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Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:10 pm
by leor
I have a daughter who's about to turn 3, so it's time to start thinking about protecting her little eyes from all the wacky stuff one can stumble onto with a connected device. Right now she mostly just watches Disney clips on YouTube on a retired iPhone, but this is definitely an issue I want to get ahead of. I'm curious to hear what kinds of products those of you who are parents or sysadmins have had good experiences with.

Thanks in advance!

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:14 pm
by DancinJack

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 3:58 pm
by Chuckaluphagus
Yeah, I don't trust Youtube Kids at all. They have no effective screening system for content, and so stuff slips through all the time that is entirely not kid-appropriate.

I have a five-year old. When he was two, I was looking for a Youtube video for him to watch and pulled up an animated rendition of "Five Little Monkeys". When it came to show the doctor ("No more monkeys jumping on the bed!"), the doctor was an animated Hitler, in Nazi regalia, singing the lines in a German accent. From what I read, that's very tame compared to other programs that kids are seeing.

So that let me know that Youtube kids shows were not to be trusted. He's not allowed to watch Netflix or the like without an adult at least being within earshot, and nothing on Youtube until I've checked it first.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:32 pm
by DancinJack
I'm not doubting that at all, but was that YT Kids? i'm not sure it was, but it at least sounds like you can customize quite a bit with this newer deal. Might be worth a shot at least to see if it'll work now. I don't trust YT in general, but maybe Google's special algo got something right finally.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:46 pm
by Glorious
DancinJack wrote:
I'm not doubting that at all, but was that YT Kids? i'm not sure it was, but it at least sounds like you can customize quite a bit with this newer deal. Might be worth a shot at least to see if it'll work now. I don't trust YT in general, but maybe Google's special algo got something right finally.


Yes, it absolutely was.

The NYT literally says that, and I can confirm it personally. There was ridiculously inappropriate stuff slipping through on there, beyond what Chuckaluphagus describes as "Tame" (which in and of itself is horrifying). I've seen stuff personally that bad and much worse, and yes, just on youtube kids. On regular youtube starting with a kids video you were likely to get something inappopriate within just 3 autoplays, which I think was why the filtering wasn't even remotely working: there was just an incredible amount of insanity out there linked to "children".

So, while things have gotten much better since November of 2017 (That is, like just *FOUR* months ago), it still isn't something I'd trust. Even with the multiple crackdowns and schemes since then.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 5:57 pm
by TheEmrys
I have a 5yearold,and he does not have control privileges. Anything on TV or tablet is there because I put it there. He does not watch anything on YouTube, but we do have an extensive media file collection on our Plex server as well as Netflix, Amazon Prime, amd Hulu. We do not have any paid TV, either. I just don't see the sense in giving my son control over anything with media.

Tablets are for games and books.
TV is for movies.
We have played Mario Kart on Wii 3 times now, and he loves it.
If we are flying, he gets movies on tablets.

Beyond that, he will not be using the internet until it is more of a need. At this age, it just isn't something I find is a need. And there are simply too many risks. Lord knows, I don't want to see targeted ads based on what a 5 year old wants to do.

When the time comes, I will use our Kindles Free Time app for him.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:03 pm
by Usacomp2k3
If I were less lazy I would setup a local plex server and have an AppleTV or something point to that and that only. Then rip whatever content you want and put it on there. Might not be as cost advantageous, but that is the only foolproof method. For everything else you are relying on an algorythm.

The other option is physical discs/vhs. They can learn to operate them at a remarkably early age.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:12 pm
by DancinJack
Glorious wrote:
DancinJack wrote:
I'm not doubting that at all, but was that YT Kids? i'm not sure it was, but it at least sounds like you can customize quite a bit with this newer deal. Might be worth a shot at least to see if it'll work now. I don't trust YT in general, but maybe Google's special algo got something right finally.


Yes, it absolutely was.

The NYT literally says that, and I can confirm it personally. There was ridiculously inappropriate stuff slipping through on there, beyond what Chuckaluphagus describes as "Tame" (which in and of itself is horrifying). I've seen stuff personally that bad and much worse, and yes, just on youtube kids. On regular youtube starting with a kids video you were likely to get something inappopriate within just 3 autoplays, which I think was why the filtering wasn't even remotely working: there was just an incredible amount of insanity out there linked to "children".

