me what the different things are - not coherently of course - more like point randomly and say "What's that daddy?".

I also make sure that I am not doing anything on my PC that she shouldn't be seeing. I have a buddy at work who's 3 year old boy repeats "Die B*tch" (buddies wife plays Unreal Tournament).

Lastly, we have installed one game on her mothers PC, the Pooh toddler series. She loves this game, not a whole lot of interaction needed, but it does respond when she does something. She has just started moving the mouse just a little bit and clicking buttons. She can see what happens when the mouse is moved.

But, the important thing here is that computers are a small part of her life. There are way too many other things that are (IMHO) a necessary part of a child's development. We play "catch" (I throw a ball, it bounces off of her head, she laughs) a lot, we play with "blocks" (Duplo) a lot, we READ a LOT. She is a very smart girl for her age, it kind of scares me, but, I will expose her to everything I can to make sure she has advantages in EVERYTHING, not just computers...



Re: My Experience (2.50 / 2) (#79)
by Matrix on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 02:52:50 PM EST

Slycer, I must say that this is the best post on the issue I've seen. As far as I can remember (and that's very little past about the start of school), this is how my parents raised me. Read a lot, encouraged me to do things other than sitting infront of the TV (TV watching was actually limited to Transformers ^_^), generally explained things instead of saying "that's bad. Don't." When we got our first computer (I was in grade one or two at the time), I was allowed to do some limited stuff on it. Just enough for me to get interested. No net back then, but when we did get a net connection, I was only allowed on it if a parent was there. I had fairly unsupervised net access at school, but thanks to what they'd taught me, I never did anything that they wouldn't have approved of.

Bleah. Enough rambling. Basically, take slycer's advice. Do lots of different stuff, don't do anything you wouldn't encourage your kids to do, and explain stuff to them instead of just saying "that's wrong."


Matrix
"...Pulling together is the aim of despotism and tyranny. Free men pull in all kinds of directions. It's the only way to make progress."
- Lord Vetinari, pg 312 of the Truth, a Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett
[ Parent ]

And now, for something completely obvious... (4.12 / 8) (#75)
by trhurler on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 12:56:53 PM EST

(assuming, of course, that you remember being a kid)

Kids are not stupid, and they're only "impressionable" if you aren't doing your job. Have the computer there. Take appropriate safety precautions, but don't prevent a child from learning. Your only real concern when it comes to "inappropriate content" ought to be making sure that kiddo understands that some things are not appropriate for a classroom; I defy you to think of something you can't explain in such a way that even a five year old has any trouble saying "oh, that makes sense," -if- you start early. The reason teenagers are so resentful, defiant, and fond of getting into any sort of material their parents don't like is precisely that they're figuring out that they've been treated like idiots all their lives.

Of course, this whole thing IS predicated on your actually being a parent, instead of doing what most "parents" do these days. I'm too young(24) to have actually raised kids, but I think my parents did an excellent job wtih me; my life was not entirely unsheltered, but in fairness, it was really only as sheltered as the lives my parents created for themselves - there are a lot of things they don't do, don't tolerate, don't read about, and so on. At this point, I'm not quite like that, but I have a very firm idea of what I can and can't do if I expect my life to be what I want it to be, and I've got a very solid sense of right and wrong, sans Judeo-Christian guilttripping, and those are the two things you really need in life. I'm successful, happy, and all that other fuzzy feeling crap that people want to be.

