Parents Are Never Going To Be Able To Monitor All Kids Online Activities

from the but-think-of-the-children! dept

Over the past few years, the "but think of the children!" crowd constantly talks up the importance of having parents monitor their kids' online activities, and often puts out studies like the following one, bemoaning the fact that not enough parents are monitoring their kids enough. Of course, the simple fact is that parents are never going to be able to fully monitor what their kids do online (at least without seriously pissing off their kids). If kids want to chat online, they're going to find a way to be able to do so. Perhaps rather than focusing so much on spying on everything that kids do, the focus should be more on educating them to the dangers that are out there, the laws that they should be aware of and the risks of not obeying them. We have this tendency in our society to overprotect kids, which often has the opposite effect: not preparing them properly to face the real world. Kids who understand the risks tend to make better choices online. As for those who are constantly spied on and overly protective? We'll again quote Richard Posner in one of his legal rulings:
"Violence has always been and remains a central interest of humankind and a recurrent, even obsessive theme of culture both high and low ... It engages the interest of children from an early age, as anyone familiar with the classic fairy tales collected by Grimm, Andersen, and Perrault are aware. To shield children right up to the age of 18 from exposure to violent descriptions and images would not only be quixotic, but deforming; it would leave them unequipped to cope with the world as we know it."
Parents should be aware of what their kids are doing online by talking to them about it, and helping to educate their kids on the risks they face, but that doesn't mean spying on their every move. That will only backfire.

Filed Under: education, internet usage, kids, monitoring, parents


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  1. identicon
    Overcast, 27 Aug 2008 @ 7:54am

    I monitor them to a degree.

    They know I have an account to get into their PC's - I actually base a few system services off this account - if they change the password, the system won't start.

    I have 'Omniquad Desktop Surveillance' and they know this and have seen the screen shots I have of them. It basically can capture the screen to disk every so often, does key logging, and all that jazz. My daughter touted an 'edge' with some online activity that was a bit too far. Sure - it was just four letter words, but still... That's too far for me. We told her point blank we didn't want her chatting with two or three different people, after reviewing some chat logs and such I confronted her about it.

    My son's worst annoyance online is Torrent - I'm not a fan of downloading illegal stuff, he kept trying to get away with it, so I blocked the ports - easy, and it doesn't eat up my bandwidth now. You really only need a few ports open, the rest now are blocked inbound and outbound.

    And yes, I've explained to them the dangers of online activity, the ethics with downloading stuff you didn't pay for - but kids being kids, they still will push it sometimes.

    If you think just talking to them works - well, I hope in the cases where parents 'just talk to them', it does.

    However; be careful of that "I've talked to my kids and they are perfect" attitude,; I almost had that at one time too - they are subject to more influences than mom or dad, that's for sure. My parents never, ever smoked pot - I smoked pounds when I was younger :)

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