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Jason, 13 years old, and has gotten tired of playing soccer: "Dad, I want a PC... could you buy me one? please?"
Jason’s Dad, not too familiar with computers, but would like one: "I have been thinking of it. I'll see what I can do."
Jason: "Remember to buy a fast one. I don't want to be stuck with a machine that isn't any better at mathematics than a one legged turtle with scurvy."
Dad: "Don't worry, I will buy the fastest one there is."


Jason thinks: "I'm getting a PC, I'm getting a PC, I'm getting a PC!!!"
Dad thinks: "Hmm.. a PC, well i need one to keep some of my work on."


Salesman: "Greetings, sir, how may I help you?"
Dad: "Yes, hello. I'm buying a PC for my family and me. What do you recommend?"
Salesman: "Well, depends what it is going to be used for. I presume that the entire family is going to use it?"
Dad: "Yes. Well, at least me and my son."
The salesman shows Dad a black PC with a slim design"
Salesman: "OK, well, we have this UltraCalc-2000 Mega Master with 6 Gigahertz CPU, 3 Gigabytes of RAM, 1.5 Terabytes of storage, *etc etc etc*............."
Dad thinks: "Oh well, at least HE knows what he's talking about. It sounds fast enough, so Jason will probably like it."
Salesman: "It has the new Geforce 8 GPU, so that the kids have enough power to play with *etc etc etc*......."
Dad: "OK, (shut up, he thinks for himself) I’ll take it!"

*ritual that includes exchanging goods for small number-coated notes made out of cotton*

Salesman: "Here's your receipt, and have a good day."
Dad: "Thank you, good bye."
Dad thinks on his way home:"I bet this would make Jason happy."

*Dad gets home*

Jason: "WOW! It's the new Mega Master model from Ultracalc-2000! Dad, you're the greatest!"
They build their PC, and connects it to their ISP. Jason takes his seat by the desk, and installs a shoot-em-up game that came with the PC. 6 years later Jason has the same amount of computer-knowledge as he had when he first got a PC. (He’s using another PC now. This is his 4th since the one his dad bought the first time.) His lack of general computer knowledge isn't a problem to him, since he feels that his skills in Counter Strike compensates more than enough. Now that he's 19 years old, he still lives at home with his parents who think that the PC is an obsession to him. They also think that the PC is the reason why he hasn't even started high school yet. But every time they suggest to him that he should do something else than playing games at the computer, he starts acting agressively towards them. The parents don't know what to do. Of cource, the story in the prologue is a worst case scenario. The names are not real, neither is the story, and as you probably figured out after two seconds, neither is the model of the PC Jasons dad bought. (I just made it up to state my point that it was a helluva machine). Jason is now 19 years old, he lacks interest in doing any kind of educational stuff with his PC. He don't have any ambitions in life, and his parents don't know what to do. Well, I don't know what they should do either, but I once used to know a few persons like Jason, so what I KNOW is what dad shouldn't have done in the first place.

- NO, I was not raised like Jason

I base my opinions on what I did when I got my first PC, and what my parents did. Today I consider myself as a person with above-average knowledge of PCs (Ranging from Perl to Cisco IOS). I almost never play games anymore since I find things that builds useful knowledge more entertaining than going around blasting people into bits with a Rail Gun. Don't get me wrong here, I am quite a big fan of games like Quake World,Command & Conquer, and especially Half Life, it is just that parents have many things they can do to prevent their kids from becoming like Jason here. My parents aren't too familiar with computers either, just like Jason’s dad here, but I was lucky. I didn't get a Mega Master PC at first, either, due to economical circumstances. anyway, I don't want to push my boring life on you, so here's some things to do and not to do:


Don't buy the best there is. My first computer was a 386 with 23Mb harddrive, 20MHz CPU, and 1Mb RAM. I got that one fall, 1997. Yes, i was quite disappointed at first, but after a while I started to find it entertaining. If a Kid gets a top modern PC, he will do just what a child's instinct tells him to do: Play. When I first got my 386, I settled with Tetris, and when i had gotten tired of that i started to explore. When i exited Windows 3.0 I found that dark an mysterious command prompt of MS DOS 5.0. I started to play with it. I quickly learned how to move around, start programs, and such things, and after a while, instead of being blinded by the entertainment a PC otherwise would have given me, I started to explore every single command that MS DOS offered me (not that there are very many of them, but you probably understand what I mean). Half a year later I bought myself a P 166 with 32Mb RAM, and a Voodoo 2. Then I started exploring the developer side. I started to learn myself Delphi. Anyway, as I’m writing this, i realize that now I’m feeding you with my diary, so I’ll stop here. I bet my story is very boring for the reader, so I’ll avoid speaking about myself whenever i can. Anyway, my point is: When at first buying a PC, don't buy the fastest there is, get something that don't handle the games your kids want to play. Result: The kids will go "Ihatemyparentsforbuyingmethisturtlemachine" for a while, but that'll calm down. They will probably mess up the entire configuration and installation of software on the machine while testing their skills, but you probably have a friend or two who can fix the problem. Encourage them to learn how a PC works, programming and most important: other Operating Systems than those made by a large company ruled by a very rich man with a bad haircut (no names mentioned). They need to realize that there is always an alternative to the OS already installed on the PC. Let them figure out for themselves what they like best. Here comes one of the advantages with a slow PC. Linux and other Unix-like Operating systems usually require less powerful hardware, so when they feel that their windows installation works too slow, they might switch to another OS. Multiple OSes = more knowledge Linux, *BSD, and other UNIX-like OSes require more knowledge to use. Therefore if the kids are interested in using it, they will have to learn how to use it first. This knowledge usually comes in handy, since if they are getting a computer-related education, Knowing how to deliver a headshot with a plasma rifle won't get them anywhere. Oh, and of course. If you live in a country who's language isn't english (like Norway, where i live), make sure they know English well enough. I know someone who tried to learn SlackWare Linux without any English skills, while being extremely dyslexic.


Another important thing is bandwidth. When I first got my PC connected to the internet (summer 1998) I was happy because all the information i then would have access to. Most kids today doesn't know that anything else than IRC, ICQ, WWW, and E-Mail exists. People today are spoiled with bandwidth, Especially those who live in large cities. I grew up on the countryside, where there was nothing better than 56k modems available. It was not until i moved away from home during the fall 2001 that I got something better. Anyway, now I’m telling you about my life again, so enough about that. Conclusion: Fast Internet connection = low ping time in Quake 3 Slow internet connection = reading HOWTOs and programming tutorials But there's one thing that is very important. Those pay-per-minute ISPs can go suck a dingo's kidney. Finding information on the internet is quite hard when you have to think "I have to go offline soon, or i can't afford paying my ISP anymore".


Give the kids time to do their 'research'. Sorry for doing it again, but: When I started with my PC, my parents for some reason gave me a limit of two hours per day. Learning something is hard when someone is constantly nagging you to turn off, and they're expecting you to turn off the PC, without finishing what you're doing. Give them time to do what they are doing, and give them privacy. They know what they should and should not do. Oh and one thing: Don't start searching through their PC for porn movies. Internet isn't the only source for porn you know =) And if they really want it, they'll find it, so don't even bother trying to prevent them.


By now you've probably got the impression that computer games are bad, and should under no circumstances be tolerated in your home. Well, I’d like to change that impression. Games are not bad, they don't make idiots out of people, they just prevent them from learning useful things. As i said, playing games isn't bad, your kids won't turn out as axe-murderers the way media describes it, and your kids will certainly not be turned into idiots because of it. Games is a good way to relax, and take a break from whatever you're usually doing. But if you see your kid playing the same game over and over again, without switching to another game once in a while, there is a warning sign. Do not let that game become his hobby, instead of PC in general. I don't know why but when it comes to computers, most hobbies related to it turns out stronger than any other hobby. Therefore, try to make him choose something useful as his hobby. Programming is always a good one, since that can be used later as a job if he happens to become a good developer. But as already stated: Let him relax with a game now and then.


Actually this part would be best to place at the bottom as a footnote, but anyway, here it is: Make sure that they don't get isolated and never leave the basement and the PC. Nerds need friends too, you know. So just because they are building knowledge doesn't mean they can live with the rest of the family for a week, without speaking to any of them.


I could be wrong though. But this is what I think is right. I'm not a parent, but I know what my parents did right (and wrong) with me and my interest of PCs. The things they did right was not done because they felt they had to, but rather by pure luck. Anyway, here I am today, and I feel that I should share this experience/knowledge with someone else who might need it. At least I know what i am going to do when my kid approximately 20 years in the future asks me for a computer. I'm not preaching here, I’m just telling what i think is the right thing to do.

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