Advent-ures in the MSE Forum... Our Advent calendar is live, helping you discover a new corner of the community each day. Visit the homepage and scroll down

MONEY MORAL DILEMMA. Can kids buy anything they want?

in MoneySaving polls
98 replies 15.1K views


  • As a lot of people have suggested, it's a matter of trust between the parent(s) and child.

    Personally, I would let the child have the PC, if that's what they really want. There is plenty of stuff that they can get off the net to help with school (past papers, cribbed essays etc ;) ). However, unlimited internet is a bit different - I would offer to pay half the cost of the laptop (after all there needs to be some kind of recognition of their excellent work and savings), but in lieu of charging them for the internet access, they need to surf the web in a family room.

    If that doesn't work, then they can have the laptop if the pay for the whole thing, plus their own broadband bills. If they're that determined to want to pay the extra every month then all credit to them.

    Installing snooping software isn't on - explain that whatever they think of your technical skills, you do know how to monitor their usage, but won't do it unless they give you a reason to do it. If you ask them to show you the surfing history (and it's completely empty!), then you might need to have another quiet word about appropriate internet use!

  • Ali_UKAli_UK Forumite
    302 Posts
    Got to agree with the above. Their laptop it may be (just how long does it take a kid of that age to save up THAT kind of money??!), but who will be paying for the phone line standing charges and the broadband or dial up connection on a monthly basis?
  • novembernovember Forumite
    613 Posts
    Easy vote for me to make. My DS, 13, has a pc in his room with unlimited wireless internet access. He had it part for last Xmas (so he was 12 then) and part he paid for himself. Only it was mostly an interest free mum loan rather than saving as he hadn't had time to save for all of it.

    He mostly uses it for online games although I'm sure he's done a bit of browsing. However he knows I may look at his computer particularly if it plays up to sort it out and he knows searches etc. can be found on your computer and that dodgy sites are likely to mess it up (important point for a gaming fiend). He's also had all the lectures but knew them anyway as DD is 16 so had a computer in her room with internet access before him.

    I trust both of them not to do anything too stupid.

    As for additional cost - well there is on having more than one computer electricity wise I suppose but linking us all to a wireless network means I don't pay any extra for the broadband/time spent on line for having them on line as well as me.

    edited to add

    In answer to the title question - can he buy anything he wants with his money? No not while he's in my house. For example another dog would be out of the question :D PC & Internet though I don't have a problem with.
    I live in my own little world. But it's okay. They know me here.
  • ChrisBristolChrisBristol Forumite
    40 Posts
    There's another point to consider here - making sure you lock down your router is fine, but what if your neighbours haven't?

    A friend of mine turned up with his laptop a few weeks ago, turned it on and was happily surfing the web completely unrestricted and at broadband speeds (he's 46, so I wasn't too worried for his moral wellbeing) while sitting at my dining room table. I don't have a wireless router - but obviously somebody in my street does!
  • The child should be talked to, keep an eye. Be open about things and talk to your child, they will appriciate. If you say NO NO NO then they will simply reply the same thing back. Of course protection of children is one of the most important things ever, keep an eye.
  • I'd let them have it, point out any dangers, but the most important thing in any relationship is trust. Afterall they are gonna learn so much from the internet, I know I have. Respect them and they'll respect you.

    Any monitoring software installed in my opinion is wrong, an invasion of privacy. They'll easily figure out how to get around it. A quick google on netnanny for example brings up this:

    My child's figured out how to disable the Parental Monitoring Software package Net Nanny by killing the process in Task Manager after hitting ctrl-alt-del. He learned to do that just by searching for "disable net nanny" on the web. Is there a way to make him stop? Perhaps a way to make Net Nanny run without being detected?
  • Despite what it says on PC Tattletale's website, it's also dubiously legal if you don't tell your child about it - particularly in the case of older children - and in any case is in my opinion sneaky, underhanded, and a sure-fire way of ruining your relationship with your child. Why do you need "silent" monitoring? If you're going to allow your child to use the Internet and you don't feel that they are responsible enough to do so unmonitored, you should have some backbone and TELL them that monitoring is a condition of them using the Internet at home and give them the choice of using it under conditions or not at all!

    Come on, take a step back from the hysteria about roaming hordes of paedophiles and the "anything I do to keep my child safe is justified" and ask yourself whether such dirty, sneaky behaviour is warranted or is a good basis for the sort of relationship you want with your child. They ARE going to find out about the monitoring; PC Tattletale's claim that a user can't discover the installation are - and I go on record as an information security analyst here - absolute nonsense. You don't need to be an expert and you don't need to do anything clever... if your child suspects monitoring and is even vaguely tech-savvy they'll find out in half an hour, tops.

