Kids And The Network; A Progression

It's been awhile since I've written about my kiddos (boy, 13. daughter, 10) and their relationship with, and use of, the Network.

Anecdotal Stuff

  • If I ever utter the word "ethernet cable" my son rolls his eyes. My daughter does nothing because she doesn't even know what it means. Much to my chagrin... the new world order is indeed wireless.
  • The number of IP-based chat applications (and apps that support in-app chat) explodes over and over again everyday. Staying on top of this is a fools' errand IMO, and we've taken to general education around how to behave online. Trying to control this chat app and that chat app is a full-time job.
  • My son is highly aware of framerates for video gaming, and latencies for quick packet transmission. He can feel network latency hiccups almost as good as I can. I'm proud of this and grateful for it. Call me old school.
  • We've done a good job engraining that there is never a scenario in which you should answer personal questions (where do you live... what's your phone number... etc) on the computer _unless_ you prompted the questioning (e.g. by filling out a form that _you_ initiated). They get this.

Notable Online Account Stuff

  • Both kids have their own email accounts on the email server. This was necessary because the general email providers, like gmail, don't like accounts being setup for people under 13-yrs old. We wound up setting up gmail accounts for them too, but you can get into lockout rabbit holes in some circumstances, and I wanted accounts that were in my complete control in case this happened.
  • Both kids have their own gmail accounts as well. Son knows his password (more on this later), but daughter does not.
  • Both gmail and accounts copy all inbound mail to me so I can see what's coming in.
  • They have their own Apple IDs for cloud backups of iOS devices and purchases/transactions; however they do not know the passwords to the Apple IDs. This allows us to "find iPhone" whenever we want/need to as parents. Apple's Family Sharing support _finally_ allows us to approve/deny every app/content purchase from our devices instead of having to get on their devices and enter their Apple ID password every time. Designating parent/guardian-level control Apple IDs is huge. Better late than never Apple.
  • The number of accounts my son has that I'm aware of vs those I don't is probably 1/7 (though what I don't know... I obviously don't know). My daughter... 6/7; just because she's younger... not a gender thing.

Adult Content

  • The home router hands out OpenDNS Family Shield backed DNS servers to all clients that connect, so that prevents domain-level exposure to nasty stuff on the home network. Of course, it does nothing for bad YouTube content or bad behavior on IP chat services.
  • My son's iPhone obviously connects to the data network on his carrier, and that's a huge backdoor if he wants to go somewhere OpenDNS doesn't want him to go. The mobile data carriers have completely useless "parental control" services, so, the decision is basically "full access to everything on the Network" or "nothing at all." Lame.
  • Both kids' devices also have various Parental Control Restrictions that Apple provides.


  • Passwords remain the bane of everything on the Network. They'll go away in the coming years, but we all have to live with them for the foreseeable future.
  • We used to hold the password to my son's gmail account, but we don't any longer. The belief was that if we held that, he would not be able to change passwords on any of the services he used, or wanted to sign up for, because it would trigger a notification that we'd see and subsequently ask him about. However, one day his buddy was over, and they were throwing around new email addresses to each other that I didn't even know he had, so he'd clearly gone beyond his gmail account and figured out how to sign up for root email addresses on his own. Thus, I was cut out of the loop, and knowing the password to "his" gmail address meant nothing anymore; so I gave that up. We're squarely in the "trust" zone now when it comes to what he's doing online. He can create his own accounts at will, and he can hang out on uncontrolled networks (mobile carrier... friends' houses).
  • I have the pin codes to the kids iOS devices; it's a "rule" that they have to share those if their parents ever try to get on the device but can't.


  • I setup full-blown bank accounts for each kid ("minor" accounts backed by me on paper, but completely mechanically isolated) at our local retail bank. They have their own debit cards (son somewhat actively uses his... daughter does not) and associated account numbers. I resisted this for a long time, but the need to buy things online grew frequent enough for my son that I wanted him to have his own ability to pay for things online, and that requires a traditional 16 digit debit card. You can't use paypal for underage people as they audit documents proving your age. While this was a major pain to setup, it has the added benefit of isolating the adult bank accounts from the inevitable loss/theft/hacking of the kids' accounts (kids aren't savvy about when/where they put that 16 digit number). They mess around with so many services online, it's a matter of time until their accounts are breached, and it's nice knowing that won't directly tie into my account. Until Final (disclosure... I'm an investor) is fully up and running, these kinds of heavy-handed protections are prudent.

Devices my son uses on a regular basis:

  • 27" communal iMac that sits in the house office. He uses this for playing networked Valve/Steam games (GPU intense), and for drawing/designing with his Wacom tablet. He does a lot of Skype text chatting and in-game voice chatting. I'm in earshot of the voice stuff, so am able to overhear how he conducts himself online in that manner.
  • 13" Chromebook. He uses this for watching Netflix and for homework related stuff (websites/tutorials and Google Apps (which the school system here uses)). He's allowed to use this in his room to some degree.
  • iPad mini. Mostly just Netflix for streaming and iTunes for offline video viewing during travel.
  • iPhone. Instagram and a few chat apps as well as Spotify for music.
  • 57" LED TV screen. Mostly Apple TV for movies, and Netflix for Parks and Recreation re-runs. Some Tivo of stuff he likes.
  • Logitech Harmony (radio based... not IR) for single remote driving of the entertainment system stuff.
  • Sonos for music throughout the house.

Devices my daughter uses on a regular basis:

  • 27" communal iMac that sits in the house office. Some homework stuff, but mostly just watching YouTube videos.
  • iTouch for iTunes music, and video capture to make little videos.
  • 57" LED TV screen. Mostly Apple TV for movies and her favorite "shows," and some Tivo of stuff she likes.
  • Logitech Harmony (radio based... not IR) for single remote driving of the entertainment system stuff.
  • Sonos for music throughout the house.
Jud Valeski

Jud Valeski

Parent, photographer, mountain biker, runner, investor, wagyu & sushi eater, and a Boulderite. Full bio here:
Boulder, CO