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Rethinking IM Privacy For Kids 507

Posted by kdawson
from the extra-safe-society dept.
mackles writes, "Now that the world has read the despicable instant messages from Rep. Foley, should parents take a second look at monitoring their kids' IMs? After all, it was IM logging that exposed the scandal; would we have found out otherwise? Cost is not an issue, there are free monitoring tools. Should parents tell their kids before they monitor? Parents and their tech-savvy kids are at odds on the topic. From the article: 'As many as 94 percent of parents polled this summer by the research firm Harris Interactive said they've turned to Web content filters, monitoring software, or advice from an adult friend to keep electronic tabs on their children.' The article quotes one 18-year-old as saying, 'A lot of kids are smarter than adults think.'"
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Rethinking IM Privacy For Kids

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  • by dspyder (563303) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:31PM (#16283021)
    My kids are smart enough to check what's running on their PC. Can I install a logger on my WRT54G (running hyperWRT + Thibor 15c firmware)?
    • by Aliencow (653119) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:32PM (#16283037) Homepage Journal
      If you can install tcpdump on that thing, I'm sure you could use that. You'd need somewhere to store the logs though..
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Neil Watson (60859)
      Take contorl of their PCs and reduce their user rights. In truth, IM as very difficult to monitor reliably. There are ways to defeat most logging facilities.
    • by bmajik (96670) <matt@mattevans.org> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:47PM (#16283303) Homepage Journal
      Do your kids have admin rights on the computer(s) they use? They may be able to check whats going on, but may be unable to do anything about it.

      Ultimately you can install a key logger, even if they get encrypted connections going or install software that makes it harder for you to snoop. I wouldn't be surprised if there was some kind of key logger that logged what keys were sent to which app at what time.. that could give you a 1-sided "replay" of activity even in the face of them putting stealthier software on the machine(or using web based chats via https anonymizers or something)

      As someone else pointed out though - i'm not sure you want to be in a technology cold war with your kids. You need to come to an understanding about why they want to disobey you. There is probably a lot of ignorance and arrogance on both sides of the parent/child relationship, and the right meeting is somewhere in the middle.

      The internet is a hostile place for adults also. The struggle of parenting would seem to be hw to let your child grow into an adult that makes responsible decisions about their privacy, personal safety, etc, while still giving them boundaries that let you sleep relatively comfortably at nite as they learn how to do this.

      I'm not a parent, but it seems to me that the "threats" are the same as they've always been, but the vectors are different this time around (and they'll be different again in 10 years)

    • by COMON$ (806135) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:01PM (#16283573) Journal
      I am not a big fan of running monitoring software on the PC, you can always get around those. You are on the right track with a logger. Go for something like censornet or any of the plethora of network traffic monitoring tools out there. Really hard to get around your gateway. You can run most these tools on a crappy old PC you have lying around the house.
    • by forkazoo (138186)

      My kids are smart enough to check what's running on their PC. Can I install a logger on my WRT54G (running hyperWRT + Thibor 15c firmware)?

      I've never done it, but I don't see why it would be difficult. IMs are generally sent as plain text. If the kids are clever enough to use encryption, you may have problems, but I imagine that few kids would bother. I'm most familiar with AIM, but I wouldn't expect MSN/Yahoo messages to be much more difficult to intercept. You may even be able to set up a firewall rul

    • by Com2Kid (142006) <com2kidSPAMLESS@gmail.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:14PM (#16283803) Homepage Journal
      If your kids are smart enough to monitor what is running on their computer, shouldn't they also be smart enough to realize if someone is trying to sexually manipulate them?

      I've been on the internet since I was 11, got an ICQ account first thing.

      Staying safe on the internet is pretty simple. Don't hand out real name, age, or location. Gender either if it can be avoided.

      Teach your kids that, make sure they realize WHY it is important ("Do you want to end up raped and dead in some ditch? No? DON'T GIVE OUT PERSONAL INFORMTATION THEN.") and trust in them not to take a plane trip somewhere to meet some weirdo halfway across the country.
    • by Odin's Raven (145278) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:23PM (#16283967)
      My kids are smart enough to check what's running on their PC. Can I install a logger on my WRT54G (running hyperWRT + Thibor 15c firmware)?

      Yes, dad, the 54G can do logging. Actually that's probably better than the silly keylogger Judy and I have been using against you and mom for the past year. (BTW, having 'g0d' as your admin password is really lame - we didn't even need the keylogger to figure that out. :P I'll walk you through the firmware update after I get home from band practice.

      Your loving son, Jack

      P.S. Do not let Judy do the install - she's bound to get the interface names reversed and broadcast the log files to the universe. (If you don't believe me, ask her why that botnet attacked our computer last fall. I told her the target IP was the first param, not the second one, but did Little Miss 31337 listen to me? Of course not.)

