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I have a well behaved, very bright, tech savvy 15 year old daughter. Her mother and I have discussed the risks and dangers of social media and online interactions, and have set clear guidelines and expectations for her tech use and online behavior. However, it turns out she has created multiple Google accounts (and borrowed one from an older friend) in order to circumvent our oversight, and she has been accessing sites and apps (mostly chat and photo sharing related) which we deem to be unsafe and therefore out of bounds.

Is there a way to prevent her from creating multiple Google accounts so we can maintain oversight and guidance?

I realize that soon she will be old enough to call the shots, but I want to do what I can to keep her safe, educate her, and help her make good decisions. So simply taking away all tech is not a viable solution. (And the sad thing is that while her personal phone is locked down, she has been able to access these sites and apps on her school iPad!)

So I figure if we at least keep her from creating multiple accounts, we can stay on top of any other online accounts she may try to sign up for, sites she visits, and apps she uses.

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    Give up. At 15, there is no way you can stop her if she's determined to get an account. If you can't trust her now, it's already too late. In the USA, there's a legal minimum age of 13 for self managed accounts that is rarely enforced and is essentially unenforceable. Kids lie about it all the time (not a good idea) and when they get caught they just visit the library or borrow a friend's phone and create a new one. A family friend turned 16 no less than 6 times based on his online profiles. ... – pojo-guy Apr 5 '18 at 2:45
  • ... Today, every school kid in my state (from kindergarten up) has a gmail account managed by the school. By 5th grade some teachers expect assignments to be submitted through gmail/google docs. By high school, the majority of assignments are submitted online through their GMail account. – pojo-guy Apr 5 '18 at 2:45
  • You can't stop anyone from creating multiple gmail accounts.. short of blacklisting the google domain or cutting off the internet. It's the same as clicking "I am over 18 years old" in porn websites.. no one checks the user's actual age – uR2die4 Apr 5 '18 at 2:47
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    @uR2die4 even blacklisting the domain doesn't help, as she can log into any other network and get around the filter. – Erik Apr 5 '18 at 14:28
  • Can you clarify exactly what your fears are... what specifically she is restricted from doing and why they are too dangerous for somebody who is within 3 years of being a legal adult (at which point they need to be fairly experienced in handling online and other risks)? It's hard to know how to respond without knowing what it is that you are trying to protect her from. – lgritz Apr 10 '18 at 17:56
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Unless you restrict her access to objects that can reach the internet, you are fighting a losing battle. At this point of our technological development, keeping her from creating a second account without 24h surveillance is about as possible as keeping her from buying magazines you might be opposed to.

So, what can you do instead? Keep educating her. Few sites are dangerous to use if you are careful (Security against malware, viruses and so on is a different topic, and from what you've said, I suspect she knows how to avoid catching malware on her machine!).
Tell her what behaviour you consider dangerous and why, not that the photo-sharing site is dangerous. Tell her why you consider chat-app XY an issue (Is it the kind of people she may meet? Does it reveal too much information about her? What EXACTLY is it you dislike about it?).

Hopefully, she will at least tell you, "But I am CAREFUL!". Use that as a chance to ask her how she is careful. Tell her why you think she may not be careful ENOUGH. For example, if you are worried she may send someone a picture AND reveal her location, tell her how this may happen on photo-sharing. If she shares a lot of pictures of her surroundings, license-plates and road signs are EASY hints about where she lives, for example!

Make sure you are on the same page when it comes to privacy-settings, too! Those can be tricky to get right!
She's at an age and skill-level where all you can do is make sure ALL her skills are up to the task of handling the internet. You know she'll soon be on her own on the net anyway; equip her now :).

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    +1 for understanding your own fears first. I would add that a good guideline is "never do or say anything online that you wouldn't want on the school notice board. – Paul Johnson Apr 5 '18 at 10:37
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She is a teenager and will, probably keep creating multiple accounts or do anything to lose that feeling of oversight. it is exactly this feeling, puberty tries to fight. it wants autonomy and self-control.

I agree with @Layna.

My suggestion would be to stop the oversight and turn it 180 around: tell her that you want to know what is going on but it's her decision to show/give her login or show emails.

Instead tell her your fears. warn her what you are afraid of and importantly: share which mistakes you made. these teenagers want to tryout. they are going to make mistakes. Its good to warn them for the real dangerous stuff and let them learn other stuff themselves.

Ask the question if your oversight/control is helping your daughter turn into an independent adult (she will be in 3 years)?

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This is a great chance to teach about internet security; she messed up somewhere or you wouldn't know about the other accounts.

Explain how you found out, and how a malicious actor could exploit her errors. The point is if she can't protect her privacy from you she isn't paranoid enough for the internet yet.

Listen when she tells you what is wrong with the limits you are setting. She probably has some silly ideas that need correcting, but she will also probably have some legitimate goals that she is just pursuing in the wrong ways. Help her learn about what privacy is important, while supporting her using acceptable channels to connect appropriately.

This is also a chance to tell her that whatever secrets she is keeping aren't really a big deal. That you read about her crush, and think he's a jerk or whatever, but that isn't what you care about.

  • She didn't necessarily mess up - she just 'fessed up once we sat her down and confronted her. We also had a discussion about the difference between "privacy" and "secrecy". And we explained that it's our job as parents to keep her safe and teach her good tech habits (so she'll have right tools when she is out on her own). – wloescher Apr 6 '18 at 0:54
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Technically you can lock things down with IP addresses and Linux-based systems - move away from windows.

Like most teenagers, she has difficulties with self-control and handling prohibited material. You have to set boundaries.

More importantly, she has violated your trust in her and her responsibility. That results in consequences. Explaining that you're disappointed in her failing to tell you because she knew she violated your trust is worth more than many other things. I would suggest you read 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and how emotional trust and building that is so hard and so easy to lose. Consider a person who goes into a store and steals one candy. It is worth say a quarter. Let's say he gets caught and goes to jail and has a criminal record. For .25c he lost society's trust that he is a normal functioning member of society. He went into overdraft of society's trust account and he won't ever get that back. You as a parent have an obligation to instill that lesson into your children, so that they realize that while opening up multiple accounts is hardly that serious, but can lead to violating so much more. There is the thrill and excitement of doing something illegal. The emotional pull and the expectations all this play into your daughter's developing brain. You need to understand that you can have a powerful influence in setting this as an example of wading through life.

I think Internet Security lectures are not going to help. I think explaining that she violated your trust account and overdrew that trust, has resulted in the trust account foreclosing - how can you trust her with the internet again? She needs to re-earn that trust. This is a great way of opening her up to seeing the consequences of her actions.

  • There isn't anything on Linux that isn't as circumventable as it's Windows equivalent. Access to a proxy or VPN breaks any attempt at IP blocking. – Becuzz Oct 25 '18 at 12:23
  • which can be blocked. If you don't have root access I don't see how you can circumvent anything that has been locked down? – user33483 Oct 25 '18 at 17:01
  • How is this relevant to Linux? It's just another operating system. – Steve Woods Nov 18 '18 at 22:13
  • Linux-based systems will give you more control over access and be harder to circumvent. That is the point. – user33483 Nov 19 '18 at 15:16

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