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Most Parents Allow Unsupervised Internet Access To Children At Age 8 198

Posted by samzenpus
from the how-old? dept.
colinneagle writes "The timing for this study is interesting, given the arrests of two teenagers believed to have bullied a 12-year-old classmate until she committed suicide, but Microsoft found that 94% of parents said they allow their kids unsupervised access to at least one device or online service like email or social networks. The average age at which most children are allowed access to at least one online service, such as email or social media, was 8 years old, while 40% allow children under the age of 7 to access a computer unsupervised."
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Most Parents Allow Unsupervised Internet Access To Children At Age 8

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  • by t0qer (230538) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @07:08PM (#45148099) Homepage Journal

    My kids are 4 and 7. They've been exposed to computers as early as possible. We play a lot of minecraft. The 7 year old has graduated to looking at odd things on youtube and "Movie Star Planet" She loves to tell me, "If you search Justin Beiber on google, it says, "Justin Beiber eats poop"

    I think it's good.

    Just last week I'm building a PC and the older one wants to help. It wasn't a full build, just plugging in cables. I was in shock though, she pretty much knew where everything was supposed to go. She just lacked the hand/eye to wiggle things in correctly.

    In school they're both far ahead of their peers in terms of reading and typing.

    • In the not too distant future, education will interface with the Internet earlier and earlier. And education online will become more and more robust and spoon fed. But now in the wild wild west era of education online, you need to be proactive in how you learn online. You absolutely need to be an active learner, but for many disciplines, the content is out there to get you a secondary education without a piece of paper.

      I think if I ever make enough money to support myself, I'll move into the whole s
    • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @07:26PM (#45148219) Journal

      My 11 yr old completed Portal last night and moved onto Portal 2. The only 'supervision' was that I required her to finish Portal 1 first.

      Learning to type and write is boring. Chatting to friends, blogging, showing off online are all fun. The same basic skills are learnt, only the latter is much, much more efficient.

      Let them explore. Talk to them. Keep an eye out for trouble. This is no different to raising a child in earlier times.

      • by t0qer (230538)

        Your comment echo's my sentiments exactly. When I was in high school they had a "typing class" that I didn't do well in. Later when I started getting into online chat my typing speed increased ALOT.

        All of their computers are in the same room as mine. They're never unsupervised for any extended periods of time. All of their accounts are controlled by mom and dad.

        • by TechyImmigrant (175943) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @09:36PM (#45148999) Journal

          Also, I'm a security designer. So I look at the browsing history and if I can find stuff she's been looking at that she might be embarrassed about, then I have the 'talk' with her to explain how to cover her tracks when using a computer and how to understand the many ways a computer can be used by someone to spy on you.

          These are important modern lessons to learn.

          • by delt0r (999393)
            I taught my daughter how to delete the browser history and things as well... I wanted her to understand privacy on computers and online. Of course that didn't stop the "Your in trouble for doing $THING_PROMISED_NOT_TO", "No i didn't..", "You have photos of you doing that on Facebook". When she was 16. She is much better at managing that stuff now.

            This is something that is different. Its not just that the internet doesn't forget. Lots of things are like that, such as news papers, court proceeding etc. Th
        • by narcc (412956)

          When I was in high school they had a "typing class" that I didn't do well in. Later when I started getting into online chat my typing speed increased ALOT.

          You should have paid more attention in typing class. Just think how much faster you'd be if you used both hands.

    • by Osgeld (1900440)

      have fun when she takes the next step looking for beiber eating poop and ends up at some fetish site

    • by Dadoo (899435)

      The 7 year old has graduated to looking at odd things on youtube

      I used to let my kids watch YouTube, too, until it became clear that quite a few of the videos on there aren't appropriate for children. Between the language - even in something as innocuous as a Minecraft video - and the borderline violence, I finally had to turn it off.

    • by argStyopa (232550)

      What did they have to say about lemonparty or two girls one cup?

      I'm not being ironic or patronizing, I'm genuinely curious - you claim to be "one of those parents" allowing unfettered internet access, so one expects that almost inevitably they've run across graphic sex, fetishes, and extraordinary things that I (as a 46 year old) wish I could un-see. What's their take on it?

    • Just last week I'm building a PC and the older one wants to help. It wasn't a full build, just plugging in cables. I was in shock though, she pretty much knew where everything was supposed to go. She just lacked the hand/eye to wiggle things in correctly.

      That's because it's gotten too easy, with color coded, keyed cables of with widely varying connector shapes.

      I remember when everything was unkeyed, unmarked ribbon cables, both inside and out, as far as the eye could see. And you had to plug unkeyed ICs by hand into their sockets.