    Even if they don't, how are you going to USE any information you find without tipping them off that they've been under surveillance all along, and just what are they going to think of you then?

    Anyway, the posited scenario is that of a 13-year-old buying a laptop with their own money. If you install the software on the computer THEY purchased and do so without their knowledge or consent, it's entirely possible that you're breaking the law.

    This cloak-and-dagger nonsense is another example of technology supplanting good parenting. It's YOUR house, YOU pay for the electricity to run the posited laptop, YOU pay for the connection to the Internet and associated costs, YOU are responsible for the child's well-being. Why go behind their backs?

    If you're after an approach with a bit more integrity - and one that will actually protect your child's computer installation instead of just letting you know what happened - then I'd suggest another angle. There are a large number of software packages out there that allow you to control which applications are used by whom and when, and that can set time limits on computer usage overall.

    One example which might be worth your consideration is:

    If you're in a scenario where you'd like some control over what your children do on their computers, go and take a look. There are other packages out there too, but that might be a decent starting point to get you thinking about what features you need.

    Please note that I'm not advocating that children should be allowed unrestricted access to the Internet; and in the case of many children, even to an unconnected PC! Nor am I against monitoring and/or logging activities per se. What I'm saying is that the restrictions you put in place should be explained and/or negotiated with your child (according to age and maturity) instead of stooping to loathsome and underhanded snooping activity.

    Damn straight! These snooping packages sell you a message of mistrust and justify it with fear. As many people in this thread have mentioned, you've got to establish trust at some point and the best way is to set boundaries you can gradually relax, not to monitor your child's every movement without telling them.

    I'd say to Lellie that although the Internet never did you any harm as a teenager, a) it ain't the same out there any more, and b) my work has brought me into contact with many, many people who have been harmed quite severely in one way or another by naive Internet usage, and I'm not even talking about "predators".

    Finally, I'm right bang alongside kuniform's approach of last resort: "Because I said so" is always an option if negotiation and persuasion fail ;) At least that way you're telling your child what your values are and teaching them that there are boundaries and disappointments in life instead of tricking them into thinking they're trusted only to be let down with a bang later!
    Too right! Why provoke your child into being sneaky. If you make a big deal of being sneaky then they will follow in your footsteps. They aren't your evil enimies!!! You brought them up and you still are... be a parent and be sensible, you expect your children to trust you.
  • Isn't having kids completely incompatible with being a moneysaver????

    (Slightly tongue in cheek, but having three of the darlings, I know that saving money would be so much easier without, music, drama, school trips, cinema, parties, holidays, scouts and on and on and on - take the savings as a partial repayment and stuff the laptop!!!)
  • Well it depends on the relationship with your child/children. Our son had a PC in his room, but knew Mum was far more PC literate than him, and then a few simple ground rules, were sufficient, he's 21 now and still mainly works to them. Most kids want it for MSN to talk to their mates, and probably download music. Be honest with them and say you will do random checks, and ask them for a guarantee not to go on pornography sites, and stupid chat rooms. You have to build up trust at some point.
  • Thank you Kfn1502 for being so honest as I am the mother of a 15 year old who spends a lot of time on MSN. To begin with I used to check some of the history and it was quite concerning as it appeared she was being bullied by so called "friends" and the names they all called themselves was worrying in itself.

    One night I had the mother of a friend of hers at the door accusing my daughter of all sorts and I just closed the door on her and sat down with daughter and had a long talk about what was happening. It turned out the friend had wanted my daughter to go with her to meet some boy from online that neither knew and my daughter had said no and my daughter got the blame for the trouble the other girl was in. TBH she refused mainly on the grounds that she knew she would be dumped in town and didn't want that to happen but she did also realise it would be a silly thing to do. I then asked to see the profiles on the website that had been mentioned and it turned out it was for over 16s and the profiles of some of the girls were quite scary.

    For a while we had a webcam set up but she knew that I was quite likely to come along and wave and dance to her friends and embarrass her beyond belief. She will often use my login on MSN and chat to my friends, one of her favourites to chat with is MSE Andrea about Gu and hair colour :)

    Anyway, answer to the question is yes if its their money, its their laptop and you have to know your child to know where in the house they use it. My main worry when she is using the pc is what rubbish is downloaded like smillie central :o
This discussion has been closed.
Latest MSE News and Guides

Is your local HSBC closing?

114 branches to shut in 2023

MSE News

Advent Competitions

The countdown is on

MSE Forum

Baileys £10 for 1L at Tesco

When you scan your Clubcard

MSE Deals