back to article Your latest security headache? Ed from accounting using his kid as an unpaid helpdesk

Parents are turning to their kids for tech support rather than the company IT department while working from home, we're told. A survey by consultants Prolifics Testing set out to determine what it would cost for the tech support services the average teen provides their parents, and it concluded this month kids will, on average …

  1. sanmigueelbeer

    teens teaching their parents how to be social media savvy

    Remember Mom: If you've put it up on the internet you can't take it back.

    1. Olivier2553

      How social media can be work related, except maybe for the department doing OR, but they are expected to know already how to use social media then.

      1. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        We've got a Slack or something. Internal social media.

    2. Alumoi Silver badge

      I think you'll find most teens don't care about privacy and they certainly don't care about their face plastered over the web.

      1. Robert Helpmann??

        ...they certainly don't care about their face plastered over the web.

        Why restrict that comment to just their faces?

        1. Alumoi Silver badge

          I have a teenage daughter, you insensitive ...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Looks like we've stumbled into Private Eye's "From The Message Boards" ...

    3. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

      xkcd "today" does parent-child social media. [this "today"]

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much time & money

    to delete their parents' porn trail before the other spouse trips over it?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: How much time & money

      Well, I've been trying to figure out what the kid in the front page thumbnail for this story has just seen...!

      1. Commswonk

        Re: How much time & money

        ...Which reminded me of a relevant obligatory Dilbert:

  3. chivo243 Silver badge

    Best Kept Secret

    Google! Don't tell the plebs they can find answers to their tech issues on Google, we'll be out of a job?? If in 3 years my son can solve my issues, I'm retiring, going fishing, or drinking or both?

    1. Mongrel

      Re: Best Kept Secret

      Doesn't matter, I'm the first line for friends, family and occasional co-workers and the number of times they ask a question then I type the exact same thing into Google and get the correct answer. "Oh. I never thought of that"

      People don't want to know how to use computers, have no intention of learning and are enabled by their management. "I'm not good with computers!" is somehow a perfectly fine thing to admit to despite their job involving working on a computer all day because "That's what IT is for"

      1. chivo243 Silver badge

        Re: Best Kept Secret

        Oh yeah! People hired to use a computer all day, and then say I'm not good with computers... HR I'm looking squarely at you, as you've hired some of the least competent computer users for YOUR department...

      2. PerlyKing

        Re: Best Kept Secret

        I used to work with someone whose standard reply to such questions would be an email containing a link like this:

        1. Mongrel

          Re: Best Kept Secret

          Well aware of lmgtfy but it's the balance between keeping the peace (especially family) and another lecture about not being sarcastic to colleagues

      3. katrinab Silver badge

        Re: Best Kept Secret

        Knowing what words to type into google, and being able to tell the difference between real answers and clickbait/scam websites is a valuable skill that most people don't have.

        Also, these days seems to feel it has to return links, even if they are completely irrelevant to the question asked. For example, I recently searched for "clean hdmi $cameramodel". It couldn't find anything for that specific camera model, likely because it can't do clean hdmi, so it just returned random stuff about clean hdmi in general. I know what clean hdmi is, I want to know if this camera can do it.

        1. Jamie Jones Silver badge

          Re: Best Kept Secret


          "Clean hdmi" "<camera model>"

          I.e. include the 4 double-quotes

        2. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

          Re: Best Kept Secret


          Ignore the microsoft ones , they'll be far too wide ranging and comprehensive,

          Pick the first stackexchange result , find the green tick , one and remember to copy n paste the code in the answer not the question!

    2. Uncle Slacky Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: Best Kept Secret

      Obligatory XKCD:

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Best Kept Secret

        That's nice, but I feel is more relevant.

        1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge
          Paris Hilton

          Re: Best Kept Secret

          can someone explain that one to mister thickee thicko? (me)

          1. You aint sin me, roit

            The irony is strong with thus one!

            On a thread about using Google, might I suggest you try googling "xkcd red spiders"?

            That will be 20 quid please. It took me a matter of seconds but I'm afraid I charge by the hour.

          2. Anonymous Coward
  4. redpawn

    I wonder...

    Does corporate care what workers think of the Help Desk? Does yours have the patience of a 16 year old and has your company set up a method to show home bound workers how to accomplish a task rather than instructing them to click, drag and check options?

    1. Intractable Potsherd

      Re: I wonder...

