Saturday, March 7, 2015

Should we be spying, monitoring and following our kids online?

We all would do anything for our kids that is within our power and even perhaps what is not in our power. The question I am asking is whether we should trust our kids with their judgement to make wise choices? Its called digital citizenship and where should parents draw the line on spying or snooping on our children? From my standpoint, I understand we need to teach our children to be responsible and have values that they will eventually take ownership for but our children can make one mistake and a predator, a bully or even a spy camera can be turned toward your child's computer and who can undo that? This also can go toward having a high school child's driving monitored using an app. My insurance company offered me a discount to monitor my driving. While I am not being singled out by State Farm, they really are hedging their bets.  In an article by Martine Oglethorpe in Digital Trends, she gives the pros and cons and when parents might be stepping over the line.

Should I be spying on my kids online? How can I keep watch over everything my kids are doing? How can I be sure they are doing the right things online? How can I be sure I am monitoring the right sites? What about privacy? And trust? Having the time to look? Knowing where to look?

From the toddler to the tween

When kids are young, yes you need to monitor. Not spying, monitoring. Spying implies that you are doing it behind their back. But you can’t teach if it’s not in partnership with your child. It needs to be a proviso of having access to devices, and games, and social networks and well, the rest of the world. They need to know you are watching. You need to use this time whilst you have control to teach them. You need to guide their behaviours. To do your best to protect them from content they don’t need to see. To help them make decisions to keep them safe. To instil in them attitudes and values that will ensure they become critical thinkers later on when you no longer have that control.
What do you mean ‘no control’?  Aren’t we, as the parent, always in control?

The end date to monitoring

Anyone who has a child entering the teen and even tweens years will tell you, that when it comes to what our kids are doing online, the years when we can monitor and friend and follow and be safe in having it all covered, are limited to say the least. The years when we know what sites they are visiting, who they are talking to, what they are uploading and reading and sharing has an end date.
The end date happens because kids have devices for school that are internet enabled and they can log in to the rest of the world at any time.
The end date happens because kids hang out with other kids and their devices on the bus or at friends houses or on the walk home from school.
The end date happens because our kids are curious, want to explore and know how to do it undetected.
The end date happens because kids still want and need privacy. They are trying to do it in a very public space, but they still want it and seek it out.
They are now logging in to sites we don’t know exist
They are opening accounts with usernames we’d never find
They are opening multiple accounts on one site to keep some control
They are talking to people they have never met
They are having people criticise their latest photo
They are being exposed to content that at the very least makes us cringe
They are basing the worth of a photo and subsequently the worth of themselves on the number of likes and follows and shares.
To read the rest of the article, please click the link below.

The question we need to be asking instead

Before we think about spying, monitoring and stalking to catch them doing the wrong thing, we must ask ourselves, “have we spent the time really teaching them how to do the right thing?”