So, while things have gotten much better since November of 2017 (That is, like just *FOUR* months ago), it still isn't something I'd trust. Even with the multiple crackdowns and schemes since then.


I meant the anecdote he was providing below that. I am just trying to provide suggestions. Maybe it will work for him if he sets it up stricter than that NYT example. And if it was, then that's great (read: sucks).

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:22 pm
by whm1974
While I don't have kids, I am wondering at what age do you guys think kids should be allowed online? 10, 12? I actually been asked this a few times, and if I recall I think I said 12 off the top of my head.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:25 pm
by Chuckaluphagus
TheEmrys wrote:
I have a 5yearold,and he does not have control privileges. Anything on TV or tablet is there because I put it there. He does not watch anything on YouTube, but we do have an extensive media file collection on our Plex server as well as Netflix, Amazon Prime, amd Hulu. We do not have any paid TV, either. I just don't see the sense in giving my son control over anything with media.

Tablets are for games and books.
TV is for movies.
We have played Mario Kart on Wii 3 times now, and he loves it.
If we are flying, he gets movies on tablets.

Beyond that, he will not be using the internet until it is more of a need. At this age, it just isn't something I find is a need. And there are simply too many risks. Lord knows, I don't want to see targeted ads based on what a 5 year old wants to do.

We've got pretty much exactly the same rules as you do, barring the games and books on the tablet (he gets to watch stuff on the tablet only when flying, otherwise he doesn't have access to it), and for exactly the same reasons. It's working well, so we're sticking to it until circumstances change.

Glorious wrote:
There was ridiculously inappropriate stuff slipping through on there, beyond what Chuckaluphagus describes as "Tame" (which in and of itself is horrifying).

In my own defense, I was furious to see an animated Hitler singing on the television screen, and shut it down immediately. But my son was two years old and has no memory of it; I remember it because it was horrifying, but it had no effect on him. The videos described in the NYT article are disgusting, though, and I think they'd have a real effect on an older kid who was invested in the characters from watching the official series.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 6:30 pm
by Chuckaluphagus
whm1974 wrote:
While I don't have kids, I am wondering at what age do you guys think kids should be allowed online? 10, 12? I actually been asked this a few times, and if I recall I think I said 12 off the top of my head.

It would depend on the child's maturity, but I would think around 12 or so. Alone, without adult supervision? I'm really not sure - it's going to happen with my kid eventually, obviously, but I'm very much trying to constrain his Internet experience. Right now, he sees nothing without a responsible adult present and regulating the experience.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:29 pm
by Glorious
Chuckaluphagus wrote:
In my own defense, I was furious to see an animated Hitler singing on the television screen, and shut it down immediately.


I recall Spiderman physically beating Elsa.

And I don't blame you at all, something seriously went awry.

Like the article you noted, it got so ridiculous it made national news.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 7:36 pm
by leor
I’m looking more for ways to lock things down, whether it’s through apps, software like net nanny, or router rules and configurations.

I’m all for rules, but this is a tech site n stuff, I’m happy to google ideas, but I was hoping some badass TR dads have gone through this already.

It’s weird raising a human in this new world.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sat Mar 03, 2018 8:45 pm
by Chuckaluphagus
For my kid, I simply restrict all access to anything with an Internet connection. All tablets and phones are PIN-locked; all computers are password-locked. There is no unsupervised Internet time, period. At his age (5), I'd much rather he be physically interacting with toys, books and the world rather than spending time looking at a screen.

And I say this as a person who loves technology, and whose livelihood is dependent on the Internet. I think the Internet is great - but it's also wretchedly terrible, and it's not appropriate for a young child.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 5:32 am
by arunphilip
leor wrote:
I’m all for rules, but this is a tech site n stuff, I’m happy to google ideas, but I was hoping some badass TR dads have gone through this already.


Not yet a dad, but here's my take on how things will be at our home.