      • Ya, it's easy to take care of all of this BS. Pull the plug on the computer. That'll get the boy's attention. And then if and when you ever plug it back in, put the damn thing in the living room. If you don't want us seeing what you're doing that's a good clue that you shouldn't be doing it. Don't like it? There's the door. Punk ass kid.
  • Revolutionary Idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by richdun (672214) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:33PM (#16283045)
    So I'm not a parent yet, but having had parents who did a kick ass job raising my sister and myself, what if parents just, you know, talked to their kids once in a while? A parent that genuinely listens and cares about their children is going to be much better received - and far more trusted - by their kids than one who tries to become the FBI and wiretap everything their kids do. It just seems like common sense to me.

    I know, I know, think of the children, blah blah blah. I hate election years.
    • by LoudMusic (199347) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:42PM (#16283215)
      So I'm not a parent yet, but having had parents who did a kick ass job raising my sister and myself, what if parents just, you know, talked to their kids once in a while? A parent that genuinely listens and cares about their children is going to be much better received - and far more trusted - by their kids than one who tries to become the FBI and wiretap everything their kids do. It just seems like common sense to me.

      I know, I know, think of the children, blah blah blah. I hate election years.


      Well, I'm voting for you. Still hate election years? ;)

      But seriously, communicating with your kids is absolutely the right thing to do. And it's something you have to do consistantly from the very beginning. Teach them right and wrong, know what it is they're interested in and what their hobbies are. Don't keep tabs on their every move, just be aware of what they're doing.

      Basically BE INVOLVED IN YOUR CHILD'S LIFE. You brought them into the world, whether by choice or not, so act like the adult you chose to be and be responsible for you and your childrens' actions.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:47PM (#16285173) Journal
        Activating AOL Mode...

        Me Too!

        Seriously, I had unrestricted Internet access (my own dial-up account) for the computer in my room from the age of about 14. I had a 2400 baud modem before that, but I didn't use it much because it was too slow for most things (and I had to pay the 'phone bill for modem calls, which added up really quickly).

        My computer was completely set-up by me, and my parents didn't even have a login. Occasionally my mother would ask to borrow a web browser when she wanted to look something up (my father had his own laptop), but apart from that it was my machine. Because of this freedom, I learned a huge amount; I'm now coming to the end of a PhD in computer science. If the machine had been locked down, I would have done one of two things:

        1. Bypassed the security, as I did with school machines with silly lock-down rules that got in my way (wit authorisation from a teacher in all cases), or
        2. Got bored with the machine quickly and not learned anything from it.
        To all those claiming that you have to protect your children; which of these do you think is better? My parents had a simple philosophy. They believed that by the age of about ten, a child had absorbed everything it would from a parent-child relationship. Everything after that must come from an attitude of mutual respect. They didn't spy on me, or try to enforce behaviours. They taught me to understand the consequences of my actions, and not do anything I wouldn't like the result of.

        Oh, and as a result of this, I missed out on the teenage rebellious phase, since I already had all of the freedoms I wanted. I do, however, have a very low tolerance for those who exercise power without earning the moral authority to do so. Perhaps if more people had had an upbringing like mine we would be further away from a 1984-like scenario...

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by MBCook (132727)

      I agree, but you should monitor them anyway. Between having a sociopath who has no problem lying, to having a good kid make a mistake once that could ruin the rest of their life, I think there are far too many reasons to monitor anyway.

      Talking to the kid is important. Possibly the most important. But having talked to the kid isn't a cure-all either.

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:00PM (#16283567)
        ...I think there are far too many reasons to monitor anyway.

        I grew up with very strict parents. It was so bad, they would listen in on conversations I had with my friends - especially, girls. I resent it so much, that when I hear about this kind of thing, especially if it's Government who wants to do it - think warrantless wiretaps - I go ballistic! My parents basically turned me into an anarchist.

        I agree that a parent has a responsibility to keep an eye on their kids, but if they go too far, they'll inhibit their kids so much that they'll be afraid to do or say anything "wrong".

        On a positive note, I was the perfect corporate drone. I never said or did anything that pissed off the managment, I did everything they said, I made sure to say all the right things - my reviews were great!

        Now, I just can't stomach it anymore.

        • I grew up with very strict parents. It was so bad, they would listen in on conversations I had with my friends - especially, girls.

          Yeah, our society's obsession with freaking out over every new invention ... freaks me out.

          I had friends with parents like yours back when I was a kid. They would seriously listen to every phone conversation that took place in the house (had extra lines installed just for this purpose). One family, the dad was an electronics whiz, and even hooked up an automatic recording system
      • by killmenow (184444)
        Too bad I'm out of mod points right now. You are absolutely correct. And, while I feel for the Anon reply to your post, it is a very fine line. Which is just one reason why it's so hard to get it right.
    • by eln (21727) * on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:44PM (#16283257) Homepage
      I think making sure your kids have their IM clients set to only allow people on their buddy lists, and then making sure you know their friends, goes a long way.

      Of course, the way to make sure they set their IM clients that way is to talk to them and have a conversation about the dangers of random contacts through IM. Most of them are talking with the friends they already know (from school or wherever), so this sort of restriction is not that big of an impediment.

