Welcome to Pete Brown's 10rem.net

First time here? If you are a developer or are interested in Microsoft tools and technology, please consider subscribing to the latest posts.

You may also be interested in my blog archives, the articles section, or some of my lab projects such as the C64 emulator written in Silverlight.

(hide this)

Do you really know what your kids are doing online and in games?

Pete Brown - 01 March 2013

It seems that each generation is exposed to more mature or serious situations at earlier ages than the one before it. There are a lot more ways for kids to get in trouble online than just running afoul of the creepily mustachioed basement dweller you see on "that" episode of Special Victims Unit.

tl;dr: A child was banned from Xbox live and that caused me to investigate some things which, in turn, surfaced a lot of other stuff. Unless you're really watching closely, you almost certainly don't know what your kids are doing online. Kids are clever.

I know a child, not my own, who is 9 years old. Let's call him "Nine". He's a great kid, has excellent conduct scores in school (never once has he had to be disciplined in school). He's fairly shy and generally keeps to himself. He's really a great kid.

One thing he does like doing is playing on his Xbox 360. He has a neighbor friend who is 10 years old, who sometimes comes over and plays on the same console. We'll call him "Ten". This 10 year old "wants to be a hacker" when he grows up. He also has a 360 at his house. From the sounds of it, he's also poorly supervised when it comes to computer and gaming time.

Recently, Ten manually updated his Xbox gamer profile and changed his tenure and some of the avatar's appearance. At the same time, he helped Nine change his avatar's appearance. Now, understand that to do this, you have to go to some of the seedier corners of the Internet and use tools which download your gamer profile, update the file, and then re-upload it. The use of these tools violate the Xbox terms of service and are considered an offense worthy of a permanent ban.

Yep. Both kids were banned until 12/31/9999. 9999. Harsh, I know, especially if you are an otherwise good 9 year old. That said, as bad as I feel for Nine, I completely support it.

Bringing down the ban hammer

They got a rather vague email from the Policy & Enforcement Team telling them about the ban. Through the same channels as everyone else, I was able to ask support for some (slight) clarification as to what happened. That's how I found out they had modded the gamer profile. (BTW, take a moment and watch that linked video. It's really good)

As part of that ban, both kids completely forfeit their remaining Xbox gold balance. (As well as everything else associated with their gamer tag, the least of which are their Cheevos). For Nine, that means the $50 of birthday and Christmas money he saved up to get that 12 month subscription is now gone. Wasted. I'm not sure if he had downloaded content or games, but I believe that gets lost as well.

My 7 year old son uses the Xbox under my Live account. After seeing how the ban process works, you can bet that will stop once he starts playing Xbox by himself, especially now that my gamer tag reaches into my Windows 8 machines and my Windows Phone. There's a lot to loose if you break the rules.

Mom of Nine had no real idea what happened, so I helped her investigate. As part of this, I was able to see both Nine and Ten's gamer history using public sites on the Internet (this is easily discoverable online for accounts which don't keep it private). I saw some things in there that made me sit back and question what these kids are being allowed to play.

That got me to thinking about what games are appropriate and how much parents should watch what their children do. I also had a long talk with Mom-of-Nine about some of these topics. This post is a bunch of loosely related "stuff" that came up as part of this. I'll start with games, but then get into privacy and security.

Game Appropriateness and Ratings

In both children's gamer tags I found, among a number of other games, the following:

image image

Both are rated M for mature, which technically means 17+. The problem is, many otherwise fun and arguably harmless games are rated M for mature, so the on-box rating has become an almost meaningless mark when it comes to evaluating games for pre-teen, tween, and teen kids.

Not sure how many "mature" 17 year olds you know, but play along.

The real issue is that the Mature rating is a large bucket under which a lot of stuff gets thrown. The Mature rating isn't alone in this. For example, I let my 7 year old son and 4 year old daughter together play the various LEGO games on the Xbox (Star Wars, Harry Potter, Batman) -- those fall into the 10+ category.

