The age limit of 13 seems pretty reasonable to me and if as a parent you think your kid is so mature (hint: he isn't) then it is definitely your responsibility to act as a guardian.
Google didn't make your son cry, you made your son cry. And that's fine, we all make our kids cry from time to time. Explain the mistake you made to your kid, figure out what to do in the future and move on.
Now that they're older (my son is 12 now) and really do have the sophistication to understand this distinction - and you're right, a 9yo or 11yo doesn't - they understand why we did that. But the key is, your 9yo and 11yo trust you, and should continue to do so. They don't care what you answer when signing them up for Google Mail - they don't even notice discrepancies of that nature. In the case they do, you tell them why you're doing it.
Google did most certainly make Alex cry - in exactly the same way that his hard drive crashing would have done so. Sure, ultimately it's the parents' fault, in a way, for letting him use fallible computer systems, and that in itself is probably a good lesson, but Google most certainly shares the blame here for boneheaded policies that don't even give parents the option of interceding. And the reason is the same as Google's reason always is: it was easier for Google.
The problem I have is with telling your kid: go ahead sign up and lie about your age. There's a huge difference between the parent taking the step of creating the account with a password known by the parent and telling the kid to go ahead and lie, which is what a lot of (probably childless) commenters suggest.
It's important to be clear that you're lying to a computer system, not another human being.
That will likely make parenting an absolute hell, but they'll be well-equipped for dealing with the adult world.
Yes no-one reads the ToS but by the same token we all know we take a risk when doing so. Google did nothing wrong in this instance, they just held the person to an entirely reasonable and fair condition of use.
That's like a criminal blaming a witness for them getting caught.
If the lie wasn't there nothing would have happened, you have to look at the root event, not what followed.
That inability to form contracts below a certain age actually protects children and is in their benefit, no-one should want it removed. Yes there are situations where it seems overkill but on balance it's a good thing.
So given that the law is reasonable it has not, as with most things with kids, fall back on the parents.
(Note: My understanding of the law is based on English law rather the US law but I'm guessing that something similar applies)
Imagine how badly you would fuck up your kid's life if you managed to really convince him that lying is some sort of abject horror. He would be eaten alive the instant he took a step outside of your home into the real world. When in your opinion is a kid ready for sophisticated reasoning about when to lie? Do you suggest waiting until well past their core formative years before suddenly going, "Hey, remember how I said if you lie you will go to jail? Yeah, about that..." Maybe even wait for their rebellious teenage years so that they get REALLY confused about how they're supposed to behave.
Kids are not as stupid as you seem to believe they are, and that's something coming from me since I believe kids are pretty damn stupid. I am not suggesting that they are ready for a university level psychology lecture, but by that point they will have been exposed to plenty of negative things that you should probably take some effort to explain. If your kids are not ready for at least a basic introduction to social reasoning at 10 then you haven't been doing a very good job at educating them.
Over the last 5 years, I've lied 5 times. I regret all of them except for one, and out of the moment reflection and hindsight allows me to say that everything would have been okay without having told any of them.
So come off it with this where-would-we-be-without-lying spiel.
(The most difficult thing is actually others' natural skepticism. How do you deal with that? "No, you don't get it. I don't lie.")
And if by some freak chance of fates you really have managed to go 5 years while for the most part only telling the truth, if you really are akin to a character out of a fairy-tale then I invite you to take a look at what Robert Greene says about lying in the "48 Laws of Power." You may not even understand how powerful a weapon you wield, and how much it may be hurting you, and those around you.
> So tell me again with 100% certainty that you have only lied 5 times in the past 5 years, that way at least I can be sure you can lie to yourself.
I'll go ahead and respond as if my initial impression were correct, though.]
> I have to wonder what you consider lying though.
I had a feeling the "subtleties of lying" thing was going to come up. I'll bite, but I think it's kind of a played out conversation. Maybe not the best use of the phrase. I might be clearer if I say instead that it just smells of the type of pseudo-philosophical discussions that come up within small groups, maybe after a beer or two, with the participants under the impression that it qualifies for profundity or, you know, being otherwise highly insightful in some way. You probably know the type. But I haven't taken part in any of these conversations that've come up yet, so like I said, I'll bite. :)
To give an example, the lie I mentioned that I don't regret involved an issue that came up with my friend's closed bank account after he moved to the opposite side of the world. Obviously, that kind of move can make getting to the resolution more difficult. The lie was me impersonating him to the customer service rep on the phone in order to avoid the latency of twelve-hour-turn based correspondence (at my friend's request).