      After that, as long as you have a good relationship with your kids, and as long as you know their friends, the chances of them getting involved in something nasty through IM is minimal. Spying and setting up harsh restrictions without any explanation just breeds more rebellion in kids that are already at a naturally rebellious stage in life.

      Occasionally checking their IM settings to make sure they are still set the right way is probably fine. Reading through their conversations, though, is an invasion of privacy, and shows a lack of trust in your kids. If you don't have a relationship with your kids that allows you to have at least some trust in them, nothing you can do with their IM client is going to help the situation very much.
    • You beat me to the exact point I wanted to make. Actually being a half-decent parent is a far better solution. My parents & grandparents get very annoyed at people who make no effort with their children, and even at my age (20) it is possible to discern between people who've had a decent upbringing from people who haven't. The problems the article discusses are just the most recent symptom of this much deeper issue.
    • by dr_dank (472072) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:50PM (#16283377) Homepage Journal
      So I'm not a parent yet, but having had parents who did a kick ass job raising my sister and myself, what if parents just, you know, talked to their kids once in a while? A parent that genuinely listens and cares about their children is going to be much better received - and far more trusted

      Much like worker vs. management, the parent/child relationship is, by its very nature, adversarial. It is the job of the child to explore their world and get into mischief. It is the nature of the parent to keep the kids from doing this if they have any hope of surviving to maturity. Kids who feel comfortable telling their parents everything will usually become selective about what they say once they feel the heat of doing something that Mom or Dad disapprove of.

      No kid in his/her right mind would tell their parents about the swell kegger that Jimmy from up the block is having while his folks are in Europe if they didn't mind their peers kicking their asses.

      • by PriceIke (751512) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:03PM (#16283599)

        > Much like worker vs. management, the parent/child relationship is, by its very nature, adversarial.

        One major difference: children are not adult workers entering into a consensual employee/employer relationship. Children are born into their families with no inherent rights except that to food, shelter, education and a decent upbringing to the best of their parents' ability. They do not have "rights" to privacy, speech, freedom of association or any of the basic civil rights adults enjoy. They live under the protection of their parents and therefore if the parents want to read their IM logs, that's their prerogative.

        • by Pfhorrest (545131) on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:32PM (#16284981) Homepage Journal
          One major difference: children are not adult workers entering into a consensual employee/employer relationship. Children are born into their families with no inherent rights except that to food, shelter, education and a decent upbringing to the best of their parents' ability. They do not have "rights" to privacy, speech, freedom of association or any of the basic civil rights adults enjoy. They live under the protection of their parents and therefore if the parents want to read their IM logs, that's their prerogative.

          By that logic, citizens are born into their countries with no inherent rights besides whatever their government grants them at the time, and so long as they "choose" to live under the protection of that government (i.e. do not choose to uproot their entire lives and move somewhere else), it's the government's prerogative to meddle in the private affairs of it's citizens however it pleases. To anyone who supports the principles of liberty and constitutional democracy that most of the civilized world cherishes today, this is obviously wrong: people may have an obligation to obey their governments to some limited extent, but the governments conversely have an obligation to respect the rights and freedom of their citizens, and refrain from interfering except when absolutely necessary.

          Our families are our models for government. The family is the most basic unit of society (i.e. the smallest and most primitive grouping of people). If we teach our kids that it's OK for their parents to monitor them constantly and meddle in their lives to whatever extent that they (the parents) see fit, then we're raising a generation of soon-to-be-adults who will not mind if their government does the same thing to them. If you wouldn't be happy with your government behaving a certain way toward you, you should seriously consider whether or not it's really OK for you to behave that way toward your kids. And vice versa: if it doesn't seem OK for a parent to do to their child, that raises some big red flags about whether it's OK for the government to do to it's citizens.

          The role of parents is to use force only when necessary to keep their kids from *seriously* screwing something else up (i.e. punishing them for starting fights, vandalism, etc etc), and *educating* them about things which are dangerous to themselves. If those things really are bad for themselves, the kids will learn that yeah, mom and/or dad were right, that was a bad idea. If parents show a good track record of indicating bad things that the kids can verify with their own first-hand experience in the short-term, the kids will (rightly) be more inclined to trust them about the longer-term hazards that it takes years of experience to learn first-hand. But if the parents are full of shit and over-controlling, prohibiting things that don't really cause any harm, and meddling with and prying into their kids lives all the time, the kids will be less inclined to trust them about anything. Same way that the citizenry will learn to disregard the law entirely when the law is frequently baseless and unjust, but if the law is just and well-founded it will have many supporters.

          Needless to say, all of this is solely regarding "children" of a conscious, verbal level of development, i.e. basically young impulsive inexperienced adults. When dealing with infants or toddlers who are actually incapable of really understanding what you tell them - not just perhaps inclined to disregard it - then obviously the same rules don't apply.
    • by glhturbo (32785) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:07PM (#16283665)
      Well, I do have kids .. two boys, 10 and 6 ...

      I try at every opportunity to let them know about the good and bad of technology. Yes, you have Wikipedia and Google, but you also have pedophiles too. Just like walking down the street. There are good folks and bad folks, and just like it is hard to tell the difference from faces, it is hard to tell the difference online. I try to explain and enforce good online safety and behavior rules. I try to talk to them, and make sure that I am involved in their lives.

