Tech-savvy teens and tweens are often looked upon with a measurable amount of contempt, so much so that the image of the bored, listless, and ultimately despondent young person maliciously hacking for the simple thrill of it has become a modern archetype. Yet, as The Who once remarked, the kids are alright.
Jon Penn, a sixth grader at a small private school in Sherwood, Ark., is Exhibit A. When Victory Baptist School‘s previous network admin jumped ship, 11-year-old Jon decided to help out his mother, the school librarian who suddenly found herself responsible for computer support, by taking the reins.
His school needed a gateway to protect against attacks, filter viruses and spam, and block inappropriate sites. Keeping costs down is important since the school is operating on a shoestring budget to keep its 60 aging computers, a donation from years ago, working for the roughly 200 students permitted to use them, along with the teachers.
Jon set to removing viruses from the antiquated machines and installed a firewall and filtering software as a stopgap measure while he looked forward to instituting centralized system management. Along the way he became what may well be the nation’s youngest IT guy, and what’s very obviously any geek parent’s dream come true.