After reading the EFF story on ComputerCop, very bad software sold to police to distribute to citizens, I took a look at some of the parental control software available. Now ads for the software are served to me. The ads are kind of frightening.
My reaction to the software points to a more general difference in ideas of security. I’m not a parent, but most parents concern themselves with keeping their kids out of trouble. They know the better part of that has to do with their kids and not what’s out there.
I saw today that ZaReason sells a computer with children specifically in mind. It comes with a Linux distro designed for kids called Qimo. One of the pieces of software loaded is Laby which helps children to learn to program.
Granted most of the ads I’m seeing spread FUD around social networking, and hence aimed at older kids. I suppose that in one way of thinking about security and children would suppress teaching children to program. After all if security depends on walls and gates, you don’t want to show kids how to get over them. But curiosity and ingenuity are precisely qualities children have in have in abundance. That’s why I think security will be best building upon children’s strengths. “Monitoring” in this context takes on a different flavor. Children will do best when they think of computers as tools for learning.
ELDER stands for Educational Linux Distribution Electronic Resource. It’s a great example of how parents and others can contribute to children’s learning. And it seems to me cooperation is essential for children’s security.
For older kids Howard Rheingold has an enormous production of insightful articles and videos on developing media literacy.
My sense of it is that transparent learning enhances security for our kids more than surreptitious monitoring ever will.