6

My parents are extremely strict about my use of the Internet. I'm only allowed to use it on a specific PC in wide view of everyone in the house. However, this PC does not have it's logging facilities enabled and as I write this, no one is actively watching.

I would like to have a little more freedom and be able to use it on my own PC in my room, which can't be seen as easily. However, I was told no when I asked.

I fail to understand the logic of this, but when I bring it up, I get information about how "there are dangerous people online" and "why do you need it in your room?"

How do I make them understand where I'm coming from? I have gotten angry in the past but recently I've adopted a more calm approach, which didn't work.

I'd be happy to have it in my room and also have some monitoring program, but I'm very much into programming and I think they believe I'll be able to disable the monitoring when I please.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. By the way, this isn't the only issue my parents have been very strict on. (It was a whole other fight to get my own PC.)

EDIT: Why I want it in my room? Not because I want to browse weird sites (like I said, I'm perfectly OK with monitoring usage), but because I want to be able to do things on my own independently of others. I've found it difficult to get that message across to the other side.

Another EDIT: I'm physically prevented from using the computer after bedtime so anyone can walk to my room and see whether I'm using it or not.

  • 4
    So I'll ask a dumb question--why do you need it in your room? And I mean specific, coherent reasons why. If you want to watch porn, well, that's a reason, albeit not one your parents are likely to accept. – Marisa Feb 5 '18 at 20:56
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    I wasn't going to make the porn comment, but I was going to ask the exact same question. I can think of many reasons you would want it in your room, but not any why you really need it in there. You could make a decent case for some, depending on your circumstances though. – zugzwang Feb 5 '18 at 21:00
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    @MarkYisri Are you prevented from keeping your computer out where there is internet access? – zugzwang Feb 6 '18 at 16:11
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    @MarkYisri you say that you want to "do things on [your] own, independently of others". Can you elaborate on this? Are people interfering with you when you use it in the family room? Is going to the library an option? – BunnyKnitter Feb 6 '18 at 22:15
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    @MarkYisri: how old are you ? – Hilmar Feb 7 '18 at 22:23

12 Answers 12

15

I am a parent (and an IT professional) who advocates the same thing - Computers should be in "public" view especially where children are using them. I very strongly advocate that even where not in public view the bedroom is an entirely inappropriate place for them and would always argue for a home office.

Bedroom should be "for bed" they are for sanctuary and getting away from distractions - it is simply not an appropriate place for a distracting and addictive machine like a computer. The temptation to stay up for 'just one more...' is incredibly strong and something that is immediately obvious if a child is NOT in their room.

Technical measures are not a proxy for parenting. As an IT professional myself I have a very thorough firewall, live updates, extensive traffic decryption capabilities, and the ability to break into my children's apps or devices at any time should they give me reason to.

Your technical skills may well exceed your parents and you could feasibly disable a monitoring system that they could install; certainly as a teenager defeating a technical measure would have merely presented a fun and interesting (though short-lived) challenge for me.

Openness keeps you honest and you have to be honest with yourself at this point - no matter what you say today, you absolutely are going to encounter if not actively seek out porn at some point in the future. Curiosity is going to get the better of you, it's going to happen like night follows day. There will be less temptation if you know that someone else might walk in at any moment even if you don't think they've been paying attention to what you're doing.

Porn is not the only kind of inappropriate content, the internet is a communications medium and there are many 'radical' or undesirables who have an extensive online presence. There are cyber-bullies etc.

Computers are inherently asocial tools even before the advent of the internet, having a machine like that in your bedroom gives you a strong pull to shut yourself off from social interaction. Even if there are other people in the room, that is still a form of social interaction and it's important. Programmers and gamers are particularly susceptible to this. I appreciate the distraction argument, but ultimately half the point is for you to be distracted and to have to deal with people sometimes.

Ultimately, it's their house and their rules when you have your own place and you're paying the mortgage etc then you can set your own rules, but in this instance they are doing what is best for you, not what will best please you.

