How I decided to move away from bigTech for my children and myself

I have two children, 7 and 9, and they have friends who have phones. I've read 'digital vegan' and I'm convinced social media has a net negative effect (even if you disregard the terrible effect of being monitored). So they are starting to ask for a phone, and while we won't give it to them anytime soon, they are at risk of being of being a social pariah. Not being able to make plans with friends to hang out... will affect their social life and you don't want that on a pre-teen.

I've been blocking ads, avoiding google for search, and being judicious with tech use most of my adult life. Now I have to lean in towards the more radical end of the continuum. I may go without a smartphone completely AND tell my children they cannot have a smartphone.

First realization: even if you block ads, prevent children to sign up for google/MS/FB etc accounts, and don't let them install apps, trackers/spyware can bypass even third-party blocking and same-origin-policy by using CNAME cloaking. There's almost no hope of having privacy on the web, other than to resort to other protocols like Gemini (which is lots of fun, in case you haven't tried it; you might be reading this on a gemini capsule).

CNAME cloaking so that you cannot hide on the web

A story that made me rethink everything we do with our smartphones

I was scrolling Tiktok on my phone. I don't think I registered as an user. I wanted to know what the fuss was about. I might have opened it 3-4 times, scrolled for a min or two, kept going with my day. Well, I see a video of a boy doing a trick on a scooter, and I think "he looks like (my son) L". He WAS L. Who doesn't have a phone, nor an account on Tiktok. His friend T made the video, hence the dangers of children having access to tech that they don't understand and control.

How did Tiktok know to show the video to me, someone who doesn't have an interest in scooters? 

T might have been at our home, and just by proximity (of his phone to our home Wifi) Tiktok hit me with that eerie recommendation. 

But of course other more sinister ideas came to my mind. I uninstalled Tiktok, and all social media apps, from my phone. Before the end of the month I want to be degoogled completely.

My company, Data Science Retreat, will rely only on self-hosted libre software by May 2022

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