Mar 292016
 

WISH in Indianapolis recently reported:

 As kids get older, they will likely ask you for social media accounts and a cell phone. As their parent, you might agree to it as long as you can monitor what they’re doing. But when does ‘monitoring’ cross the line into spying? And do kids have a right to privacy?

“They have a right to privacy from the outside world, but not necessarily within their homes and from their parents,” says wife and mom of five kids, Amber Trowbridge.

In a recent Pew Research study, 48 percent of parents say they’ve looked at texts and call records on their child’s phone. The same number, 48 percent, know the password to their teen’s email account. Only 35 percent know the password to at least one of their teen’s social media accounts.

But even if we were to accept that parents have a right to monitor their minor child’s activity or snoop on them without their knowledge and consent, what are the limits of that right?  Do they have a right to read other children’s messages to their child? What if the other children do not know that you are monitoring that account? What if the other children’s parents do not know you are monitoring your child’s account and are reading their child’s private messages and communications to your child?

Not a concern, you say, because you have a right as a parent to monitor anything that involves your child – even if it means reading other kids’ private communications?  So it’s okay with you if some other child’s parents are reading your child’s messages to their child, right? Even if your child is telling their friend sensitive information and nothing stops those parents from sharing what they’re reading with your child’s school or the community?

Are you starting to get a bit uneasy or less sure that this is all okay?

Well, what about if it’s not you monitoring your child’s accounts, but a business or online service?  Suppose you pay them to help you monitor or track your child. That’s fine, right, because you say you have the right to monitor your child’s activity and the business is (merely) acting as your assistant or agent in that regard, right?

But to help you monitor your child, the business shows you other children’s communications to your child, which they collect and compile.  Is that okay with you? It probably is, but turn the situation around: a business is now collecting and compiling non-public private communications from your child and displaying them to another child’s parent who hired them to help monitor their child. Is that okay with you?

Think about it. I’ll have more on this soon.

 

 

  One Response to “Is it OK to spy on your kids? How about other people’s kids?”

  1. I monitor my childrens phones and internet server with blocking certain sites so they do not have access. They are fully aware that we do this in my household because it is what I consider a ‘benevolent oligarchy’, not a democracy. I tell them, when they are 18, its another story. I let them know that the phones are a privilege and its not be abused because they can be taken away. As long as they are under 18 years of age, our rules.

    I do think there is a fine line with monitoring phones, internet server sites and tablets and also giving your children space. Going through your child’s journals or specific personal items has a chance of crossing boundaries.

    On the issue with businesses being hired to track childrens messages is going a bit overboard too. Parents can set up blocking and tracking systems with their phone carrier just to monitor activity (this usually does not consist of text conversations, mostly apps and internet google search on the phone).

    PS. This was not my kid but this is how my friends caught their s12 year old son looking at female nude photos on his phone and the phone was confiscated. Yes, sometimes there are reasons to track.

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