  • My father was the one who initially taught me so that's why he knows I can defeat the monitoring system. I have no interest in doing that though. – user26495 Feb 6 '18 at 14:50
  • @MarkYisri - and that point is followed by one about openness and honesty. You have to be honest with yourself that, having fought to get a machine then fought to get it into a private location, you will feel a need to fight the censorship and monitoring at some point in the future. – James Snell Feb 7 '18 at 1:18
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    +1 for the mention of Computers are inherently asocial tools – Peter Abolins Feb 7 '18 at 7:14
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    "Computers are inherently asocial tools" I really think you need to re-phrase that. As a kid I was very introverted and had some social anxiety so I had a hard time making friends. Once I started doing online gaming I met a lot of great people who I met up with later outside of games and have now been my best friends for several years. Computers can be a powerful social tool for those who are introverted, have social anxiety, etc. It's also been a nice perk because when I move I don't lose my friends ;) – Keith M Feb 10 '18 at 19:30
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    Why don't you just say what you mean, instead of simplifying to an inaccurate absolute statement? "Computer use often leads regular users to avoid live interaction, and keeping them in public places forces the user to interact with others directly". You say they're inherently asocial tools, but that's true only from a perspective which supposes direct/live interaction as an axiom of (positive) socialisation. For those who have only negative experience with such society, or who require computers to interact at all, it is the exact opposite: computers are the definition of social tools. – Nij Feb 18 '18 at 1:54
6

Honestly, to answer the question as it is titled, just have an open discussion with them. Maybe younger people really don't know how they come across, maybe older people expect too much of them, but much of the time these types of questions come across as argumentative: "Why do I have to...", whether or not they are legitimate.

The real advice is to not expect to change their minds at all, but try to understand where they are coming from, actively discuss the reasons, and over time you will almost certainly at least get a thorough explanation of their reasons, if not get them to truly consider your side as well.

As you mentioned, you got your own pc, so they are obviously willing to work with you, regardless of how much effort you have to put into it.

  • The PC was a very aggressive fight which also included 4 months of extremely limited computer time. But it was worth it. – user26495 Feb 5 '18 at 22:16
6

Parents can restrict internet access for a variety of reasons, and not all of them good. However, I will assume you have normal parents who really care about you.

From the basis of them caring, this is why they might restrict internet access.

First, as some have commented, you don't actually have a reason to need internet in your room. However, I'll spot you one reason. Working in a quiet space is nice. Every programmer knows that having family bustling about in the same room you are working is terrible for concentration. (see the end of my post before running off with this one).

Now, let's take that and compare it to a list of why not's.

The internet isn't actually a place to grow as a person. Study's have shown there is a big movement brewing against social media's impact on children. Since you live at home guess what you are? Yes, a child. Don't let that rub you wrong. I'm 41, and I have guys aged 67 - 82 who guide me in life and for lack of a better term treat me like a child in some ways.

One
Take twitter for instance. Did you read about the AI that Microsoft made that had to be taken offline? Internet influences can be very bad. I don't want my kids to be around and much less learn to be racist jerks.

Two
Former employees of tech giants are taking an active stand against the industry they once made a living from.

The Center for Humane Technology is a group comprising former employees and pals of Google, Facebook, and Mozilla. The nonprofit launches today (Feb. 4) in the hopes that it can raise awareness about the societal tolls of technology, which its members believe are inherently addictive

Three
Many people believe pornography could be the greatest addiction and social disease to hit our world ever. If they believe you can remove restrictions or get around them - then that may be a significant issue.

Four
Specific to an individual, if you have betrayed their trust in any way or have a habit of bending the truth or not being forthcoming with them, then they simply may be doing what they think is best to protect you from yourself.

On a personal note, I'm an adult who has a programming job for a living and works from home 3 days a week. Guess what, I don't have a computer in my room and I don't have an office. I have 3 young kids who roam around when they are home and a wife who thinks I'm always ready to discuss family plans. While I'd love to have privacy, I can function without it.

