Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Filtering Internet content for your children

The other day I managed to mentally scar my 4-year-old (not the first time, and probably not the last) by introducing her to the concept of the Shockwave file. My dad had emailed a moderately humorous Easter-based internet cartoon showing a chicken launching an egg at the screen. Natalie watched over my shoulder, laughed hysterically (4-year-olds are easily amused) and asked to see other cartoons on the computer. So I, like a moron, obliged.

I did a Google search for “funny swf files” and came across a site listing just that. Among the listings was one entitled “valentines day”. Clicking it brought up a cute little kitten (think Hello Kitty) in a box, with three buttons next to it. It was entirely pink and cute-looking, so naturally it had to be a safe bet, right? I clicked the first button entitled “Flowers”. A hand came into the screen and handed the kitten a bouquet of flowers. The kitten began making all sorts of cute “thank you” squeaks and purrs. Then it sniffed the flowers, and began to sneeze. And sneeze.

Suddenly, the kitten decided to hold it’s nose, and that’s when things rapidly went downhill. It sneezed once more, and its head blew apart, covering the screen in virtual blood, brain splattering against the wall. The decapitated torso then flopped to the ground, twitching and lifeless.

Natalie, who up to that point was fully enjoying it, suddenly launched from my lap, screaming and covering her eyes. She then proceeded to scream for the next half hour, demanding that I throw the computer in the garbage and never show her anything again.

I’m an idiot.

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