    • by tlhIngan (30335)

      My kids are 4 and 7. They've been exposed to computers as early as possible. We play a lot of minecraft. The 7 year old has graduated to looking at odd things on youtube and "Movie Star Planet" She loves to tell me, "If you search Justin Beiber on google, it says, "Justin Beiber eats poop"

      I think it's good.

      Just last week I'm building a PC and the older one wants to help. It wasn't a full build, just plugging in cables. I was in shock though, she pretty much knew where everything was supposed to go. She just

  • Zero Cool (Score:5, Funny)

    by Austrian Anarchy (3010653) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @07:09PM (#45148113) Homepage Journal
    If Zero Cool was not a lesson to all parents, I don't know what is. The fact that he grew up to be Sherlock Holmes is neither a blessing nor a curse.
  • by bobbied (2522392) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @07:27PM (#45148223)

    I have two great kids but we simply DON'T allow unfettered access to the internet. Folks think I'm nuts, but we do not allow unmonitored access to social networks, e-mail or chat services from ANY device. Having been in the network security business previously, I have the tools and equipment to actually control and monitor what my kids are doing. I have multiple layers of network security and logging. They might manage to get by the filters, but they won't bypass the logging so I'll know. What's more, they both KNOW they are being monitored and I reenforce that view regularly by asking them about specifics I find in the logs. We also make sure that internet access happens only in the common spaces in our home. We have laptops (3) but you cannot take them to your room by yourself to use them and nobody but me has an administrative account.

    Any parent who just turns the kids loose on the net is NUTS. There is a huge percentage of trash out there and it is irresponsible to just let a kid access this junk either on purpose or by accident. Parents need to be *active* in this area to avoid the sad stories like this one, as rare as it is. There are a number of other reasons to know what your kids are up to, sexting, pedophiles, identity theft, bullying etc are all reasons you need to at least monitor what your kids are doing online. (Not to mention to keep the NPAA off your case should they figure out how to bittorrent the latest movie they want..)

    • by Greymoon (834879)

      Grats on raising lambs for the slaughter. Your method will backfire - it is just a matter of when. A paper clip defeats your "security". Think about it.

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Grats on raising lambs for the slaughter. Your method will backfire - it is just a matter of when. A paper clip defeats your "security". Think about it.

        Think about it.. Using a paper clip would get you unfettered access, but network security is not as much about "prevention" as about detection.

        My youngest is actually quite good with computers and network stuff. He is fully capable of bypassing ALL of my security and getting full access to the internet. Problem for him is that I would figure that out pretty quick and he KNOWS that there would be consequences. So far, he's not tried it..

        But remember, except for content filtering to avoid accidentally ac

    • by wisnoskij (1206448) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @08:24PM (#45148525) Homepage

      You cannot filter everything they see and are aware of forever. It is the Internet, not real life, they cannot actually get hurt, decapitated, or disabled while using it.
      That is why the Internet is such a great place for children to explore unfettered. Little Jonny can wonder off alone and learn about the word and himself, and you do not actually have to worry about them being eaten by a wolf or breaking their leg like our parents/grandparents used to, when learning about the worded entailed large amounts of real danger and life threatening situations.

      As far as I am concerned, knowingly filtering a child's knowledge, and retarding their ability to learn, is nothing sort of child abuse.

      • by AthanasiusKircher (1333179) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @09:45PM (#45149033)

        Before you judge my response below, be aware that I'm actually the kind of parent who strongly believes in teaching kids to do things by themselves, eventually leading to unsupervised activities after guided exploration. By the time a kid is 4 or 5, he/she can be prepared to do all sorts of "dangerous" "adult" tasks, with proper education and training. In years past -- and still in many other countries -- 5-year-old kids can probably cook on a hot stove or in an oven (if not manage an open fire), use sharp knives for cooking and other repetitive tasks, etc.

        But kids who learn to do these things are able to because they've been taught how to know what is safe and unsafe.

        It is the Internet, not real life, they cannot actually get hurt, decapitated, or disabled while using it.

        The internet may be a "virtual place," but that doesn't mean that interactions on the internet can't lead to real-life interactions (and even potentially dangerous ones).

        The internet may be a "virtual place," but that doesn't mean that encounters there couldn't cause real-life emotional or psychological damage to young people who don't have the frame of reference that adults have.

        That is why the Internet is such a great place for children to explore unfettered. Little Jonny can wonder off alone and learn about the word and himself, and you do not actually have to worry about them being eaten by a wolf or breaking their leg like our parents/grandparents used to, when learning about the worded entailed large amounts of real danger and life threatening situations.