Side Note:
You seem to be doing a very mature thing in asking to understand your parents reasoning. That in itself is pretty cool. It sounds like you may have even had this discussion with them and you just don't like their answer. I honestly believe that even if you disagree with them that the best thing for you is to respect their decision as your parents. I don't say that because I believe 100% they are right on this particular topic, but rather because I believe that as you learn to respect authority (not blindly eg. Ghandi and Martin Luther King Jr., but respectfully eg. a military commander who does what the general says even when he disagrees) you will gain more as a person than you would otherwise gain in getting your way.

  • These are all solid reasons to limit internet use. #3 in particular has some compelling arguments that make me lean toward believing those many people could be correct, though unlike other manifestations of addiction and ills, it cannot accurately be measured. Some research even states a lack of control groups among men, which is a particularly alarming finding on it's own. Beside the point though. OP might need a law degree to argue his case, though he sounds reasonable enough. – zugzwang Feb 5 '18 at 22:45
  • The internet isn't actually a place to grow as a person. Study's have shown there is a big movement brewing against social media's impact on children. The internet is not all social media, though. – user7953 Feb 6 '18 at 7:43
  • @fkraiem I agree with you, but remember, the question isn't about internet access only. The OP already has internet access. The question is specifically about internet access with privacy from parents. – Adam Heeg Feb 6 '18 at 12:21
  • @Adam I don't want complete privacy. I'd like to be able to do it on my own computer and it's difficult to move my computer. – user26495 Feb 6 '18 at 14:49
3

I know this is not the answer you are looking for, but you are unlikely to get a computer in your room any time soon.

Let me elaborate. I fully understand the desire to just be out of sight when you are on the computer, even if your parents wouldn't object to what you are doing. This is a feeling I have had myself. There is just something about being in the public space when on the computer that is obnoxious. Maybe it is because someone is always looking over your shoulder and commenting about what you are doing, or maybe it is something else.

Some parents just don't allow this ,my own parents for example. For quite a while I've had a computer that was specifically "mine", but until I earned the money to build my own, that computer was only barely able to open a web browser. and the entire time, that computer was somewhere open. Even now after I have moved away to university when I come back to visit I'm not even allowed to have my laptop in my room.

I think some parents just think that way, and to this day I'm not sure if this was the right way for my parents to act, so I cannot give a judgement either way. (though i'm leaning towards them being right on this one). You could try pushing for it again in a year or two, but I suspect you will have to wait until you move out from your parents house for this rule to change.

on the plus side though, this gives you a reason to move out on time, instead of just hanging around in your parents house forever. I also find moving out was very good for my relationship with my parents.

3

Lots of good advice here already, but I don't see a lot that addresses your title question:

How to figure out why parents are so strict about Internet access?

Several answers reference "inappropriate content" or "garbage", and a couple directly reference porn as an example of content your parents may want to protect you from, but that's not a very thorough explanation. I'll try to add a little more context for you.

Generally speaking, there are two ways in which internet access can be dangerous: you can get access to people or material that can do you harm, and you can share aspects of your own life that can do you harm either immediately or down the road.

Accessing dangerous people or material

What counts as dangerous is highly subjective --- you may want to open a conversation with your parents about what kinds of things they're afraid of you encountering.

There is a lot of content on the internet that many people would not want their children to access. Some examples: porn (some of which glorifies highly sexist, racist, or violent tendencies), pro-eating disorder websites, extreme political content, stupid/dangerous "advice" about health and nutrition, stupid/dangerous "advice" about sex and relationships, etc. In all of these cases, the concern is that reading or viewing this content will influence the way you think about the world --- and believe me, it will. I don't mean that reading one racist blog post is going to instantly turn you into a bigot, but rather that the environment you put yourself in shapes you. That's true for everybody. Your parents know that, and they're trying to ensure that the environment you put yourself in is one that will support you growing into a good, healthy person.

In addition to the danger of having your worldview shaped by a lot of the baser elements of human nature, there's another kind of dangerous content: people trying to get you to do something dangerous. There are people who want your money, want your identity, or want you to do things for them. One extreme example is sex trafficking: US minors who get trafficked often meet and communicate with their trafficker online, and this trend is increasing. Another example is scams, some of which can fool even very savvy and careful people. In some cases, it's actually your parents who would be on the hook for your actions, so it's really pretty reasonable for them to restrict your ability to do that kind of damage (I had a friend in high school who downloaded some music files illegally in a way that she thought was safe, something went wrong and her family ended up getting sued for a quarter of a million dollars by the copyright holders, no joke).

