Connected Devices in the Hands of Babes
My son got a Nintendo DS Lite for his birthday. Lucky kid! Things got dual screens–one of them is touch, and–here’s the scary part–has WiFi. I perused through the manual and discovered that it had the following functionality:
- Group text chat with any DS in range
- Connected gaming with nearby DS user
- Connected gaming with people over the Internet
From a pure technology standpoint, I think it’s great you can get a device that does all that for $150 or so. As a parent, the “connected gaming” thing really concerns me.
The Opera browser is available for the DS. It requires a cartridge, but I’m sure some kid will eventually get their hands on it and share it around. WiFi + web browser – parental controls over oversight == !!!!! Even without the web browser, the whole connected gaming thing opens up interactions with people on the Internet, including voice chat–which appears to be an option in this YuGiOh game Jaden got. Um, do I really want my kid chatting with a stranger on the Internet? Hell no!
Needless to say, I have no intention of configuring the DS to use any of my home WiFi access points. My main one uses WPA with an unguessable passphrase. I may put unguessable passwords on the others as well now that my son has this kind of device.
I wonder how long it will be before other more “connected” devices end up in the hands of babes. What, if any parental controls will exist on these devices? I didn’t see any sort of parental controls listed in the DS manual. Given the capabilities I just listed, that’s kind of a scary proposition. Of course, no technology replaces vigilant monitoring, which all parents should do, but having those technical controls is very helpful.