Wednesday, March 10, 2021

He’s Thirteen – That’s Ninety-One in Internet Years

Big news here at Just a Smidge World Headquarters – Son Number Three is turning thirteen next month, and you know what that means! No, not that.

It means he’s only a few weeks away from computer independence! That makes sense, since under the HIPAA laws, he became medically independent last year at age twelve. It only follows that he would gain his digital independence, also.

I just can’t believe those two things don’t happen on the same birthday. It seems kinda mean to tell him he has full control over his medical records and decisions, but not give him unfettered access to the internet at the same time. I guess logic hasn’t caught up with this branch of our government yet.

Now, I must admit that up until a few weeks ago I wasn’t fully aware of his impending digital freedom. Microsoft was kind enough to send me an email about it:

This 13th birthday brings some changes. Son Number Three is getting older, so we wanted to give you a heads up about some changes coming to their account. Privacy laws in your region make it so they have more control over different settings on their account, so it’s a good opportunity to talk about what this means for your whole family.

Ahh, privacy laws in my region. That makes sense. We can’t have the thirteen-year-olds around these parts getting online and being dogged by their parents all day. These young adults need the God- and government-given freedom to go explore the dark corners of the internet on their own.

Microsoft went on to explain what my son gets for his thirteenth birthday, besides horribly traumatized, of course:

Stuff that's changing:

Activity reporting

They can turn off your ability to see their activity on Windows 10 and Xbox One devices, or Android devices running Microsoft Launcher.

Oh, excellent. Right off the bat this is sounding super logical. Heaven forbid I would get to see what my child is doing on their computer.

Device health

They can turn off your ability to see their device and check on updates, hard drive usage, or safety settings like firewall and anti-virus protection.

I guess that makes sense. For a year now he has been able to go take care of any human viruses on his own over at the doctor’s office, so why not let him choose whether we let in any computer viruses as well. I’m sure he’ll make good decisions.

Find your child

They can stop sharing their location through their Windows 10 phone or Android device running Microsoft Launcher.

Again, kudos on the logic here. Why would I want to be able to find my own child? I mean, he might have a secret doctor’s appointment and doesn’t want me following him. Makes sense.

Then Microsoft doubled down on all this good thirteen-year-old logic:

Is this birthdate wrong? Have them update it.

Yes, again, good call. If the birthday is wrong, let’s let the young child handle all the fixing.

“Son, the internet thinks you’re older than you are. Can you log onto your Microsoft account real quick and change your birthday to be younger so you don’t get into anything you shouldn’t? Thanks a bunch, buddy!”

At the end of the email, Microsoft provided me with perhaps the most useful suggestions of all:

Help them celebrate

Add money to their Microsoft account

Get a game that they've been checking out in the Microsoft Store

Useful for Microsoft, I mean.

Well, enjoy your unfettered access to the World Wide Web, son. See you at the psychiatrist’s office.

Oh, wait. You’re over twelve. I guess I won’t.


See you soon,



Copyright © 2021 Marc Schmatjen


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