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    • MSE Martin
    • By MSE Martin 1st Nov 06, 5:23 PM
    • 8,115Posts
    • 42,285Thanks
    MSE Martin
    MONEY MORAL DILEMMA. Can kids buy anything they want?
    • #1
    • 1st Nov 06, 5:23 PM
    MONEY MORAL DILEMMA. Can kids buy anything they want? 1st Nov 06 at 5:23 PM
    This week's Money Moral Dilemma

    A 13-year-old wants to buy a laptop to have internet access directly in their room. (S)he's saved up for it with pocket money and doing odd jobs. Their parents are concerned about unfettered web access (and the kid’s smart enough that they could work round any child protection). However, they’ve worked hard and diligently saved and argue it’s their cash. Should they be free to?

    Click reply to enter the money moral maze

    Please remember, be polite to other MoneySavers, even if you disagree with them

    Also read last week's MMD: Would you get them sacked?

    PS. And just to confirm this is an entirely hypothetical situation. Each week in the email I will be asking those questions. And yes, the lack of detail, the phrasing, all of it is deliberate to envoke debate (nice debate too). Enjoy the money moral maze.

    Last edited by MSE Martin; 08-11-2006 at 10:21 PM.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.

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Page 1
  • kuniform
    • #2
    • 8th Nov 06, 1:08 AM
    It's up to the parents.
    • #2
    • 8th Nov 06, 1:08 AM
    At the end of the day, it's up to the parents to decide how much they trust the child or how much they trust their ability to protect/restrain the child's activities.

    Just because a child has saved up enough money doesn't give the child free license to go and buy anything they want. Clearly for the price of a laptop, they could afford any number of illegal or illicit products which the parents would be legally obliged not to allow or help the child to buy.

    It's completely the parents decision, and it's up to them to be as fair as they want to be. It would be nice if they had discussed exactly what could and couldn't be bought by the child before hand.

    If the child should try to guilt trip the parents into allowing him/her to buy the laptop, then it's up to the parents to explain exactly why they felt the child was too irresponsible/naive etc. to have the laptop.

    And of course, the perennial favourite, "Because I said so, that's why."
    • seven-day-weekend
    • By seven-day-weekend 8th Nov 06, 1:47 AM
    • 32,191 Posts
    • 63,520 Thanks
    • #3
    • 8th Nov 06, 1:47 AM
    • #3
    • 8th Nov 06, 1:47 AM
    Agree with the above absolutely. It's our duty to protect and guide them.
    Member #10 of 2 savers club
    Imagine someone holding forth on biology whose only knowledge of the subject is the Book of British Birds, and you have a rough idea of what it feels like to read Richard Dawkins on theology: Terry Eagleton
    • ducky2004
    • By ducky2004 8th Nov 06, 3:19 AM
    • 88 Posts
    • 35 Thanks
    • #4
    • 8th Nov 06, 3:19 AM
    • #4
    • 8th Nov 06, 3:19 AM
    I don't think stopping the child from buying the laptop is the solution to prevent illicit interent access. If he/she feels he is not trusted, he will try to gain access via other means. Plenty of internet cafe / kiosk around who allow access to anyone who have a £1 coin in their hand..

    Trust your child, talk to your child and guide your child is the solution.
  • rich0148
    • #5
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:01 AM
    • #5
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:01 AM
    Check out Net Nanny -

    We use it at work and only the system admin knows the password to unlock it.

    The only way she can crack it is if you give her the password or she is full blown hacker!
    • timbouk
    • By timbouk 8th Nov 06, 6:21 AM
    • 242 Posts
    • 46 Thanks
    • #6
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:21 AM
    • #6
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:21 AM
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  • ojock
    • #7
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:28 AM
    • #7
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:28 AM
    Naturally as a moneysaver, I would say yes it's your cash, and it's my cash that's used to pay for heating and electricity - so you can contribute towards paying some of that as's good for them not to take a blinkered approach when it comes to purchases!
  • madmamma
    • #8
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:36 AM
    moral dilemma indeed
    • #8
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:36 AM
    My feelings would be that if my child has saved up that much money then they deserve my trust. I doubt they want a laptop to do anything I consider dodgy but I'd talk to them about net safety etc first. At some point you have to trust them. I'd encourage them to share anything with me that they weren't sure about and, just to be on the safe side, put netnanny or something on the laptop!
  • simonpearce
    • #9
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:40 AM
    • #9
    • 8th Nov 06, 6:40 AM
    This won't work for everyone, but:

    Praise the child for saving their money and open them a good kids saving account and tell them to put the money in there.