      However, their computers are facing out, in a public part of the house. I check their activities, and make sure they are doing the right things. I don't check obsessively, but I do check. Trust is a two-way street. They know that if they get bagged, I will crack down. Of course, I also do check logs, history, cookies, and my router :-). But they know mom & dad check up on them, and they accept that. Just like we make sure they aren't watching crap on TV, and we make sure their friends aren't morons, and we pack healthy snacks for school :-). It's all part of the same job... Granted, they may not like it, but sometimes you have to be "mean". My job is to bring them up in the way that I see as "right". I may be friend #1 now, becasue they are young, but that won't last long, and I can accept that. If they are happy, well-adjusted, productive members of society, I did my job...

      I guess what I'm trying to say is this: Talk to your kids, make sure they know what is right and wrong first. Explain basic safety rules, behavior online, etc. But do make sure to check on them, and make sure they see you as involved. They need to know boundaries, and if they know you are checking and being involved, I think they'll try to live up to it ... well, at least until they are teenagers :-) I may change my tune then! :-)

      • by COMON$ (806135)
        amen, mod poster up.
    • by COMON$ (806135)
      Because this is corporate america. You dont talk to your kids, you pay people to do it for you. Kids are a status symbol. Ever read Farenheight 451? You know the book? Parent-kid relationships are moving more and more to that end of the spectrum.

      My parents were actively involved in each of their children's lives. We all came out pretty good, and very diverse. A Gnostic Chef, Anarchist Environmentalist, and Christian Geek. You dont have to control your kids, just instill good morals and they will tak

    • by misleb (129952)
      I agree. Don't monitor/censor by default. Trust your kids. When you lose trust in your kids, they lose trust in you. Like you said, talk to them. Make them tell you waht they are doing and where they are going. Sure, they are going to lie to you every now and then. Call them on it when it happens, but continue to trust.

      The exception would be that extreme case where you have good reason to suspect that the child is already getting into big trouble. Like with law enforcement, you should have probable cause.

      -m
    • by CrankyOldBastard (945508) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:15PM (#16283819)
      It's not always so simple. About a year ago we found that our then 12 year old son was using his Mum's account on her study computer to admire all kinds of porn. Now the kids machine is forced to go through Dan's Guardian, but Jo's isn't, as this would get in the way of her study. But Jo has her windoze screen saver password turned off, so she can walk aay from a papper she's writing, and come back, shake the mouse and restart writing.


      Teen Curiosity you think. The trouble was (from my wife and my perspective) that some of the content he was looking at was from the pretty extreme end of human sexual behaviour. We'd talked to the boy pretty frankly about his body, about sex, responsibility, hygiene and health, but there were people inserting things into each other's bodies that I'd never have thought to have mentioned in some of the things he was looking at.

      Now I personally don't think that women inserting baseball bats in men's rectums is "normal" sexual behaviour. Call me a prude. But we realised that there are so many things out there that are just sooooo outside anything we could think of talking about (and to be frank, I don't really want to discuss the joys of prostate stimulation with foreign objects to my 13 year old son).

      It all came back to school - there was an older boy (18!!!) who was taking great delight in "advising" younger boys to go to certain websites. That kid has been expelled, and has a court order to stay away from schools and p[laygrounds, as a bit of investigation showed that the lad has a history as a 17 year old of gettting heavily involved with 12 year old boys and girls. I accept that kids will have sex, but not with people that are almost adults who have a fetish for objects and 'toys'. But an older kid will alwys be "more informed" and "cooler" than parents.

      As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing too extreme when it come to me finding out what my kids are doing on the Internet. I log, monitor, re-direct and block my kids use of the Internet. They can move out at 18 if they don't like it.
      • by An Onerous Coward (222037) on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:56PM (#16285275) Homepage
        Prude!

        What? You told me to.

        Okay, stupid joke.

        I can't see any value in your kid seeing these pictures, or taking cues about his sex life from a seventeen year old. But I do see some value in having clear lines of communication, and I don't know if the value of protecting your son from weird pictures is worth the loss there. I'd much rather have a kid who finds weird stuff on the 'Net and thinks, "maybe the parents can tell me what's up with that," instead of, "how do I get my hands on more without the parents finding out?" But maybe it's overly optimistic to think that most kids could ever see their parents as reliable sources for information about sex.

        I'm curious: did you have a good talk with the kid about why he was interested in these pictures, and why you didn't feel that they were appropriate for someone of his age? Probably you did. Maybe he understood your reasoning. Maybe he agreed with it. Maybe he's following the rules. But it seems to me that, so long as the interest is there, that the situation isn't fully resolved. And if he doesn't even feel safe in telling you that he's still interested, I think it has a snowballing effect on your relationship, multiplying the number of things that he doesn't feel comfortable discussing with you.

