In his blog entry "Social Engineering" Paul Madsen describes the classic "parental control" problem where the children understand the technology better than the parents:) However, this doesn't have to be the case. I can think of a number of simple solutions.
In my household, all members have their own OS user account (yes, including my 3 1/2 yr old daughter who dutifully types in her password to sign on). This works out great for them and simplifies my life as I don't have to deal with changed desktops pictures, dock apps appearing/disappearing (yes it's a Mac), etc. I highly recommend setting up OS user accounts for individuals (there can be a family one as well if necessary). On the parental control front at the very least it allows you to turn off Administrator rights for certain accounts.
Getting back to a solution.... Once signed in to my OS user account, I could click a widget/gadget/desktop-thingy to generate an assertion to my PS2 or other device authorizing the suspension of parental controls. I suppose that the PS2 could support something like Cardspace, but that seems a little overkill. Remembering the OS account password is not too difficult and should provide the necessary level of assurance as to the subject of the assertion.
Then again, a simple USB fob with appropriate credentials would work as well. Now where did I put that "key" for the TiVo.
Tags: Identity, Parental Controls