That might give you some kind of idea of my threshold of "a lie". By most measures, I think, this would be seen as fairly benign one. (Having said that, it is the most benign of the bunch.)
> Have you ever purposefully […] misinterpreted what another person has was saying for your own benefit, or misrepresented it to someone else?
No. (Well, assuming that your "ever" refers to the last five years in consideration, and not actually "ever" as in... ever.)
> Have you ever […] accidentally misinterpreted what another person has was saying for your own benefit, or misrepresented it to someone else?
Even aware of how fickle pinning down the definition of "lying" is, I cannot think it possible for anyone except for the most unpleasant hardliners to consider such an accident to qualify as a lie. And I mean really, truly, genuinely "accidental", not haha-not-really-but-I-have-plausible-deniability-and-you-can't-very-well-prove-otherwise "accidental".
In instances where I feel I have unintentionally caused someone to misunderstand (or really, been a shitty communicator), I'm obligated to correct and explain better.
> Have you ever uttered an exaggeration that would be hard to distinguish from the truth?
Absolutely I have. A good chunk of my humor involves deadpan delivery, then the ensuing "hah, jk" types of motions. (My brother is quite a bit younger than me; when visiting my family and he's the mark, I will often literally say "jk". He's started countering with "jl".)
I don't know if it's a regional difference, but since my last move, I've found that people aren't as likely to be "in on it" (or are painfully slower to recognize) when the "hah, jk" part comes. This is--of course--not as fun, so I don't do it as often anymore.
> Have you ever presented your opinion as if it was fact?
I'm inclined to just say that matters of opinion are inherently opinionated, so I'm not sure I can conceive of anyone actually being able to do this, really. I admit I haven't tried to think very hard of any scenarios. Why kinds of opinionated statements can be made that could be presented (or misinterpreted) as a factual one?
> You may not even understand […] how much it may be hurting you, and those around you.
I think that's unlikely to have happened so far, or at least to much of an effect, but I wouldn't rule it out for eternity. I can definitely imagine some scenarios here where trying to maintain my current stance would probably be against my best interest/livelihood, although I don't put a lot of stock in those particular scenarios occurring.
Obviously, I have thought lying to be the better approach at some points (otherwise my count would be 0 for the past five). Like I said, though, everything would would've worked out okay. I absolutely don't believe that a truthful response in any of my cases would've made a significant difference about where and how I'm sitting right now.
> I invite you to take a look at what Robert Greene says about lying in the "48 Laws of Power."
Not my kind of literature, but I had a look at an overview http://www2.tech.purdue.edu/cg/courses/cgt411/covey/48_laws_...
Some of those seem to be decently okay advice (law 45, the first part of 39, 26 in name), but for the most part (law 7, 12, 24, 32, last part of 39), it seems it would have been better described as "how to be a selfish dick and perpetuate misery".
To start of, let's not ignore how you decided to omit the lie of omission from your point by point response to my post. That is already quite telling of your tone, and could humorously enough be construed to be a lie of omission.
You are quick to dismiss my points as pseudo-philosophical without actually explaining why you may believe that, or what sort of reasoning you use to dismiss them. Regarding your example I can see that your threshold of lying lies at the definition of "direct lie," which is certainly the easiest to detect. However, there are many other types of lies, each of which serve important roles in the properly functionality of our society. You could easily discover this on your own if you didn't dismiss perfectly valid resources because at first glance they appear to describe "how to be a selfish dick and perpetuate misery."
For instance, you are quick to deem an accidental lie to be outside the scope of acceptable definitions of lying. For some reason you only consider something a lie if you are actually aware of it. However, while intention is certainly a part of lying, it is by no means the most important. A lie is simply an untruthful statement, regardless if you mean for it to deceive someone. I will agree that trying to correct yourself in these cases is certainly a remedy, but that hinges on you understanding that you have caused someone to misunderstand something, which may not always be the case.
