There are some young teenagers here. January 1, 2002 9:26 AM   Subscribe

Twice in the last couple days, posters have identified themselves as much younger than I expected to find here. One said he/she was 13, another was in the "10 to 14 group." I'm not surprised, exactly, but maybe a little uncomfortable. I don't want to underrate a 14-year-old's ability to handle "adult" discourse, but I'm wondering whether there is the potential for some problems (speaking very generally) here.
posted by rodii to MetaFilter-Related at 9:26 AM (49 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

Youth must adapt itself to adult society, not vice versa. Ideas never harmed anyone; it's the lack of preparation for processing ideas that can. And instilling that in random teens around the world is beyond the scope of MeFi's responsibility, surely?
posted by rushmc at 9:29 AM on January 1, 2002


Disclaimers I shouldn't have to make: I'm not advocating censorship, or self-censorship; I'm not advocating some sort of age-check system; I'm not denigrating teenagers; I'm not a prude, a crank, or a paternalist; this has nothing to do with "political correctness" or "MeFi police." I am a father, though, and I wonder what other parents would think about their kids being here. Just thought it would be good to explore the issue.

(Rush, dammit! ;)
posted by rodii at 9:30 AM on January 1, 2002


Youth must adapt itself to adult society, not vice versa. Ideas never harmed anyone

I was going to make a comment, but that was way cooler than anything I would have said. All the same, I'd have killed for something like this at 14. Thankfully, I'm still there mentally.

posted by yerfatma at 9:34 AM on January 1, 2002


I don't really like to talk about this a lot, but I'm actually 6 years old.
posted by Doug at 9:56 AM on January 1, 2002


Really, shouldn't it be the parents responsiblity to filter what their children learn, and not us? If their parents can't be bothered to shield them from MetaFilter and the like, why should that task fall to us?
posted by FunkyHelix at 10:06 AM on January 1, 2002


I have three kids, ages 14, 10, and 9. My fourteen-year-old would be OK here. He's intelligent, well-read, and has expressed some ideas to me that surprised me with the level of his maturity and critical thinking abilities.

On a good day, my ten-year-old would understand a third of the threads and be interested in maybe one of them. He's still more interested in Harry Potter and Digimon than discussion and debate (except debating his siblings, which drives me crazy 24-7). He'd have no problem reading everything here, but he'd get bored quickly.

My nine-year-old would read MeFi, ask me a thousand questions about every other thread, and then start using six-syllable words in every sentence regardless of context.

I guess my point (if I have one) is that it depends on the child. I wouldn't have a problem with any of my kids reading MeFi, but it would probably only interest one of them.

posted by mr_crash_davis at 10:35 AM on January 1, 2002


It's possible that some MeFites, if they knew that the things they said were being read by a 13-year-old (not to mention that they might even be addressed to a 13-year-old), might very well want to change how they say it.
posted by mattpfeff at 10:36 AM on January 1, 2002


Is it illegal for any web site to capture data from someone 13 or younger, or just sites aimed towards children? Maybe it's time for a privacy statement as a safeguard... Not much else that you can do other than that.
posted by machaus at 11:01 AM on January 1, 2002


Crash, sounds like you and I share a nine-year-old. :)
posted by rodii at 11:34 AM on January 1, 2002


This site is fine as it is. Hell, there is enough self-policing going on already.

If some adolescent comes on here and then grows up to be a serial website verbal terrorist, well then maybe we just have to accept the fact that we will have to deal with it in the year 2012.

I have better things to worry about than kids whose parents do not oversee their activities. Raise your own child. I am not your surrogate.

please......
posted by dataport72 at 12:04 PM on January 1, 2002


Is it illegal for any web site to capture data from someone 13 or younger, or just sites aimed towards children?

There's a decent description of the terms of the COPPA at WiredKids. To summarize - if you are collecting any personally identifiable information about children under the age of thirteen (like their name in the profile) you need parental consent, and if you are going to allow any chatlike behavior you need written parental consent.

Supposedly COPPA doesn't apply to non-profit (TextAds?) sites, but Matt may want to whip together a privacy statement anyway.
posted by jaek at 1:00 PM on January 1, 2002


I'm wondering whether there is the potential for some problems (speaking very generally) here.


Lets see, I was in the 10 and under group when I got my first modem for my Apple IIe. After getting a list of BBS numbers I just strayed away from adult sites I wasn't interested in and avoided discussions I couldn't understand, but I did participate with people much older than me on other boards and modem based chat rooms. I even met up with an on-line group at the local Photon more than a few times and I was the youngest by far.

