Should You Spy On Your Kids' Every Online Move?

from the missing-the-point dept

With the news breaking yesterday concerning MySpace getting sued because a teenaged girl who used the site was sexually assaulted by someone she met through the site, it's no surprise that we're going to see more and more stories about how to "protect" kids online. There's been a glut of these stories recently, and they seem to involve more and more draconian solutions. The latest, in USA Today, is no exception, profiling a number of parents who seem to think the only answer is to monitor and record every single thing that their kids do. In fact, in one story, a mother watches from another room as her son received an instant message that included "an obscene phrase and link to a sexual website." The kid, smart enough to know not to click on it, didn't. So what happens? The mother still suspended his instant messaging privileges. That's not raising a kid. It's over-protecting. Only one family profiled seems to actually focus on parenting: teaching the kids that the world isn't always a safe place, and explaining to them the risks they might face, how to recognize them and how to avoid them. They have regular dinner discussions about those risks. In other words, they're teaching the kids how to deal with the risks, not hiding them from the risks. Over-protecting kids puts them in a difficult position when they inevitably do face a risk: they don't know how to deal with. Educating kids, teaching them how to do the right thing, and trusting them to think on their own is what parenting is about. Being over protective and then suing everyone else as soon as anything goes wrong only teaches kids how to blame others and put their head in the sand about real risks.

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  1. identicon
    Monster, 5 Jan 2008 @ 1:07pm


    I completely agree. Parents spying on their kids is ridiculous. I, myself, am only 13. I love the internet, it gives me all the freedom to say exactly how I'm feeling without being ashamed or afraid. If my mom started reading everything I wrote, saw every place I went, which is what she plans, I would no longer go on those computers. I would find other places. And, we're not all complete idiots, you know? I have more common sense than my 17 year old sister...And if she can date a 40 year old, why can't I have friends on the internet? I started searching for what software my mom might get, and how I could go around it. But, I found this. I plan on showing this to my Mom. It's kind of like a persuasive essay, huh? ;D I'm smarter than the average "kid". I can protect myself, now I just need to make my Mom understand that...

    "You're going to get molested." Not if I can help it...I can protect myself just as well as my mom can.Okay? I've been on the computer since I was young. I basically understand who to trust and who not to. Any time I don't feel I have enough trust in a person, I meet someone who's nice but scares me,I delete them! I think about it a lot. Sure it's dangerous..but to me it's worth it. I don't know about any other kid, but I don't share my feelings, usually. Anyone in my real life, doesn't know when I'm sad or angry..Which appears to be very often. No one ever knows if anything is wrong with me. I'm just "tired". But on here, the internet, I can express myself! Without anyone judging me, immediately, or anyone contradicting me!
    Taking away my computer, or phone isn't going to get my mom anywhere. It is OVER-PROTECTIVE. Your kid needs to grow up, they need to make their own choices.

    Don't spy on your kids..Tell them right from wrong, and let them do what they want. If they make a mistake, it's THEIR MISTAKE. You got to make mistakes, now let them. In any case that your kid is a complete moron, keep going over it with them. Show them scenarios where things went wrong (Like the story about the girls being assaulted, and what not.)

    Oh, and about the boy who got his IM taken away..I mean, come on. All of you people don't KNOW him. He probably wasn't even going to open it! For gods sake, I get stuff like that all the time. It's either "delete and block" or if it's in mail, I tell them off than block/delete them.
    I may not be a parent, but I'm a kid. I understand myself, and others like me, better than a "parent" can. You think you know what's best for your kid, but maybe you don't...
    Take what these people have to say in to consideration.
    They all appear to have great outlooks on this subject.

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