        The "wolves" and "broken legs" can still appear in different forms, from creepy guys who "groom" kids and young teens in inappropriate interactions (perhaps coaxing them into real-world "encounters") to cyberbullying scenarios that can drive a kid to depression or even suicide. In case you haven't noticed, people tend to be meaner on the internet -- not having to say or do nasty things to someone's face often makes it easier. How many people who lay on the horn in their car? How many of those same people would start randomly screaming at somebody who was walking too slowly in front of them?

        The "virtual" space of the internet allows more abstract interactions -- often more extreme and unusual than in real life -- some of which children and young people may need guidance to navigate.

        As far as I am concerned, knowingly filtering a child's knowledge, and retarding their ability to learn, is nothing sort of child abuse.

        Filtering knowledge and retarding abilities to learn are different from providing guidance or creating reasonable restrictions when a child cannot be continuously monitored. I agree with you that the GP's approach can sound rather extreme. I personally think an ideal solution involves parents providing direct guidance and supervised exploration, rather than background monitoring and surveillance.

        On the other hand, I don't see a huge amount of difference in the GP's behavior from a parent who puts up a fence around the yard so the 2-year-old doesn't go wandering into the street. Having a fence to keep the kid from wandering away in the few seconds a parent may be distracted by something else is a reasonable restriction. And it doesn't mean that the parent can't also have the gate open at times, teach the child to look both ways, teach the child never to run after balls into the street until he/she is older, etc.

        The place I disagree with the GP is the sense of constant surveillance. Kids need to have "safe places" to explore on their own. There are places on the internet that is possible, just like there are places in the backyard that are safe for a 2-year-old. A better solution would allow a kid to wander about in those safe places without being worried about parental surveillance.

        However, the entire internet is NOT always a safe place. It's incredibly naive to act like it is.

        • by devent (1627873)

          Oh please. The myth of the fragile psyche of the child. I think parents are the ones that "need guidance to navigate." in the "virtual-space". The "virtual-space" is the perfect environment for a child to flourish: it's save and it's detached from the real live. Of course a child needs guidance and explanations, but what it really does not need is constant control and censorship.

          The most important what a child needs is trust in his or her parents: trust that the parents will give guidance and understanding

    • by timeOday (582209)
      I am closer to you than most of the other responses (our computers are connected to desktop displays in the main room - no laptops in bedrooms). However, I have stopped short of using technical means for compliance. I think that fosters an adversarial situation, where circumvention is some sort of victory, instead of conveying standards and expectations. Granted we haven't had that "litmus test" moment yet of walking in on something, so it's all somewhat hypothetical until then.
      • by Inda (580031)
        I told all the family early on that I could, if I needed to, monitor all their internet activity from my own PC. A few ground rules were put in place, such as no trolling or abusing others, and that was it.

        Fast forward to last week and my 13 year old admitted to downloading and watching the movie Saw with her friend. I played the fatherly game of "you shouldn't watch that at your age" and "is there anything you'd like to talk about?". The game was won by the choice words "oh c'mon Dad, it wasn't that bad".

        T
    • by Minupla (62455)

      And when they go over to their friends' houses and get access to an unfiltered internet connection, will they have the skill set to self filter?

      At the moment our daughter has access to an unfiltered network connection (she's 5) through one of our PCs. She uses it to go to abcmouse.com.

      I don't think she'll get a PC in her room, and all our computers are in a public space in the house, but I'm realistic about my ability to shelter her, and more importantly, realistic about her probable eventual abilities to

    • by Darinbob (1142669) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @10:30PM (#45149207)

      The key I think is just parental supervision. That doens't mean forbidding things just putting it in perspective. Ie, homework must come FIRST, then chores, and only then spend the small amount of remaining time in the day on television or internet or texting on the phone. But even then good parental supervision might encourage the children to read a book first and to go outside and get some real exercise (unstructured play that is, not necessarily sports).

      So when a parent says they can't help it when their kid is on the smartphone all day, that means they're abdicating their job. Just cancel the phone, it is that easy. If you're concerned that they won't be able to phone the police in an emergency then get a dumb phone or lock down the dataplan. This is NOT child abuse. We survived for millenia without having the internet in arms reach at all times.

      Unsupervised access to internet should be like most other things in life, it gets granted to you as part of a gradually increasing amount of trust and responsibility. Child proves they are a bit more responsible which earns a bit more trust. Eventually you get to the stage of going out to dinner without hiring a babysitter first, and similarly there should be a time when the internet can be used even without adults in the house.