My only complaint is that when I went off to college, I had to learn close up and personal about a lot of things that just weren't quite suburban and proper enough for my parents; this was a lot of needless discomfort, worry, and general feeling of being an out-of-touch fool. I think you can spare your child a lot of that - not by encouraging or even allowing things you aren't comfortable with, but merely by refusing to do the eyes-covered-move-along-nothing-to-see-here routine and instead choosing to explain, just as you might to anyone else, the facts of whatever is at hand - and by pointing out sources for information you don't know yourself. Granted, if you live in a boring suburb, this only gets you so much, and even if you don't, you can't entirely eliminate the experience of realizing that the only thing that keeps a person from doing stupid things is personal choice and that you have to figure out which things are stupid on your own. Them's the breaks:)

As for the "social skills" thing, that's a common mistake: geeks don't lack social skills. What they lack, typically, is a combination of ego and maturity. Other kids will be mean, but they're mean to each other too when you get down to it. When a really intelligent kid is mean, the result is quite often amazingly painful for others, and they retaliate en masse. Now, if they had the cast iron egos they -ought- to have, this would be a very minor and temporary annoyance and they'd learn over time how to most easily get along. However, they usually do not. I'm not really sure as to a solution, but that's the real problem at least. I never understood this until I was almost out of high school, but as much as the people around me acted superior and snubbed my friends and me, it wasn't because they -felt- superior. After you realize that(and provided you're willing to exercise some tact,) it is easy to get along with most anyone. However, that's not something you can just tell a kid; some things take time to really grasp, not factually, but in the sense of really believing them.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Remember the 1 R... (4.27 / 11) (#77)
by Knile87 on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 01:21:27 PM EST

I'm surprised I haven't seen this mentioned yet... Reading!
Reading!
Reading!

Reading is the most important thing that you can encourage your children to do. Once they read, get them to read everything: cereal boxes, the newspaper, Babar stories. Later, introduce them to K5 and Harry Potter and other higher material. Once she starts to read and understand what's being read, hopefully she'll show curiosity. Like "Daddy, what does that TV (meaning your monitor:) say?" or "How does the music come out of that box?" Take a few minutes/hours to reflect on the path you took to becoming a geek, and learn from that , in terms of what you missed out on while socially developping.

For your less serious things: the Commodore 128 great for kids. Don't give her root until she understands the birds & the bees.



"We're all on a big ship! We're on a big cruise, across the world!" -- Iowa Bob, in Hotel New Hampshire


Re: Remember the 1 R... (none / 0) (#93)
by Waldo on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 10:45:14 PM EST

My mother taught me to read at the age of 2, my sister at the age of 7 months. (Don't bother flaming me or calling me a liar. I've dealt with it my whole life. I had to bring friends home from elementary school to prove to them that my 2-year-old sister read French and English at a 3rd grade level.)

The result? I'm pretty well self-taught in lots of major subjects. From an extremely young age, I knew that I could learn anything that I wanted by picking up a book. Languages, programming, math, history, and so on. I just had to read a book.

The downside? Being bored silly in school.

I wasn't some miracle kid. You can teach any kid to read. My mother used Glenn and Janet Doman's "Teach Your Baby to Read." You can read about it on Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0895295970) and buy it on Fatbrain (http://www1.fatbrain.com/asp/bookinfo/bookinfo.asp?theisbn=0385111614).

-Waldo

[ Parent ]
Tough since every kid is different (4.00 / 7) (#81)
by scross on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 03:18:59 PM EST

Unless you plan to have this child live as a hermit, he (any gender specific references are only for the sake of proper English) will need to function within society.
Teach him manners, teach him civic responsibilies, teach him good English (or proper French if French, or proper German if German, and so forth), teach him history, teach him to plan beyond next quarters balance sheet, teach him another language like French or German, teach him to appreciate the Arts, teach him to appreciate the Sciences, teach him to respect and love Nature.
At this point, I'm sure many are thinking, "Come back to our planet." The whole point is that you and your wife must think and act they way you want your child to be.
At risk of reducing parenting to a project plan, it really is not all that different. I have two sons. Both are still young. I don't worry about their computer abilities because:
  • Computer ability is but one of many possible paths to reach the goal.
  • The goal of any parent should be to raise an adult who is happy with who he is.
Of my two sons, one has very been very comfortable with a computer and mouse since he was three. The younger, who is now three, don't really care much about the computer.
The bottom line: make good people, good people can handle any thing.
Cheers, Sarah
My son turned 3 in March of this year (2.60 / 5) (#85)
by el_guapo on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:19:07 PM EST

