Power to the parents? The MiiPC doesn't quite deliver

This low-cost Android-powered PC lets parents remotely control their kids' computer use. It's a nice idea, but it's not quite ready for prime time.

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Here's my biggest objection. There are no controls whatsoever beyond limiting the apps your kids can use and the amount of time they spend using them. The MiiPC Browser will tell you what Web sites they visit, but there's no way to stop your kids from visiting them, short of disabling the browser. It also won't tell you what search terms they're looking for. So you can see that Heather visited Google Maps, but you can't see that she was searching for a suicide hotline or an abortion clinic.

Some people feel strongly parents should not censor the Web for their kids. I think that up to a certain age you absolutely have to. At some point you stop blocking and start monitoring, and eventually you let them fly solo. Where each of those points are will likely vary from kid to kid and is something only a parent can decide. But either way, it's an option someone would logically expect from a product with a motto like “Power to the Parents,” and I'm flabbergasted MiiPC doesn't offer it.

The good news is that it's early yet. As this post was going live, ZeroDesktop was readying a firmware update that could solve at least of these problems. And for some people, the low price tag might be tempting enough to take a flyer on it, despite the snags. Personally, though, if my kids were younger and I was not a geek, I'd wait to see what MiiPC 2.0 looked like.

Got a question about social media or privacy? TY4NS blogger Dan Tynan may have the answer (and if not, he'll make something up). Follow him on Twitter: @tynanwrites. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-to's, follow ITworld on Twitter and Facebook.

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