Friday, February 05, 2010

Opinions, please?

Back in the early 90's, after much persuading (and agreeing to get a second phone line installed and to pay for everything myself) I finally convinced my parents to let me get internet service.

Now, while home computers had been around for around 20 years or so, they were still the domain of geeks and hobbyists. You usually had one geek per household who understood the mysteries of the strange beige box, and everyone else barely knew what a computer was or did and couldn't think of a single scenario where they'd ever want to use one.

Then, the internet came along. Of course, what the internet was in 1995 would be barely recognizable by a teenager today. It was basically nothing more than text and pictures. There were a few videos but these tended to make video taken on a cell phone look like iMax footage and it took literally hours to download even a short, five minute film. There where no web apps or facebook or youtube…just lots of text and small, highly compressed images.

Then, an amazing discovery was made: To the delight of teenage boys everywhere (and to the abject horror of their parents) it turned out that there were pictures of naked ladies on the internet.

Of course, this was quickly followed by programs like Net Nanny and other early attempts to give parents some control over what their kids could and couldn't see online.

These programs just didn't work.

Don't get me wrong, they technically worked, but the average parent at the time didn't even know what 'double click' meant. Parents all over the world who had never so much as touched a computer before were expected to get on the computer, log onto the internet, find the correct website, download some software, install it and set it up… despite the fact that they didn't really know what a website was or what 'downloading' meant. Realistically, the only way the average parent could have installed Net Nanny or something similar would have been by asking their kids to install in themselves

You might as well have asked a cat burglar to install an alarm system on your house to keep himself out.

Basically, this was a generation of parents who just didn't know anything about computers. It's not surprising, they hadn't been around them, used them or had any reason to believe they'd ever need to. Computers and the internet were simply toys for geeks… there was as much reason to learn about your kids computer as there was to learn about his chemistry set.

Long story short, most parents barely knew how to turn on a computer…so it's completely understandable that parents would get annoyed and complain when they walked in on their kid looking at porn on 'that internet thing'. It was like buying their kids a textbook and finding a couple of issues of Cum Guzzling Crack Whores hidden inside.

But here's the thing:

It's not 1992 any more. It's 2010. Computers and the internet aren't obscure geek toys any more. They're literally central to our whole existence…and twenty years on idiot parents are still complaining about inappropriate content like the world is deliberately sneaking it past them.

As I mentioned in my previous post, parents have more tools to censor what their kids can and can't see today more than at any other time in history. From ISP's offering filtering software (and complete step by step instructions, with pictures, on how to install and use them) to the V-chip in your TV and parental controls in cable boxes and games consoles.

Let's just say that when I was a teen, there was no way to automatically block a magazine or VHS tape from entering the house, and I could watch anything I liked on TV as long as I had the sound way down. My parents certainly couldn't check my 'browsing history', instantly search my room for anything with the word 'sex' in it…and they absolutely couldn't track my movements by the GPS in my phone.

The biggest problem I have with all this is that parents have had almost twenty years to get used to this stuff, and they're still talking like computers are magical boxes far beyond their comprehension. It's not new, mysterious technology any more. It's something just about everyone uses every day…and they've been doing this for almost twenty years.

Here's my question:

At what point do we turn around to these people and point out that if they don't know how to set a parental lock on a TV after twenty years, they probably shouldn't be parenting in the first place?

In my opinion, in 2010, complaining that your kid is playing a violent game or watching porn on the internet is the rough equivalent of blaming the manufacturer of your liquor cabinet for your kids stealing your booze because this whole 'lock and key' technology is beyond you.

1 comment:

Evan 08 said...

I agree for the most part, but there are a few things you're overlooking. First and foremost, people are stupid and lazy. In fact, I'm too lazy to continue this response. How can you expect a lazy bastard like me to install and configure software, much less the full time job of being a parent?!?

Today's word verification word: SPASKING - Posing a question in a spastic manner.