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.

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  1. icon
    Deb (profile), 27 Aug 2008 @ 8:28am

    Re: Re: Re: The 80s wants their parental psychology back

    Kids are never able to magically deal with anything. I was a kid. I know this.

    The issue as I see it is finding a balance between supervising your child and allowing them the space to become free thinking, responsible young adults.

    I know very few parents that can find a balance. The kids are either covered in bubble wrap before they leave the house or left to their own devices. Neither extreme is healthy and the kids learn nothing.

    Children should be supervised when online. But as the child grows older, the supervision should become less, and the parents should maintain a dialogue about safety, security and the way to handle unwanted attention, cyber bullying and other concerns.

    Of course, that's way too much responsibility for most parents, who would prefer the web be sterilized so their precious little snowflake will neither see or hear anything bad or evil.

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