Ten years ago, when schools started to actually suggest that kids would need the Internet for school work, parents and grandparents balked at the idea. "They can't make you have a computer!"
It turns out that they can. Sure, they can't insist that you have it in your house, but there are enough places with free Internet access (think library) that they indeed can insist the Web be a presence in your child's life.
Me, being the techno-geek that I am, never had a problem. I couldn't wait to get my first computer (a good old DOS system back in 1991), and have been upgrading my paychecks away ever since. My kids have always had computers in front of them. They used to be little Geek Wannabes, but now they are full-fledged gadget gurus just like their mom.
I've always heard people say that you shouldn't let your kids have the Internet in their bedrooms. I agreed with them...but still set my little beasties up with a system in their little dungeons anyway. My kids were good kids, after all. They wouldn't do anything bad. And I'd make sure that bad folks couldn't get at 'em.
Heh, heh, heh. Well, first my little 11-year-old showed me the error of my ways. If I didn't think Heather was smart before, she sure proved it by showing me exactly how computer savvy she was. Although I was apalled at her behavior, I admit to being very so slightly proud of the ingenious ways she had of bypassing my parental controls. Thus, she lost computer privileges for a year. The hardest year of her life.
Now, she's earned back Internet privileges with the caveat that she have this Web access sitting a mere five feet from her Mommie Dearest. I even switched rooms for my office just so she could have a desk set up for her Internet access.
Problem solved, right?
Ummm, that would be a no.
I do, after all, have two children. My darling 16-year-old has decided to start acting like a snot-faced teenager who doesn't have to follow the rules. The worst part wasn't necessarily which sites she was visiting, it was just how freakin' much time she spent on the computer. For a girl who has college class coursework in her sophomore year, she really didn't have a lot of free time to spare. Add to that mix a new boyfriend, and a slew of other folks who were all attached to her monitor via IM, and I barely ever saw poor Beth.
I kept threatening her. "If you don't sign off of that damn IM, I'm going to take it away from you!" Finally, I'd had enough. I reformatted her computer and she has agreed to NOT set up the Messenger service. In exchange, I'll set up an old piece-of-shit laptop in the rec room for her to use for IM.
There's only one problem with that concept. The POS laptop has the Blue Screen of Death on it. Ugh. Heather has been sweet enough to let Beth use her computer for the night since Beth has a rare evening of no homework.
I know, I know. Beth's a teenager. She can say that she won't use IM in her bedroom. I'm also fully aware that there are plenty of sites that will allow her to use IM without having anything installed on the computer. But she's also aware that I'm a heck of a lot more tech savvy than she is and if I find out about it, she loses the computer in her room completely.
Heather's proof that I mean it.