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
    Anonymous Coward, 27 Aug 2008 @ 9:50am

    kids aren't adults... or are they?

    many theories state* that by the time a child hits 12-13 years old they have all the capability for abstract thought that adults have. there is nothing but experience that hinders them from acting like an adult in every respect of their life.

    far too many parents don't let them develop that experience and instead continue to treat them like babies for a long time after. this actually stunts their mental growth, keeping them from learning how to act like an adult. this is, in part, why college's are notorious for misbehavior, young adults have finally broken away from their parents and don't have a basis on how to take care of themselves or play responsibly, in these situations the best case scenario is that they end up having a crash course in what is proper and straighten out by the time they are out of college. in other cases, they never really learn.



    * http://www.spring.org.uk/2008/07/jean-piagets-four-stage-theory-how.php

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