I wouldn't trust anything algorithmic to screen content for kids, when they're in the single-digit ages. It'll have to be a whitelisted system - either content that I've selected (e.g. rips of kids movies, won't trust them with the physical discs), or content that is whitelisted by a human (I'm not sure if the kids section of Netflix / Amazon Prime is done in this way). I don't mind algorithmic recommendations for adults, its worth a laugh to see how they go wrong sometimes, but I really don't want to take that chance with kids. What I've seen from kids for these ages is that they are often comfortable re-watching their favourites time and again (to the point it drives the adults nuts).

At some point, its worth having a talk with kids about the existence of "bad" content and empower them - "if it makes you feel bad or strange, ask dad/mum to check it". My view here is that while we can supervise them in many places, there is going to be the case where they are going to come across something, by accident, or by the influence of others (e.g. playing with other kids), so might as well get their internal filter/conscience tuned.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 6:11 am
by kvndoom
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
If I were less lazy I would setup a local plex server and have an AppleTV or something point to that and that only. Then rip whatever content you want and put it on there. Might not be as cost advantageous, but that is the only foolproof method. For everything else you are relying on an algorythm.

The other option is physical discs/vhs. They can learn to operate them at a remarkably early age.


Seconded. Parent-downloaded media and zero outside internet access is the only foolproof way. If children can access the internet, no matter how hard you try to filter it, they will wind up finding something they don't need to see at their age.

The real fun is going to start in kindergarten, leor, when she's in class with a bunch of kids whose Parents of the Year let their 5 year olds carry cell phones. :roll:

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 12:12 pm
by Usacomp2k3
kvndoom wrote:
The real fun is going to start in kindergarten, leor, when she's in class with a bunch of kids whose Parents of the Year let their 5 year olds carry cell phones. :roll:

That’s one of the many reasons that we homeschool. Those same parents expect the teachers to raise their kids.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 1:38 pm
by derFunkenstein
It's easier to put a filter bound to the MAC address of the device and then whitelist sites or whatever than it is to try to blacklist all the bad stuff. Relying on anything automated (not just YTKids) is just not an option. You know what is appropriate for your child better than anybody else. It sucks to have to micromanage the experience, but you'll be happiest that way.

My daughter is 9, almost 10, and she's still got a pretty curated online life. Meanwhile her friends are watching videos from infamous jackasses like Logan Paul and PewDiePie. Even when she's playing Roblox, the chat is disabled and I keep an eye on what's going on. Best part is that she loves showing me what's going on in the game and narrating the experience. She doesn't even know how limited she is. :lol:

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 2:10 pm
by kvndoom
Usacomp2k3 wrote:
kvndoom wrote:
The real fun is going to start in kindergarten, leor, when she's in class with a bunch of kids whose Parents of the Year let their 5 year olds carry cell phones. :roll:

That’s one of the many reasons that we homeschool. Those same parents expect the teachers to raise their kids.

If the teachers don't, then the internet will, and we know how that tends to turn out.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Sun Mar 04, 2018 8:10 pm
by Usacomp2k3
I know we're reaching into R&P, but that's what the parents should be doing.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Wed Mar 07, 2018 10:01 pm
by Usacomp2k3
Netflix minorly updated their parental settings
https://media.netflix.com/en/company-bl ... ed-viewing

I just wish they would add an opt-in feature to the kids profiles so they could only see things that were specifically added. Instead this new setting would let you blacklist shows/movies. So close!

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:23 am
by One Sick Puppy
My advice is simple: Limit your children to screen time that is a proven and trusted benefit to them (and by this I mean by your standards and your honest evaluation), and don't rationalize Disney clips, Paw Patrol or any other media you allow them to be exposed to. You're not going to eliminate it, but there's no reason to encourage it. Make sure YOU as the parent are 100% in control of what they are exposed to in the home and as much as you can outside of the home. DO NOT EVER use screens as babysitting devices while you do the dishes or deal with something else. Show them, by example, that there are far better things to do than to be in front of a screen, and when a screen is necessary, show them why. They are best used as tools, and only when they can get a job done BETTER.

