Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Parent of a Pre-teen Son…*

Today I am re-posting an article that I enjoyed writing – a long time ago now, and I hope you will enjoy reading today.

When I first started writing Tech–for Everyone way back on the 8th of June, 2007, I wondered how long I could go before I talked about computer gaming. I think I did fairly well at delaying the inevitable. Two things triggered this post: a client with a pre-teen boy, and my mood. I’ll look at the latter first.

This week I got into a foul mood. I became short-tempered, irritated, antsy. I was definitely ‘out of sorts’. I was not a Happy Camper. Part of this was due to the fact that I had several back-to-back days of too-much-to-do/too-little-time (can anyone relate?). I felt a bit less than “in control”.

I managed to keep up with demands, and my time-spent was successful. I not only kept afloat, but I succeeded. However, this didn’t lighten my mood. Finally, by staying up a little longer than I should, I was able to take a break and play a conquest map of Age of Empires III, The Warchiefs. Amazingly, I was calm, refreshed, and happy. I was a Happy Camper again.

Why? I realized that it had been several days since I had played a game, and I had subconsciously “missed it”, like a smoker during a long flight, or a dieter walking past the bakery. And that once I got my “fix”, I was returned to a normal psychological state. This realization has caused me to wonder if I (me! myself!) wasn’t developing a gaming “addiction”. Wow.

There have been several news stories about computer gaming; ranging from the couple who suffered financial ruin by devoting their lives completely to the online game World of Warcraft (a couple of nut-jobs, if you ask me), to the medical ramifications (carpal-tunnel) of too much controller/mouse/keyboard use … especially in children.

There is a real belief in “gaming addiction”, and there’s a doctor who’s gone so far as publicly stating that as much as 40% of all WoW players are clinically addicted to it. (Read the article) Consider that there’s at least six and-a half ten million people subscribing to WoW, and you realize that that’s a LOT of people … and that’s just one game. It is my belief that these news stories will only increase in number; that as our society becomes more and more of a shut-in society, and more of our interactions take place online, topics along this line will only grow. Google “World of Warcraft+divorce” and you’ll see 747,000 765,000 results. WoW!
If your friends are telling you you’re an addict, please … don’t take it as a compliment. Take a serious look at yourself, before you lose everything.

That said, I do play computer games; and if you’re curious, I like the WW II FPS titles (Call of Duty, Medal of Honor), air combat simulators (Lock On, Il-2, Microsoft), and ‘civilization’ games. And good-old Solitaire. I play a couple of games a day, to “unwind”. I think I’m alright… I haven’t, as yet, spent real money on ‘magic armor’.

The second topic I mentioned was the lady with the pre-teen son. She keeps having “weird pop ups”, and her machine is “always so slow.” I had installed a security suite, and the full gamut of protections onto her machine, and yet she keeps having these issues. She asked me, “why does this keep happening?”

I asked her several questions and looked over her logs and histories. She told me she has a 12 year-old son, and that as soon as he gets home from school he goes straight to the computer to “do homework” … that he spends quit a bit of time on the PC. Well! I was once a 12 year-old boy, and I remember well how much time in the afternoon — freshly released from a day of scholarly confinement — I spent on homework. None. Zero. Nada. (At least, not willingly.)

Sure enough, a look at IE’s browsing history (read how to do this here) did not reveal any instances of National Geographic, The History Explorer, Encyclopedia Britannica, or “math help” (or anything else even vaguely homework-related), but revealed endless explorations of online Flash games, YouTube, and “cheat codes”.

I looked at his download history and found plenty of “demo games”, screensavers, magic swords and shields, and other “bonuses” he’d earned playing his online games. Could one of those ‘magic swords’ (or demo-games) have contained spyware??? Does spyware slow down your machine? Cause pop ups? Well … (duh) YES!

Tip of the day: Here’s the thing most folks fail to fully grasp — when you let your child run under your User Account, he’s running with full administrator privileges and can install programs unrestricted and, when you click on “download this file”, you’re bypassing your protection. (PC’s have to work this way, or you’d never get anything done) You are telling your security programs, “it’s OK. I know what I’m doing.” A 12 year-old boy, caught up in the excitement at having just “triumphed” and earning himself a +2 Sword of Sharpness, probably doesn’t know what he’s doing, and he will click “download your prize now!”
98% of the time, it’s harmless fun. How can you tell which demo game or ‘magic shield’ is safe, and which one’s contain spyware? You can’t. Sorry. Like I said, 98% of them are safe.

If you missed my series on protecting your kids from the Internet, you can learn how to remedy this — creating a Limited User Account, and cranking up IE’s security, etc. — by clicking here.

Related:
* Protecting Our Kids On The Internet: Using Parental Controls
I recently set up parental controls for a seven and a nine year old who are very near and dear to me…

* There’s an online addiction assessment test you can take if you have suspicions/concerns about Internet/gaming addiction.

Today’s free download: K9 Web Protection is free Internet filtering and control solution for the home. K9 puts YOU in control of the Internet so you can protect your kids.

As if being a parent isn’t hard enough…

The Internet has made your job a whole lot tougher. As soon as your child is old enough to get online, you have to safely guide him through a whole new world: the virtual one. How can you encourage your child to explore wonderful new places that stimulate creativity and learning while ensuring he or she doesn’t wander into dangerous territory?

Get FREE continuous protection against malware and inappropriate Web sites. Download K9 Web Protection now.

Orig post: 8/9/07

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.