        All I'm really saying is that even twelve year olds have some concept of sexuality, and a desire to figure it out. If you can make him comfortable telling you what's going on in his mind, without getting judged or humiliated, then you've got a better shot at protecting him from the really dangerous things.
    • by RareButSeriousSideEf (968810) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:50PM (#16284391) Homepage Journal
      I'm usually way out on the "pro privacy" side of these issues -- you know, YRO trumps all other considerations, etc. In the parent / kid context though, good communication is fantastic, but alone it's insufficient in a significant percent of cases.

      One of the reasons we have a concept of "minors" (for whom parents are responsible) is that judgement takes time to acquire. Much as people would like, it's just not possible to *reliably* create kids with good judgement via good parenting. Kids are more susceptible to peer pressure, and they tend to go through phases where they're prone to concealing their activities from their parents. Some lessons need to be learned the hard way, but the "hard way" can carry an unacceptably high price in the online arena.

      Different kids need different amounts of supervision and oversight in the physical world, and I don't see much difference between that & the online world. Most parents would't let their kid padlock their closet, nor would they agree never to search the child's bedroom under any circumstances. In the spirit of good communication, I would suggest telling the kid that you're monitoring & logging his/her conversations. That admittedly introduces some technical hurdles; ideally it should be done at the router or proxy level, which means disallowing encrypted protocols that can't be logged by an intermediate node.

      If you log a child's surfing habits, you always have the option of not reading the logs unless/until you have reason to. But down the road if you have reason to suspect something (or heaven forbid something awful happens), you'll probably be glad you have the logs.

  • by mengel (13619) <mengel.users@sourceforge@net> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:33PM (#16283047) Homepage Journal
    "Old age and treachery will overcome youth and skill"

    'Nuff said.

  • by pnuema (523776) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:34PM (#16283065)
    'A lot of kids are smarter than adults think.'

    And most kids are not as smart as they think they are. News at 11.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Etherwalk (681268)
      And a lot of adults are a lot dumber than they think. I love the smell of sweeping generalizations in the morning!
    • by This Old Chestnut (759273) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:40PM (#16283167)
      "When I was 14, my parents were the most ignorant people in the world. When I turned 21, I was amazed at how much they had learned in the last 7 years."

      -- Mark Twain
    • by Ruie (30480)
      'A lot of kids are smarter than adults think.'

      And most kids are not as smart as they think they are. News at 11.

      American education is indeed in a bad shape..

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Alchemar (720449)
      No, most kids are not as wise as they think they are. I remember being a kid and being very frustrated about no one believing what I was capable of. I was smart enough to do just about anything I wanted. I had enough common sense to realize most of the time that knowing how to do something and it being I good idea to do weren't the same. Most of my friends had a lot more trouble with that relationship. The consequence is that I could tell them how to do it, and they would do it. Even I didn't have the
    • by Peter Trepan (572016) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:56PM (#16283471)
      More accurately: Kids use surprising ingenuity in achieving their stupid objectives.
    • Neither are most adults. A lot of people think they're quite craft or informed. I've seen a smug parent install various filters/etc on the machine, only to have an equally smug kid trick them or bypass them.

      Try securing a school computer and see how many clever tricks the kids come up with to get around it. Although to be fair, in the day of google and the internet script-kiddies tend to abound, but back about 7-10 years ago my classmates and I found many an interesting workaround. Heck, some pretty cleve
  • by acid_zebra (552109) <acidzebra@@@gmail...com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:36PM (#16283099) Homepage Journal
    we should outfit them with a camera, GPS device and listening post. Never know what those kids are up to. We should rigidly protect them from all outside evils real and imaginary and then at age 18 turn the poor unsuspecting souls loose. See what happens.

  • by Audent (35893) <audent@il[ ]biscuits.com ['ove' in gap]> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:36PM (#16283101) Homepage
    Wah? Huh? If you're going to do this kind of thing of COURSE you should tell your kids... cos yeah, ignorance is always the best option. Imagine if they found out?

    Kid: Mom, Dad, have you been spying on me?
    Mom: Why yes, yes we have Johnny.
    Kid: Lock and load...

    Come on, I thought the era of parenting/managing by stealth was long since dead and buried. Surely open communication, cooperation and engaging with kids (or employees for that matter - it's the same deal really) makes better sense?

    Or is there still a group out there that thinks education is bad, mkay? Don't teach our kids about sexual health because (GASP) they might become sexually active! OMG STFU WTF.

    Hint: they're going to anyway, surely it's better for them to learn properly than from some xxx website.
    • by Trillan (597339) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:49PM (#16283365) Homepage Journal
      Not that I disagree with telling kids about spying, but if you've raised your children so their response is to "lock and load," you have much bigger problems.
    • by bcattwoo (737354)
      Or is there still a group out there that thinks education is bad, mkay? Don't teach our kids about sexual health because (GASP) they might become sexually active! OMG STFU WTF.

      Just this morning my local paper (Raleigh News and Observer) ran a letter to the editor from a gentleman who was outraged that UNC makes free condoms available at its health clinic. Thanks to the local sex ed curriculum most kids probably don't know what to do with them anyway.

