The Instigator
Con (against)
1 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
3 Points

Should a child under 14 be allowed their own laptop/computer?

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 3/25/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,721 times Debate No: 31674
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (0)
Votes (1)




I do not believe a child under that age should have their own laptop or computer. Their is no reason what so ever for someone that young to have their own laptops or computers.


I'll stand affirmed to the idea that children should be allowed to own personal computers. First, I'll deconstruct Con's case and then construct my own; ideally showing that lack of substantive warrant doesn't obtain as a point against Pro in this context.

===Con Case===

Con's argument is as follows: there's no conceivable reason why a child (at the age described in the resolution) should have a computer. Therefore, children should not be allowed to have one. There are several blatant problems in this short argument though I'll only point out a few.

(1) Con lacks warrant for his conceivability thesis. He's arguing that -P (P referring hereon to a reason for a child owning a personal computer) obtains but fails to show how or why. Obviously we lack certain capabilities which would allow one to prove such a negative, therefore a presumption lies against it since epistemically the voter/reader lacks sufficient reason to accept it.

To make things easier though I'll throw out just a single counter-example. Consider: A child requires extra resources for educational purposes. The parents have sufficient resources to accommodate this need and the child is such that he or she exhibits a degree of responsibility at least on par with someone over the age of fourteen. Note that the situation is fully conceivable. Thus, it can be shown that the conditions which Con earlier argued never obtain do in fact obtain in at least a single state of affairs. That by itself is enough to wholly demolish Con's case.

(2) The second problem in Con's argument is that the premises don't necessitate his conclusion. Con in his argument moves from (children don't need A) to (children should not have A). On the whole the logic here is hard to find since applied to different situations (with identical propositional structures), the conclusion would seem ridiculous. Consider: In this day and age sending smoke signals to communicate with neighboring towns is unnecessary. There are few and far between conceivable situations (note here that this scenario is actually more generous then Con's since it alludes to possibility of a need arising) in which it would be necessary to do so. Therefore, there should be a ban on doing so.

But why? What we're doing here is arguing about the content of a choice. Whether or not it proves absolutely necessary to some pre-established end is irrelevant if that end isn't accepted by all or at least has some degree of inter-subjective validity. Con's unstated presupposition here lies in the idea that only what is necessary should be permitted. Everything else is open to restriction. But Con never provides warrant for the norm which is the crux of his argument and it has been shown above to lead to outlandish conclusions (conclusions which I highly doubt Con would accept).

===Pro Case===

My own case in favor of the resolution (or at least the possibility of it obtaining i.e., I don't mean to argue that children under fourteen 'should' have computers, only that there's no prima facie reason to restrict such behavior or to hold a presumption against it) will be based primarily on freedom-centric arguments. I intend to argue and show that (1) in normative discourse there's a presumption in favor of liberty and against undue restriction on autonomy and (2) that there's no a priori answer to whether or not children shouldn't have computers and therefore Con's arguments at best only obtain accidentally or contingently, but that the presumption in favor of freedom warrants the Pro position more than the Con.

(1) Normative discourse regards what is the 'right' or 'wrong', 'moral' or 'immoral', 'permitable' or 'unpermitable'. As such the purpose of this point is to show that freedom from restrictions on one's autonomy is the 'correct' norm on which to base ethical discourse. As such it follows that undue restrictions on that autonomy (whether in the form of physical coercion or moral indignation) constitute 'immorality'.

Discourse (in the loosest sense of the term) begins with a free act of volition. That is, it begins where and only where someone freely decides to voice opinion, affirmation, dissent, etc. This much applies even to those who would argue against freedom-centric normativity. Thus, Con (in his unstated presuppositions) is trapped in a performative contradiction. The propositional content of his argument lies in denying children the freedom to obtain personal computers yet the factors which actually allow him to discourse freely in the first place are at odds with that argument. Such is the case with any denial of freedom-centric normativity.

Thus by a sort of reductio ad absurdum it can be simply shown that if moral discourse is to obtain, than a presumption in favor of free volition, autonomy, and freedom must also (note that there are actually two options as far as getting out of this contradiction. The first is affirmation of freedom-centric normativity, the second is whole rejection of normative input in the first place [nihilism]. Though I should point out the word 'should' in the resolution seems to preclude the second option since the term has inherent normative connotations).

