Safety or Spying? Should Parents Monitor Facebook And Texting?
Remember our conversation about Devan’s sleepover at her friend’s house with no parents at home? Well that started me thinking about the whole trust issue between parents and kids. Sometimes, I will admit, I have a hard time letting go. I know I shouldn’t, but I WORRY so much about you guys. I know that it isn’t easy to be a teenager. (And I know this is hard to believe, but a very long time ago, I was a teenager.)
This leads me to my next question. This is mainly for Ryan, but Devan and Amnon your opinions are important, too. Dad and I have never checked your text messages or your Facebook accounts. When this discussion comes up with our friends, it seems that most parents are checking. Honestly, they think we are crazy because we don’t. Would it make you feel more secure if we did? And by that I mean it would be easier to resist the temptation to put certain things on Facebook or texts if you knew we were checking?
I think that when parents go on their children’s Facebook pages and look on their phones it is a complete invasion of privacy. If parents want to know what their kids are doing or saying on Facebook they should make there own page and friend their kids. It’s common courtesy; I’m sure you would be upset if I looked at your phone or at your emails or any personal messages. I am sorry but I really don’t think this is acceptable in any form. Looking at diaries, notes, Facebook pages, Myspace pages, emails, AIMs, text messages, is the equivalent of spying. Checking texts that aren’t yours is not okay. Thank you, thank you, thank you so much for not doing this to me or my brothers!
Even if I knew how to check your facebook posts, tweets and texts I wouldn’t do it. I also wouldn’t read your diary, or snoop around your room when you’re not home.
Mom and I have done our best to raise you with the right values and morals. I would love to be included in every part of your life and know everything you’re doing, but obviously that’s not going to happen. I trust you, and respect your privacy. Of course I’m always there for anything you want to share.
The only thing is….trust is a two-way street. If at some point you started lying to us or deceiving us, then we would lose that trust. Also, if a safety issue were to arise, I could see where we might feel that we needed to snoop in order to protect you. Much as I would hate it, I would want to be a responsible parent and make sure that you are really ok.
For two reasons, I feel that checking texts and Facebook is not the right way to go. First of all, privacy is one of the most important virtues of freedom in a person’s life. My whole life, especially as I was becoming an adult, I realized more and more how good it is to assume responsibilities and feel independent. I would have been quite frustrated if my texts were being checked. I would not have felt calm or secure on the matter of my safety. Some kids might even rebel against it, and that has the potential to end poorly.
Secondly, you could easily check Ryan’s texts and Facebook, yet you would not have access to his friends’ texts and Facebooks. They can post anything they want about him, take pictures of him from their phones, and do anything else he could do with his own technology. No matter what, it’s a gamble. Our integration to an online world is dangerous in that sense, because there’s really no stopping the spread of information. Ryan will learn to be responsible with his texting and Facebook regardless of whether or not you watch his actions, as did Devan and I. This doesn’t mean that a terrible thing has to happen in order for the lesson to be learned. He will mature with his responsibilities.
I believe the most effective thing for parents to do is to warn their kids by making clear exactly how easy it is to fall into an online, life-ruining trap. Definitely give examples, including the most brutal ones. The dangers are real, and kids need to be aware of the potential outcomes.
I think that parents checking their kid’s texts or accounts is unnecessary. If parents warn their kids about how potentially dangerous certain things or comments can be, then going further and just checking randomly shows a lack of trust on the parent’s part. Now the kid should understand and not be tempted to do things that can get them in trouble. But, if they give in to the temptation and make the mistake, then yes the parent has a good reason to be checking.
If I’m texting someone, and I know my parents are checking my messages, then yeah I probably won’t say the stuff I would say if my parents weren’t checking (for example things like stinks instead of sucks, or not swear when I’m really mad). However, it might make me feel uncomfortable when talking to someone, for example a girl or a girlfriend. If nothing inappropriate is said, and it’s just talking, I don’t want my parents snooping into my social life. Maybe I wouldn’t tell someone how I feel about them or something like that. Because that would be embarrassing if my parents read it.
So yes I think parents checking accounts and messages is effective in preventing dangerous situations. But I also think it invades the kid’s privacy in a negative way. It will not always allow the child to say what they feel or express themselves in certain ways to other people because it may be embarrassing if their parents were to read it.