    • by kabocox (199019)
      Or is there still a group out there that thinks education is bad, mkay? Don't teach our kids about sexual health because (GASP) they might become sexually active! OMG STFU WTF.

      Hint: they're going to anyway, surely it's better for them to learn properly than from some xxx website.


      I tend to think of myself as open minded, but I draw the line at somethings. Ok. I wouldn't mind opening up my porn collection to the kids to view, but my wife and I will not be demonstrating how to perform sex properly to our kids.
  • They could always install GAIM in FC5, I had to ask someone to find out where the logs are kept and strangely things like Off the Record (which encrypts messages on the fly to prevent man in the middle attacks) doesn't encrypt the logs, so all you'd need to do is "cd ~/.gaim/logs" and then you know what they've been saying. If they know how to do this to cover their tracks, chances are you don't need to (or can't) monitor them.

    I always used to cover my tracks pretty well when looking at pr0n, but I gues
  • But they should talk to their children and explain why they think it's necessary. Not tell them "I'm doing this for your own good." Talk to them about the dangers. Like when you want to know where they're going out that night.

    Because if the child thinks you're monitoring them because you don't trust them, or they find out you were monitoring them because you didn't trust them, that can do more damage to the parent-child relationship than anything else. Trust is important.

    Besides, if they don't agree,
  • anything that is on a PC can be subverted given enough incentive.

    If I had kids I'd configure my linux firewall/router to block any traffic to/from their PC on any port but a non-standard one, and have a squid proxy listening on another computer in my network with a whitelist: any URL not in the whitelist would be logged and I could deny/allow access. I probably would also look into some kind of IM proxy that allows usage only at specified times and, most important, that disallowed any sort of file upload/do
  • No kid wants to hear about sex from their parents, and no parents want to tell their kids about sex. You know what? At 12, you need to start, at 15 or 16, you need to be done. Just do it, and it'll be over with!

    "I know you're coming onto that age where you're interested in girls, maybe guys. Now, you aren't allowed to have sex with them, but because it happens, I want you to know I won't punish you, I want you to tell me. And I want to tell you about safety. Condoms blah blah blah. Men over 17(or 18, depend
  • by hcob$ (766699) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:39PM (#16283147)
    Simple... create an account that's only for the kids. Lock down the administrative account with a good password. And install silent monitoring uitilites. Anytime you alert a child to a lock, that's when they aim to defeat it.

    When you get into their teens, you're mainly an advisor. They will do what they want to do, you just need to be able to protect them. And obviously... Children really DON'T have a right to privacy. Sure, I give mine all the privacy I can, but if I'm responsible for you, privacy is a Priveledge.

    Just my 2cents.
  • Would you listen in on your child's phone calls? If not, then why go to great lengths to monitor IM conversations? Simply make sure that they can't stop you from looking over their shoulder every once in a while.
  • Iinstall hidden cameras in ther kid's rooms, microphones too. After all kids are not human, they don't need privacy or dignity.

    There is a difference between taking authoritative steps to protect your children and being invasive upon their lives.

    The difference is subtle but impactful. Treat them like theyre not human and they will not develop properly.
  • Parenting tricks (Score:3, Insightful)

    by pnuema (523776) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:41PM (#16283199)
    What you really want to do is to set up proxies that will monitor all traffic without blocking anything. Never let them know you have done it. Keep an eye on what they do, and let them get away with some stuff - but every once in a while, drop the hammer. The illusion of parental omniscience is not to be underestimated. :)

    For some reason, my 9 year can never figure out how I know when he gets out of bed at night. I'll never tel him the floorboards scream every time he shifts his weight. :)

  • First its not like these messages are going to come out of a the blue. In this specific case the perp spent over a year cultivating the kids before the nasties came. (That is the bad messages were sent after the kid had gone back to high school.)

    Second is the authority issue. If someone really believes the message is coming from a very important person, they arent going to immediately dismiss something strange coming from them.
  • and they are aware that at anytime I can audit their chat sessions. Do I do it every day? No - but I find that if I occasionally audit them most (not all) of the time they've kept things clean and on the up and up. Asking kids to follow boundries without accountability is an idle threat (be good or else!). When I've discovered they've been inappropriate - they lose 'net/cell phone access for a while and believe me - that can sting for a teenage girl...
  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:43PM (#16283241)
    The "Free" example listed in the article is NOT free. From the web site:
    Although you can only view conversations that are less than 24 hours old, ChatChecker Lite saves conversations for 30 days. When you upgrade to ChatChecker Plus, you can immediately view these old conversations.
  • Um, preaching to the choir probably, but shouldn't parents be monitoring their kids' online activities anyway?

    Back in my day our parents knew what kind of neghborhoods we played outside in, why wouldn't parents of today be any different WRT to online neighborhoods?

