Brownen Clune tackles the question whether parents should digitally spy on their children. Although she admits having done this herself – “and I’ve not felt guilty about it. A little bewildered maybe, but not guilty.” – she draws a clear line: “Being aware of what your children are doing online is something we shouldn’t shirk, but stalking them not only betrays their trust, it’s a way of avoiding awkward discussions about difficult topics. Sneaking around online is no substitute for having those conversations.”

She provides the following example and reflection: “a commenter on Metafilter discovered her son was having suicidal thoughts only through snooping. Her reflection was revealing: [“]He is online seeking a safe place to talk, which he seems to have found. It doesn’t include me. That’s an issue we need to work on. Not by shutting off all safe places for him, but by making me one of them.[“]”

Besides having conversations rather than stalking she not to endanger the feeling of safety that children should have in their own homes: “Our children are growing up in a world that has established they can be spied on by governments, Google and social media. Their homes are the last battle line away from the eyes of Big Brother. So do we really want to deprive them of any notion of privacy?”

Her own solution to finding out what her son does on Facebook is to read what he wrote when he has left his Facebook open “but I make a point of letting him know what I’ve read … and offering my not-asked-for-opinion on things. … This is parenting. Secret surveillance is not.”

Advertisements