Being a geek, he is sort of my own little social experirament. I decided early on to let him develope into what HE wanted (within reason, of course. I don't want him in jail or anything). That said - I make it a point to be consistent and significant in parenting - I apply a scaling response-type strategy. He does good things, he gets good stuff directly proportional to the level and significance of that good thing (this is one of mankind's most-hugged kids, as this is the "entry-level" you did a good thing response) The reverse is true when he does "bad things". I try and categorize things very broadly and basically. Some examples, Good-Things(tm) - sharing, helping (from cleaning, to cooking, etc. Yes, my 3 year old frequently helps cook) running an erand (at 3 these tend to be - "Please go into the living room and bring me my laptop", for a lame for-instance). Bad-Things(tm) - hitting, writing on the wall (never actually done that) - these get a response from a reprimand, to a goody taken away, to a swat (rare). I carefully watch for "Significant behavioural opportunities" - these are those instances where he either does something very very good OR bad (say, disrespecting his mother or me). And the reposnse is very significant as well. These SBO's are true gems, you need to be either non-enamoured or non-angry enough to see them happening. Acting correctly on these bad ones SERIOUSLY reduces the occurence of more minor ones. And acting correctly on the good ones insures more of them.
mas cerveza, por favor mirrors, manifestos, etc.
Re: My son turned 3 in March of this year (4.00 / 1) (#110)
by goosedaemon on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 11:53:51 AM EST

Wow, that sounds very dehumanizing. (in writing, anyway. )

[ Parent ]
Legos.... (3.75 / 4) (#86)
by oleandrin on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 05:41:59 PM EST

...are good at any age, but best introduced early. I'm sure my childhood obsession with the little blocks (I memorized the building process for quite a few of the older supplied-instruction lego kits) had something to do with preparing me for code design.

Legos are like programming. If they're designed well, they can be just like good object-orientation. You could even say there's an interface for each specific kind of block or newfangled piece. But, there's also a lot of room for random unknown exploration of uncharted creations, which is good for developing people.

So when you've got the computer, don't forget all the non-electronic stuff like Legos that can show the brain whole new mediums of operation...

Or, more recently, there's the Mindstorms robot things to combine the best of both worlds, though that's more advanced (but, the software that comes with it is a good non-programming introduction to the theory of programming). And then there are more advanced ways of controlling the little things, like legOS, but that's getting a bit OT.

oleandrin, almost done with a Lego-controlled QuickCam :)

You're in for a joyful experience! (4.88 / 9) (#87)
by octal on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 06:00:51 PM EST

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!

Cheers.

octal

root access????? Nope, she'll have to get hers the same way I got mine. (Hint: buffer overflow) ;)



Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (none / 0) (#95)
by Trygve on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 01:17:14 AM EST

Very well put!

I must say I really respect you and your outlook on life, and parenting in particular. I'm sure your daughter has benefitted greatly from it, too. Your ideals are what I hope to be able to share when I become a parent (hopefully not for a *long* while, though).

I'm surprised at how so many people in here are stressing technical skills (programming, hacking, etc.) so much. So many of the "geeks" in here seem to be doing the same thing that most any other parent is likely to do themselves: feeling a need to usher the child into their own footsteps.

That is usually embodied by the father pushing the son to practice harder and work out more often, in hopes of making the football team for XYZ Univ. In here, it's people pushing their kids to computers at such an early age. Programming at 5?!? Good God! I barely had a concept of an operating system at 18, and now, 3 years later, I've got a decent job in the IT field, as a technician helping to maintain and manage a corporate level network. I haven't exactly struck it big in some start-up, but I'm content with where I am and I feel I still have plenty of potential that I can develop with only some foccussed work, so I've got no regrets.

I think my point here (from my limited perspective), is too many people are placing way too much importance on some really unimportant issues.

The really intelligent comments I've found here so far:

- No baby-talk
- treat them as an equal
- be upfront and tell the truth
- reading
- encourage individuality
- encourage any interests (within bounds) you can
- help them develop their inteligence (last, for a reason: not because I feel it's unimportant, but because it's only got potential if they've got the above basics on their side). Legos are an excellent tool here, as they can be started from a very early age, and can grow with them. Programming, I'm much more skeptical of. If they show any interest whatsoever, then by all means, go for it, but otherwise just leave it for them to discover on their own later in life. You'll still be there (God forbidding) to help them out then.

Good luck to you all (and hopefully to me, but not anytime soon, most likely) =)

ttt

[ Parent ]
Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (2.00 / 1) (#96)
by Michael Leuchtenburg on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 02:47:38 AM EST

Programming at 5 isn't all that absurd, actually. I learned LOGO in kindergarten, on the little cubemac the school had, and I was 4 entering that grade. I'm sure other people have had the same experience.

That's not to say that anyone should push their kids into programming at an early age. You're a geek, they'll know it exists, and they'll let you know if they're interested. Just make it accessible. Don't put it on a pedestal; then they'll think they can never reach it.

[ #k5: dyfrgi ]
[ TINK5C ]
[ Parent ]

Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (none / 0) (#98)
by dazza on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 04:16:20 AM EST

I am very sorry but baby talk is one of the most important things you can do with a young child... The noises that may seem hilsrious to outsiders are actually very important in developing the voice recognition and pattern recognition areas of a childs brains. They DO NOT make the child more stupid they encourage development.

Another misconception is the teaching of the alphabet to children without using phonetics. The way sesame street teaches the alphabet is for older children. It is more important that the child learns the sounds of the letters then the more abstract "naming" of the sounds.

The most important bit of advice I can give you is follow your instincts...

[ Parent ]
Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (3.50 / 2) (#104)
by octal on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 09:13:53 AM EST

I believe you mean that "verbal communication" is one of the most important things you can do with a young child. Verbal communication emcompasses talking to them, reading to them, telling them stories (yes, even when they haven't the knowledge to understand what you're saying).

"Communication" encourages development. Hilsrious (would that, dazza, be the superlative of hilarious?) noises are entertaining at best. I have a theory that the hilarious noises children learn at a young age are the primary reason that most of the adult (and I use that word very loosely) population walk this planet spouting foolishness rather than cognizant thought.

You are quite correct in that these noises do not make the child more stupid. A child's native intelligence will not be negatively affected by the sounds they hear. Again, you are correct that these hilarious noises can encourage development.

I am at a loss, although, when I try to comprehend your theory that encouraging a child's development by making silly sounds is more beneficial than encouraging their development by communicating with them as equals. As a matter of fact, I am not able rightly to apprehend the kind of confusion of ideas that could provoke such a theory.

Let me see if I understand this correctly. Baby talk = good. Communicating as equals = bad. Eh??????

In closing, dazza, all I can say is "goo goo ababa shooshp glips nosk!" while making one of the prerequisite silly faces that generally accompany such statements. Good luck with your development! :D

Cheers.

octal



[ Parent ]

Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (2.00 / 1) (#107)
by lazerus on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 05:42:19 PM EST

I don't know if this is where the guy was coming from or not, but "silly sounds and faces" , I think, are important for a young child to let them know that not all things are serious, that they can laugh, and that, in fact, messing around and silly behaviour is not a bad thing. If you're always stone cold sober with a young child, it could have a negative impact on the sense of humour of the child.

Just a thought

--Lazerus

[ Parent ]
Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (5.00 / 1) (#108)
by octal on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 06:33:02 PM EST

<<I don't know if this is where the guy was coming from or not,
<<but "silly sounds and faces" , I think, are important for a young
<<child to let them know that not all things are serious, that they
<<can laugh, and that, in fact, messing around and silly behaviour
<<is not a bad thing.

I agree with you 100%!

<<If you're always stone cold sober with a young child, it could
<<have a negative impact on the sense of humour of the child.

I never advocated this! We probably laugh more in a day than most people do in a month. My original post was the first serious thing I can remember saying this week and I'm beginning to doubt the wisdom of saying that much.

