I love technology and I want my children to know technology therefore they have Internet connected computers in their rooms (because I question the advice of the experts suggesting that computers in the bedrooms are bad ideas but that is for a different post). Tommy and Sarah use Windows XP due to their software needs but Noah uses Linux and although he could boot to Windows, he never does!
If you have more than one computer connected to the Internet through DSL or a cable company then you have a router that is probably assigning IP addresses to your computers by DHCP. First off, all our computers are named. If you didn’t name the computer yourself, it got a pseudo random name like CW123-Laurence1 when you installed your operating system. Now, you can change this name at anytime. For instance, our computers are based on famous artists and psychiatrists such as Monet, Freud, Dali and so forth. These names are absolutely meaningless to a computer. Computers like numbers! Your computer also gets an address assigned to it. This is your IP address which will look something like 10.0.0.23 or 192.168.1.111. DHCP randomly choose a number when your computer connects to the network (ie. is turned on). So your child might be 192.168.1.111 on Monday and on Tuesday that same computer could be 192.168.1.43.
Having randomly generate IP addresses is not really a big deal since the numbers are behind the scenes, right? I say no! One reason I am completely comfortable having computers in each of the children’s rooms is that I monitor them. I can look at the router’s log files or a sniffer and know exactly what traffic is crossing my network. I can also remotely disable their Internet connections without pulling wires or hampering other connections. I can do this because their IP addresses never change. I still have DHCP enabled so that if someone is visiting they can simply plug into the network. Each of our home computers have a static IP. Companies with static IPs keep charts to relate an IP to a user (Bob == 192.168.0.54) but I find that cumbersome for a household. My scheme? Birth year! If your child was born in 1992, then the IP address is 192.168.1.92. Got twins? Put the second one at 192.168.1.192 or make them share a computer.
Naturally this is a little pointless if you only have one or two computers in the house. In the coming years, I bet you surprised how many devices in your house start relying on an IP address. "Honey. Can you ping the toaster and see if my breakfast is ready yet?"