Last night, I wrote a post discussing a proposed bill in California. This legalese, in short, wants to force social sites to remove information and content of minors at the request of parents. There are several loopholes in this proposed legislation. I worked hard to come up with as many of them as possible in order to spur further discussion. One person who commented, though, knocked me for a loop. My thoughts immediately spiraled off into the stratosphere, imagining all of the possible issues which could arise from her method of knowing what’s going on in her daughter’s life. Plain and simple, this new mom plans to spy on her child in the future by using a keylogger.
Those of you who believe that spying on your kids is okay are screaming at me already. I can hear you, so why not simmer down a moment and give me a chance to explain myself? I am well aware that I am not a parent myself. Keeping track of what Wicket is doing online is vastly different from keeping a child safe, I know. However, I HAVE been a teenager. I can tell you with a large amount of authority that if my parents had spied on me in this manner, there would have been hell to pay.
Installing a keylogger without your child’s knowledge is just as wrong as having your spouse or significant other installing one on your machine. Where is the trust? Why have we reduced ourselves to this level of deceit? Trust runs both ways, moms and dads. Your kids need to be able to trust you, as well. If you don’t have faith in them to know they will make smart choices online, then perhaps you need to ratchet up the things you’re teaching them just a bit. Talk to them. Explain the very real dangers which lurk out there on the Internet and how to avoid them. Lay out your expectations very clearly – and your rules. And then… let go. You have to give them room to be themselves, to make mistakes and to prove they are the awesome human beings you raised them to be.
When your teen catches you spying on him or her (trust me, they WILL catch you, because they likely know far more than you do about computers), the crap is going to hit the fan. Many teens will simply circumvent the keylogger. They will find ways to get around ANY and all controls you attempt to place on them. I know – this sounds like they are disobeying and need to be punished. Think of it this way, though… they are using their brainpower to do something that is important to them. I’m not saying the little darlings should never get into trouble for breaking a rule. I’m just saying you need to give them a little space, and trust YOURSELF a little more.
Yes, trust yourself. You are the one who has raised them. You’re the one who has taught them boundaries, how to decide between right and wrong and how to make intelligent decisions. You have to have faith that you’ve done your job well and give them a bit of room to grow. It’s perfectly fine to demand they friend you on social sites so you can still quietly see what’s going on. It’s great if you want to ask them about who they hang out with online and what sites they choose to frequent.
It’s not cool to outright spy on them. Period.