      And what is the comparative latency of a ticket to corporate IT support versus asking the 16-year-old in the house? The offspring will probably have it sorted before the ticket is acknowledged. That isn't a dig at IT, but at the employers who have skimped on proper support for a key part of their business for too long (cost centre v revenue centre).

  5. Anonymous Coward Silver badge

    False calculations

    So it took your untrained, unexperienced teenager 7 hours to set up your WiFi security? A professional would do that in a few minutes (OK, allow half an hour to enter the new password on all of your devices)

    Equating your teenager's time to the same hourly rate as a professional is a complete fallacy.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: False calculations

      Yeah - in what world? First you have to get through to your professional, navigate the 'all our staff are really busy, but if you leave a message we will get right back to you' phone system, then wait for them to get back to you (Tuesday next week work for you?). Then suffer the 'Oh - you have a BT router - don't think I've ever seen one of those, we always use CISCO' , then have them set the router up in such a way that yes, you can get onto the corporate VPN but Netflix stops working. Then realise 24 hours later that the printer has stopped working, and go back to stage 1, and now with the added 'what Cowboy set this up...' commentary.

      And at $15 an hour you won't get much of a professional.

      (disclaimer, I don't have teenagers in the house and our small IT support team are wonderful and actually nothing like the above - just in case I forgot to tick the AC box)

    2. Anonymous Coward

      Re: False calculations

      "OK, allow half an hour to "

      ... set up a CA and 802.11x wifi auth via RADIUS for the home VLAN and a guest portal on another VLAN.

      OK allow an hour. After my brother allowed me to do the job properly for his family several years ago with a budget I specified the rest were fairly easy to persuade. Now they all have decent but not too expensive gear and proper ethernet wiring and wifi. My work Unifi controller has a few extra sites on it. My family have change control imposed on their IT. My dad and step mum have VoIP for their telephony! Not that they really know how it all hangs together. They also have a UPS for their PBX (an RPI4) and an ATA for POTS failover and emergency.

      The kids are on their own VLANs and SSIDs, they can give access out to their wifi to their mates. Mum and Dad can kill internets for the kids on a whim and/or a schedule. Older kids have less filtering (my eyes!) Some have tried to break out and ... well ... I've been doing IT for longer than the little loves have been alive.

      I'm 50 and cost an arm and a leg or perhaps a decent bottle of red or two to the right customer.

  6. Chairman of the Bored

    A lot of the IT busy work I assign is absolutely intentional

    To be honest, our schools curriculum is so easy that the teenager finishes their "four hours of homework" in 30min, assuming they didn't knock it out while pretending to pay attention during their online, socially-distanced class. We need to find productive and mentally stimulating activities or we will all start drinking again.

    So, kid, you want a better computer? You're going to build it. Want it to be secure? OK, let's learn something. Want to see if it's really secure? Let's both learn something by trying to nuke it. Welcome to Kali. Good times, valuable skills.

    I will admit to having the kids take hours of mind-numbing annual corporate training on my behalf. But they owe me...

  7. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    "it appears the consultancy wanted to demonstrate to youngsters how much money they could be making if they went for a career in IT (and, conveniently enough, consulting.)"


    If by "in consulting" you mean "working for a consultancy company" than that amount is going to be what the consultancy company makes whilst youngster gets paid minimal wage.

    If you mean as freelance then things are better but don't forget that until the youngster's well enough established to get repeat business and new business by word of mouth there'll be a pimp agency taking a cut, general costs of running a business, such as an accountant and insurance, and HMRC trying to rip them off by pretending it's not actually a business they're running.

  8. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

    speaking as someone who spent far too long in a 1st line support job,

    most things these kids will have been helping with , had they rang support would have been met with the polite version of "Your machine is not broken , learn how to use it"

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Support might be construed to include giving some slightly more useful hints as to how to use it.

  9. RM Myers

    Kids providing computer support

    I had an interesting variation on this. I got a support call from a women in a remote office (about 2000 miles away), but since the problem was with her computer system, rather than our application, I transferred her call to the central IT help desk. When I called back the next day to make sure her problem had been resolved, she informed me that the ticket had been random assigned to her own son, who worked on the help desk. Since the help desk staff were located in the same city as I worked, I was appropriately amazed.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm in my 30's...

    And I still have to do parental IT support (currently surrounded by 2 PC's and a NAS box...) but if I charged my normal hourly rate I'm pretty sure I'd be written out of the will for it (£16 an hour? So cheap...)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I'm in my 30's...