There are a number of sites online which do parental reviews of video games. Some of them have agendas and biases, and some get overrun by kids posting as adults, so you really just need to find a site which fits with your own values and which appears to have relevant reviews. My kids are not yet at an age where I've had to research using one of these sites, but they're out there. For example, here's the parents review for Halo 4 and here's the review for Grand Theft Auto IV

I'm not going to make a value judgment for you, nor do I want to start a discussion about what is appropriate for children as we all have our own rules. I'm also not trying to make a martyr out of  particular game here, or suggest games can corrupt or anything like that. Both games are considered excellent games overall. That said, most parents put more effort into selecting movies than in video games. (How many would let a 10 year old see Goodfellas? A Tarantino film? Showgirls? Yet many are fine with games of equivalent nature.)

  • Halo is very violent (4 out of 5 points) and involves a lot of battles typically in a "shoot the guy over there" first person shooter style. The only sexual content is the scant cladding on one character (1 out of 5 points for sex). There's no foul language or drinking, drugs, or smoking.
  • GTA IV is violent (5 out of 5 points), but also contains "adult" language (5 out of 5 points), drug references (as part of core gameplay - it got 5 out of 5 points here), calling police and then shooting them when they arrive, killing drug dealers, and a fair bit of sexual content (scored 4out of 5 points in that area), prostitution, lap dances, porn shops etc. The violence itself is at more of a "personal" level.

Again, both of them have the same rating. Depending upon what you find concerning, you may disallow both, or just one of them, or maybe you're fine with both (one parent of a 9yo on the reviews said GTA IV is fine for her son). Regardless, you can't tell that by looking at it on a store shelf; you need to read reviews of the game. Interestingly, the reviews generally agree that GTA IV is appropriate for 13+ and Halo 4 for 12+. Both of those are a far cry from 17+.

I'm of the camp which doesn't believe video games turn kids into killers, but I also don't think that means one should expose their kids to violence, sex, drugs, etc. before they are mature enough to understand what they're looking at, and make appropriate real-life decisions.

As parents, we need to understand the nature and content of a game before we purchase or allow the purchase of those games. More importantly, we need to discuss the themes of the games and get our children to think about what messages the games are sending them. We often do this for television, games are even more immersive.

Dangerous Activity

There are lots of places where you can get in trouble online. From viruses and malware to chatting with basement neckbeards, to posting inappropriate photos of themselves. Kids are naturally curious and also feel like they are impervious to harm. Combine this with perceived anonymity of the Internet, and you can get into all sorts of bad spots.


Teach your child not to click-through dialogs without reading them (if they are old enough) or having you read them. Unless you enjoy malware, extra toolbars, or other scary stuff on the machines, this is essential.

Many people will fail this test.

Chat and Email

If you've ever watched Law & Order, you know that chat can be a bad place for kids to hang out. They're also a place where kids can release private information in a way that is hard for you to track. Same goes with Facebook chat and even email. The younger the child, the more you need to control how these communication mechanisms are used. My 7 year old son has an email address, but only for sending email with me. It helps his typing and reading skills and it's fun. It has also helped him be smarter about how to read email and how to judge. Eventually he'll use it to email others (we'll start with a couple of his same aged friends), but we'll shepherd him through that.

Seems legit

Pictures and webcam/video

When I was young, taking and sharing a photograph required several steps:

  • You had to decide that what you were taking a picture of was actually worth the film it would use
  • You had to wait for the film to be developed (the quickest was typically an hour). A clerk *saw* the photos when they came off the line, and if you had something illegal, you could be reported.
  • If you wanted to share the photo, you had to physically show the paper photo to someone.

Each of these was a possible inflection point which helped prevent impulse decisions. A politician couldn't simply make an impulse decision to unzip, snap, and tweet all within a matter of seconds. If you really wanted to expose yourself to someone, it was easier to just go see them in person.

In general, I tell people never to send to anyone else anything they wouldn't be comfortable having broadly shared. This is especially true of photos and video, especially *those* kinds of photos and video. There have been many stories of politicians sending photos of their junk to girls and assuming those would somehow be kept secret. That takes a special kind of stupid. Even more common are photos shared with boyfriends/girlfriends which become Internet fodder after a bad breakup. They meant well, and in the heat of the moment, it felt like a fun thing to do. However, it's rare to find someone who marries their high school sweetheart, so just assume that anything you share could become public in a couple months or a couple years. If you're uncomfortable with that, don't share it with anyone, not even that special someone.

