Would You 'Spy' On Your Child's Online Life?

Technology has vastly improved over the ages. People are constantly inventing new and improved technology, that some of us can't even dream to know how to use. Our children on the other hand, are already experts on everything to do with technology. Growing up in this era has made them extremely tech savvy, and they have a grater understanding of the topic then we ourselves do. That's why it makes no sense that the South Australian Attorney-General John Rauare and other members of government are meeting to discuss the possibility that parents should have complete access into their children's Facebook accounts. They are arguing that "[If] the world all of us live in day-to-day requires rules to stop people doing things which are hurtful or dangerous to other people then it stands to reason that the virtual world needs some form of policing," he said. "People need to understand that in some particular circumstances this (online publication) can actually jeopardise a police investigation or perhaps equally harmfully can place the family of a victim or a victim themselves in an extremely embarrassing or dangerous situation."

> >
Mr John Rauare has a point, but like most of us does not fully understand this technology and how much our kids understand of it either. Kids now days are aware of the risks when signing up for social networking sites such as Facebook, MySpace and twitter. They already have the knowledge needed to understand that once you post something it can never be removed. We need to stop worrying about what our children and teens get up to on these social networking sites, and actually check them out for ourselves. Parents have this obsession in their minds that their children are going to be attacked by 'pedophiles' or are going to be brutally cyber bullied but this is not the case. If you actually took the time to speak to children, more than half hadn't experienced either of these incidents. Children are aware and mature enough not to get caught in these dilemmas and do not need a parent to watch over their online activity. Even if we did give our parents access to their child's account it doesn't necessarily mean they would actually follow through. Research has showed that while 64% of parents are concerned about their child's safety online 65% don't use parental controls and 62% allow their kids to use the internet unsupervised.1 So if given the chance to monitor their children's cyber safety do you think parents would actually do it?
Another flaw with this argument is the issue of privacy. I conducted a survey of 28 teens aged 12-15 and found that 15 of them would be extremely upset if their parents had access to their accounts.2 It robs them of their privacy online if their parents can see all their messages to friends, view all their photos, see who they're friends with and view everything that goes on in their online lives. Why should we have to go so far as to 'spy' on our children, just because we may be concerned about their safety? Why haven't we thought to just ask our children if we can view their Facebook page instead of going into their personal business? No child especially in their teenage years wants their parents to see all their private conversations. If your child was talking to their friend you would go up to them afterwards and ask them to tell you exactly what they were talking about! It's the same with their Facebook's pages. It's their way of keeping in touch just like teens in the 70's and 80's used to talk for hours on the phone with their friends. When you put the facts out like this it seems quite astonishing that parents would want to know this much about their children's lives.
Parents that are concerned about their children's safety should educate their children on how to deal with these situations, and encourage them to talk to their parents and teachers about any problems they have. You should be able to talk openly with your child about anything, but if you go along and invade their business, it has the same effect of just reading a personal diary or listening in on phone call. Children will feel the need to hide things from their parents which is not a healthy relationship to have. So a message to all parents is, talk to your children, understand and educate them about the dangers but respect their privacy. Maybe then the government won't have to go to these extreme, unfair and ultimately wrong measures.
1. Research done by Microsoft Australia "For Safety's Sake" (PDF)
2. Survey conducted using survey monkey

  • Digg
  • StumbleUpon
  • Reddit
  • RSS


Post a Comment