I think we suffer from adultitus - when we can no longer relate to someone five to ten years younger than us because we see them as kids. All it takes is a little effort to realize that 'kids' are a lot sharper than we give them credit for and try to remember how we were at that age. Kudos to the youngsters who prefer to read and post here as opposed to doing the same at fark or somethingawful.


posted by skallas at 2:48 PM on January 1, 2002


Until this year I checked every web site my kid visited. We talked about some of them. We discussed not following every link blindly. He got to a few I wish he hadn't, but those became teaching points. Since he is now 16 and away at school I can only hope I have taught him well. He reads many of the posts on Meta Filter, finds most of them interesting. I am not so naive that I think he has not heard or seen some of the language used here occasionally. Most of the time it is at least in context. When it is not it is easy to ignore.
posted by bjgeiger at 2:54 PM on January 1, 2002


Since my sister was the one who identified herself as '10-14 age range' I suppose I should take responsability. She's fourteen the week after next and disturbingly mature.

She only ID'd herself as that age range because it was relevant to the thread. I'll try my best to keep her on the straight and narrow.

I've been singing the praises of MeFi to all my familly for a while now and when new user signups came back on she wanted in. How could I say no? Considering so many of the other ways to spend your time on the net, somewhere where there's intelligent discourse, cool links and mind broadening content is one of the better places.

You'd better believe that this is one well educated 14 year old (at least in the ways of MeFi), any hint of a double post, trolling or unsavoury behaviour will result in instant punishment, possibly more effective than the 'MeFi police'.

I do agree that there's a need to think about what sort of people are looking at what we write, but you've got to remember that this is the public intenret, literally anyone from George W. Bush to a ten year old kid from Brazil could be watching, reading, posting.

I thought that was part of the point.

and what bjgeiger said.
posted by nedrichards at 3:49 PM on January 1, 2002


I think I'm going to try to be less vulgar, personally. Not necessarily because I think it'll hurt the chilluns fragil little minds, but because it's embarrassing to be less mature than Ned's 14 year old sister.

I think it's great that there are young people reading MeFi. It's certainly a cool place, and I wish I had it as a kid. I find it kind of strange that there are so many older people, personally. Shocked at the amount of people with GRANDkids, let alone kids. It's great.
posted by Doug at 4:25 PM on January 1, 2002


Ned, your sister's cool. I don't want to imply that I have any problems with her being here. I just wanted to have a discussion about the issue in general.

Some of the responses here are a little depressing, as if any question about how we do things here amounts to some kind of attempt to legislate other people's behavior. (Responses like "Raise your own child. I am not your surrogate" are exactly the kind of touchy, confrontational bullshit that make MeTa such a ~joy~ sometimes.)

It simply seems like something to think about. I think there's a qualitative difference between a site that allows participation by any adult, and one that allows participation by anyone, period. We tend to treat each other as adults here, and sometimes that can get pretty rough. Maybe we're not consciously thinking through the implications of "anyone." As mattpfeff says above, I would probably respond differently to a younger person than I would to a peer, if I knew they were 13, and I might temper my responses in general now that I have a more all-ages picture of the MeFi population. On the other hand, some of you might behave exactly the same, who knows?

The other side of it, as a couple people have pointed out, is whether Matt needs to think about this. I'd hate some irate parent to make trouble for MeFi because some 14 year old, no matter how mature, encountered something he or she wasn't supposed to. This may never happen, or it may not be something that is worth worrying about. I don't know. That's why I asked.

Thanks for the perspectives from other parents; I'm not a very net-protective parent myself, and sometimes I worry about that a bit.

No goatsex pictures, though, OK?
posted by rodii at 4:45 PM on January 1, 2002


Yeah, she is far too cool for her own good sometimes. Sorry if I appeared a bit confrontational. I think this is a great post, this issue is one that we are going to have to seriousyl consider as the community matures and becomes less the province of the 'cool crowd'.