These glasses made me lol

If you share it with anyone, you can't guarantee its privacy. Especially during childhood, kids who are friends this week may be bitter enemies the next. That information you shared with them? Those pictures? Expect them to show up on facebook, or 4chan, or worse. Once something gets on the Internet, it's almost impossible to remove it. Search engines index too quickly and stuff goes viral faster than ever. The best way to keep things private is not to share them.

Online Privacy

I'm calling privacy out separately, even though much of this could easily fit under the heading of Dangerous Activity.

Many of us have heard that when you get a new expensive device (like a big screen TV), that you should take the box directly to the dump and not leave it on your curb. This is so potential thieves driving by your house don't get a heads up to the new things you have inside. This just seems like common sense … to an adult.

Many of us also know not to post information about these things online. Even if you think a thief couldn't figure out your address, it is surprisingly easy to do so. There are many address search sites available, for one. For another, many people post their addresses (or cities, or more) to social networking sites like Facebook, or mention them in twitter. Usually all it takes is a simple Google/Bing search to connect the dots.

Kids breaching your privacy

Ok, so this meme was a complete stretch. Sue me.

But maybe you're extremely careful. Maybe you don't have any of that information online. That's awesome. But now your kids are online - will they spill the beans on you? We worry about kids' privacy, but what about what they do with *your* private information?

Do your kids know not to:

  • Mention the school they attend (this one is especially hard)
  • Put their address or phone number on anything
  • Talk about what their parents do for a living or how much they make
  • Mention when their parents are or are not home
  • Announce when the family is taking a vacation (this includes tweeting or facebooking while on vacation)
  • Talk about that cool big ticket item the family just purchased
  • Post photos of themselves online

"Hey, nobody is home" is a big one. For me, I generally won't tweet or facebook about a vacation until I return. Sure, that's not as fun as doing it live, but it's safer. Plus, if you're on vacation, get off the damn Internet and try to pay some attention to your family. :)

Social networks

Those things can be hard, because kids naturally love talking about stuff like that. The problem is, with services like Twitter, and increasingly Facebook, it's hard to control who does or does not see those things. The business models of most social networks require them to offer as little privacy as possible. One even came right out and said it. (paraphrased) "Privacy is for old people".

Here at XYZ Co. we care about your privacy. So, here are three pages of legal ways we'll share your info with others.

Think about it: Facebook needs you to share as much as possible. It also needs to make your information available to advertisers, and to the public web. If Facebook made everything private by default, they would wither and die. Just like credit card companies telling you your privacy is important to them (bull), know that social networks don't have your privacy as their top priority. Unfortunately, this makes it even harder to keep your kids safe, and to make sure they're keeping you safe in turn.

Each and every piece of information you post on line, no matter how small, should be evaluated:

  • Could this information cause harm to anyone else if it got out?
  • If the wrong people saw this, could it cause me harm?
  • Am I sharing information that is private to someone else? Is it my secret to share?

But what's that, you say? Your child doesn't have a Facebook account? I wouldn't be so sure about that. Facebook may have a policy which requires you to be at least 13 years old to sign up, but it relies on the honesty of the child. It's completely unverifiable and unenforceable. I personally know a number of kids who are on there who are well under 13, and I've talked with parents who later found out their kids had facebook and twitter accounts. Every day, parents find out their kids have social network accounts, created without permission. Just like you would talk to your kids about sex with the assumption they're not going to ask your permission to mess around, you should talk to them about social networks and privacy proactively.

Their personal brand

I encourage people to create "real" accounts for their kids, as you don't want to have to start over at some designated age. That has the fortunate, or perhaps unfortunate, effect of causing someone's personal brand to start at an early age.

I personally *do* want my things from ten or fifteen years ago showing up on the Internet. I have had a lot of neat projects in that time. But think of how many changes a kid goes through in the same amount of time.