(2) My second point has strong resemblance to my first point in negation to Con's affirmative argument. Stated more directly though it is that an argument concerning the kinds of things this one does (that is, with such high variability obtained in the real world) precludes any straightforward 'yes' or 'no' answer to the general question of whether a child should be able to have a personal computer. This means that either Pro or Con to the resolution is in a sort of a pickle since at best their arguments can only be considered to obtain under accidental circumstances. The solution however lies in my first point in affirmation, that is with the presumption in favor of self-rule. Since this has been shown, the question of whether children should prima facie be allowed to own computers lends itself to the Pro unless substantive evidence to the contrary can be shown.


Not only have I shown the problems inerrant in Con's reasoning but I've provided a substantive case in favor of freedom-centric normativity and thus a presumption in favor of children owning their own laptops (if that is their choice). Con's case is muddled and contains strongly unwarranted presuppositions (such as the presumption against non-necessary action). My own case on the other hand builds from the grounds up, arguing that the act of volition necessary for normative discourse to start in the first place carries with it a presumption in favor of self-rule and freedom. Therefore I urge a Pro vote.
Debate Round No. 1


You make some very compelling arguments. I just decided to keep my first round argument short and sweet.
My reasoning though for making such a statement is as follows. A child under that age (14) should not be allowed their own laptop, because in most cases they lack the responsibility to be able to look after such an item. Furthermore it exceedingly increases the risk to the child of being targeted by an online predator. Also it is giving the child access to an Internet full of pornographic material right at their fingertips which they could stumble upon accidentally or look for with purpose.

A child under that age quite often lacks the responsibility and understanding of having an item like this, So laptops/computers will get broken either by poor caring or by the child getting viruses on it.

A child is at a higher risk of being a target by an online predator because since they have their own laptop/computer the parents or parent will not be able to see who their child is talking to at these times.

Having their own laptop/computer will give the child ample time to search or accidentally find pornographic material or other material that is unsuitable for children of that age to see.

So in conclusion I say a child under the age of 14 should not have their own computer/laptop. A family computer or laptop is fine for all the needs the child might have since I will admit nowadays as we become a more technology based culture computers/laptops are needed more for schoolwork. Giving a child under that age will just open the door to problems that can easily be prevented beforehand with a family computer/laptop set up in a room so the child's activities can be monitored.


Readers should note that my opponent hasn't attempted to refute any of my arguments from the last round, either in negation of his own argument or in affirmation of my own. Therefore they're extended. Of course, Con brings some new arguments in this round and I'll refute them below. It should also be noted that most of Con's arguments contain the same basic structure (P: children 'could' do X and X is bad). Therefore my refutations of his points will lie in my refutation of the base structure which he draws upon.

===Con Case===

Con argues that a child under the age of fourteen "quite often lacks" responsibility and could thus be vulnerable to three specific problems he brings up. Those problems are physically (or otherwise) breaking the computer, being targeted by a predator, and seeing material "unsuitable" for children.

(A) First it should be argued that Con has completely failed to establish a coherent line of demarcation wherein children above the line are somehow responsible enough to own a computer and children below are not. Con offers up no evidence in support of the idea that children over the age of fourteen will somehow be better able to manage themselves in this scenario, especially when we look at children close to the line of demarcation (e.g. a child just under fourteen and a child just over would likely, on balance, show little difference in responsibility). Therefore Con has given us no reason why we should (a) draw the line of demarcation at fourteen or (b) why any line whatsoever would be fruitful given the extreme variability of traits (responsibility included) dispersed in children.

(B) My second point largely draws logically from the first. Not only has Con left readers (and myself) blind to the reasoning in support of his line of demarcation but, I would argue, no such line can be drawn. This is due to the fact that age and responsibility have, at best, a muddled correlation. That is, the correlation is never uniform. Children under fourteen can exhibit responsible traits early on while others (over fourteen) can fail to exhibit these qualities. Con is in effect equivocating two things: age and responsibility.