As you say it's much better to consider this now than when somebody makes a fuss about their 12 year old being exposed to goatse.cx. I mean I would complain about being exposed to that and I'm supposed to be jaded.
posted by nedrichards at 5:03 PM on January 1, 2002


10 to 14 is fine for metafilter. by the time I was 12 I had already discovered booze, cigarretes and porn and by 14 I was reading Burroughs and Kerouac and the lurid detective novels my old man liked to thumb through in his off hours so if I had stumbled across MeFi in those days, it would have been a piece of cake. Besides a prepubescent raised on a steady diet of this bunch should grow into a mind-boggling interesting adult, right?
posted by jonmc at 5:46 PM on January 1, 2002


at 10, my first box (those cheap toy safes with a com)by 11, i shaped by own key-blank(it worked:)(practically thrown out of Vogels) at 12 sold my first weapon. 14, net-work of lifters. 15, first jewel(winky)16, my first p.o. 17, retirement. youth is resilent and impressionable. If a child is smart enough to understand what he/she has acess too, then they will either learn by example or action. access is my question. i like to know what my kids do. rodii raises a socratic question yes?
posted by clavdivs at 6:22 PM on January 1, 2002


I'm wondering whether there is the potential for some problems

Yes. Funnily enough it's when we act like teenagers ourselves. So they go "like this is adult?"
I'm not saying people should say what age they are but it's horrible if you're addressing someone as an adult - say mocking them for their natural innocence or ignorance - and find out they're thirteen.

That said, making fun of members just because they're young happens here quite a lot and it's very childish.But the young 'uns can deal with that. My daughters will be 21 on the 21st of this month and, like rodii, I always tried not to be over-protective with them(though it difficult, mon!).

I also suspect the "short childhood" argument is mostly anxiety. The more contact teenagers have with adults the better for them. Intelligent children are always far more interested in adults than in kids their own age.

We all love MetaFilter but still - if a twelve-year-old reads it, well I bet great things are in store for her. Or him. (Boys take a lot longer to grow out of puberty-chaos).MetaFilter may be snarky and sometimes ill-mannered but not more so than your typical teenager. So no danger of corruption there.

The important thing is that it's upright, moral, honest, socially conscious and - above all - celebrates intelligent diversity and individuality. I hate to say it but it's *cough* a good influence. I think we should be flattered that young people should take the time to be on MetaFilter. They definitely rock, considering the vast, mindless outside they could be exploring instead.

I'd still like to know what age people were - at least if they were under, say, 18 - to avoid behaving like an ass towards them.And I do think that when members do mention their age and they're still young we should refrain from making them feel uncomfortable. (For instance, this happened with Machia3velli and you, rodii, were one of the culprits!)

As far as I can remember, as anapestic says on other active thread here on MeTa, the people who should grow up here are mostly grown-up, straight single males without the benefit of constant female company; specially solid friends.

And even they are perfectly OK as they are in my book. They're probably the ones attracting all the teenagers and thus luring them into a liberal education to boot! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:23 PM on January 1, 2002


MiguelCardoso - I'll take the liberty of assuming that I am one of thos gauche, laddish single, straight males that you are so fond of sniping at. FYI, I've had "constant female companionship" with the same woman for going on seven years now, and that's just my girlfriend, my other female companionship comes from one of my two best freinds, a lesbian punk rock guitarist(and a former SO of mine, but thats another story) so there goes your theory. Besides there's a lot to be said for laddishness an gauchery in my book
posted by jonmc at 6:42 PM on January 1, 2002


jonmc - mais non! I'd classify you as a sophisticated libertarian who enjoys a joke. Whatever gave you that idea? I wasn't thinking of anyone specifically - just attitudes which resurface frequently. I happen to think - as far as I do - that you're not at all gauche or laddish.

Ah, but perhaps you'd like to be? Well, wouldn't we all, if we could put the clock back! :)
posted by MiguelCardoso at 6:51 PM on January 1, 2002


MiguelCardoso- damn! there goes my self-image as the champion of enlightened vulgarity.
posted by jonmc at 7:05 PM on January 1, 2002


I think rodii raises a point worth considering (as clav says : "rodii raises a socratic question yes? ").

I'm not a father, nor do I plan to be one in the forseeable future, but I would much rather have a child, of whatever age, spending time here than many many other virtual places, including cesspools like the habbo hotel and others that would appear to be targetted at young people. I think that their presence puts the onus on us to behave more responsibly, to note when people behave in infantile ways (regardless of what their age may be), and to comport ourselves with reasonable maturity. This can't be anything but good for MetaFilter in general.

I'm not exactly sure how the presence of young people here (and I can't see anyone younger than their teens (clavdiv's Tales of Youthful Indiscretion aside) getting much out of the place. Discussions about sensitive topics, that sometimes get heated here...well, we have another reason to indulge in more rational discourse then, don't we? I would still prefer my teenagers, if I had any, to read the most combative political or sex-related thread here than most of the other nastiness easily found out there on the inTarWeb. So, I think, for the most part, MeFi can't be anything but good for young people who come here, too, as long as they behave in an adult fashion (unlike some of the adults who frequent the place, granted).