Even today, I can search the usenet archive and find posts from when I was 19. Those were embarrassing, but not horrible. Back then, we didn't know this stuff would be around forever; the Internet was relatively new and just recently opened to the public. It's routine for employers to google/bing their prospective employees before bringing them in for an interview. Sure, you may think they'll take into account that they were ten years younger when they posts that obnoxious rant, but reality is, they probably won't even if you're lucky enough to have the material dated. You're dealing with real people reviewing this material, and what they see *will* color their opinion. Those racist/sexist/offensive/obnoxious comments at age 13, written on Facebook or Twitter? Yes, they will cause you problems in your job search at age 23, and 33, and probably even 43.

This can be an extremely difficult lesson to teach as a child or teen is probably not going to understand (or care about) what a professional profile should look like. As a parent, it'll be your responsibility to help them with this so they don't ruin their future chances at college.

You may think that the best route would be to then create a "temporary" profile. The problem is, when you go to transition them to the "real" profile, they'll have too much invested in the old one. Even if they are able to transition, they'll have to leave lots of pointers and breadcrumbs linking the two, effectively negating the effect of having a temporary profile to start with.

Illegal Activity

Of course, most of us are aware of the illegal activity that kids can participate on online. However, we're generally not aware of how easy it is to do so.

Pirating and illegal downloads

I'm not making a statement here on DMCA or copyrights. As an author, software developer, and employee of a very large software, devices, and services company, I do my best to respect copyrights. At the same time, I can see and understand some of the damaging effects of over-long and overly strict copyrights both for authors/artists, and for consumers.


Groups like the RIAA have really cracked down on illegal downloads of music and video. If caught, your child could cost you jail time and a significant amount of cash. It's in your own best interest to make sure your child knows not to download illegal software or music. Question anything your child gets "for free". Some things are legitimately for free, others are malware, and others are warez/pirated and could land you in a heap of trouble.

Regardless of your personal feelings on the DMCA and whether software/music/etc. should be free, understand that you or your kids breaking the law here can cost you dearly. You are responsible for what your children are doing and cannot claim ignorance. And yes, the RIAA has gone after individuals.


The first movie I saw which really connected with me with regard to computers was WarGames. Even in that movie, hacking is very glamorous. In later movies, hackers always had really cool FUI with 3d models and other cool representations of the "codes" they were trying to crack. It looks like a lot of fun, until the feds come by and throw you in a van.


The reality is, hacking is typically either scary professional crime organizations, or kids getting in over their heads messing with stuff they never should, trying to be cool. The proliferation of hacking "kits" makes it easy for even young kids to hack stuff. Technically, the Xbox stunt which prompted this post is considered hacking. Jailbreaking your phone? That's a type of hacking. Stealing someone's facebook password? Yep.

Children should be taught to never try to get someone else's password, to never access stuff they don't have explicit permission to, and to always ask for your advice when it comes to gray areas. In general, if they need to download an additional program to access "features" not otherwise present in something, you should look closely at the source of that program and whether or not it might violate any agreements in place.

I personally like the cat more than the iron.


Not too long ago, the idea of online dating was laughed at. But then it took off, and is now a huge industry. Similarly, the idea of online bullying used to be laughed at. (and if you call it "Cyber Bullying", I'll laugh at it. Please stop using the term "Cyber" unless you're talking about world-destroying robots.) Many parents still don't consider online bullying "real" bullying until their own child is a victim of it.

When I was in 7th and 8th grade, the biggest bullies were a group of gossiping girls.

Many schools and organizations have very strict bullying policies in place. When I was younger, typically you'd get suspended for fighting in school. These days, bullying can land you and your child in deeper stuff, including the court system. Bullies no longer need to be the over-hormoned kid who was kept back twice; it can be the mousy girl in class, the nerd, the jock, anyone. Online bullying also leaves an even easier to follow trail than just beating someone up "behind the Kentucky Fried at 3:00" (that's where everything happened in my junior high), which makes these lawsuits even easier.

I don't want to sound like an after-school special here, but teaching your child about bullying, both to prevent them being a victim but also to prevent them from being a bully themselves, is an important part of the set of online tools you'll provide them. Children need to be taught never to share private information about others, and never to text/tweet/facebook/message anything they wouldn't say to someone in person. A good rule of thumb is "Don't be mean".