      For the record, NAS box needed a new 40mm fan and the big 80mm was strongly built but whining.

      40mm fan replacement got soldered in, 80mm had a drop of machine oil on the bearing which shut that up and all returned..

      The promised whiskey sample for completion of work didn't turn up with the parent.

      Same as it ever was.

  11. Pete 2 Silver badge

    Does this count for the CV?

    I wonder how it will look in the future (of working at home) when an 18 y/o applies for a tech support job and lists "3 years providing parental tech support for $EMPLOYER". Especially when that CV finds its way to $EMPLOYER's in-tray

  12. IGotOut Silver badge

    Guess what.

    If lazy or "I'm so important" types actually got of there arses and checked they haven't kicked out the plug, checked the printer has paper in it, rebooted the pc, checked the network cable is in, checked there is a power light on, rebooted the router, and on and on....then they may be able to a better response to real problems.

    I always found the more remote a branch from the IT department, the less trivial issues they had. Waiting two days for an engineer to arrive on site made them actually check as well as each other.

  13. uccsoundman

    Of course I ask my kids instead the IT help desk. After being outsourced, then multiple re-outsourcing to different contractors to lower cost, our IT help desk is less than useless. They are as dumb as a bag of hammers. They speak and understand English about as a well as a 1st year ESL student. They know less about computers than my aged grey haired mother. It seems their only solution is "well you can't do that anymore".

    The other day, I got an inquiry about a ticket for me to obtain a laptop; a laptop that had long been delivered. After he found the ticket (only after I read him the number) he said they were holding the laptop for a configuration question. I said "no, the laptop is in front of me; this is no longer an issue". He said "no, you are wrong, you do NOT have your laptop yet". Lather, rinse, repeat. I finally hung up on him. I eventually found the head of the department that issues laptops and emailed her, and the ticket was closed forthwith.

    My wife pointed out that if I had answered ever-so-slightly differently (and not even dishonestly) I could have got a new laptop for free and they wouldn't have been the wiser. Good thing for them I know God is looking over my shoulder.

  14. martinusher Silver badge

    This whole working from home thing is an accident waiting to happen

    Currently working from home is working out very well for employers since it frees up their own fixed resources (office space &tc.) and also guarantees that employees are effectively available 24/7. Freebe on-site technical support is just a bonus. This is all likely to change, though.

    The catylist is in-home businesses. The line between 'hobby' and 'business' has always been a bit fuzzy but it really comes down to whether the hobby impacts the neighborhood and whether it makes any money. Office work at home doesn't impact the neighbors like car repairs or furniture making might but it could be said to be making money. This in the US tends to attract the attention of authorities, be it a zoning variance or business license or a more expensive 'business' network connection. The one person who won't be able to cash in will be the employee --- the rules were changed years ago to prevent people from easily writing off space in the house used for work, for example. (This is US practice but I expect that the UK won't be that different.)

    Its only a matter of time before someone starts looking at working from home as "transferring a part of the business to a residential address". It'll be interesting to see how this pans out.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This whole working from home thing is an accident waiting to happen

      Its only a matter of time before someone starts looking at working from home as "transferring a part of the business to a residential address".

      Just acting on government instructions. They can be referred to Michael Gove if they want to argue.

  15. jason_derp

    "this month kids will, on average, do about £4,200 a year in IT work"

    It's a capitalist wet dream. Employees have children that aren't the companies responsibility, then those children do unpaid work. If we can get drug dealers to become the replacement for health care, we'll have solved most of those pesky costs of doing business!

  16. Imhotep

    This One Time

    Okay, I'm not proud of this but: I used to buy digital watches and have my daughter set the time on them. Come daylight savings time changes, I would be an hour off until she was back home on her next semester break.

    I like to think that reflected just how unintuitive digital watch controls were, rather than a reflection on my technical skills.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: This One Time

      If you bought watches in the plural you could have had her set one (or more) for standard time and one (or more) for daylight saving time. Just remember to switch watches as required.

      Nice title, BYW.

  17. The Boojum

    Contacting the IT helpdesk is an act of ultimate desperation. And I still just about know more than my kids about most bits. Just.

  18. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

    To reverse the situation, it's a long time since I had to do support for my daughter who arrived home with her dissertation on a Zip drive disk but no Zip drive.

    1. sanmigueelbeer

      No, the ZIP drive do not work into an 8-track.

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