>> Folks, don’t miss an article! To get Tech – for Everyone articles delivered to your e-mail Inbox, click here, or to subscribe in your RSS reader, click here. <<


Share this post :

July 9, 2010 Posted by | computers | , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

A Look At Our Newest Addiction*

In “vacation mode”. This article proved quite popular, and is a topic I believe is worthy of your consideration. Enjoy your weekend.

gaming-addictionTwo recent events have reminded me to ponder the social implications of Internet Addiction– one, the power (once again) went out for a lengthy duration here at T4E Headquarters; and, two, my nephew’s father wanted to take him for his first fishing trip.

At a lake.

Out in the boondocks.

Where there is no Internet.
(Thus, no Swords & Dragons Quest Guild Wars*) My nephew is 12.

We use our computers, and the Internet, for lots of different purposes (see Why We Compute) and some of us, like me, even conduct our businesses online. For us, service interruptions can seem minor inconveniences, or disastrous business events. 12 year-old boys (well, my nephew anyway) use computers and the Internet to play games, and an interruption seems like the END OF THE WORLD.

Dr. Orzack, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of cyber-addiction, and member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, lists the Symptoms of IA:

1) Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer
2) Inability to stop the activity
3) Craving more and more time at the computer
4) Neglect of family and friends
5) Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer
6) Lying to employers and family about activities
7) A child’s grades fall and the teacher notes that he/she is falling asleep in class

When I lose my Internet service, not only am I unable to assist clients with Remote Sessions, but I experience a good dose of #5 on that list. I joke with friends that I experience Internet “withdrawal” (and I show them my trembling hands). But I am not an addict, not like some of the people who have appeared in the headlines– I have not lost my wife/house/job/friends due to excessive Internet fascination.

And, honestly, I don’t think my nephew is that bad off either.. he did go on the fishing trip and enjoyed it. But I am concerned. I know that these MMORPG’s are designed to be addicting, and that they take hundreds of hours to play enough to “advance” in. I know that my nephew spends far too much time with his online games (like, all his free time).

And.. I know that his behavior (getting home from school and going straight to the computer) is considered “normal” these days.
(And mom can keep an eye on him.. and he’s not out doing risky things like skateboarding, climbing tall trees, riding motorscooters, or running with sharp sticks..)

I am not an expert. I cannot tell you if you, or your child is an Internet Addict. I cannot predict the future, and see how my nephew is “going to turn out”. I can only tell you that Internet Addiction sure appears to be real, and that it is a subject worth consideration.

And, there’s an online addiction assessment test you can take if you have suspicions/concerns.

If you think you are, or your child is, an addict, there is a large community of help available. Enter “Internet Addiction” into a search engine, and start seeking it.

* A game name I made up. Photo courtesy of WiredParentPad

Also, please see Video Game Addiction – True or False? and Detox Centers for Computer and Internet Related Addictions

* Published on: Aug 23, 2008

Copyright 2007-9 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved. post to jaanix

Share this post :

July 18, 2009 Posted by | computers, Gaming, Internet, kids and the Internet, tech | , , , , | 6 Comments

Is Your (inner) Child Addicted to the Internet?

Two recent events have reminded me to ponder the social implications of Internet Addiction– one, the power (once again) went out for a lengthy duration here at T4E Headquarters; and, two, my nephew’s father wanted to take him for his first fishing trip.
At a lake.gaming-addiction
Out in the boondocks.
Where there is no Internet. (Thus, no Swords & Dragons Quest Guild Wars*) My nephew is 12.

We use our computers, and the Internet, for lots of different purposes (see Why We Compute) and some of us, like me, even conduct our businesses online. For us, service interruptions can seem minor inconveniences, or disastrous business events.
12 year-old boys (well, my nephew anyway) use computers and the Internet to play games, and an interruption seems like the END OF THE WORLD.

, a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the treatment of cyber-addiction, and member of the Harvard Medical School faculty, lists the Symptoms of IA:

* Having a sense of well-being or euphoria while at the computer
* Inability to stop the activity
* Craving more and more time at the computer
* Neglect of family and friends
* Feeling empty, depressed, irritable when not at the computer
* Lying to employers and family about activities
* A child’s grades fall and the teacher notes that he/she is falling asleep in class

When I lose my Internet service, not only am I unable to assist clients with , but I experience a good dose of #5 on that list. I joke with friends that I experience Internet “withdrawal” (and I show them my trembling hands). But I am not an addict, not like some of the people who have appeared in the headlines– I have not lost my wife/house/job/friends.

And, honestly, I don’t think my nephew is that bad off either.. he did go on the fishing trip and enjoyed it.
But I am concerned. I know that these MMORPG’s are designed to be addicting, and that they take hundreds of hours to play enough to “advance” in. I know that my nephew spends far too much time with his online games (like, all his free time).
And.. I know that his behavior (getting home from school and going straight to the computer) is considered “normal” these days.
(And mom can keep an eye on him.. and he’s not out doing risky things like skateboarding, climbing tall trees, riding motorscooters, or running with sharp sticks..)

I am not an expert. I cannot tell you if you, or your child is an Internet Addict. I cannot predict the future, and see how my nephew is “going to turn out”. I can only tell you that Internet Addiction is real, and that it is a subject worth consideration. And, there’s an online addiction assessment test you can take if you have suspicions/concerns.

If you think you, or your child is an addict, there is a large community of help available. Enter “Internet Addiction” into a search engine, and start seeking it.

* A game name I made up.

Photo courtesy of WiredParentPad, What Every Parent Ought to Know About World of Warcraft.
Also, please see Video Game Addiction – True or False? and Detox Centers for Computer and Internet Related Addictions

Copyright 2007-8 © Tech Paul. All rights reserved.jaanix post to jaanix

Share this post :

August 23, 2008 Posted by | advice, computers, Gaming, Internet, kids and the Internet, tech | , , , , , , , , , | 13 Comments