What you should do

Despite me filling this post with things you should do, I'm not here to tell parents what to do. Each parent has their own style for raising their kids, and that style is typically a very personal decision. As a concerned parent, and someone who stays up with technology and software, I just want to make sure this information is out there.

Please don't ban your kids from using these services. If you do, they'll just do it out of your sight and out of your control. That's how kids are. It's better to have them do it where you can monitor and guide them. In all honesty, I'd much rather my son (or daughter) stumble across porn on the computer at the kitchen table rather than over a friend's house when the parents are gone.

I think the worst thing you can do is shut down your kid's access to online services, or set up some sort of Net Nanny or other blocker. In the former, your kid will simply take their activities to places outside your sight (friends' houses, school, the phone, etc.). In the latter, the nanny software will simply be a challenge to the kid, and a false security for you. Most on-computer blocking software is complete crap, and also blocks legit content. Plus, kids will find a way to work around it. My son got a Nintendo DS at the age of 6. Within a few hours of me setting it, he brute force cracked the PIN which disabled connectivity and 3d. Seriously, he just sat there and tried number after number until it let him in. He was 6.

Instead, I encourage you to tell your kids the reasons behind the decisions to restrict certain activities. And then, depending on the child, you either need to actively monitor what they're doing, or you trust but verify. For my kids (ages 7 and 4), they are only allowed to use the computer in the public places in the house (the kitchen table), and we routinely check on what they're doing. More importantly, they know which places they are allowed to go to, and know to ask permission to use anything else. We're not so naïve as to think that will always work, but it's working well enough for now. I can only hope that by the time their curiosity gets the better of them, we've instilled enough knowledge and values to help make up the difference. Well… a little, anyway :)

What we should do as a community

In addition to the parental tasks, we should help the non-technical parents. One fun way to do this might be to create a package insert for new laptops. I recommend this in humor, but a serious interpretation of this could be really useful as general consumers are buying computers and phones for their kids without realizing what can be done with them.


If you're good with graphics arts, I suggest that we should create a universal Ikea-like diagram that is included with each new computer and phone. It should include:

  • Don't let your kids post personal information
  • Don't let them send nude photos
  • Don't let them pirate stuff
  • Don't bully or let others bully. Don't be mean. Don't lie about others or spread lies.
  • Monitor webcam usage
  • Do keep tabs on what your kids are doing
  • Do teach your kids what they should and should not do on a computer
  • Do assume your kids are clever enough to fool you

I think everyone would be able to understand that. :)

posted by Pete Brown on Friday, March 1, 2013
filed under:        

15 comments for “Do you really know what your kids are doing online and in games?”

  1. Scott Bussingersays:
    Also consider having older kids watch a few episodes of "Catfish: The TV Show" on MTV. Hopefully it will help them understand not to trust everything someone says online.

    "On the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog."
  2. Abraham Vsays:
    These are excellent thoughts. I am about to become a first-time father and some of these things are scary. We are the first generation who have to deal with these sort of things when raising children and we are the ones who will try to "figure out" how to do it.

    Thanks for taking the time to write this and share your thoughts and advice,
  3. Gregsays:
    I'd very interested if you could post some more stuff about Facebook and Twitter privacy stuff. And how to "crank up" the privacy for each individual account (mine, as well as my kids).
  4. Petesays:
    Thanks Everyone.


    You can tighten things down so that only friends can see photos, wall posts, etc. The problem is, Facebook keeps making that harder. In general, if one of your kids posts something, and their friend shares that, it gets out there. Facebook also keeps changing what they share with advertisers.

    Things I don't post on facebook either in the profile or on the wall:
    - Address
    - Phone number
    - Actual date of birth
    - Any photo you wouldn't want getting out (kids in the bath, the underage kid with a beer in their hand, etc.)

    My best advice is this: if you don't want it getting out there, never post it anywhere on the internet.

    Twitter is just a stream. You can make it so your account is "private", but I don't recommend that as private stuff can still be retweeted and leak out. You end up with a false sense of privacy. Instead, teach the children to block spammers and people they don't know. Also teach them never to post anything offensive or illegal.