      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Unsupervised access to internet should be like most other things in life, it gets granted to you as part of a gradually increasing amount of trust and responsibility. Child proves they are a bit more responsible which earns a bit more trust. Eventually you get to the stage of going out to dinner without hiring a babysitter first, and similarly there should be a time when the internet can be used even without adults in the house.

        Exactly... My oldest just started college and although I could monitor her, I do not. Apart from the top level filters to avoid tripping over 'adult' material on accident, she is free to use her laptop (which she paid for herself). She's shown to be responsible, is getting great grades, so I don't have to worry about it.

        Her younger brother in Jr High, is a totally different story. He is totally incapable of self discipline in this area and simply cannot regulate his computer usage. It's so bad that his

    • by devent (1627873)

      I think you are a control freak. Do you have that little trust in your children's abilities and even less trust in your children to come to you if they find something disturbing on the Internet? I bet you would want to install a GPS tracker in your kids underwear to monitor in real-time where ever they go.

      How can they learn anything for them self if you control everything? Humans need privacy to be human, and children have to figure things out in their own to build any confidence in them self. Your job as a

    • by rtb61 (674572)

      A "huge percentage of trash", I think you are a little misinformed yourself. The greatest threat to children, as it has always been and always will be is, da da da dum, 'OTHER CHILDREN'. They get into mischief, they more very poor high risk decisions, they are easily manipulated into doing foolish things by other children and they can be very nasty to each other.

      This is why children are in fact supervised by adults most of the time and especially groups of children. The internet can be the worst possible

    • by Timo_UK (762705)
      Do you let your children walk outside by themselves?
      • by bobbied (2522392)

        Yes, but they have to wear helmets when they ride their bikes..

        Funny you should mention that, because apparently the police in my neighborhood has an issue with that during school days. We've had them show up twice because our kids, who are home schooled, where playing with their friends (also home schooled) across the street while lunch was being prepared. So apparently my parenting was not strict enough for the state.... (grin) We where advised that we needed to keep the kids in the back yard... "Sorry

  • Crazy talk! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pla (258480) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @07:32PM (#45148241) Journal
    At age 8, I would never have allowed my parents unsupervised use of the home PC.

    Now, by 12 or 13, I had learned enough about security basics to limit their access enough as to render them relatively harmless. But before that? No frickin' way - One "install our daily free coupon print driver" ad away from needing to do a total reimage.


    Oh, wait... You meant... Ahahaahahhaaaaahah!!11!!1!!!!!

    How quaint. As though non-IT professional parents have the least shot at keeping their kids off the internet. Cute notion, though.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Lumpy (12016)

      at age 8 I had complete root access of the computer and by age 9 I had started to disassemble it for hardware modifications and was OS hacking. I was online before my parents because I was the one who figured out the passwords for the local UUNET dial up node 300bps and I was rocking the ASCII art boobies!

      My porn was finding more and more information, When I discovered what some people had out there, I really wanted a real computer so I started searching for business that went under to get my dad to go t

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        they do NOT need unrestricted access to a cesspool.

        Meh. I allow my child unrestricted access to this 'cesspool' for educational purposes. Have to learn how to deal with idiots.

        Honestly, the fact that a few kids occasionally kill themselves doesn't mean there's some huge epidemic.

      • by Nimey (114278)

        Absofragginlutely. Kiddo's getting mostly unrestricted access to a computer and dead trees, but (at first) strictly limited access to the cesspool, increasing as she gets older and can handle it.

      • by narcc (412956)

        at age 8 I had complete root access of the computer

        I was online before my parents because I was the one who figured out the passwords for the local UUNET dial up node 300bps

        Does not compute. Was your home computer a VAX or something?

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          You must not be able to read....

          "Scored a Cromemco Miniframe computer by the age of 12 that has 2 VT100 terminals."

          next time try reading past the first sentence before posting.

      • by Darinbob (1142669)

        Trouble is we really don't have that type of computing anymore. No one does homebrew stuff really, and the computers come fully enabled with a giant pipeline to the net.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          The DIY community strongly disagrees with you. There are thousands out there building not only computers from scratch but even processors from scratch.

          And the over 1,000,000 Raspberry Pi's sold means there are at least a million of them out there not being used to surf the internet.

      • I really liked your other post: "Children need unrestricted access to the computer and to knowlege and information. they do NOT need unrestricted access to a cesspool."

        You sound like a great dad. Seriously.

        • by Lumpy (12016)

          it's what happens when an old school hacker get's old and doesn't become a sellout like the rest of them did. WE are a rare breed but do still exist.

          For example , Steve Woz - still a pure hacker with the hacker mentality and honestly still understands the drive, passion, and that curiosity is more important than anything else.