So not only has Con failed to even try to draw a line of demarcation wherein one side represents people incapable of being responsible enough to own a computer (even if it could be shown I refuted the relevance of such in my affirmative argument point 1 which Con has yet to respond to) and the other with those who are responsible enough, but I've shown that the subject matter of the present discussion precludes drawing one in the first place!


Con has failed to respond to either my affirmative case against the idea of limiting (via either physical coercion or moral indignation) children under fourteen from obtaining personal computers and failed to defend his position against my refutations: (a) non-need doesn't necessitate a moral obligation not to, (b) my single demonstrative example against his claim that no such "need" could possibly exist, (c) the fact that the variability of possible scenarios precludes a straight answer on either side, (d) my affirmation (and argument in support of) a presumption in favor of allowing children to obtain personal computers, or (e) my pointing out that Con has failed to try to (and couldn't even if he tried) establish or defend a clear consistent line of demarcation of responsibility.
Debate Round No. 2


You say I didn't refute any of your arguments in my second round? Yet your arguments only resolved around my statement I made which I explained and gave reasoning too in my second argument, as such all your arguments to my previous statement were actually refuted by me when I gave reasoning to my first statement.

You seem to want to point out that I used the term quite often lacks with the obvious assumption it somehow proves your argument. I am completely ready to agree there are certain children who are more mature and responsible at younger ages than some adults but that in no way makes supports fors argument because in every situation there will always be exceptions to the rule. But even in a society where technology is rampant part of it now children under that age are less responsible to care for such an item and having a family computer that can be much easily monitored is a very smart choice. For believes I am showing no evidence why a child over that age is more responsible which is true, a child over that age may not be more responsible but there does come points in a parents life where they have to show trust to their child and give them the chance to prove themselves which since a child at the age of 16 is allowed the responsibility to get their drivers licence and drive it seems like a good time to show this trust at around that age. This is a slight fault in my argument I will freely admit too. But since the fault is to raise the age to 16 then it doesn't effect fors arguments since they would still be arguments for giving a child under a certain age their own laptop.

Also as for pointed out earlier that I didn't refute his arguments it appears to me he has gone and done the exact same thing he had previously accused me of by not trying to refute the points I pointed out about child protection and that having a family computer is a much more viable and logical thing to do to make sure you child is doing what they are suppose to be doing on the computer whether it be homework, talking to friends, or playing games. I admit though since I did show above how I did in such refute fors arguments the same can be applied here it is just funny that for should point something out and then go and proceed to do the same thing.

Also I feel the need to point out the for is arguing for children under that age to be allowed laptops/computers of their own so children of ages 3 or 6 or 8 should be allowed to have their own laptops or computers to freely do as they please, is what for is saying with his arguments.

For seems to want to break this down to the very foundation of every meaning of word I use an argue from that point. For every debate in the world a person can do that and find faults and holes in ones argument by doing that. This isn't about the wording I use or how I say it, this is about common sense and keeping these children safe and also to an extent trying to show when parents should give their child the responsibility and trust to look after such an item. I know everyones common sense is different and does fall down to ones own experiences and instincts. As it is though it is a parents natural instinct to protect their children and as such giving them a computer at that age is opening up a lot of doors to potentially unsafe circumstances that can easily be resolved by having a family computer set up in a room that can be monitored which much more ease.

In conclusion I say this, would you rather give a child under the age of 14 their own computer to do as they please or would you rather set up a family computer that can be easily monitored so you know the child is safe and doing what they should be doing on the computer.


Noumena forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
No comments have been posted on this debate.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: Con lost this on Round3. While I sympathize with Con for Pro having picked apart every word in his round 1 argument whereas it seemed mostly like an introduction, Con in round 3 pretty much drops the "14 years" limit and says that the exact age doesn't matter where in fact that was Pro's argument - that Con's choice of age was too arbitrary. Con never really answered Pro's rebuttal of why children shouldn't be allowed laptops just because things could happen to make it potentially unfavorable. While neither side wins that point, Pro's point about freedom outweighs and is the one I based my vote off of. Conduct to Con for Pro's forfeit.