points us to a report about how a police chief in New Jersey is running seminars for parents on how to hack their kids' Facebook accounts
and install spyware and keyloggers to spy on everything they do. There's so much wrong with the claims by Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli, it's difficult to know where to start.
"Trust sounds good. It's a good cliche," says Batelli. "[But] to stick your head in the sand and think that, in 9th, 10th, 8th grade, your child is not going to be exposed to alcohol, is not going to be exposed to drugs is kind of a na´ve way to go about it."
First of all, what's "cliche" about trust? Does he even know what the word means? But, really, the following sentence suggests he doesn't understand what trust means. It doesn't mean kids won't be exposed to such things, but that you trust
them to know how to deal with it when
they are. And the best way to do that is not to set up a relationship built on distrust, spying and lies, but to treat them with a modicum of respect, admitting that they'll almost certainly come across these kinds of situations, and helping them understand what it means, and how to deal with it on their own
"If you sugar-coat it, parents just don't get it. Read the paper any day of the week and you'll see an abduction [or] a sexual assault that's the result of an Internet interaction or a Facebook comment."
Really? Prove it. I read an awful lot of news about things happening on social networks, and I can't recall any such story, let alone "any day of the week." That doesn't mean it hasn't happened -- I'm sure there are some cases here or there, but the fear mongering about kids being abducted over Facebook are blown way out of proportion. And, again, this is something that can be dealt with by education
, teaching kids to be aware of what they're doing online and
teaching them about self-respect -- which is a bit more difficult to do when their parents are spying on them.
Amusingly, the article also quotes a parent, Carolyn Blake, who secretly installed a keylogger and spies on her kids. Later in the article, she mentions that she thinks her teenager figured out there's a keylogger there. Well, if he hasn't yet, I would imagine that having her tell the story, with her real name, in a major media publication probably is going to get back to him.
The real issue here is that so many people seem to think that there are two and only two options when it comes to parenting in such situations: let kids be free to wander into dangerous predator-filled waters totally unprepared, or to spy on them. Of course, that's not true. There are a range of ways to deal with these issues, and it all starts with actually educating kids about what sorts of things and challenges they're likely to come across as they grow up (both online and offline) and preparing them for when they inevitably face those scenarios. The kids won't always respond as the parent wants (what kids do?), but it's a part of growing up. Spying on their every move doesn't prepare them for anything.