  • by profplump (309017) <zach-slashjunk@kotlarek.com> on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @07:58PM (#45148393)

    And in "real life" 100% of parents allow 8-year-olds to have unsupervised in-person social interaction with their peers (and probably on the phone as well). The fact that socialization is happening with the aid of a computer does not make it inherently more dangerous; without the Interwebs this girl would still have been harassed, and we should be working to stop the harassment, not to stop the use of computers in harassment.

    • by Nimey (114278) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @08:49PM (#45148719) Homepage Journal

      I give you the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory: http://www.penny-arcade.com/comic/2004/03/19 [penny-arcade.com]

      People (kids too) are more likely to be fucking barbarians when they're behind a computer and have a little pseudonymity, when someone can't reach over and punch them in the nose for going too far.

      And as the AC noted, pedos.

    • by Valdrax (32670) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @09:01PM (#45148785)

      The fact that socialization is happening with the aid of a computer does not make it inherently more dangerous...

      Yes it does. There is far more access to dangerous materials and dangerous people online than there is in person. While there's a slight advantage in a greater pool of potential victims to hide in the crowd of, the danger in the ability of predators of any stripe (not just sexual) to reach your kids from anywhere in the country or even the world. There's not as much ability for kids to tell what a "bad neighborhood" is online as in real life.

      There's also less public shame for bad behavior and a greater tendency for people to act in herds of like-minded individuals. (See, e.g. the resurgence of white supremacist groups in the modern day or "thinspiration" sites.) You don't have to encounter people who disagree with you, unless you want to -- even if just to troll them. Witness comments section of any news or politics site.

      [W]ithout the Interwebs this girl would still have been harassed, and we should be working to stop the harassment, not to stop the use of computers in harassment.

      The harassment would have been completely different in tone and scale. Hiding behind a computer is quite different from doing something where witnesses who might disapprove would be present to act as a check or the much simpler one of being within arms reach. Witness Xbox Live, the domain of bullies who would be the bullied anywhere else.

      Tools matter. There's a difference between two hotheaded boys getting in a fist fight and two armed hotheaded boys getting into a fight. The same is true of cyberbullying v. in-person bullying. People act differently in different environments, and online is more (and less) dangerous for certain types of behavior.

  • by LifesABeach (234436) on Wednesday October 16, 2013 @08:00PM (#45148399)
    If you don't have children, you have no clue about this topic. And if you do, you're concerned about the lost child. But not enough to support those that would turn the internet into a corporate sponsored lock down.

    I use to think I'd be a fine husband, till I got married.
    I use to think I'd be a fine father, till I had chidren.
    I use to think I'd be a fine grandparent; I pray that I just don't fuck this up.
    • by profplump (309017)

      And if you do have children you almost certainly lack perspective just as badly as those without children.

  • Although I allowed them unsupervised but still monitored access to the internet at age 12. Before age 12, they were always supervised.
  • It's amazing at how many (including taxpayer) dollars are spent "educating" the kids about the "evils" of online copyright infringement. These dollars would be better spent educating about online bullying and setting up a website where kids, at their option anonymously, can get help from a real human being (of course properly vetted).
  • .... Slashdot editing.

  • People forgot about NSA quickly I see.
  • By the time children are able to get in trouble online, they are smart enough to bypass your best efforts. A 7 year old will see naked people "wrestling" and go off looking for my little pony videos. A 13 year old will go a public library on a way back from school and login to a secret facebook account with fake birthday.

    The trick is to start presenting realistic, unembelished facts at 7 so that a 13 year old finds you credible enough to consider your warnings seriously.

  • Children can hurt themselves on the Internet... Quite badly...

    No, seriously.

    I have never seen any credible evidence whatsoever that children can be harmed by any particular nasty bits they see or read online. If they aren't interested in something they simply laugh or say, "Ewwww, gross," and move on. But they can nevertheless get themselves in a world of trouble online in various, and I don't think that age 8 is anywhere near mature enough to even begin to understand how they can destroy their own lives by

  • Parents (and I am one myself), don't get dragged into the media hype of paedophiles and internet bullies everywhere. Your child is much more likely to be run over by a car.
  • If parents have to rely on censorship, they have already failed in their education. Three of our four already grew up to become happy productive and thriving adults, and we never ever censored them. Right from when they started to walk they were granted their private sphere, and once they were able to read they had unrestricted and unmonitored internet access.

    And no, we are not some bogans living in a trailer park. I am a medical doctor and owner of a group practice and one of my "uncensored growing up" off

  • Seriously, how it the term "average" used in this context.

  • This article is fake.
    All children of all ages browser the internet supervised and monitored by the NSA!

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