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
    I, for one, 21 Jun 2006 @ 8:15am

    Screw up your kids by showing them you can't trust

    Spying on your children is very dangerous. There is a compelling body of evidence in developmental psychology stemming from Bowlby and others work on attachment and trust which points to covert surveillence of youngsters being a major factor in the development of schizophenia and personality disorders.

    Surveillence is a cowards option to avoid confrontation, in this case the parents lack of ability to raise the issues with the child of sexual development and the dangers of predatory strangers.

    In other words, if the parents just *actually talked* to their child this
    wouldn't be an issue. The only "blame" that can be usefully apportioned is to the parents (since you can neither practically remove all predators, nor childrens curiosity without locking up everybody on Earth in a cell) on whom the onus for responsible oversight falls.

    Spying always has been and always will be a grubby, ugly and weak position that sidesteps engagement and breaks down trust and respect between both parties.

    The very fact that one raises it as a solution to protecting children is indicative of the deep sickness, abject apathy and lack of moral responsibility to communicate that infects our society.

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