I’m horrified when I think about the shit I got up to online, as young as thirteen. My mother let me do things I’d never let my son do in a million fucking years, but those things were deeply formative, so I honestly don’t know who is in the right. My “peer group” then consisted largely of childless adult proto-nerds, real Mark-I models, the almost exclusively male cloister that would eventually pass the mantle to us.
I have seriously been concerned about this, namely, what degree and type of internet freedom should we offer our own progeny when the situation arises? I was pretty much untethered and unsupervised, online, as a kid; mostly, this is because my parents were still roughly at the “How do you copy-paste?” level of technological aptitude until after I departed for college, and had no idea what was “out there.” I largely stayed out of trouble (in that, I did not get caught or in any way suffer consequences for the illegal shit I may have done) but that seems as much luck as skill.
Of course, there are real differences between The Internet circa 1994 and The Internet circa 2012, and FSM only knows what the Net’ll look like in 2025. A higher proportion of the world is online; much more of the place has been weaponized, and I’d wager a higher proportion of its denizens are Up To No Good. But it’s not like the place was filled with happy, altruistic nerds until Y2K, especially not in the places I was hanging out in my long and fruitless search for the mythical leaked copy of Sim City 3000.
But those hours dicking around warez and mp3 communities (long before “pirating” became the nomenclature de jure du jour) were formative, and were kind of crucial in developing the skills and interests that to a large part define me today.
What I fear will happen is that we will become our parents: a generation of people who fondly remember a youth full of raiding construction sites, setting off fireworks, and playing in the woods until called for dinner, yet who fear to go out in public with their own children without a literal leash. That we will look at something so important, so formative in our own development, and then in part because of those experiences, deny the same to our children.
Yet I find our parents’ logic compelling, if only in a don’t-look-inside-the-ark sort of way. Maybe Bizzo’s right; but parenthood doesn’t only make you make poor choices w/r/t politics and non-familial interpersonal relationships, but also re: your own children as well.