(I'm developing this tendency to run off at the mouth. Apologies.)

re: goatsex. (Sorry, but it was art. I won't do it again.)

And now, since everyone else has displayed more restraint than I :

"For god's sake, won't someone think of the children?"

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:39 PM on January 1, 2002


Rodii, give it a rest.



You want to bring up some bullshit topic like this, expect it back in your face.


Some of the responses here are a little depressing, as if any question about how we do things here amounts to some kind of attempt to legislate other people's behavior. (Responses like "Raise your own child. I am not your surrogate" are exactly the kind of touchy, confrontational bullshit that make MeTa such a ~joy~ sometimes.)

Stupid ass MeTa topics like yours (this topic) are exactly the touchy, confrontational bullshit that get my goat.


posted by dataport72 at 10:38 PM on January 1, 2002


Let make this really simple for you Rodii......

A link for you and your pissant "raise my children because I cannot do it" attitude.
CTW

A link for the rest of us




posted by dataport72 at 10:49 PM on January 1, 2002


I wish I could block flamers.
posted by kv at 10:51 PM on January 1, 2002


dataport72, I suggest you tone it down several notches. I have no idea why you're so upset, unless you are yourself a child, and are somehow feeling singled out by this discussion.

In which case, well, know we all know now, don't we?

If you've actually achieved the age of majority, you've either given a remarkably accurate portrayal of someone who hasn't, and we can take your little hissy fit as performance art, or, once again, we all know how infantile you can be.

Touchy and confrontational, indeed. You lose, kiddo.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 10:57 PM on January 1, 2002


Interesting : this troll has created the dataport72 userid specifically for flaming people, apparently, as he or she is too much of a coward to do it under their primary username.

This from the dataport72 profile : "this uid is for when i hear stupid crap being re-iterated 50,000 times."

I vote nuke him.

posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 11:02 PM on January 1, 2002


Sorry, dead horse, no more flogging for you: you're enjoying it too much.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 11:03 PM on January 1, 2002


No starvo, I will not tone it down when it comes to people trying to impose their choices on me.

You want to go and take this type of BS on you, feel free to do so. Don't slap me down because I call a spade a spade when reading crap like rodii posted. At least I will say it straight out: screw you. I don't pull back handed ad honimen bullshit when arguing a point.

If you don't want your kids to drink, get them out of the friggin bar.
posted by dataport72 at 11:08 PM on January 1, 2002


No Miguel, I am not enjoying it.

Actually, I am quite sick and tired of hearing the whole "gee, is this really good for kids" argument with regards to the internet and websites in general. I just wish I could visit a website without the stupidity thrust upon me of worrying about someone else's kid.


I wish this was a dead_horse because then I would not get so insenced about it.
posted by dataport72 at 11:16 PM on January 1, 2002


I just wish I could visit a website without the stupidity thrust upon me of worrying about someone else's kid.
And I wish that I could act in socially irresponsible ways without having this irritating conscience thing bug me about it.
At least I will say it straight out: screw you. I don't pull back handed ad honimen bullshit when arguing a point.
I'm not sure what to say to this, oxymoronic as it is.

Anyhow, rodii raises a legitimate point. The purpose of MeTa is to discuss issues pertaining to MeFi. The nature of MeTa has been grossly misinterpreted here:
Stupid ass MeTa topics like yours
Wherein you assume that you are supposed to somehow like or be pleased by topics that arise.
I will not tone it down when it comes to people trying to impose their choices on me.
Perhaps if you were to raise legitimate points and foster a discussion people could respond and we could carry what's known as a dialogue, instead of the one-sided debate you interpret as "impose[d] ... choices."

If you don't want your kids to drink, get them out of the friggin bar.
If you do not want to even make the barest attempt at civilized conversation, get out the of metatalk.



posted by j.edwards at 11:52 PM on January 1, 2002


I vote nuke him.

Seconded. Some people just can't be bothered to understand what metatalk is for and would prefer to fly off the handle fark-style. Ignore it and it will go away.
posted by skallas at 12:57 AM on January 2, 2002


As far as coarse language goes: no matter how vulgar you are, there's probably worse language in the schoolyard.