    The more people think of social media as their "Permanent Record", the more likely they'll be to take care of what goes on there.

  5. ChadFsays:
    The ridiculous thing is that xbox even _allows_ players to change it (if it is "against the rules"). More examples of how real security is a low priority to M$. It is the same worthless principle as when cordless phones (not cell/mobile - but the ones for landlines) first came out and some people started eavesdropping on others' calls (that were being broadcasted on public airways in plaintext [i.e. not encrypted/scrambled]). So what did they do? They pass a law saying "it's illegal to listen in", rather than _fix_ the real problem.. because we all know that criminals intent on accessing what they're not suppose to will clearly choose to stop just because of that law (extreme sarcasm implied for those that didn't notice it). The DS is another great example of "security through stupidity".. lets use something that just needs a little time to break (well in the reach of your average human). The least they could have done is added a simple delay after failed attempts (perhaps 5 second delay after 3 failed attempts, ideally with an increasing delay each failed time afterward). I guess it could be worse.. it is still better than some of the TV pins for v-chip blocking.. where you can just use 0-0-0-0 to blindly reset the code. The parent will [eventually] know their kid bypassed the lock, and their kid will be in trouble, but it is too late then (inappropriate content already seen).

    Also.. your view of "hackers" is biased from the mass media ignorance. A hacker [as a class] is neither good or bad (much like nuclear energy), but can be used for good things, _and_ very bad things. So the same goes for [individual] hackers that do good, iffy, and bad things with their skills.. hence the terms whitehat, grayhat, and blackhat hackers. You just don't typically hear about all the good hackers in the news, since they're just doing work hired by the system owners they "access" (not very exciting or newsworthy -- like plumbers doing their). The often more appropriate term that media should probably use is "cracker" (one who cracks systems, not the racist term usage) instead.

    This article in general minds me of years ago (when the internet was still in it's "main stream" infancy).. back when all these parents would demand the internet should be "cleaned up" and made 100% kid safe (and let's burn all books in the world not suitable for over 7yr old too!). Yet those are the same parents that _gave_ their kids internet access. This would be like a parent driving their kid to the "bad neighborhood", just dropping them off on the side of the road and driving away, leaving their kid to get into "what ever happens to them" and then blaming that neighborhood when things go wrong. When really is the "parents responsibility", not the rest of the universe to keep their kid(s) safe.

    Oh.. and another example to look out for is online multi-player games where some [in themselves] may not have a [very] bad content rating, but due to the actions of other players in the game, _can_ be. One example is a player/team vs player/team first-person-shooter game I've played. Aside from the "kill the other player" violence (and maybe a few of the skimpy/suggestive female outfits) doesn't have much inherent "mature" content. But sometimes in the game when a player kills another, they will t-bag the dead player (i.e. "I'm not just gonna kill you, but now desecrate you too" kinda thing). This might be a reason why some games are just blindly stamped with an "M" rating (at least for online ones).. so the game maker can't be later blamed for _potential_ mature content (yep, all about liability dodging I guess).
  6. ChadFsays:
    Oops.. small corrections to my last post..

    "like plumbers doing their" ->> "like plumbers doing their job"

    "suitable for over 7yr old" ->> "suitable for under 7yr old".

    That's what I get for trying to proofread, "fix" something, and make it worse. :\

    Oh, and a comment I left out (while I'm here):

    You referred to 'hacking "kits"' being used.. that would be a "script kiddie". And while they are hacking (or cracking, when appropriate), most of the time they aren't hackers. As a true hacker has skill and most of them couldn't be a real hacker if their life depended on it. It always annoys me when someone in an online game is cheating and other players call them "hackers", when probably 99% of the time they're just some pathetic script kiddie that only downloaded what someone else did. Look! someone downloaded and ran TurboTax.. I guess that makes them a tax expert too! ;)
  7. Petesays:

    Thanks for the reply and clarifications, but you lost me at M$. Look at who I work for. :)

    Also realize that I've been coding since the early 80s and professionally since 1991. I know about the differentiation between hacker classes, and I was there when script kiddies and kits started being a "thing". No, my definitions are not based on media reports (anyone who knows me personally would find that pretty funny). When a 10 year old announces he wants to be a hacker and goes about doing it by downloading a program to modify their Xbox tenure and avatar (and some of the other things this boy has done which I haven't discussed here), it's clear where their goals lie.

