Tales of the Ridiculous

Signature authorization from a 5-year old?

We live in a time where our signatures (or scribble in my case) carry immense power.  After all, with the stroke of a pen you can take possession of a home, a car, and a plethora of worldly goods.  Our signatures have the power of releasing others from their responsibilities, as well as holding us accountable for our actions, but asking a 5-year old to sign a legal document seems a bit ridiculous.

Our son, Brendan, started kindergarten in the fall. About two weeks into the term he brought home a “Technology Acceptable Use Policy” that required the signature of both a parent and the student.  The document stressed that the “use of technology resources was a privilege, NOT a right”, and asked that all students to agree to the following terms:

  • I recognize that copyright laws protect software.  I will not make unauthorized copies found through online services to my own personal disks or any other media device.
  • I will not lend, give, or sell copies of software provided to me unless I have written permission of the copyright owner or the original software is clearly identified as shareware, freeware, or public domain.
  • I will not knowingly create or introduce any viruses to school equipment.
  • I will follow the rules of network etiquette, which include the use of appropriate language and polite responses.
  • I will not distribute unethical, illegal, immoral, inappropriate, or unacceptable information of any type.
  • Blah.  Blah.  Blah.

How many of you know any 5-year olds that grasp the concepts of copyright laws, black market software, and computer viruses?  If we were fortunate enough to have these kids as our own they would be enrolled at MIT - not kindergarten. 

Nonetheless, we signed it. We even used the opportunity to teach our son a lesson on how to sign an official legal document properly.   My father taught me to sign any legal document in blue ink to prevent any confusion between the original and any photocopy.   Brendan’s signature, in blue crayon, would have made any Grandpa proud.