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
    PT, 21 Jun 2006 @ 12:03am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Its Easy To Blame Others

    This isn't a case where a relative assaulted her by winning her trust by defacto they are a family memeber and you should trust them. This is a total stranger that won her trust through an online service that provides a network to socialize. Then the guy took advantage of that trust. The ONLY true person to blame is the guy and I don't think anyone here would excuse his actions. But why drag Myspace into this?

    As for the girl, you'd think that at age 14 and with all the hoopla going on today with sexual predators, she'd be old enough to know these dangers exist.

    Must have been that "oh but it will never happen to me" mentality.

    Isn't it obvious that if girls didn't meet up with strangers in real life that these types sexual assault cases would never occur? Its like the lesson we all learn as kids is to "never ever talk to strangers." Well, we ought to be teaching our kids "never meet people online in real life."

    Still...we shouldn't blame her for her naievity because she's a child and bad decisions are expected of them until they learn enough through experience to know better. Which would be when exactly? At what point are children responsible for their own actions? It certainly isn't until 18. Because if a 14 year old murders another person, they shouldn't be held responsible because they are children? That's rubbish. Oh, but in this case she's an innocent girl and was the victim. No that doesn't change the fact that she was in control of the situation of to meet the guy or not meet the guy.

    No wait, you know what, its the parents fault for not giving her the skills to assess dangers around her. Maybe because they don't understand the internet. Fine, but don't blame a service for not watching out for your kid or teaching your kid about the dangers of the scary internet.

    Its like suing a car manufacturer because they didn't install nerf bumpers and a 10 year old gets killed by a drunk driver. Its the car manufactuers fault the child actually died because had they installed those nerf bumpers the dumb actions of the drunk driver would have translated into minor injuries for the child.

    Should Myspace be completely excused from this? I think in this case, yes because I really think the mother is trying to captilize on her poor daughter's situation (as are the lawyers). *Gasp* How dare I have the nerve to suggest the mother is exploiting the daughter! Hum, $30 million will do what exactly? Make the lawyers very happy and the left over couple million goes to the family and then...what? What will those millions do for the trauma the girl has experienced? Unless...ohmigosh it was the girl's idea to sue?

    Doesn't Myspace already segment the users by age groups? Adults can't interact with underage people? What more can Myspace do that is reasonable?

    I will say this: The 14 year old girl has learned a valuable lessons in all this. 1) Be careful with who you trust and talk to online. 2) You can sue other people for your misfortunes. That's what the "system" and parents are showcasing here.


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