Actually, what I said was "we never spoke baby talk" to her. Yes, we laughed. Yes, we played (still do for that matter). Yes, we messed around. In conversation, though, we spoke to her as an educated human being and she turned into an educated human being with a gift for laughter!

We often spend time listening to and watching professional comedians with her to cultivate her sense of humour. The last time we laughed together as a family was about an hour ago. The last time I heard any baby talk was about 50 years ago myself and my daughter has never heard baby talk. Believe it or not, she's still one of the genuinely funniest people I know! I suspect she'll even be able to make me laugh at my own funeral.

Always take time for laughter. It keeps you young!

Cheers.

octal



[ Parent ]

Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (none / 0) (#115)
by slycer on Tue Sep 26, 2000 at 04:56:18 PM EST

Agreed, silly sounds and faces are a great thing for a child to learn.
One of the things people have to remember is that a very important part of raising your child is them being able to laugh and play. Our 2 year old realizes that the silly sounds are simply a joke. ie: We ask her whether she would like, say, soup for lunch. The answer is invariably "no" <- this is afaik pretty normal 2 year old behaviour. When she pulls that, we respond with, "Ok would you like a (some nonsense) for lunch?" She immediately picks up on the game and says "Noooo, maybe a (some other nonsense)" and laughs. This is a great game we play, and in MY opinion it is a Good Thing that she recognizes the fact that we are joking.
Silly sounds are great, fun for both child and parent, and IMHO do not affect her in a negative way, indeed, they provide us with a game that makes both of us laugh, which can only be good.

[ Parent ]
Re: You're in for a joyful experience! (none / 0) (#103)
by Trygve on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 08:30:34 AM EST

Wow, I wasn't aware that baby talk is supposed to be a good thing, but I claim no knowledge on the subject better than third hand, so I'll take your word for that, dazza. I stand corrected.

And Mike, I'm sorry if what I said was taken in any wrong way by you or others who *did* start programming at such early ages. It's just that, to me, it's very difficult to even conceive of such a feat. And imagining parents teaching that kind of stuff to their kids, well, it's difficult for me to not imagine them pushing their kids for personal reasons which the parents likely don't even realize may not be in the best interest of the kid (that is, of course, only under the assumption that the kid is being pushed for parental reasons).

But again, that's just my inexperienced $.02. And though I may have opinions-a-plenty, I certainly acknowledge that many others know far more than I can speculate on the subject, and I'm not about to try to correct any of them! =) (I did learn to be careful about contradicting elders (even if they're closer to peers, by age))

[ Parent ]
baby talk = bad (none / 0) (#106)
by Barbarian on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 04:00:17 PM EST

I agree, from what I've heard, talking to little kids with 'baby' talk is bad. It impairs their development of their ability to communicate.


[ Parent ]
Re: baby talk = bad? No. (none / 0) (#116)
by memfree on Fri Sep 29, 2000 at 10:58:06 PM EST

Waaiiiiit a minute. From what I learned in an early childhood cognitive development class, baby talk is GOOD! But -- and as with all things -- best in moderation. You HAVE to speak your language in front of your child, but there is nothing wrong with encouraging their early attempts . Baby talk uses the syllablization of the families native language, so what you are teaching is the building blocks of speech. You can't just use baby talk, but it is a positive reinforcement to the infants attempts to verbalize.

I wish I had my old class notes because there was an interesting case study of very educated parents worrying about their child's slow language development. After tapes showed the parents correcting their toddler's improper pronounciation and grammar, the study proposed that the child felt chastised for attempting to speak.

[ Parent ]

No baby talk? Heh. (5.00 / 2) (#109)
by verylisa on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 02:58:00 AM EST

Yes, I thought that baby talk was a bad thing. Now I have a five-week-old daughter. Her smiles are so cute ... and sing-song strings of nonsense syllables are one of the surest ways to elicit them. If she's going to reward baby talk with smiles, I'm likely to keep doing it.