It's not rocket science, but it's easy to get lulled into passivity by the overwhelming and constant deluge of digital entertainment all around us. Indeed, you probably already know that any given media doesn't even need to be entertaining for it to be attractive to a child, or an adult for that matter. The power of screens to capture the attention of human beings cannot be underestimated and should be used with extreme caution if you value the actual world in which they are but a window into.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 10:57 am
by layerup
arunphilip wrote:
At some point, its worth having a talk with kids about the existence of "bad" content and empower them - "if it makes you feel bad or strange, ask dad/mum to check it". My view here is that while we can supervise them in many places, there is going to be the case where they are going to come across something, by accident, or by the influence of others (e.g. playing with other kids), so might as well get their internal filter/conscience tuned.


I think this is really the best approach one can take in this day and age. I'm not a parent, so feel free ignore as you please. However, I get the feeling I'm a hair younger than most of the regulars on this site. At 27, I grew up with the internet, Kazaa and shareware became a real thing around the time I was 8-9. I went through a lot of the growing pains in the early days of the world wide web. As such, my parents, tried their best to limit what I was exposed to. Being a curious early teenager, that of course didn't work that well.

What I am trying to say, is that no matter how you try to limit exposure to online content, and no matter how smart you think you are, I assure you, your child is smarter. They will figure out ways around your rules and limits. I promise.

As an additional side effect, if you are limiting what kids/teens can see/experience, it will make them disdainful of your rules. If they are exposed to something truly bad (predatory behavior, etc.), they will be much less likely to discuss this with you. Again, it's anecdotal, but I know all this from experience. I feel that it's better to let the child explore, in a controlled environment, and understand what makes things "good" or "bad", rather than simply telling them no. They will find these things, whether its by adapting to your controls, or by visiting a friends house, and at that point, all you've achieved is potentially burning the communication bridge with the child.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 1:44 pm
by Anovoca
I don't have a kid yet, but I have thought about it and I believe I will take the route of building a PC with LAN access only with controlled content to my plex server. Gaming would be limited to console or my PC under supervision. I also plan to restrict social media for an undetermined age for both the child and anything including myself and information or pictures of the child. I feel bad for children today who have their whole lives documented by their mothers on facebook, before they are ever old enough to consent. I will catalog my photos offline in redundant and encrypted storage and if they choose to make their lives public spectacles when they are old enough and be subject to big data mining it will at least be left up to them.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 3:36 pm
by liquidsquid
Mine is now 12, and luckily he appears to be the type of kid that actively avoids inappropriate content (I'm sure that will change VERY soon, ugh), but here is my experience so far:

We actively monitor and check where he has been, what he has seen. He looses electronics for a long time if what we find has been inappropriate. Say something p0rn comes up? He loses electronics for a week. No exceptions, even if it were 100% a mistake. Yes, all of it. TV, Tablet, Computers, and any computer he needs for school must be done at school. This happens to be a very strong incentive for kids, and he has done an excellent job of self-regulating. He has only lost it twice due to this problem, and the second time was clearly an accident. (He's lost it several times for attitude and other infractions) Guess what? He doesn't let YouTube auto-play.

As he gets older, we slightly raise the bar, such as with language such as things he hears come out of my mouth on a regular basis are pointless to regulate. I think as long as he is not using my colorful language skills and realizes what his dad says is embarrassing, then we are good.

A little secret? His behavior is much better electronics-free, so we dig deep looking for inappropriate stuff in hopes we can get rid of this addiction. Kids attitudes change considerably when they have been on electronics too long. In my son's case, he is cranky and a pain in the butt. No electronics? The happiest little guy always willing to help. It is difficult to allow it at all sometimes seeing the stark difference. Also difficult: Seeing how much time kids waste watching MineCraft videos. I mean really, this is brain rot on a whole new level.

Oh, I forgot to mention: Most kids don't give much of a damn about PCs. They want tablets and phones. PCs are associated with school work, and get the "boot" for fun time. We have a perfectly functional PC downstairs where everyone is, and it is never used except for file sharing of movies and pictures.

Re: Child Proofing the digital world

Posted: Thu Mar 08, 2018 8:44 pm
by ludi
layerup wrote:
As an additional side effect, if you are limiting what kids/teens can see/experience, it will make them disdainful of your rules.

Disagree and have adequate experience to do so. Partly it depends on the child's personality, but even more so it depends on whether the parent has taught their children to merely fear them, or to respect them. A child who respects their parents' authority is typically one who understands the rules are not capricious or arbitrary, and has likewise learned the relationship between freedom and responsibility.