    When mine are old enough to start unsupervised web use (currently oldest is 5) I will definitely be logging everything they do, not to snoop and evesdrop but just so I can spot check and see what they are doing every once in awhile.
    • Back in my day our parents knew what kind of neghborhoods we played outside in, why wouldn't parents of today be any different WRT to online neighborhoods?
      Knowing your kids' friends and knowing what they do is obviously important, but this is more like recording your kids' phone conversations and setting up hidden video cameras to watch them where ever they go. Did your parents do that, or could you talk to your friends without them listening in?
  • Expect lots of last-minute election-year legislation from fear-crazed christian republicans in congress
    intended to
    protect the children -- yes, we must protect the children! -- from sexual predation from, um, fear-crazed
    christian republicans in congress.
  • What's different between this and the iconic perv outside the schoolyard?

    Do people talk to their children anymore? They should feel comfortable telling YOU if someone starts talking to them in a sick way. If they don't, you've got MUCH bigger problems.

    Spying on your children will not help, in fact, it could do more damage. Trust between parent and child is of utmost importance, erode it, and it's a long ways back.
  • The knee-jerk reaction is to censor communications rather than deal with them. Call the police if they are pedaphicalic and obscene.
  • Monitoring? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by haystor (102186) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:45PM (#16283281)
    Clearly this shows we should be monitoring politicians and not the kids.
  • "As much as I like meeting new people, I'm definitely not going to do it online," he said. "A lot of kids are smarter than adults think."

    Big difference.
  • Personally, I think that the benefits to be gained from spying on your kids using loggers is pretty small compared to the potential price you are going to pay. Think of it this way, if you were to go and try and tail your kids whenever they left the house, how do you think they would respond? How would you kids respond if they walked in on you reading their journal?

    You take a risk when you spy on your kid in such an intrusive manner. Whatever evils you might catch them doing is nothing compared to the ki
  • by PFI_Optix (936301) on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:49PM (#16283353) Journal
    The house, the phone line, the DSL service, and the computer are all in my name. I'm the one my kid puts at risk if he does something illegal. Can someone give me a good reason to *not* monitor what my kid does on the internet?

    When kids shoot up schools, people ask "where were the parents? They should have known." When kids end up teenage parents, people ask "where were the parents? They should have taught them better." When kids get connected to the internet, people say "mind your own business! Privacy! Big Brother! OMG 1984!!!"

    Pick one. Either kids have a right to privacy and the responsibilities that come with the lack of supervision, or they don't have that right, and the parents have to accept some responsibility if they don't know what their kids are doing.
    • by RAMMS+EIN (578166)
      ``When kids shoot up schools, people ask "where were the parents? They should have known." When kids end up teenage parents, people ask "where were the parents? They should have taught them better." When kids get connected to the internet, people say "mind your own business! Privacy! Big Brother! OMG 1984!!!"''

      Are the same people saying all of these?

      Also, can't we figure our kids are troubled (which I assume they must be, before they go shooting up schools), just by observing _them_, rather than their compu
    • by bunions (970377) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:17PM (#16283851)
      it's slashdot - where everything is a simple binary choice between two extremes. Because the idea of a continuum of choices makes programmers uncomfortable.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by TrekkieGod (627867)

      When kids shoot up schools, people ask "where were the parents? They should have known." When kids end up teenage parents, people ask "where were the parents? They should have taught them better." When kids get connected to the internet, people say "mind your own business! Privacy! Big Brother! OMG 1984!!!"

      What the hell? When people ask, "where are the parents?" and say "they should have known," they don't mean "they should have tapped his phone to hear him talk about his plan, logged his computer to k

    • by deblau (68023) <slashdot.25.flickboy@spamgourmet.com> on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:48PM (#16284355) Journal
      Either kids have a right to privacy and the responsibilities that come with the lack of supervision, or they don't have that right, and the parents have to accept some responsibility if they don't know what their kids are doing.
      The world is not black and white. Kids can handle different responsibility at different ages. As they show more maturity, parents can start trusting them with more, and they can have more privacy. That said, I agree that young children's online habits should be carefully monitored, especially until they can tell when someone is trying to take advantage of them (sexually or otherwise). When you're watching your kid and they look up at you and say "I'm leaving this chat room, that guy is a perv," you can probably let them go.
  • At home I can set up so the kids can't get round it, I own the socket, I own the router, I own the box that gives out permission and I can log everything.

    What worries me is the new mobile phones, 3G and the like. While I'll own the contracts and be paying for it, I don't see how I'm going to monitor everything they do on a phone. Hell with a bluetooth keyboard even today's phones are pretty good IM devices, so how I'm going to cope in 5 years time I have no idea.

    What I'd like to see is the ability to have
  • I remember being 15 years old back in 1995 when we got the internet for the first time. My dad tried to scare the hell out of me: "Now there's a history in this thing so don't figure you can go looking at whatever you want, cause by God I'll know about all of it". What greater need might a developing ego have than to prove one's self against such a tyrannical claim? Of course 4 hours later I had figured out the entire thing -- it issue of course being the same software I was using was made for CEOs who w
  • It sounds like we rather need to monitor the electronic communications of our congresspeople, especially the ones who chair the House Caucus on Missing and Exploited Children.
  • As a teenager... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by slimjim8094 (941042) <.ten.detcennoctsuj. .ta. .3todhsals.> on Monday October 02, 2006 @03:56PM (#16283477)
    ...my parents occasionally look at things like history (snicker). However, I was the most computer-savvy person in my house, and ran the router/server. Now, I go to sites/do things that they might not like, but it hasn't harmed me or warped me in any sort of way. I learned my morals from them, and make my own decisions.