    When I studied computer science in 1990, my professor opened the course with a discussion of what it means to be a Hacker. His definition was a good one, and was more about delving deeply to solve problems and work around shortcomings in systems. Unfortunately, that's not the definition that has stuck with much of anyone.

    As to fixing the problem: quite honestly, I'm not sure if that is or is not possible in the Xbox live system. I know Xbox Live need open interfaces to enable access from various types of games on the PC and mobile platforms. From the outside, it does seem a bit nuts that that access is open. However, the Xbox folks are some of the smartest folks at Microsoft, and yes, they are very security-minded. The reality is, if it was possible to fix without breaking other dependent platforms, they would have done it, as it would almost certainly be cheaper to change than have the full-time enforcement squad. For that reason, I assume moving from the current architecture is a non-starter.

    Keep in mind this wasn't done through the platform itself, it was done using a downloaded tool like Horizon.

  8. Petesays:

    Also, keep in mind this rather rambling post was NOT about changing the internet, but about making sure parents are aware what their kids CAN do.

    Many parents assume the Internet is like the Nick Jr channel: leave it on and there's a close-to-zero chance your kid is going to see something or do something they shouldn't. Many don't realize what they should or should not share online, and what they need to teach their kids to make them good citizens.

    The game ratings system, though, I really do think is broken. M is simply too broad of a classification.

  9. ChadFsays:
    "keep in mind this rather rambling post was NOT about changing the internet, "...

    I wasn't trying to imply it was.. just that, like years before, parents can't just sit back and expect everything to be ok (i.e. that it is all someone else's responsibility to make online stuff safe for their kids). That, much like this article says, parents have to _be_ parents and be involved in their kids use of it.

    "The game ratings system, though, I really do think is broken. M is simply too broad of a classification."

    To some degree that is true for any rating system that has more than just one criteria. Even MPAA/TV ratings are an average (or some committee chosen thing) of what the worst [rated] content type(s) it has. If it has extreme violence, but nothing else, it gets an "R" (I guess "Saving private Ryan" [give or take some language too] and WWII holocaust documentaries may fall into this), but it doesn't give a direct indication of why. Or if a movie is PG13 for brief female nudity, or R for not-so-brief nudity, but with no suggestive sexual content.. a parent might not mind if their 7yr old daughter saw it, but probably _wouldn't_ want their 7yr old son to see it (i.e. not ready to deal with the questions it may trigger).. but the rating alone doesn't give that information. At least _on_ the rating screen before the movie it does tell the specific reasons to a semi-quantified level (TV ratings not as much [just a per-category letter code if it applies]). I thought some video games had something similar.. but since I don't really pay much attention for my own needs (if I'm planning on playing a game, then I probably already have an idea what is in it), maybe that level of detail was an optional thing.. or maybe it was just something I heard being debated for mandated use at one time.
  10. Paul Colesays:
    I'm surprised no one has mentioned Windows Family Safety, this is available as a download for Windows 7 or it's built in to Windows 8.

    I have this setup on my kids machines and it allows me to restrict which sites and apps they can use and it gives me a weekly report of which sites they been visiting, which apps they've been using etc. It probably sounds a little draconian, but it means they don't feel like I'm watching over their shoulders every five minutes and I can still monitor what they're doing.

    I've also got it setup to restrict how much time they can spend on the computer, while it's possible to do this manually, we've found that it stops any arguments between parent and child as the child knows the boundary and is expecting it. No more telling the kids that dinner is ready and then having to wait while they finish whatever game they're playing!

    I'm surprised Microsoft don't market this feature more heavily as I think it's great and becoming more essential for parents in this modern world.
  11. Petesays:

    I'm of the opinion that blocking sites just brings attention to them, and makes it less likely that the children will think for themselves when they're on a machine that doesn't have the site blocked.

    If you put a lock on box, kids will spend a lot of mental effort trying to get into that box.


Comment on this Post

Remember me