Regarding your "hah, jk," will you honestly say that even in situations where it would be socially awkward or even unacceptable? "Thank you for the food, it was very good... hah, jk, that was one of the most bland meals I have ever eaten" or "You look good, that shirt does not make you look fat at all... hah, jk, you should go get liposuction." Going back to the point I made originally, lying is literally a core part of our culture, you may not even notice when you are doing it since telling the truth can often be amazingly insulting.
Presenting opinions as facts is probably just as common as the lie of exaggeration. It may be something as simple as presenting yourself as an expert when you are not; perhaps you have tried to explain a complex scientific theory without a full understanding of the material in question. Even if the actual content of your description is accurate, you have lied in acting as if you are a knowledgeable expert in the field. Or maybe if you are are asked to provide a design a work to replace an aging system, and you decide to do your work without actually understanding why and how the previous design functioned, and what limitations it was meant to overcome. Really, any situation where you act as an expert without actually being one qualifies for this category. Again, this is actually very common in the business world. You seldom have the time necessary to familiarize yourself with all the relevant material, yet cannot run the risk of appearing unqualified or incompetent by using looser terms like, "In my opinion X" or "I think Y" in place of "X is Y."
You are actually right when you say that you hurting someone with truth is unlikely to have happened so far, but for a wholly different reason than the one you present. Returning yet again to my original point, you are probably not even consciously aware of all the lies you say day in and day out, simply because you do not consider them lies. To you these things are part of your social strata; you say them because not doing so could be offensive. During your childhood your were exposed time and again to situations where lying was acceptable, you may in fact have been punished for not lying at times. That leads back to the point I was trying to make in my original post. You must be cautious when teaching a child about lying, since lying is simply a part of our society.
I really don't know what all the claims in your first paragraph are all about, though something else you say gives me the idea of an explanation for some of it.
> To start of, let's not ignore how you decided to omit the lie of omission from your point by point response to my post.
> You are quick to dismiss my points as pseudo-philosophical[…]
Ah. This, maybe. But no, I'm afraid you've misunderstood and not in a way that I feel I'm equipped to address now without sacrificing brevity or comfort.
> Regarding your "hah, jk," will you honestly say that even in situations where it would be socially awkward or even unacceptable?
Although you might take some glee in putting those words in my mouth (and with some truly terrible material, at that), no.
There's more to be said for the rest of it, but my heart's not in it to counter at this point, especially since much of it would deal with addressing so many frivolities. Unfortunately, my inclination to do so is likely to come at a time when my ability to reply here is dead and the attention has moved elsewhere.
Do note that I'm not very excited at the prospects of giving the appearance of backing down.
> "Thank you for the food, it was very good... hah, jk, that was one of the most bland meals I have ever eaten"
> In instances where I feel I have unintentionally caused someone to misunderstand (or really, been a shitty communicator), I'm obligated to correct and explain better.
How's this for putting words in your mouth? I have spent well over an hour writing a in depth analysis of your posts, describing my thought process, and theorizing on what I believe to be your thought process. At this point I am confident that I may flat out call you out on a lie perpetrated during this very discussion; you stated you are obligated to clear up any misunderstandings, and are now flat out refusing to do so due to "brevity and comfort." Clearly your so called obligations don't amount to much.
Oh, and perhaps you should learn to differentiate between "Asking a question" and "Putting words in my mouth." If I ask whether you will honestly consider something to be true, I'm looking for an insightful answer (Longer than one word usually), not suggesting that you do or do not. Instead, you are presenting a series of inconsistent, unsubstantiated claims, half formed thoughts, and backing all that up with an obvious disinterest in anything resembling an attempt at allowing me to understand you. After I gave you countless examples of various magnitudes you could use for counter-examples that is really quite rude.
In hindsight it should have been obvious since your original dismissive reply, but I was still holding on to the vain hope that as a poster on HN you would have slightly more dedication to communication than an average redditor. The idea that there is something to back down from really crystallizes the difference; you appear to think this is some argument which one of us could win, while I am trying my best to understand you and point out where I feel you are contradicting yourself or reality. Sure, I may be doing it in a rude fashion, but again, I do so in response to what I perceive to be a hostile tone, for reasons I described in my previous post.