    Now, I know that I'm not most teens, and most are stupid and don't give a flying fsck about anything, but children (especially later teenagers) don't get nearly enough respect. Just the question that "should we tell them we're spying on them?" makes me want to throw up. Jeez, no wonder kids think their parents are stupid...
  • Should parents tell their kids before they monitor? Parents and their tech-savvy kids are at odds on the topic.

    Reeeeaaaaalllllyyyyy?! I'm Shocked! SHOCKED, I SAY!

    The article quotes one 18-year-old as saying, 'A lot of kids are smarter than adults think.'"

    True. But, having been a teen, and now having one, I can firmly assert that teens habitually underestimate the intelligence of their parents but not so often is the reverse true.

    And my teen has been told in no uncertain terms that MySpace, Xa

  • First, I think the question should be, how did parents ever think they shouldn't be monitoring young childrens' IM? It's in the same league as knowing what house the kid's going to be staying over at and who'll be there. And the rules change as the kid grows up for exactly the same reasons.

    But would monitoring have helped in the Foley case? The kid reported it, his parents knew about it, and still every party involved downplayed the incident to the greatest extent possible and took the first opportunity th

  • Sigh. (Score:4, Insightful)

    by keyne9 (567528) on Monday October 02, 2006 @04:01PM (#16283579)
    IMs are no different than invoking random people in conversation out in that scary world of our. Teach your kids about perverts and other dangerous people (like clowns) and there should be no need for excessive intrusion.
  • One of my former bosses was a big user of software tools to spy on his teenage daughters' IM chat sessions. (I think he actually got the idea, initially, after having a successful run as a reseller of a commercial web-site filtering/monitor package for Windows.)

    In any case, he had the classical "good daughter" (A+ student, liked by everybody, never got in trouble, great at sports, etc. etc.), and the "bad daughter" (ran around with a convict boyfriend, left home and had to come back several times, didn't f
  • In the age where most communication takes place online, you can not just restrict a 17 year old from using Internet without a truly exceptional reason - or spy on every word of a conversation. Even homework may require some information only available through a search engine. You probably wouldn't hire a security guard to follow your kid and block any attempts for in-person and phone conversation. All that remains is education to help him/her make intelligent choices.
  • by delirium of disorder (701392) on Monday October 02, 2006 @05:18PM (#16284833) Homepage Journal
    This is a message for all the kids living in any Theocracy, whether it happens to be in Iran or the USA:
    Do you think your parents are spying on you and taking Draconian measures to mold you into a little puritan? Want to be free to learn about the real world and maybe even use your own body as you desire? Do you want to learn about evolution, but have fundie nut parents trying to censor your entire environment? Don't want to loose your legal home (which includes perhaps your only access to food, shelter, and healthcare?), and risk getting jailed for leaving it? If you are reading this, you probably have some place where you can access the Internet with minimal restrictions. Maybe you are lucky enough to be online at a friend's house or library. Maybe you hacked the filter at your public school or church. If you want to expand your access and keep your freedom, you will need to take some precautions. To get around any logging or filtering software running on a local machine, I suggest getting your own computer. Try ebay [ebay.com]. If you can't afford a full computer, and just want to chat, I recommend the zipit [zipitwireless.com], it runs Linux, so you can modify it and add features like encryption. If these are not viable options, you should use a Linux (or BSD, or OpenSolaris) bootable CD [frozentech.com]. If you suspect that there is network based monitoring, you should use gaim-otr or gaim-encryption for your chatting and gpg for your email. Learn to tunnel [wikipedia.org] your network traffic through http, ssh, and other protocols. If you are using someone else's PC, you should also check for a hardware keylogger [homespy.com]. Use the presumption of your ignorance to your advantage. Play the naïve little kid. If you get caught trying to circumvent censorship and spying, act like you have no idea what you are doing and just got lost. Act like the computer is broken and you are confused and frustrated.

    A brief message to the parents: Kids like sex. Kids are curious. Remember back when you were a teenager? Wouldn't you have really liked a (select gender based on sexual preference) about ten years older than you (someone in their 20s), to fuck? As illegal and "wrong" as that is, it's what we've evolved to desire. You become sexually mature as a teen, and you want the most fit sexual partner. People older than you are probably the most fit. As you get older, people younger than you are probably the most fit. All the technology in the wold will not change this. It's human nature. Your irrational fear of pleasure is no excuse to stunt your offspring's intellectual growth. Do you really want to keep them from accessing the biggest store of human knowledge ever amassed, just because you don't like the idea that they might actually want to enjoy sex? Or...is it worse than that? Are you a religious asshole that wants to keep your kid from learning about science? If so, you are the reason why your nation is going to plunge deep into a second dark age of technological decay and theocratic war. Thanks a lot!

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