    Then buy (using your money - not the childs) a 'family' desktop computer and put it in the lounge/dining room (a family room) where supervision is easier.

    Of course, still install the filtering/monitoring software mentioned above.

    The child will be happy as they have a new PC, they still have their money (earning interest!) and might not be too bothered about not being able to use it in their room.

    Another suggestion would be to buy a laptop but not have wireless internet access meaning they can only use the internet by plugging in a cable which could be based in a family room.

  • uc644800
    Morale dilema
    The point is not to trust or not the child. If he as saved money for a laptop thats Ok, but does it need to have it in his bedroom? The temptation of surfing the net in area not appropriate is greator in the privacy of their rooms away from their parents. Let be honest most of us have done similar things in our own time !

    rather than to refuse the laptop , make a can have it , but not in your room !! That way both side should be happy. The child is truted, the parent authority is not undermind and mum and dad knows exactly what the child is surfing. After all if a child wants to do thing behind our back they`ll do it, but why given them the temptation when its not needed.

    a caring parent
  • IClaudius
    Wow! Couldn't believe it when I saw this thread as this is exactly the dilemma we have at the moment. 13 Yr old son has enough and has saved (really hard I might add). My dilemma isn't what he will or won't surf, 2 reasons here, he doesn't yet feel the need to explore (I know he will do and it will be a matter of months possibly weeks) but even when he does, as Timbouk says, pctattletale will assist greatly here, but the real dillemma is that I won't see him!
    He's not yet "flown the nest" to his bedroom so to speak :rolleyes: but if he moves from the family desktop to the solitary laptop, we can forget seeing him apart from the odd meal and pot wash
    I did sit down with him the other night and explain my thoughts and he was very understanding but...
    And I don't want to start putting time limits / curfews on him because we did all that with his PS2 when he was younger. He's a lot more mature now and we have lately been able to avoid setting restrictions on things, leaving it much more to him making his own informed choices.
    Still with a brand new Tosh in his room

    oh dear...have said we'll talk further.
    Will be watching this thread with interest though
    "Sumptus censum ne superet"

    Mental blocks are just hurdles to overcome in life.

    Yeah..whatever :rolleyes:
    • Annando
    • By Annando 8th Nov 06, 7:26 AM
    • 459 Posts
    • 259 Thanks
    I guess if he/she was mature enough to do the odd jobs and SAVE to get this...well I think you also have to trust youngsters. I would let them have it, albeit keeping a watchful eye on what they are up to!
  • mart_80
    I'm not a parent (yet) but I've been using the Internet for over 10 years and I know what is on the web. Let the kid buy the laptop, but restrict Internet use to family areas such as lounge/dining room etc. Easy to do if they don't get a wireless router as they'll have to sit near where ever the router is put. This way at least the parents will be able to keep an eye on what the kid is up to. This is nothing to do with not trusting them, it is not trusting what can be found on the Internet.

    It may also be worth spending a bit more and getting a decent router that supports URL filtering (blocking certain websites) and records all sites the kid goes to. This however shows a little less trust.
  • cazrobinson
    i think there's a lot more interesting things to spend they're money on (i have three kids) and would discourage them from from saving-up for this kind of purchase, before it came to the crunch.

    i would wait till they're 16 and much more aware of the real world before entering the virtual!
    What goes around - comes around
    give lots and you will always recieve lots
  • schoolfundraiser
    Yes to laptop
    Let him have the laptop, talk sensibly with him about internet security and chatrooms and ask if you can borrow his laptop occasionally when you need to. (It is likely that he will know more about internet security than you do anyway.)

    You have to trust them sometimes. He is 13 and has had the integrity and maturity to work and save for something he wants which is more than can be said for some adults! If you deny him now when he knows he has been mature and responsible you are saying that he is still a child and under your control. Which is not how he sees himself and may drive him to underhand methods like some of his peers. You need him to trust and respect your judgement in the difficult teenage years ahead.