Important thing to keep in mind: Are the people generating this dangerous content or coercing dangerous actions stupid, artless trolls? Some of them are, but many are not. There are some sophisticated, smart people who make a living tricking and manipulating others online, and they are very good at it. You'll certainly see blunt, laughable malicious content online, but that's probably not your parents' major concern; the clever, subtle stuff is much scarier.

Sharing aspects of your own life that can do you harm

Everybody makes mistakes, especially teens and young adults, even very responsible, level-headed ones. It's part of growing up. Your parents expect you to make mistakes (and you should, too). A problem can arise, though, if your mistakes become permenantly available by being shared online.

Good kids --- who grow into kind, thoughtful adults --- often think or say things they later regret (sometimes in an attempt to be edgy or funny). Things like racism, rape, or disability can seem funny before you grow up enough to understand how very real they are. Another thing to consider is that your own perspective will shift over time, and even what feel like genuine, strongly-held beliefs now may turn out later to moderate or disappear altogether. Saying things you later regret is part of growing up. If you put it in writing, though, and share it online, it can come back to bite you.
Another more extreme example of sharing material that can harm you is sexting, but even more benign behavior can come back to haunt you if it reaches an audience you didn't intend.

The important thing here is that people interacting online are much more accountable for what they say and do, over a much longer time period. Your parents doing things that push your interactions into "real life" instead of online may be an attempt to let you make your mistakes where they can be fleeting.

2

As a parent I agree with your parents. I trusted my son with his phone, turns out I was wrong.

Almost every single piece of advice for parents on how to keep their kids safe (which isn't just about relying on other software) on the internet says to

http://www.parenting.com/article/keeping-your-child-safe-on-the-internet

Know that location is key Keep the computer in a central spot, where it's easy to monitor its use. "We have five computers in our house, but only two -- mine and the PC in the family room -- are hooked up to the Internet. That way, I can frequently check up on what they're looking at," says Cecilia Mitchell, a mom of three in Teaneck, New Jersey.

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2014/aug/11/how-to-keep-kids-safe-online-children-advice

‘Never, under any circumstances, browse unaccompanied’ Dave King, chief executive of online reputation management company Digitalis

https://www.techadvisor.co.uk/feature/security/how-keep-your-kids-safe-online-3411255/#toc-3411255-1

Common sense plays a bigger part than you might think. For a start, we’d recommend not allowing children to use a device - laptop, tablet or phone - in their own room. Asking them to use it in a communal area should discourage most inappropriate activities as it will be obvious what they’re up to even if you only glance in their direction.

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/article/your-child-technology/keeping-kids-safe-online

Keep kids in sight. Have the computer centrally located. Your child is less likely to browse questionable content if she knows Mom or Dad (or her brother or sister) might walk by at any second. This helps you monitor time spent online, chosen activities, and resultant behavior.

2

Internet access is not essential to your well-being, and access to it would be at your parents' discretion, or as agreed to by yourself and your parents together. I am a parent, and have been using computers since 1984 (for many years, even without internet access). I know that there is a lot of garbage online (read as: content not suitable or constructive for most normal people), and in a lot of cases, you don't even need to go looking for it - it will happily find you. So, I can understand your parents.

I never had a PC in my room growing up - it was in a common room that was used by the whole family. It may seem like an inconvenience, but unless you have something to hide, there shouldn't be a problem with this. Or... unless your siblings / parents are using the internet PC just when you want access to it?

Bottom line: If you have a solid argument / reason for needing internet access in your room, you should discuss it with your parents. The point isn't whether you have limited access to the internet, but rather, that you communicate with your parents and agree on something that all of you can live with.

1

I fight this same battle with my children. There are so many evils on the internet, and I want as a parent to protect their innocent minds from every bit of it.

The thing is, I don't want necessarily explain everything to them at their age. In my mind, that is just going to create a curiosity to explore this subject further, if given the chance. That is why we're very protective about the internet, and very protective of the friends they hang out with.