There's a lot in this discussion about parents shaping their children, but not much about children shaping their parents. Positive reinforcement works both ways. If it's baby talk she wants, it's baby talk she'll get for the time being.

Of course, she gets plenty of regular adult talk too. I've even found myself singing to her recently ... and only an undiscriminating baby could find my singing pleasant to hear! She's heard a lot of "Waltzing Matilda" and "Advance Australia Fair" in the last couple of weeks while the Olympics have been on.

By the way, I'm Strepsil's partner, and the mother of the baby that prompted this discussion.

[ Parent ]
Congratulations. (4.00 / 1) (#112)
by chaz on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 12:31:27 PM EST

And that's about it really. I'm not a parent, but I am an uncle to two of the coolest people on the planet.

All I know about child-rearing comes from my experience of being a child. My parents always loved us, no matter what. The worst thing they ever did as a sanction was to make it clear they were disappointed when I did something bad.

I think I've turned out OK. I know my sisters are truly superb human beings.

Once again, congratulations. You have brought a new person into the world. Your baby can become anything she wants. Caring for a new person is the most important thing that a human being can do.

[ Parent ]
Re: No baby talk? Heh. (none / 0) (#113)
by blirp on Sun Sep 24, 2000 at 05:49:40 PM EST

Learning to talk is a two-way process. It's both about her trying to mimic your sounds, but also about her hearing you mimic her sounds.
I'm guessing, but I think the original "no baby talk" meant don't talk "down" to her (I'm having a hard time expressing myself here, english isn't my native language...).
So, making funny sounds together (which seems to be what you're doing) is fun, and please don't stop. When you're talking, you do it as you would any adult.
If this wasn't what was meant, then I disagree... :*)

M.

[ Parent ]

Programming? (2.50 / 2) (#91)
by inri on Fri Sep 22, 2000 at 09:16:54 PM EST

Re: computer literacy. The two activities that have made me most comfortable with computer use are shell usage and programming.

This are important in that their usage requires (some) understanding of what's going on in the computer, and encourage algorithmic thinking and problem solving skills, which are the generalizable skills obtained from computer usage, and are far more valuable than the knowledge of a particular program/system.

My first language was LOGO, and I'd recommend that as a first language, since it offers immediate visual feedback, and also encourages geometric thought/perspectives. After that I'd suggest some imperative language, like Pascal or C.

Shell usage (er, the DOS commandline) was a wonderful de-mystifying experience for me, and gave me a sense of control and understanding of what my computer was doing. Basically, being able to give commands to a computer in a more-or-less direct fashion (no assembler for kids! ;-)) made the computer a tool for me, like a complex set of legos (yup -- played with those too!), instead of a black box.

So my recs, other than read a lot to them and give them legos, is to introduce them to programming at a young age (5-8?), and show them basic file manipulations, and maybe scripting. The most valuable use of computers for education of kids, and people in general, is not in showing them how to use them, but in teaching people a different way to think, giving them a mental tool. And there is no better way to learn this than programming.



Re: Programming? (none / 0) (#114)
by joeyo on Mon Sep 25, 2000 at 09:49:01 PM EST

My first language was .... Hypertalk! Gee I know, it makes me sound young right? Actually I take that back, I may have learned BASIC first, but I didn't really do anything impressive until I got to Hypertalk and Hypercard. I probably learned some bad technique beacuse of all the various weirdness in hypertalk. But I'm glad I learned it. I remember the awe I had when it clicked in my head that I could attach scripts to objects. The Background? Buttons?!! Fields!!! It almost felt like too much power.

I didn't learn the shell or dos until much later. (Being raised on a Mac has that effect on you).


--
"Give me enough variables to work with, and I can probably do away with the notion of human free will." -- demi
[ Parent ]

As a geek with a five year old (3.66 / 6) (#105)
by poet on Sat Sep 23, 2000 at 03:30:50 PM EST

>The biggest thing on my mind is the 'net itself. I'm >heartily opposed to censorship and the thought of >blocking software makes me sick. But on the other hand, >I know there's a lot of nasty stuff out there. Is >restricting access to the machines unless supervised >
>enough?

