Help me not let the 3DS become a disaster.
January 31, 2013 5:50 PM   Subscribe

What things should I be concerned about when it comes to our 11 year old having a 3DS?

Our 11 year old girl just earned a Nintendo 3DS. My husband and I are pretty comfortable with technology but I never even had a Gameboy and I know that the DS has a lot of features like taking pictures, a web browser and the ability to access Netflix.

So, what dangerous/stupid/terrifying thing is my child going to do with this and is there a way for me to preempt any of that? We've already refused to give her our wifi password. Are there other steps we should be taking?

It's probably worth mentioning that this is a foster child and guarding her privacy is very important to us which means that keeping her away from Facebook and unable to access her email without an adult watching is pretty important to us as she has some unsafe family members who are bad at respecting boundaries.
posted by Saminal to Technology (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think that not giving her the wifi password is enough. But isn't it also a good idea to slowly teach her which ones are the unsafe family members? Once she gets into her teens, you can't hide the wifi password forever.

And I find using the 3ds for internet browsing is tedious. You can only type one letter at the time with the stylus.

If you keep her supplied with good games, she probably won't be that interested in the internet.
posted by Hawk V at 5:58 PM on January 31, 2013

There really isn't anything that is over the top with things happening. Just make your wireless network is encrypted and she connects to that. Just check it occasionally to see what websites she is browsing, use in a public area, etc. Pretty much treat it as you would a laptop. There are also parental controls that can be enabled.

Nintendo is notoriously family friendly so just read a few game reviews if you're worried about violence. Please don't go by the ESRB as the main guidelines.
posted by lpcxa0 at 6:00 PM on January 31, 2013

Best answer: I think the biggest risk is that her nose will disappear into the thing for hours at a time, though maybe this depends on the games. Our DS-toting kids mainly use the wifi access to do silly chat stuff with each other from across the room.
posted by jquinby at 6:04 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

Sneaking it into bed after bedtime and playing under the covers.
posted by Andrhia at 6:15 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Constantly misplacing the goddamedwherethefuckisitNOW charger. Not that I have any direct experience with this...
posted by JoeZydeco at 6:28 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

The 3DS is not your issue, it is her potentially unsafe family members who are bad at respecting boundries. You can stop her from contacting or being contacted by them on the Nintendo, but ultimately what you will need to do is teach her about privacy, security, safety, age appropriate contact, etc. I think, not knowing your daughter even 1/1,000,000 as well as you do, that the time is here to explain to her why you are limiting her access. I would focus on the safety angle while teaching her about privacy.

11 is too early, but at some point in the not too distant future, she is going to be beyond your ability to protect her from the unsavory internet. You want her to understand and appreciate security and safe internet use that respects privacy so that she makes these decisions on her own.

Without going into details, because of an internet stalker either my wife or I had, we had to teach our kids about privacy, respecting privacy settings, about strangers contacting them, etc. Kids get it. Now that they are late teens, they are not without access to the internet more than an hour or two a day while in class. My ex and I are comfortable that the proper education on security, privacy, safety, appropriate type of contact, etc was sufficient to keep them out of most situations. Do I think my boys don't look for pictures of breasts or whatever? No, I am sure they do. Do I think my daughter is responding to random people on the internet contacting her? No, I think she has her social network pretty well locked down.

I would consider this an opportunity to teach and to see how well she does rather than as the actual threat.

As for 3DS itself, it will be things mentioned above like misplacing the charger, spending too much time on it versus homework, and the general kids type of concerns.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 6:32 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

A couple I know have two kids that bracket the age of 11, and both have DSes and the like. My friends enforce "screen time" limits. Not sure how many hours they get, and it varies weekdays vs. weekends, but screen time is the sum of all video games, TV, and movies.

The kids have been caught cheating under the covers with the DS, but that can be dealt with in an appropriate fashion, such as impounding the DS.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:59 PM on January 31, 2013

Best answer: Constantly misplacing the goddamedwherethefuckisitNOW charger. Not that I have any direct experience with this...

Losing the stylus is annoying too. Buy her some extras.
posted by Charlemagne In Sweatpants at 7:41 PM on January 31, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: The 3DS has a feature called StreetPass which enables the (anonymous) wireless transmission of data with other 3DS consoles in the vicinity, even while the console is in sleep mode. This is used by some 3DS games to passively exchange in-game items, trade high scores, unlock new characters, etc. As a (grown-up) 3DS owner, I think StreetPass a lot of fun—it's always exciting to come home and see how many new StreetPass tags I've gotten after a day of walking around the city. But if you want to be really careful about privacy, you might consider disabling this feature (you can do this in the parental controls).

In addition to explicitly disabling Internet connectivity and StreetPass, you might just make a rule that the "wireless" switch (on the right side of the console) should always be turned off. This will have the side benefit of making the 3DS last longer before you need to charge the battery.
posted by aparrish at 8:18 PM on January 31, 2013

StreetPass is some serious fun, both my kids are collecting countries from all over the world, and are seriously looking forward to the airport stay when we travel next (to collect more exotic countries).

That being said, both kids (6 and 9) have the wifi password, they love spending time watching youtube videos etc. I check what they are doing and watching daily naturally, as well, as keep an eye on youtube history etc, with proper privacy education. They love minecraft too, but I run a server for them+family to keep that ok. .

Our policies seem opposite, but I would rather know when my kids are online, than to find out months later that the kid already worked out how to go online. (I can think of 3 easy ~15mins ways to get around your wifi password, and even if they aren't as crafty as me, they sure learn fast.) They don't care about Facebook and email yet. When we get there, I run my own mail server in the racks, so all mail goes through that, I can easily flag/clone mails to them, should that be needed.

Having said that, your situation is special, as with foster child and "shifty family members". This I am unsure on how I would react in this case.
posted by lundman at 9:12 PM on January 31, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have an 8 year old who is MADLY IN LOVE with his 3DS (he's playing it under the covers on the couch as he wakes up for school as I type this). Honestly, I've considered very few privacy issues with the thing. The problem I've had is regulating his time on it once I became aware of how helpful it can be when (single) mom has had a rough day at work and just needs a minute to herself. That is to say I'd worry less about the privacy concerns (though I'd certainly set some parental controls and check the thing out periodically to make sure she's not figured out how to bypass those controls) and more about how much time you allow on the thing. Frankly, the only issues I've ever had with my son has been the trading / losing of expensive games (which I remedied by refusing to buy his games and making him spend his money on them) and the absolute time suck the thing can be for a really interested kid.
posted by youandiandaflame at 5:04 AM on February 1, 2013

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