Eventually they are going to be exposed to the evils, and we'll have those difficult conversations when they have the maturity to handle it.

0

I may be pointlessly adding to this topic since I feel pretty much everyone else already answered it, especially James Snell.

I am a web programmer. People wonder how and why I can be a web programmer but refuse to use sites like facebook, twitter, or basically any social media. Why I won't buy things online unless from very specific places. Why I refuse to even consider subscription services, especially online based ones.

The reason is because I program the internet. I am the darkness behind every horror you see online. I know what I can take from you. I know how to log it. I know how to silently hand it off in so many disguises you'd marvel at the obfuscation and tremble before the meaninglessness of every bit of data people feel is worth tracking. I prey off your stupidity and gullibility. I know what your demographic will click on, watch, "like" and any other petty internet action I deem worthy of pushing your way. I know because I have been hired by everyone to do it.

The worst part is that everybody absorbs this thing we use all day every day. They want more. So much so that we have become a society of idiots staring into cell phones while we walk down the street, laughing at the most mindless drivel any fool can compose. It's not so much a tool for the better of mankind as it is an endless repository of the truth about mankind's real intentions and interests. To make money off all of you, to make themselves rich and keep you paying a small, unnoticeable monthly fee so you can be dished out the latest box of garbage delivered to your door, standardless television, "access" to some porn site or whatever else rocks your world. Every bit of it logged and categorized, assimilated, studied, and packaged into the next societal failure to take the center stage as the website of tomorrow, and prevent you from experiencing the today you are actually living in. Go ahead, check your facebook feed. Say you only use it to stay in touch, then think about that long and hard.

The internet is a monster. They want to keep you safe from that monster. I suggest you just deal with it until you live in your own place. Then you can click on whatever you want, have your webcam remotely turned on, leave the browsers open and let them soak in everything you ever do in whatever fashion you want. Hopefully nothing bad will ever happen. Most likely it wont. The real monsters of the internet know how to legally take your money. The worst monsters know very well the power of anonymity, self consciousness, and hope. It's those monsters they don't want to let into their world, and those monsters you are probably not taking as seriously as you should. But their existence and goals are not necessarily a reason to shut you out of the internet for good. So they came up with this idea to make it available, but in plain view. Works for me.

I get why your parents do this. And I can understand why you don't like it, but I also know you haven't been burned yet. I'd like to think my girls can realize the humongous waste of human existence the internet really is, and seek life instead of facebook. They may not. They may want to be a "youtuber"... a non-word I am reluctant to say... and as a parent and an agent of the past, I may have to allow them to do that in their own way, public or private. But as a programmer of the most invasive, destructive, duplistic media asset on the planet, I strongly recommend you worry about something else and go about enjoying life. In the end is it absolutely meaningless what physical part of the house the computer is in when you use it. Only that you use it responsibly. I believe your parents want to prove to themselves that you are, and when they're convinced you will be allowed to have it wherever you want.

0

Most parents try to make what they think are the best decisions for their children. These are typically influenced by their own experiences and memories.

I would not personally want my teenaged child to have a computer in his own room for the following reasons:

  • Based on my knowledge of myself, and my own memories from that time, I would worry that he would find harmful sites overwhelmingly tempting. This might not be fair to him, but it is accurate to my own younger self.

  • Based on my knowledge of the internet today, I would be worried that he could accidentally encounter harmful things without my knowledge.

  • Based on my own experiences growing up in a home with only a shared computer in a public location, I would not judge it a valid necessity for him to have one of his own in a private location.

I would imagine your father's reasoning is very similar. If you would want to change his mind, you would need to be able to adequately address these three concerns.

0

The reason they won't allow you is fear. They are afraid something bad could happen to you if they allow you to browse the internet on your own.

There are several dangers regarding the internet:

  1. Lack of inhibitors. Online bullying is something very common at your age, because bullying easier to do from behind an anonymous screen. Having your PC out in the open reduces the chances of you becoming a perpetrator and makes it easier to spot and support you if you are a victim.