I'm under 18. I don't think that has much to do with my ability to discuss "adult" topics. I think more people in my age-group should read something like MeFi - it's a lot more intelligent than the stuff aimed at the demographic.
posted by eoz at 1:03 AM on January 2, 2002


*gets a deckchair and a bottle of alcopops, sits back and watches the debate run* hmmm intresting.
posted by hugsnkisses at 5:06 AM on January 2, 2002


data poopshoot. i dont sure if rodii will respond to your stupid position...i will. it is stupid, like you for not giving a REASON. tell ya what, yo explain the name 'dong resin' to my 10 yr old and you will get my blessing.
posted by clavdivs at 7:10 AM on January 2, 2002


As always, clav, you cut to the chase. Props.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 7:24 AM on January 2, 2002


Geez, I shouldn't have gone to bed.

Good to hear from eoz and hugs here. Hope you guys don't think I'm trying to ban you or anything.
posted by rodii at 8:43 AM on January 2, 2002


I think it's good to ask the question, rodii, but as a parent myself I don't expect the Web to do anything to protect my kids. Anyone who lets their kids roam freely on the Web is doing nothing to prevent them from being exposed to hardcore pornography, graphic depictions of violence, bombmaking instructions, child molesters on the prowl, and hundreds of other depredations. Considering that, where does unexpurgated conversation on a community weblog rate as an ongoing issue of concern?
posted by rcade at 9:10 AM on January 2, 2002


Anyone who lets their kids roam freely on the Web is doing nothing to prevent them from being exposed to hardcore pornography, graphic depictions of violence, bombmaking instructions, child molesters on the prowl, and hundreds of other depredations. Considering that, where does unexpurgated conversation on a community weblog rate as an ongoing issue of concern?

In regards to children, I don't think it's a question of whether there's worse stuff out on the web. Obviously, there is. But my children aren't going to be very interested in hardcore porn or bombmaking instructions, so I wouldn't worry so much about that. I would worry if they were coming to MeFi because I don't think kids should be exposed to so much rudeness, obscenity, and questionable logic. Of course, I monitor what my kids do on the internet, so they're not coming here.

I don't think people should have to think about how a child would react to what they post on MetaFilter. I do, however, think they should consider whether what they're posting here is something they'd say in polite society. That should set the bar high enough.
posted by anapestic at 9:31 AM on January 2, 2002


I'd be delighted if my 14 year old son was a MetaFilterer. He'd learn a lot. Since mefi is mostly text, with pancakes on the side, it would be ideas that are the most dangerous commodity here. I hope I've brought him up with the sense to deal with ideas.

As for Matt's exposure to civil or criminal penalties because a child signed up for an account, there is clearly no attempt made to pry marketing information out of minors. I'd like to be the 1st person to contribute to his defense fund. This site is a fine example of free speech in action.
posted by theora55 at 12:35 PM on January 2, 2002


no disrespect to dong (good to see hes back in the fold))((i can stomach a clever troll but this is just like..."but WHY tell them not to stare at the sun..."
posted by clavdivs at 6:58 PM on January 2, 2002


or the "cleaver" troll;)
posted by clavdivs at 6:59 PM on January 2, 2002


Hullo, clav.

My original name was nun_fisting.

Things have probably worked out for the best.
posted by dong_resin at 2:47 AM on January 3, 2002


lol
posted by clavdivs at 7:10 AM on January 3, 2002


I'd say that this site pretty much isn't a problem. If you would treat a 13-year-old who discusses topics intelligently differently than a 33-year-old who discusses topics intelligently, well, then I'd say the 13-year-old has a greater-than-usual right to privacy, specifically because you would treat them differently if you knew their age.

:exhale:

:inhale:

Yeah.

Anyway, I'm a minor, and probably shouldn't participate in MeFi, but not because I'm a minor -- I just do really poorly in BB-style chatting environments. I kill in IM and face-to-face, but BBSs kill me. The same is probably true for adults.

And MeFi is way too cool to give up.
posted by Ptrin at 2:46 PM on January 3, 2002


I always liked reading you, Ptrin.

posted by dong_resin at 3:31 PM on January 3, 2002


Sad that a good & necessary thread got side-tracked by trolling once again.

Rodii brings up a good point. I don't want MeFi to find itself in a legal mess because it wasn't doing an age check at the sign-in page. Maybe to cover our asses, it would be a good thing to have an opt-in checkbox ("Are you over 13?"). If the person isn't 13 and checks the box regardless, Matt and Metafilter are blameless.
posted by jennak at 3:39 PM on January 3, 2002


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