As a Dad
I dont think rationing time is necessary as I was never rationed time on computers when I was a kid and the result is im now a competent IT guy with over 20 years of hands on experience (even though im only 33).
However, I do think it is important to ration the software kids have access to and have faith in their curiosity.
I didnt have access to games in the same way kids do now. My primary source of games was cover disks and competitions.
My parents very rarely bought games for me. Usually only at Christmas.
The rest of the time I had to make do with shareware releases.
The motivation certainly wasnt to save money as my dad used to bring me piles of hardware to mess about with. Some of it I now know must have been shockingly expensive.
Anyway, being starved of full versions of stuff I was forced to hack the hell out everything to build my own levels, content and extract everything.
Doom comes to mind here and various LucasArts games.
One of the earliest hacks I pulled off was extracting The Gone Jackals soundtrack out of the resource files from Full Throttle. I wanted that CD so badly but I couldnt find it in the UK. It was so long ago I cant actually remember how I did it but im sure I still use that mindset. All I can recall is that itntook me weeks and I had to slog it out because...no internet.
Everytime someone sends me a dodgy attachment to analyse. I get the same excited feeling.
I still use those ripped audio files today (even though I have since bought the actual Bone to Pick album, which still kicks ass). Oddly the quality of the files from FT are higher quality than the genuine CD.
The point im trying to make here is spooning the concepts to the kids is not the same as forcing them to figure it out for themselves.
Whilst I think the current push to get kids interested in tech is noble, I think they're going about it in the wrong way.
An hour of minecraft is not the same as our entire evenings spent pissing around in QBasic.
The excitement in tech isnt in the end result, its in the process of discovery and that is how things stick in your mind.
Reverse engineering is something kids need to be encouraged to do. Pull stuff apart and figure out how it works fits into an average kids mentality. Thats why toddlers put biscuits and raisins in everything.
Playing a game is fun but ripping it apart is way cooler.
Hack the Planet!