  2. Addiction. Various online sources specifically target children, trying to get them addicted. Online addiction in children negatively influences grades and development of social skills, which often negatively affects their future. Knowing when you access the internet, and what you do on the internet (a variety of activities or always the same thing) allows them to spot an addiction early.

  3. Indoctrination. Various hate groups share their views on the internet, often in a small bubble where they reinforce their often flawed views. What they have in common is that they subconsciously or consciously refuse some basic rights to entire groups of people (the common targets are people of specific gender, people of specific ethnicity, people of specific religion, or people with different political views). Adolescents are slightly more likely to fall for these groups, but plenty of adults do so as well. When taken to extremes, people that join such groups can end up becoming terrorists, but usually they "just" become a-holes.

  4. Scams. There are plenty of scams on the internet, and juveniles tend to be more trusting than adults - but plenty of adults fall for them as well. One example are drive-by installers on software on seemingly reputable sites (cnet, softonic, etc) that install ransomware. Another example are ads that want you to enter a phone number to send you a free SMS. And there's the Nigerian prince, but that one doesn't usually target children. By being in a common area, they are immediately available for questions should you be suspicious of anything. There are also some scams that don't even requires you to do anything wrong (scammers sending bills for services you never ordered) - parents tend to believe the scammers in those cases if the child had unsupervised access to the internet.

  5. Abuse. There are plenty of predators who lurk chatrooms with the intend to get a sexual or financial benefit from their victims. Children are far more prone to fall for their tricks than they believe themselves to be.

These dangers are real, and letting you access the internet in an observed environment for a few years is IMO the best possible approach to prepare you. Keep in mind that while there are plenty of kids your age who can go to the internet whenever they want, there are also plenty that have less access than you do - just like some kids get a higher/lower allowance, and some kids get earlier/later/no bedtime.

At this point the best you can do is probably to negotiate a date/age by which you'll get internet in your room.

PS: Porn, which is mentioned in many other answers, is less of a problem than the vast amount of malware and virus-injecting advertisements on generic porn sites, which incidentally will make your browsing activity quite obvious to any experienced user. Just a heads up so you're prepared for the future.

-1

I would like to have a little more freedom and be able to use it on my own PC in my room, which can't be seen as easily. However, I was told no when I asked.

When I was your age I had the computer in my bedroom, and it turned out to be a bad idea, because I would often sleep late due to having to finish "just that one last bit" of programming and whatnot.

You say you're into programming, and that's important too. When doing this kind of intellectual activity, you're in creative mode, and if you simply turn off the computer and then go to bed, you'll keep writing your program in your head, then have an amazing idea that you need to write down, or worse turn the computer back on... and then you're at it again, and this will ruin your sleep. Same with intensive gaming, it's exciting, and when you're excited you don't sleep.

It is much healthier to turn off the computer say, one hour before going to bed, and then doing some relaxing activities that don't involve any screens, like reading, to let yourself smoothly switch from "thinking" to "ready to sleep". You'll sleep a lot better, and be much more productive the next day, so the hour spent relaxing isn't actually lost.

However, when programming, or working on your homework, the living room isn't the ideal setting either: it will be noisy, your family will perhaps watch TV, this will disrupt your learning and concentration, lower your homework productivity, and you will end up with a headache.

This points to the ideal setting being some kind of home office, where you can do intellectual work (programming, learning, homework) without being disturbed by noise. If your parents have such a room already setup for themselves, this would be perfect. Also, they can walk in whenever they want and keep an eye on you.

Now, since I work from home, that's the setup I have. When I'm in my home office, I'm busy. When I step out of it, I leave all my work and intellectual loose ends and tax forms inside that room, and then I'm fully available to do whatever with my GF. The nerd stuff happens in the nerd room, separated from the social stuff.

So, I won't repeat what the others said about internet nazis and whatever, but if your parents are worried about your interest in computers making you asocial, then you have to ensure that it doesn't. Spend quality time with your computer doing actual work and learning (not useless crap like social media and lolcats), and then turn it off and do social things, exercise, help around the house, etc. Basically, manage your time. This should work wonders in convincing your parents that you're trying to be responsible.

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