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
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jun 2006 @ 10:31pm

    I don't believe that I am ignoring the facts. I am just choosing to focus on the fact that this is a young girl we are talking about who was sexually assaulted. I personally think that it is irresponsible to put the blame on this child. Yes, she was naive, but she is a child, and by definition, is naive.

    oh no no, you can't play that card. Just because they are a "child" does not mean they are naive. People do not suddenly get common sense on their 18th birthday. If this girl doesn't know not accept solicitations from people online then she hasn't been taught enough common sense from her parents.

    And yes, I am going to state that it is partially her fault. Yes, what the criminal did was completely horrible and he deserves to be punished to the full extent of the law. But seriously, the girl should not have accepted invitations from strangers. I'm sure she wouldn't accept invitations from strangers on the street, so why online?

    It is not irresponsible to put any blame on the child, in fact it is irresponsible to put none of it with her. If teenagers don't know not to talk to strangers online, then how the hell are they going to survive when they grow up and aren't under their parent's care any more.

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