In short, I don't care in the slightest whether you think you are backing down or not; I feel that this entire exchange was a complete waste on my part since you clearly had no interest in attempting to clear up any of the misunderstandings that obviously exist between us. Thank you for allowing both of us to waste our time, and I apologize for have participated in this farce of a discussion.
But then, I've never had difficulty lying when it was convenient, so I'm probably not the best to ask.
While I have not raised kids, I do not see why that should factor into the discussion. Your comment suggests that you are operating under the assumption that experience is the only thing that confers ability. However, you may have noticed at some point in your life that we are quite good at obtaining knowledge via the traditional means of learning from the archived experience of others. Arguably even better than learning by first hand experience, though that is up for debate. I have studied various aspects of (adult and child) psychology and sociology to satisfy my urge to understand humanity, and my thoughts on the matter are based on that gained knowledge.
While I agree that experience can lead to new insights, and can result in a more optimal utilization of your own knowledge, it is certainly not required to actually discuss a matter. Maybe the lack of practical experience would be more notable if I were trying to suggest some sort of novel ideas, but I am just stating something which has been seen time and again throughout the ages; what skills are necessary to be successful, and how to impart them to your offspring.
As you may imagine, I have spent some time trying to understand why some people raise their kids to be successful, and why others fail horribly at the act. It does not take spending 20 years to see a pattern of success or failure emerging with the application of certain techniques. So to more directly answer your question, my opinions based neither of my own experience, nor on my understanding of how kids "should" be raised. Instead, my views are based on the mass of information I have seen and read on the topic, and the trends that clearly exhibit themselves in that data.
Going further, I actually find that relying on any long term experience can at times make the results somewhat suspect. While experiencing something several times can help you understand it all the better, once you spent a better part of two decades practicing something you will almost certainly be convinced that you are doing everything correctly. To admit otherwise would be to admit your own failings which few people are willing to do, especially in an area as sensitive as child rearing. This leads to the surprisingly common situation wherein an "authority" who is trusted to make the right decisions acts contrary to the accepted scientific norms of the time. Take for example a grandmother that raised 8 children, and will expound for hours on the necessity of beatings to raising healthy and successful kids. I am sure most of the HN readers can think of a lot of other examples of this in a myriad of fields.
Obviously though, neither you, nor anyone else should make fundamental decisions regarding how to raise your child based on something some guy on the Internet said. A responsible parent should spent at least as much time as I have reading the material relevant to the topic in order to make informed decisions. What more, if it appears to a somewhat informed person that you have not done this basic work, they should, as I have with the GGP, point out the flaws in your reasoning without having to wade through comments disqualifying their opinion simply because they have not actually put what they have read into practice. If you have issues with what I said, then by all means please present them, and the supporting arguments, for me to discuss or concede as necessary, but do not for a second think that you can discount me from the discussion simply because I do not adhere to the strict experience requirements that you feel are necessary before even think about the topic.
But I agree with you that the headline is melodramatic, incorrect and irrelevant to any meaningful discussion about Google or its services. Kid should have lied.
Should < 13 year olds not be allowed to use 'general purpose' means of communication such as telephones or, god forbid, snail mail?
Your say your children have friends; I assume you don't gag them when they're around each other, or when they go to school? Then they're communicating. They're being exposed to complex social hierarchies, news, rumors, fact, and fiction, and being forced to make judgement calls. It's the same people and the same information you're "protecting" them from by keeping them off social networking. They're going to get their feelings hurt. They might hurt somebody's feelings. They're going to do stupid things. That's life.
Parents absolutely have a right and a responsibility to provide guidance. But how does anybody learn any skill besides doing it poorly for a while? Did your parents keep you away from a keyboard until one day you were magically old enough to know how to type?
I may be a minority, but I believe experience > age.
The properly examined overprotective option is to use a service that doesn't require such age restrictions.
And I fail to see any situation where teaching a 9 year old that its sometimes ok to lie won't be incredibly confusing to the child: the child cannot differentiate between lieing here, and lieing about homework, or cheating on a test. Their brains can't do that yet. To tell them to lie here, but no where else, is confusing, and in an extension, is cruel.