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Submitted by Edward on Wed, 07/20/2011 - 16:44
There is an article over on CCN where Omar Gallaga goes into having the pre-teen children infiltrating Facebook and comments about Mark Zuckerberg's "suggested the company may wage a legal fight to change or repeal the federal Children's Online Privacy Protection Act, which restricts what private information a website can collect from kids younger than 13 without a parent's permission."
The article starts off:

By now, we all know the story of how Facebook started young by channeling the desires and delusions of smart Harvard students and spreading across college campuses

Then the author goes on to state that the daily posts would drop to a flood of posts with status updates from online game invites, notices about visits to Chuck'e'Cheeses and so on. And that whenever the topic of facebook comes up that he quickly changes the subject. 

The last two paragraphs of the article state:

Please don't misunderstand me. I like kids. I have two of my own and soon they'll be old enough to bluff their way into Facebook and start posting things that will make me age even more rapidly.

Do I want to socialize with them on Facebook? Absolutely not. And neither should you. Every time the subject of "Facebook" comes up, I plan to change the subject with a quick offer of ice cream. It's going to cost me a lot of money, but it might buy me a few months, at least.

As a parent of three, two of which are no longer affected by the law as they are 14 and 16 which means they can supposedly answer those online privacy questions on their own and a third child whose 12th birthday is today. I feel that the stance being portrayed here and communicated on the CNN website is naive and what you should not do when your kids come to you with questions about subjects online. The same goes for drugs and sex. If you don't teach them about these things, they are going to learn them somewhere else.

Being an information security professional, I do have some advantages over non-technical parents, but my wife isn't technical at all. So the general parenting advice still applies. Be aware of what your children are doing online and off. Get involved, teach them the right and wrong. Monitor what they are doing. My kids have some illusion of additional freedom because they have their computers in their own rooms. But I remind them that I have control over their computers and what they access on the internet. For me, I use a web-proxy for all access to the web from my house, I review the logs occasionally and I use URL blacklist and whitelists to control what they have access to.

My home network is more complicated then most. But that's because I wanted it that way for me, not to protect or control what my kids have access to. There are free and low-cost solutions to control what your children have access to such as original services such as or even free home solutions from one of the top corporate content management providers created by BlueCoat.

I can't personally recommend any of these over any other as I have not had any experience with them, however, a colleague of mine stated that he installed K9 on one of his former coworkers machines because he had to clean up viruses and malware on a number of occasions and since he installed it, he hadn't had to touch it. To me, that says a lot about the effectiveness of a tool.

Every now and then, I remind my kids that I am watching what they do on the internet, watching out for them and I know what they are doing online and with their friends, because I care. And I remind them an old adage that my mom taught me:

“If you wouldn’t want to see what you just said on the front page of the newspaper, don’t say it at all.”


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