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.

Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread

  1. identicon
    Nomad91, 21 Jun 2006 @ 10:47am

    Criminalizing the internet

    Message#23 covers things quite well. However there is a pervasive distrust of the internet throughout many posts. The internet is no different than going to any other public place. The main difference between the net and face-to-face meetings is that: #1 people are much more trusting online and #2 anything you do can be recorded and used against you. The trust factor isn't about what your parents taught you, it's about feeling safe in your own environment while the person you talk to is far away. There is a feeling of detachment such that, while more trusting and open, users are also more likely to lie about themselves and consider those they encounter to be intagnible.

    TEOZ: "Generation of hackers".
    Good point! It's a matter of freedom and self-growth (individuality). An unreasonable act imposed on a child or adult will be met with resentment and rebellion.

    PT: "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?"
    ...and how do you expect her to ever have RL friends, get married, get a job...ect?? If you don't go out and meet strangers you'll live a very lonely life. The Internet in it's most simple concept is nothing more than a global library. Granted, the net has more dark sections than most real libraries, but the concept is the same. If you can trust your child to go to the Metropolitian Museum or Library of Congress alone, then you should have no problem with them crusing the Infobahn.

    "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."
    Exactly! And the children will not learn unless they make mistakes. The girl and guy made a mistake. It should have been dealth with on a man-to-man level, not a cowardice run to the law and lawyers.

    While I sympathize with the girl, I also don't blame the guy. Society loves to blame men when a woman accuses him of wrong-doing. The problem is that no one here knows if the girl presented herself as being older. A good bit of makeup and many 14y-o can pass at 17-18. Until you know the facts, don't pass judgement. Calling the guy a pervert is only demonstrating your own ignorance. I'm not siding with him nor the girl... I simply don't know the facts and neither do you.

Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here

Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter

Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Copying Is Not Theft
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads


Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.