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
    Nomad91, 21 Jun 2006 @ 12:20pm

    re: #35

    About the IM.. it's not a matter of whether the child would have used the link, it's that he felt compelled to do so. We don't know if he would have used the link if mom wasn't monitoring, but we do know he did what she wanted and was punished for what he didn't do. If the parent chooses to not explain sex to the child at a young age then she can hardly blame him for being curious when presented with an oppertunity to learn.

    You can uninstall the IM if you want, but as long at there is an internet connection the child has an oppertunity to circumvent your will. Turn off the internet and the child then has to go look for answers elsewhere - like their friend's porno pile, folklore from friends and ultimately they'll find a mate and learn the old fashioned way.

    Sure, parents get blamed when their kids do bad things but parents recieve a lot of praise when their children do good. To be a good parent you need to remember what it's like to be a kid and temper it with the wisdom of age. In the MySpace case, it's more likely that the parents were too involved with work & earning money to properly guide their daughter. It's not a matter of bad parenting, it's parental priorities that are in question and mostly it's about the girl's own actions.

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