    (Although you are less likely to see him much as he chats to his mates on MSN or games online and the bed will wear out quicker as the teenager's favourite laptop position is lying down!.)
    • codger
    • By codger 8th Nov 06, 8:47 AM
    • 1,785 Posts
    • 3,470 Thanks
    The danger in dealing with any 13-year-old is to appear patronising. But the bigger danger is to abdicate responsibility altogether.

    If this were our household, we'd be proud and delighted that our child had managed to save up for the laptop. But just as we'd be proud and delighted (if not a little amazed, or even downright worried) that the savings had gone as far as equalling the purchase price of a new car, we'd be bound to draw attention to the fact that life isn't an unfenced territory: there are rules to keep all of us within boundaries with which we may disagree, but which it's necessary to accept.

    So: well done, saving up for the car. But no, you can't drive it. You're too young. And well done, saving up for the laptop for use in your bedroom. But no, you're too young to have unrestricted web access so it won't be possible at this time to have a modem connection or wireless hook-up -- if you need that, then use Mum's or Dad's, which actually does have protection on it so strong that no 13-year-old, no matter how clever, will be able to get around it.

    Stressing pride in a child's achievement rather than stressing restrictions that follow on from that achievement is not only good parental sense, it's also, in this instance, entirely justified.
  • lellie
    blimey! I don't think I could imagine ever saving that much money at that age in the first place - I didn't get pocket money as a kid and lived in the middle of no where so jobs were out of the question..

    I personally think the child if (s)he's mature enough to do that is probably mature enough to use the internet sensibly. You could consider adding a hosts file to the network to filter sites you know definitely aren't suitable. I'd also ensure that there was decent anti-virus and anti-spyware software because that's a bigger risk than what he/she might find online really. Most kids if they wanted to find dodgy material could find it elsewhere - not just online so I don't think it would help that much.

    I was using the internet from the age of around 13/14 - unrestricted and unwatched, but it didn't do me any harm. I wouldn't want to find dodgy material and I was always sensible - as long as the child is clued up on staying safe online and is relatively bright it should be fine. Okay, I'm a bit of an internet addict these days so maybe a restriction on the number of hours online might have helped, but I learnt a lot online as a teenager, including independence.

    One thing I would ensure - is that they don't take it out of the house unless the parent is with them - it would be very easy to mug a 13 year old - also friends may not be as trustworthy - so if (s)he's browsing with other people make sure it's in view of the family.
  • Hebburn red'n'white
    You could of course solve the problem by switching your Broadband supplier to a filtered service, for example

    This will strip out virtually all the porn and other objectionable material at source. Costs a bit more per month, but an excellent catch-all solution.

    We use ContentProtect ( on all our home PCs, it not only provides usage reports (remotely accessible if you're on holiday), e-mails you with dodgy sites visited, but also blocks access to them. Almost impossible to remove, or over-ride anything on it, even a tech-savvy teenager would struggle (and its absence would be obvious on any routine check of the laptop).
    • Kantankrus Mare
    • By Kantankrus Mare 8th Nov 06, 9:55 AM
    • 5,531 Posts
    • 14,466 Thanks
    Kantankrus Mare
    We had this very dilemma a few moths ago when we got a new family computer (which is in living room).

    Son who is nearer 14 than 13 wanted to have old PC in his bedroom with internet access.

    I immediately said "no" but think OH would have given in.

    I trust son at the moment but Im thinking about a year or so's time when the hormones are raging and curiosity gets the better of him. He's going to be a hot bloodied male after all and what I dont want is for him and his mates to sit looking at material that is unsuitable and gives out the completely wrong impression of women. Of course Im talking porn and I don't care how many blocks you put on the computer..........a clever teenager will find a way.

    Yes there are times when the family computer is used by him when we are not around but as its in a communal area I hope he would think twice about looking at such material.

    Of course there is also the safety issue of chat rooms and Instant messaging to consider. I believe if a teenager is left to entertain themselves for hours and hours in their bedrooms these things can soon turn sinister and its not healthy is it? Like another poster....I get little enough conversation out of son as it is but if he was cooped up in bedroom the grunts would get even less.
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  • Gillian Henley
    I think you should keep the computer downstairs for as long as possible. In a room separate from the living room. Tell your child that a computer is a essentially a tool. If he gets to the porn stage when he's older and the machine is in his room - well, it won't kill him.
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