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
    Shawn, 20 Mar 2009 @ 12:06am

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

    mike. are you a parent? Talking to and setting ground rules for your kids is great advice. But your kids will figure out ways to do things behind your back no matter what you do as a parent. If that scared me out of paying attention to what my kids did on the internet then we would have really had problems.

    I have a friend who i warned for years about their kids online activity. His daughter at 15 ran away with a older man she met on the internet, was taken, raped, abused and almost killed. You want to talk about a damaged and a screwed up kid? Even she admits today that she wished her parents knew what she was doing on the internet. Id rather have my kid pissed off at me for watching what they do on the internet then have them dead.

    My kids always knew they were being monitored by some sophisticated monitoring packages installed in the background. Even so, they turned out to be great, respectful young adults, more importantly they are alive.

    Id love to hear the qualifications that make you an expert on this subject. Frankly, id love to know if you have kids, what ages and if you have first hand experience with this. Your advice is probably completely meaningless to any parent who has already, actually been down this road. But, im sure every 25 year old who is opinionated about evil parents who "watch their kids every moves" will be in your corner. Ill take my parenting style over this ignorant advice your giving any day.

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