Monday, 28 March 2011

The Empire State Building

Friday night, my almost 12 year old son B. and a friend went into his bedroom with his iPad and my computer and closed the door behind them.  They emerged two and a half hours later smirking uncontrollably.  "Don't worry," I said to my husband,  "I'm sure it was completely innocent."

If you call "jailbreaking" an iPad innocent.

Jailbreaking - for those of you without 12 year old boys in your house - is the practice of hacking Apple hardware so that you can download the software (i.e., the apps) for free.  Apparently, there are many videos online explaining in minute detail how to execute this plan.  Take comfort in the fact that B. googled jailbreaking, and according to some very reputable sources, its not illegal in the U.S.  The fact that we currently live in Canada is probably not relevant.

Needless to say, my son who is not completely sure what 7x8 is, managed to successfully jailbreak his iPad and download a bunch of apps.

(I am wishing that the story ended here).

24 hours later, flush with his success, B. gets on Skype with another one of his friends, tells the kid all about how he jailbroke his iPad, and urges said kid to jailbreak his own iPad.  (Why all these sixth graders have iPads is also a good question, but we can come back to that another time.  Focus.)

He shows the kid what website he used, how easy it is, and tells him how well it worked for him.  He may have led the kid through the process, possibly offering tips from the wise seat of experience.

Turns out the kid has only had his iPad for 13 hours.

Also turns out it's an iPad2.


So the jailbreaking doesn't work, the iPad goes black, the kid goes to tell his father, the father comes in and starts screaming at his son, and B. is watching the whole thing unfold.  Yes, we love Skype.

My son is in tears.  "My friend tried to jailbreak his iPad, and it didn't work, and it's all my fault".

My reaction was: "It's completely not your fault.  Your friend didn't have to listen to you.  You can give him any advice you want, and encourage him to do anything you want, he's the one who did the stupid thing, so he's the one at fault."

My husband's reaction was: "Don't worry, they are going to bring the iPad to the Apple store and reset it.  This is a problem that can be fixed.  Go brush your teeth and get to bed."

When B. went upstairs, my reaction was: "It's completely not B.'s fault.  His friend didn't have to listen to him.  He can give him any advice he wants, and encourage him to do anything he wants, the kid is the one who did the stupid thing, so he's the one at fault."

When B. went upstairs my husband's reaction was: "I think B. has to accept some of the responsibility here.  He encouraged his friend to do something stupid, and therefore the end result is partially his fault.  I hope he's brushing his teeth."

So this is my position: If my kids did something stupid, they absolutely could not use an excuse with me like "E. told me to eat three chocolate bars from the vending machine", or "S. told me to color on my backpack".  I would hold each of them responsible for their own behavior and I fully expect them to be able to recognize when advice is stupid and therefore not follow it.  So, if they are on the advice giving end, I offer them the same pardon. They can mouth off as much as they want - no one has to listen to them.

But, I want to hear from you.

So I am putting this to a poll.  Scroll up, look to your right, and it should be there.

Who is right?  Me or my husband?


  1. but but but.... why is this called The Empire State building?? What am I missing?

  2. because there used to be an expression - if someone told you to jump off the empire state building would you do it? - that parents would use when we tried to blame stuff on our friends

  3. i totally see where you are coming from, but B did give step by step instructions.and sometimes a confident person has the power to convince someone who isnt as strong to do something that at the time may not seem like it will cause problems. Im with hubby on this one. but only to a certain extent. I think an apology is in order thats it. its like if i didnt salt my slippery stairs but you were wearing slippers and fell, you were dumb to wear non-winter footwear but i also made so that it was impossible for you not to fall. im not in charge of you and your footwear but i do at least assume that i didnt make it better for you. things that make you go mmmmmm

  4. Tough one but sorry, I voted against you.

    I agree with you: Each child needs to learn to take responsibility for his actions and begin to recognize that sometimes our friends give us bad advice.

    But I'm with R: Each child also needs to understand that they have the power to influence other kids. Kids who may not be as wise as they are. Kids who are desperate to fit in...

    But to me, the big takeaway here is that when you encourage someone to do something illegal, be it "jailbreaking" an iPad or trying drugs, you can't always anticipate the outcome.

    And sometimes, no matter how well intended, we feel badly about how badly things turned out. A good lesson I think for a nearly 12 year old kid.

  5. Its the parents' fault.

  6. Dear Complaint Dept.,

    Intervene in a dispute between you and your husband? You must be mad.


    My view is that the kid who tried to jailbreak is iPad is responsible for any damage to his iPad.

    However your son has no business instructing someone how to modify their hardware so as to violate copyright. That is wrong. I know your son B, and he may end up creating some amazing works of art, or music. As an artist he should learn about the integrity of someone's creative output, and why it is wrong to steal it. He should also learn that to encourage this in someone else is doubly wrong.

  7. What's an IPad?

  8. As parents, we teach our kids the difference between right and wrong. It all comes back the famous, " if little Johny jumps of the bridge...." regardless, we teach our kids the right and wrong and jailbreaking an Ipad is ummmmm.... wrong.

    To every one of our actions there are consequences. Live and learn, no??

  9. I agree with my nephew D - about the teeth brushing. For B let's hope his persuasion abilities work for the betterment of personkind. the aunt