The way I have handled this is to have one machine that is not connected to the net and frankly can't be without adding hardware. This machine is my son's machine. He does not have to ask to go on it and he is able to do what he wants with it.

Then there is the family machine which is directly connected via cable internet. This machine he able to go on, only after asking. Then we monitor his usage. I also have a Linux firewall that tracks the usage of where he is going. I don't spy but occassionally I will grep the logs for un-wanted words such a "fuck".

There is also the issue of trust. We have found that trusting our son is also a big part of it. We try to instill the values that we wish him to have, but ultimately it is his decision...

We have found through this he is still willing to explore but when he finds something he is uncomfortable with he actually tells us about it. Then we talk about it. It is quite effective.

>Also, like a lot of us (I suspect), I was picked on a >lot at school since I never seemed to grasp the social >interation skills that everyone else had. How can you >help a child deal with something like that (if it >happens! I'm trying to be an optimist) when you never >quite managed it yourself?

We home school. As a geek I make enough money to support my family without my wife having to work. Thus, while I am at the grind, she is homeschooling and teaching him what things like volunteering are. It works very well. My son is a constant giver to the foodbank for example. Something I never was, but now it is so engrained in him that he reminds us.

>Other slightly less serious things are buzzing around in >my mind too ... what's the most suitable OS for a young >child? At what age should a child have her first >computer, email address or root password for the server?

I have thought a lot about this. My son runs windows although I am considering getting him a MAC. When he is a fluent reader I will probably move him to Linux. That will allow him to flex his mind a little more.


Joshua Drake

Have you bought your OpenBook today?
Do unto others... (none / 0) (#117)
by Ndog on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 03:40:10 PM EST

As the parent of a seven year old and two month old triplets, I believe you have to set an example. If you want your child to respect you, you have to respect your child. If you want your child to read, you have to read to him/her and let him/her see that you enjoy reading yourself. This will shape your child in a big way.

I also believe in trust. You have to trust, because they are going to get into something eventually, and you have to trust that you have brought them up well enough to do the right thing. This will not always happen, but nobody is perfect, and you should not expect your child to be. If you do your best and try as hard as you can, though, you will be rewarded with a wonderful person that makes your whole existence worthwhile.

When I look at my daughter and then think back to when I was a kid, I realize I put them through some hard times. But I realize that was a part of growing up, my parents did a great job, I am making them proud of me, and they make me proud of them. That is what I hope for me and my kids.

To more directly answer you, when it comes to the net, no matter what route you choose, your child will find a way to do what s/he wants. Part of being a child (part of being a person, actually) is testing limits. That is why you need to have some trust, even if you do impose limits like not accessing the net without parental supervision.

With regards to getting picked on at school, it's going to happen. When you are in school, almost everybody is picked on by somebody. That's life. If you raise a well adjusted child, s/he hopefully will be able to deal with it. It might not be fun, but it's usually survivable. Just use your and your SO's best judgement, and you'll be happy with the results.

Regarding OS, anything is suitable. Remember, a child, by design (whether you believe it's a design of nature or God), mainly has two purposes. Grow and learn. You could set up every OS you can get your hands on, and a child will be able to learn them all without a problem.

Just remember, nobody's perfect and it's not always going to be a cakewalk. But if you truly make your child/family your priority, you will be satisfied in the end.



The poll. (none / 0) (#118)
by Ndog on Thu Nov 16, 2000 at 04:31:19 PM EST

Ah... I'd just like to comment on the poll. I'M DONE! No more breeding for me. I've got all I can handle.



[ Parent ]
Re: The poll. (none / 0) (#119)
by strepsil on Mon Nov 20, 2000 at 07:35:38 AM EST

Yes, using my 20/20 hindsight, I see a "Been there, done that" option should have been included. Oh well.

[ Parent ]
Geek Parenting | 119 comments (119 topical, 0 editorial, 0 hidden)
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