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.


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

Child-Safe Internet (Browsers)

Folks, my apologies to those of you who are looking for Part 3 of my performance upgrade series. A rash of rogue infections has had me performing non-stop repairs this week as the cyberciminals are “poisoning” more and more legitimate websites (please read [and refer friends and family to] Your Computer Is Lying To You… The Epidemic Of Rogues. Hey, Mr. “Cyber Czar”. You listening?).

Today I only have time to suggest a quick reading recommendation. It is a bit dated, but contains much good information for parents.

How do you keep you kids on child-safe sites when you can’t watch over their shoulders as they surf? With a child-safe browser.

Please read Neil J. Rubenking’s, Child Safe Browsers

*     *     *

* This just out: Keep Your Child Safe Online

From online bullies to perverts to the lure of time-wasters like YouTube, there are far too many ways unsupervised kids of any age can get into trouble on the Internet. We look at a baker’s dozen ways to keep your kids out of trouble online—whether they’re toddlers or teens or thirty-something return-to-the-nesters.

Today’s free download: Download Over 5000 National Geographic Wallpapers with One Click

February 26, 2010 Posted by | kids and the Internet, security | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment