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Do you spy on your kids? If so, why? If not, why not? This is the question at hand today.

Every now and then at MakeUseOf, we’ve covered various articles about spying on your kids’ computer or Internet use. Some examples include my article about cellphone apps to monitor kids 3 Most Effective Cell Phone Surveillance Apps to Monitor Your Kids [Android] 3 Most Effective Cell Phone Surveillance Apps to Monitor Your Kids [Android] Read More , the review of iSpy How to Track What Others Do on Your Computer With iSpy How to Track What Others Do on Your Computer With iSpy Have you ever been in a situation where you suspect someone has been using your computer, but you just aren't certain who is doing it and what they're actually doing when they're logged in? This... Read More for monitoring activity on your family computer, Matt’s list of 4 tools for tracking activity on your home computer 4 Tools For Tracking What Others Do On Your Computer Behind Your Back 4 Tools For Tracking What Others Do On Your Computer Behind Your Back In an ideal world, we’d all be able to keep our computers secure from unauthorized access. That’s not the world we live in however. Roommates snoop, significant others get curious, and family members decide to... Read More , and of course many reviews of parental control software 5 Free Parental Control Software That Will Set Your Mind At Ease 5 Free Parental Control Software That Will Set Your Mind At Ease Read More .

With all of these, the big question is always whether or not it’s ethically or morally responsible to spy on your kids. When is there a good enough reason to do so? What’s a good excuse — their online safety? Their physical security and privacy? Or is it never okay to spy on your kids and invade their privacy?

These are the questions that we’re going to explore in this debate. Ryan Dube and Justin Dennis face off, with Justin taking the anti-spying stance, and Ryan taking the pro-spying stance. At the end of the debate, it’s up to you to vote on who you feel won the debate!

So let’s get started with Justin’s opening argument.

Justin: The Case Against Spying on Kids

Today, the technology exists for parents to spy on their kids in all sorts of ways, but that doesn’t mean that they should. I know it’s hard to believe, but children have some basic human rights as well, and I think that privacy should be one of them.

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girls-texting

Now of course, you want to know if your child is getting into anything bad: talking with their friends about illegal drugs or drinking, planning to sneak out after curfew, talking to strangers on the Internet, etc. But the truth is, no matter how intently you watch their online activities, they will find ways around it. Unless you want to imprison your child in a room with absolutely no connection to the outside world, they’re going to communicate with other people without your knowledge.

Let’s say you find a way to track all the websites your children visit on the home WiFi, you track their text messages and phone calls, and you don’t let them have Facebook or any kind of instant messenger. Great. But what about when they’re at school? Or at a friend’s house? They can still do bad things and make plans to do bad things when you’re not around. They can use their friends’ phones or computers or public WiFi hotspots or proxies to get around your parental controls. You’ll never be able to fully control everything your child does.

computer-lab

In junior high and high school, I remember the Internet filters that the school used were seen as a joke. Everyone knew the websites and tactics for getting around them, and they still do. Censorship is never perfect, and where there are cracks in the system, people will exploit them.

You can argue that by spying on at least most of what your children are doing, you can have some sort of control or influence over them, but I have to say that the opposite is true. Children whose parents constantly stalk what they do, looking over their shoulder and reading every message and Google search, those children are the ones who want to rebel. They’ll grow sick of having no privacy and overprotective parents, and they’ll be much more likely to attempt bad things outside their parents’ watch.

Now of course, there’s no foolproof way to prevent your children from getting into trouble. In fact, it will probably happen no matter what you do. But respecting your children and giving them some degree of privacy will allow you to forge a much stronger relationship with them based on mutual trust, instead of them seeing you simply as an evil dictator who they must work to avoid.

Ryan: The Argument for Spying on Kids

Gone are the days when kids can walk free on the streets without fear of getting abducted. The communities where children are safe to roam is shrinking. As of 2010, according to the a National Survey of Children’s Health in the U.S., in 2010 a whopping 11.4% of parents sometimes felt like their kids weren’t safe in their own community. Nearly 3% feel like their kids are never safe.

amber-alert

Take it online, and the problems only get worse. According to the Journal of Adolescent Health, 26% of online sex offenders make use of social networks to get information about where kids live or their whereabouts during the day. If that isn’t scary enough, consider the fact that according to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, 1 in 7 kids receive some kind of sexual solicitation online at some point, and over half of those solicited are asked to send a picture of themselves.

These statistics prove there’s a very real danger to anyone under the age of 17 on the Internet. It would be completely irresponsible of any parent to not take an active role in monitoring a child’s use of the Internet, and making sure that the activity taking place doesn’t leave a door open for Internet predators to take advantage of a child’s naivety.

online-security

In 2012, I interviewed Russ Brown, the supervisor of the FBI Cyber Crimes Division in Boston. Russ advised that in recent years the FBI has seen an increase in what they call “sextortion” cases. That is, the child is convinced to send progressively more explicit photos of themselves, “extorted” by the fact that the perpetrator threatens to send the previous explicit photo to friends and family if they don’t send over more photos that are even more explicit.

The children that get into these situations are not stupid or immature, nor do they lack the understanding that there is a very real danger online that needs to be avoided. What children lack is the years of experience that adults have in dealing with people who may not be completely honest.

This isn’t a situation or a personality that many children are accustomed to, and the idea that someone who appears to be so kind online could actually be a terrible criminal is unfathomable by the teenage mind. It isn’t until the crime has been committed and it’s too late, that the child may understand the reality of the situation.
tablet-safety

This is why it’s up to the responsible parent to install strong and effective filters and surveillance software, in order to track what sorts of IM software the children are using, who they are talking to, what social networks they use and who they are communicating with through those networks as well. The idea isn’t to spy or intrude into the private lives of the child — it’s to monitor for the tell-tale signs and red-flags that only adults with years of hard-earned life experience will recognize. To do anything less would be irresponsible, and even dangerous.

In the FBI interview in 2012, Russ said it best when he explained:

“So, is it a child or is it an equal adult with the same developed emotional capabilities as an adult? If you’re empowering your child at the age of twelve to be on an equal level as you are, then you aren’t really a parent anymore. Technically, they aren’t really mature enough to handle that stuff.”

The truth is, in a world where the Internet is as dangerous as it is today, a child shouldn’t have to handle that stuff. By appropriately monitoring and blocking things that could pose a threat, you can ensure that your child never has to do so, before they are old enough and emotionally prepared enough to handle the darker things that life can throw at them. But by then, they will have the tools necessary to recognize the threat, and to say no.

Justin’s Rebuttal:

Actually, the days when children could walk the streets safe are right now. According to a 2009 Salon article titled Stop Worrying About Your Kids, Crime has been dropping across the board for the last 40 years, and children are just as safe now, if not safer, than they were in the 70s.

However, I will agree that online predators are still a real threat. The best way to deal with this problem, though, isn’t to block your children’s access to social networks or instant messengers or spy on them. The best way to protect your children is to talk to them and warn them about the dangers of people who aren’t who they say they are online. Your children are smarter than you give them credit for, and educating them rather than spying on them shows that you respect and trust them.

Installing “strong and effective filters and surveillance software” can only go so far. Let’s ignore the fact that most parents today probably don’t know the first thing about Internet filters or surveillance software and assume that all parents are certified tech professionals. Even then, you can’t monitor everything your child does.

talking-to-kids

Teenagers can (and will) buy cheap phones, tablets, or laptops without their parents’ knowledge, and free public WiFi is then widely available. Younger children will use the computers or phones of their friends, or they will get around their parents’ Internet filters or the weaker filters at their school.

And then, because they are already defying their parents, they will not tell their parents about any of it. If your children have to sneak behind your back to do something, you won’t hear of any of it until it’s too late.

Instead of instating harsh rules and regulations that you (falsely) believe can’t be broken or circumvented, try building a genuine relationship with your children; educate them about the dangers that lurk online and make them feel comfortable talking to you about it.

A relationship of mutual trust between you and your child is the only real thing that you can do to protect them online.

Ryan’s Rebuttal:

Justin’s stance has two flaws in it. The first is the assumption that talking with kids about the potential dangers online is enough to ensure young children make the right choices when talking with strangers online. The second is the assumption that every kid out there is irresponsible and looking for new ways to circumvent Internet filters and visit sites that are inappropriate for kids under a certain age.

The reality is that Internet filter software and parental control software is made these days so that parents don’t have to be computer experts to use them. Secondly, and more importantly, those filters can be customized to be very lenient, even in many cases allowing all traffic through, but flagging parents when certain activity takes place, like inappropriate words during IM chats, new and unknown incoming email addresses, or IM contact activity.

internet-secure

Surveillance and filtering doesn’t have to be intrusive, it does need to be in place to ensure parents have their eyes open — and are not turning a blind eye — to what their children are doing on the Internet.

There is no argument here that talking with your child about the dangers that are present on the Internet — dangers that have most certainly grown since the growth of social networks and online gaming — is the single most important thing a parent can do with their child. However, just flipping the switch and opening the floodgates without appropriately monitoring who is communicating with your children is irresponsible as a parent.

Your Turn

So what’s your take? Is talking with your child enough? Is monitoring necessary? Share your thoughts and cast your vote as to who you felt made the best argument and won this particular debate.

Image Credits: Boy in bedroom using laptop Via Shutterstock, Girls on Smartphones via Shutterstock, Students using lab via Shutterstock, Neftali / Shutterstock.com, Online Security via Shutterstock, Young People With Tablets via Shutterstock, Talking to Father via Shutterstock, Security Internet via Shutterstock

  1. Cole
    September 11, 2016 at 3:00 am

    I am a 15 year old and I currently experience being monitored by my parents. They recently purchased a device called the Disney circle that monitors everything you do on your device. It restricts inappropriate content and it monitors what you do on your phone. It even cuts internet from your phone at a certain time of day. I totally disagree with monitoring your children's devices and this is why. They will never be able to learn from their mistakes in the future and will never be able to deal with the real world. You may think I am bias, but listen to my reasons. I totally think that there should be some internet restrictions so that your child or teen will not be able to watch inappropriate videos on the internet, but stalking everything they do on the internet is a little far. If your mom (when you were younger and without tech) came into your room every night and took your diary to read to herself in her own room to make sure you weren't doing anything bad, how would you feel. Now would everything you did as a child be appropriate. No, but that shapes who you are in society today. People learn from their mistakes, and if they can't make the mistake in the first place, then how can they learn. When you send your children off to college, you aren't going to be there to monitor what they do. They might go get drunk, do drugs, and sleep with random people, and they won't know to say no, because they don't know what these things can do to their lives. Now let me ask you a question. Do you and your kids (mainly teens) get in fights a lot. If you haven't figured it out yet, they are pissed off, not that they can't do anything bad, but because of the fact that you have taken over their life, and teenagers want to become more independent for a reason, they are getting ready to go into adulthood. Now elementary kids are an exception because, they don't yet know about crazy hackers, molesters, criminals and should be monitored more thoroughly. Plus if you have a teen who you are currently monitoring, there is a pretty good chance that they have figured a way around your program. Plus, its not like when they are somewhere other than home, they aren doing bad things. Usually stricter parents have more rebellious kids, unless they are homeschooled or something where they are not exposed to the outside world as much. Parents can't monitor their kid 24/7 and when they aren't being monitored, they will be doing exactly the opposite of what you tell them to do if not worse.

  2. derp
    April 8, 2016 at 5:33 am

    I feel that they should not, they have no right to, and it feels morally wrong.

    However, I feel that if the parents think their child is getting on the weong path due to something on the internet, then they should check it.

    Think about it this way, how would you feel if a little camera was following you 24/7. You would feel like you had no privaxy whatsoever. That's how the kids feel. If I was 15 or so, I would actually break my own device in two then burn the remains if I heard they were putting up parental software.

    Kids aren't stupid little idiots. They know what's going on in the world, and the best way to confront theese topics is to educate them about it, so when some perv DOES send them online garbage, they can simply:

    Block user
    Report To Moderator
    Consult Mom

    Bada-Boom. Problem soollved.

  3. FloatingOpinion
    February 19, 2016 at 4:31 am

    Talk to your child instead of stalking them.

  4. Caleb
    February 9, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    In my opinion, parents should spy on kids if they have evidence that they may be doing something wrong. If not, it's an invasion of privacy.

  5. Daisy Finn
    May 28, 2015 at 7:22 am

    it all depends on whether you want to actually spy or you want tell them about it. You can spy and become a paranoid parent, view every message, call and so on or you can use filtering and masking features that send you alerts each time your kid is being sent a message with dirty words or worse menace. I know that not all parental controls do so, but I know that pumpic.com has such feature for sure because my sister uses this app. I would never spy on my kids, but I will tell them that there are online dangers like cyberbullying and sexting. Did you hear about Cora Dellile, the girl committed suicide because she was bullied online, and she is not the only one, its epidemic! we have to protect them online the same ways we do offline, it is just a common sense.

    • dknsgl
      April 8, 2016 at 5:08 pm

      Yes, there are those dangers, but usually by the time the parents get the alert the damage is done and there's nothing we can do about it.

  6. Daisy Finn
    May 28, 2015 at 7:05 am

    yes

  7. Daisy Finn
    May 28, 2015 at 7:04 am

    I think there is a big difference between spying and just controlling and securing. You shouldn't become a paranoid parent and view every text message your child receives. Instead, you can use filtering and masking features that allows you to get alerts each time your child receives a message that contain dirty words or worse menace, maybe not all of parental controls have them, I know for sure that this one has http://pumpic.com/ my sister uses it. You have to protect your child from such modern dangers as cyberbullying and sexting. Have you heard what happend to Cora Dellile?http://www.boredpanda.com/girl-committed-suicide-because-of-cyberbullying-are-your-kids-affected/ read it, the girl committed suicide because she was bullied online and she is not the only one, its epidemic. so yes, I am against spying on kids but I am in for protection and security, Joy is rightparents have a job to guild and discipline their own children.

  8. A kid
    May 1, 2015 at 1:56 pm

    It depends on the child. Parents should wait at least until they see a sign that a potential problem could be forming. Me personally I route everything through TOR and other proxies such as zenmate no matter what I'm doing. I have many friends who do this as well. How's your internet filtering helping when your kids are encrypting traffic and using international IP's? I do this for many reasons one of them being that I was always over restricted. If you put to many limits your kid will feel helpless and probably turn to free and simple programs such as TOR.

  9. A. Dad
    February 19, 2015 at 7:13 pm

    I know teen girls who have been exploited and degraded by teen boys from their school to "send nudes" and they have treated these girls like pieces of meat. They thought they had a boyfriend till they were done with them. Then they might threaten to post the images online if they tell or try to break it off. If you knew that was what your teen daughter, or your son for that matter, was doing in their room all the time on the phone or on the computer, do you think you should know or wait till after your child has all kinds or problems and it's a secret? Sucks to spy and I value privacy, but that's the reality of what goes on with the web and "Snap Chat".

    • Ryan Dube
      February 20, 2015 at 1:20 am

      Excellent point - I think time has proven how dangerous these services can be if parents aren't diligent.

  10. Samantha
    January 6, 2015 at 12:35 pm

    When I saw a box of condoms in my parents room, I did nothing at all. Parents should do the same.

  11. Wow
    January 29, 2014 at 5:49 am

    Wow, All I can say is wow.
    I’m confused! Since when did parenting become “Spying”?

    • Gabriel
      August 2, 2016 at 12:45 am

      I think kids shouldn't be spyed on like Ryan says, and kids will ALWAYS find a way around internet filters, especially at a school where if one person breaks the internet filter, other kids learn how to do it. You should trust kids to have common sense, not have to make sure.

    • Gabriel
      August 2, 2016 at 12:46 am

      I didn't mean to post that as a reply, sorry!

  12. Joy
    January 29, 2014 at 1:13 am

    The parents are not children's friend. Parents have a job to guild and discipline their own children.

  13. Joy
    January 29, 2014 at 1:10 am

    No wonder this world is so twist right now. Up from the government down to these blog writer. No wonder so many gun shooting.
    Go ahead have so many articles like this. And there are going to have more gun shooting in the next 10 years.

    Proverbs 13:24
    Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.

  14. Lop
    January 28, 2014 at 2:04 am

    Spying? No. Monitoring? Yes. Controls? Absolutely. Required. 100%. For all children until they are at least 16 or 17, your choice. Obviously controls set differently for different age ranges.

    Children, ALL children push their boundaries. Online more so than offline definitely. By not monitoring and controlling what is appropriate for them, you are failing them as a parent.

    Children likely may not know what is appropriate for them, since by definition they are not adults, and certainly not mature.

    Approaching 17 controls should be relaxed, and monitoring too. However, what if they are engaged in illegal activity on YOUR internet connection? It is your responsibility to know what is going being done using your internet connection as much as possible. Illegal downloads, drug dealing etc. Monitored, controlled, stopped. I would do likewise with any adult using my internet connection to be honest. When they pay for it, they can have their privacy.

    My personal view. No social networking until 13, and then only Facebook until 15. No e-mail until 15, itherwise all manner of accounts can be set up and circumvent most restrictions. Restricted user account only on shared computer until 15. No video channels allowed except YouTube safe mode until 15. No vines, no image sharing etc until 15.

    I am a computer expert and had no need of any of these things for the majority of my life. Children certainly do NOT need them, they merely want them. You are the final word in what they can do, have etc. So that should be your choice until they are at least 16.

    Total screen time should also be restricted across all mobile and non-mobile screens. The healthy upper limit is 2-3 hours per day, but this is probably unreasonable at weekends. We use 3 hours weekdays, 6 hours weekends.

  15. noel
    January 27, 2014 at 12:08 am

    As a teen with parents who do this exact thing I have experience with this. I have rown up where anything I do is avalible to my mother and anything i own can be viewed. Myy friends have benastounded that any conversation they have with me is readily avalible to my mother and that she can get mad at me for going on my facebook, because for most of them if parents are on a kids social profile the child has a right to be angry. I believe that Parents should be able to view a cellphone periodically and facebook if they ask, not every day. As teens grow older there are somethings that arent bad but that we would rather our parents not question us about . Secondly with the tight ropes I have had bound around me I do tend to stray from rules. Because as soon as I am freed I always tend to become imprisoned again, sometimes at my own fault. But the tighter you hold your children the harder they will fight. I think some people are right, it depends on the child. But all teens need some amount of supervision, while you have to understand they will find a way around your peering eyes at some point. Be mindful of the world we live in and try not to stifle us more than we already are.

  16. Anthony J
    January 24, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    it not spying when you're trying to protect your kids from danger and that's the responsibility of parents. Too many kids disappear and never found because no one know who the dangerous person that took em.
    Without the tool it make tracing who and where danger hide. With these high tech technology those that know how to take advantage of your kids to fool them into a trap of never returning back again is so real its not a joke when it does happen to your kids. you'll be the one questioning yourself Why....

    you can only do so much to protect your kids because you love your kids, until they are 18 they're free to do as they want on their own.

  17. Frank P
    January 24, 2014 at 5:28 am

    yes and no.

    It depends completely on the child themselves. filter's and blockers can be in place to stop the child from going into area's like porn, chat's and many other sites.

    Also if the parent allows the child a freedom of speech and daily "internet allowance" there shouldn't be an issue.

    I've never had internet while I grew up, but once I went online.....
    lets just say there was nothing stopping me from forums, anime and series ;)

  18. Lynne M
    January 21, 2014 at 6:15 am

    Maybe my daughter was unusual. I was best able to get responsible behavior out of her by treating her as a responsible, thoughtful individual. If she was a teenager today, I would absolutely have her read this article, and the comments; Then we'd have a discussion. I may actually do that anyway, as her oldest is 9 already.

  19. Leo O
    January 19, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    I don't think it is good to spy on the kids. Talk with them and let them know about the dangers and what they should and shouldn't do. A non-intrusive walkby from time to time can be enough to keep an eye on their activities. BTW the computers are in the living area, not in their bedrooms.
    Let them know you are around for advise and help, and also let them know that anything they do on the computer can be traced.
    Sometimes it is necessairy to limit the options, but not all of the time.
    My children have two accounts on their computer. One for when they are doing school work, and one for their free time.
    The 'school' account has some limitations. They can't play games nor can they go on the internet wherever they want. That way the diversion is limited and they can concentrate on their homework.
    The other account has no limits, but we trust on their common sense. In case of doubt we show our interrest and concern and have a talk with them.
    My son once tried to overrule the 'school' limitations and managed to do so up to a certain point. I noticed this fairly quickly and imposed the limitations again immediately. I blocked a couple more things on his computer to disable him from doing his trick again.
    He may have tried the trick again once, but now he doesn't even bother to try anymore.
    I talked with him and told him that on the freetime account he had every possibility he needed, but the school account had the limitations for some reason.
    Once done with their schoolwork they are free as a bird, but untill then, their wings are clipped. Both of them understand and respect the rule.
    There are plenty of tools around to break out of the boundaries, but a simple talk with respect from both sides can do miracles.
    Of course I have the benefit of being the system administrator on the office network and PC's, so I have a bit more knowledge then my children... for the moment. ;-)
    As long as I am the sysadmin in the home network and domain, I can impose whatever limitation I find necessary at that moment. But I allways tell the kids of the limitations and the reason why. If they need access to something that has been blocked to be able to do their homework, they can come to me to talk about it. Depending on the argumentation, I can grant them access one or another way which could be temporary access. After all, they should be able to make their assignments.

  20. tc
    January 13, 2014 at 10:02 pm

    Spying on kids.

    My dad back in the days liked to snoop into our personal stuff, letters or anything we did not want him to find he did. So what did we do? we had a closet in the bedroom, a small one with no light.

    He was out and we took a hacksaw and cut a hole on the inside back of the drywall above the door and put in a simple hinge.

    Having a good relation with your kid and trust is important, Setting up limits, keeping them safe... But you have to be careful of crossing the limit that they no longer tell and now hide things from you.

  21. tc
    January 13, 2014 at 9:48 pm

    If you are going to watch, even if it's a cursory glance.. instead of logging onto the computer, use the homes router/firewall.

    There are a lot of good routers that you can set up to track house traffic by computer.

    This removes the incognito ability and you can just get a set of websites to look over.
    The benefit is you can discuss what they are doing or set up a home blacklist.

    it also allows you to set off hours on your kids surfing/online playing.

  22. Javier
    January 6, 2014 at 8:23 pm

    We shouldn't need to spy on them. We should have them growing on the knowing that they can talk about A NY THING with us. And we of course, should be able to be open minded enough to gain their trust.

  23. Daniel
    January 4, 2014 at 12:04 am

    Are you out of your minds? Today’s parents are overworked and just don’t have the time to monitor their children’s actions. Conversations about the dangers of living in today fast spinning world are a paramount. We all know that childhood is all about testing the limits, but responsible parenting is still the only way to raise responsible children. Spying on them will only make them distrustful and deceitful. Remember they are not carrying a whole lot of insight and that is what parents are there for.

  24. Tom W
    January 3, 2014 at 11:46 pm

    I don't think that spying will ever be as effective as Ryan claims here. I doubt it will ever be effective enough to be reliable. A much more effective solution is to talk to your children. Even from a very young age I understood that people on the internet could be deceptive, and that there was a lot of information that I shouldn't share.

    As well as education, I think that several other steps can be taken.
    Restrict their home computer usage to a single machine that is placed in a kitchen or living room, not their bedroom. This means that they can ask for help / advice if they're unsure of anything they come across, as well as making them think before doing something online (if I don't want my parents seeing this, I shouldn't be doing it).
    Similarly, giving them a dumb phone rather than a smart phone can help.

    This will hopefully increase awareness and keep children safe even when using computers away from their parents. It may seem like a stretch, but me and my siblings all got through our childhood and teenage years knowing of (and avoiding) all of the potential dangers of the internet.

  25. Cutler C
    January 3, 2014 at 1:32 am

    I believe you should spy on them, and filter out sites that you don't think they should go on. Once they reach an age where they must get past them, they will work hard to do it. This will build their tech skills. Even if you fail to keep their innocence, you will improve skills that will only become more important!

  26. rich
    January 2, 2014 at 4:40 am

    There is one first principle here: the law imposes upon you very specific obligations concerning your obligation to provide for the welfare of your children. Where you live determines how a child is defined, how welfare is defined, what obligations apply and which don't.

    But it still boils down to: you must look after yours kids and may have to prove in court that you are doing (or have done) so.

    Kids and theories of parenting methodologies vary so much there's so point in detailing them here. The question you must answer is: given all the variables, are you doing the best you can at this time to do the best thing for your child?

    Lots of luck deciding. But if you have seriously looked for and studied the answers, you're like pretty close to the right ones.

  27. laura
    January 1, 2014 at 11:03 pm

    i believe to err on the side of caution is likely the smarter choice, thereby supporting "spying" on our children. i'm saying this as 1) a parent of a 16 yr old girl and 2) a grown up child of parents who "spied" on myself and my siblings some 20+ yrs ago. albeit not as sophisticated as the "spyware" now, my parents recorded our phone conversations to see who we were speaking with and what about. strangely, after learning these things, my father never said a word to us, nor did he or my mother pursue any follow up action. i was told many years later my father deeply regretted taping our phone calls. i don't think he was really prepared to hear what we were talking about with our friends or boy/girlfriends. the quote, "be careful what you ask for because you just might get it", keeps popping into my head. so, as i am under the opinion of "spying" on children is okay, i think it should be done "lightly". to err on the side of caution and have my child grow up to be an adult is far more important than to "wish i would have" and pick out pictures of her to show at her funeral. it happens people, so please protect your children!

  28. David Ream
    January 1, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Thank you for 2 very intelligent reviews of these critical issues. I'm a grandparent and not currently involved in raising children, but I am sure that many parents will be helped by this discussion.

  29. Steve Rathbun
    January 1, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    I have two grown sons,both carreer Navy officers. Carole and I traised our boys to always tell the truth,be honest with us and others. We were lucky in that drugs were never a problem.,or alcohol either.And there were no computers or net then either.
    I grew up on my grandfathers farm.He was an Old World German from Bavaria,and instilled in me from an early age you dont lie,cheat,or steal,and the only thing a man has at birth is his honour,and he better have it when he dies. These things we taught Shannon and Thom,and I'm very proudto say they carry them yet.
    Now,Shannon is a Lt.Com.,Thom is a Lt. with sterling military careers-both will retire at full grade in afew years.
    If a parent is open and honest with the chiold,they'll never have to worry about the child going astray. First rule;never promise what you cant deliver! Dont tell the child we'll go to Disneyland,then renig. Dont tell the child to do something you yourself does.ie,dont smoke cigarettes as you light up,donmt say alcohol is bad with a beer in your hand. Always tell the child if you want to do something,do it in front of you. If the child wants to experiment with cigarettes or alcohol,be sure you explain the pitfalls of this,then offer the child a beer or cigarette,and talk about what the child is feeling as he/she does it.
    Sex can be a trap. Be sure the child is aware of the consequences. Never make it seem "dirty"or disgraceful. Explain that with sex comes great responsibility. Sex is a very important aspect of a loving relationship and should be kept in that confine.
    Drugs kill. A time worn statement,but true today as ever before. If you find weed in your childs room,dont condemn the child or rant and rave. Talk to the child about it. Use internet resources to show the pros and cons.
    Never belittle the child.Never make the child feel put down.
    But most of all,always let the child know you belive in him/her.You have faith in the choilds judgement,and will accept the childs word as truth unless the child gives reason to believe otherwise.
    I personally believe spying on your child demonstrates a lack of trust in the child.And the child will pick up on this. Spying encourages the child to do the wrong things.The child will feel the parent doesnt trust him/her.
    Yea.I am a behavioural and forensic psychologist,and tend to get preachy,but I do try to do the best I can to help.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 2:43 pm

      You sound like a wise person to me! Thank you..

  30. dragonmouth
    January 1, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    The entire article/debate is based on the fallacy that kids are being spied upon by their parents. As Guy said, it is not spying, it is monitoring. As Joel said, until the child is 18 (s)he is the total responsibility of the parents. As long as my butt is in a legal sling for anything my child(ren) do, I WILL monitor, spy, invade privacy, etc. them.

    It's apparent that Justin is not a parent. He is arguing from the child's point of view.

    Today's ZITS comic strip is rather appropriate to this discussion.
    Jeremy: (speaking to his mother) I read that teenagers can get legally separated from their parents. If I was emancipated, I wouldn't have to put up with your oppression.
    Mother: That's right. And I wouldn't have to give you gas money or feed you.
    Jeremy: (speaking to his friend, Hector) Oppression has its upsides.

    Teenagers! Tired of being harrassed by your parents?
    ACT NOW!
    Move out, Get a job, Pay your own bills,
    While you still know everything.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 2:37 pm

      Spying- monitoring... Have you heard of a euphonium?

  31. Ronny
    January 1, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    Parents should always educate children about internet safety but there should also be some monitoring of what children are doing, that can ease off as they become older and wiser. It is not 'spying' to monitor your child's activities in the same way you would keep an eye on what television they are watching, where they are going when they are not with you, and so on.

  32. Spriggled
    January 1, 2014 at 12:25 pm

    When we are taught something at school we are tested to see how well we understood the lesson. When my children were young we lived 3 doors away from our corner shop abd I spoke to them if the dangers of opening the door to strangers whilst I popped down there, I wanted to know they understood and so after about two mo urea asked a passing neighbour to knock on door. Fortunately they passed this test and were indeed praised and told well done. It could be said I spied on them but I disagree, they realised their personal safety was paramount. As they got older I realised drugs were becomming an issue and I had to talk to them about dangers, I accepted they would dabble but asked for honesty explaining my fears and the dangers of different types, stated clearly that I wanted to know what they had taken and that would not judge them but be equipped with knowledge for medical workers should there be a mishap. I used to worry endlessly and though not exactly any drugs are used by not forbidding them to I managed to make the 'not' forbidden fruit less attractive. Nothing other than weed has been taken on a regular basis abd although this is not ideal I am happy that I never created an undercover cokehead. Parents where indifference and encourage were shown now lament their child's outcome whilst strict discipline made the drugs much more attractive. I think spying is a harsh word but checking that our children take in what we teach them is our responsibility. My kids did try it on but if they said they were staying at a mates they were aware that I may well check up on them by confirming with the other parents it was ok. I managed to thwart a night in the forest with rifle guns when they were about 11, so even that one occassion in my opinion made it worthwhile. Some older lad had thought it good idea and fun to provide arsenal. So definitely parents it is your duty to keep as safe as possible those you live abs to carry out checks from time to time that your words and guidance are heeded.

  33. Anonymous Salmon
    January 1, 2014 at 5:39 am

    As a 15 year old, I can safely say any attempt to limit a teenagers access to the internet is a complete waste of time. While my parents never monitored me when I was younger, I had some friends who did, and it made no difference. We all still went on "bad" websites, and it hasn't made us "bad" people. Sure, we saw some naked and or dead people every once and a while, but we'd see that eventually anyway. I used to disable parental controls for my friends when we were like 12. The parents generally didn't have enough tech knowledge to even realize the software wasn't running.

    Anyway, for children under around 12 or so, I think a little monitoring is fine. You should keep them safe. Trying to stop teenagers from looking at porn or something is useless though. It is all around us. People frequently watch it on the bus to and from school even, haha.

    But yeah, as the article mentions, parental control software and firewalls are a joke. I was literally 11 years old when I figured out that using a proxy server at school allowed me to access everything, and going into safe mode on a Windows computer disabled the monitoring software. Nowadays I am even sneakier and make a bit of money. I have a mobile hotspot with unlimited 4G data that I pay around $40 /month for, and everyone pays me to connect to it on the bus or when they need to do something questionable at school. It is wonderful. A few of the teachers know I have it and what I use it for but I am a good student and they have no reason to call me on it.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 2:22 pm

      I was saw titties violence and horror when I was 5 back when I lived in Kazahkstan. I can assure you that I did not grow up to be some twisted person.. In fact, I went to the American boychoir school with a full scholarship all 4 years.

  34. John O'Shaughnessy
    January 1, 2014 at 4:31 am

    I think parent's should be aware of what their children are doing, for as long as they are minors and under their care. Parents need to look out for the welfare of their children. We live in a world full of inherent danger. However, a bit of discretion, tactfulness and sensitivity is required; after all they are people.
    But yes, I think you as a parent have the right to know (any time)..... and of course this power, like any other, can be abused too. What more is there to say?

  35. shailendra kumar
    January 1, 2014 at 4:16 am

    trusting a child or a teenager amounts to putting a responsibility on them which they are not fully equipped to discharge. to elucidate further , we make the child or teenager responsible for another child or a teenager , that's himself/herself. adults and the society would then be shirking the responsibility of caring for those who haven't matured enough to handle themselves. precautionary measures are better then curative actions post a mishap. Come to think of it even adults need spying upon and supervision . for if all adults behaved responsibility , there won't be any police , intelligence and such systems in the society . a certain amount of compromise of privacy is inescapable.

  36. Joe Botha
    January 1, 2014 at 2:00 am

    Rather than an ethical/moral argument, consider a practical point: As the NSA information scandal has shown us, anybody can be spied upon.
    The prima facie motivation for reading, for example, someone's Drafts folder is hardly relevant if that someone turns out to be you!
    Your reaction may be something like "I'm not a terrorist!" or "I didn't do anything wrong!"
    This reaction is justifiable if you are a responsible adult. Teens, on the other hand, are at the mercy of their brain chemistry - they are effectively hardwired to act irresponsibly.
    Therefore, while the emotional experience of being spied upon is subjectively the same, the reaction thereto is not justifiable until the point where the teen can prove that he or she is responsible in cyberspace.
    As for the trust relationship between parent and teen, it will have to incorporate the parent's spying into the talks about online safety. You cannot expect to have a trust relationship with a child you are spying on behind their back.
    Will they like it? Hell, no! But if you are not upfront about your spying, you are doing a moral wrong. That is why you cannot use a recording in court (as an adult!) unless the participants were made aware that they were being recorded.
    The act of observing online behaviour wil necessarily change that behaviour, and in so doing, render that behaviour the object of scrutiny for the observed as well as the observer. This is a good thing, because it cultivates an ongoing awareness in the digital realm. Avoidance and circumvention of spy measures can be expected, perhaps even welcomed.
    In today's online world, privacy measures and the avoidance of prying eyes is a life skill.

  37. Sherry Warren
    January 1, 2014 at 1:58 am

    It is interesting that "spying" was the word used to describe a parent's natural instinct, concern and responsibility to teach and protect their children from danger. The very choice of the word "spying" conjures up images and visceral emotional responses for almost everyone, especially in today' world of high-tech espionage and pinpointing our geographical location by our cell phones. I've created questionnaires in my past business experiences and I know that the way you ask your question--the words you use--make all the difference. The poll question: "Should parents spy on their kids?" elicits entirely different emotional responses than if you ask the question: "Should parents monitor their teens use of social media sites?" In fact, it would be interesting if a study could be formulated where the same people answered these two questions randomly interspersed within a larger set of questions. My hypothesis--that respondents who answer "no" to the first question, would answer "yes" to the second. BTW, I say yes. Parents should monitor their children's use of social media sites, and if you want to call me a "spy," my shoulders are big enough to carry it.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 2:16 pm

      Concern and responsibility and spying are not the same things.. Let's not begin to twist things around.

    • G. Fuszner
      October 2, 2016 at 5:00 pm

      I completely agree. Monitoring is necessary. I do think that perhaps the term "spying" speaks more to an overzealous approach to monitoring or an attempt to control any and all access to internet usage. I do feel that too much is better than none at all, but that attempts to be overly controlling will result in a breakdown of trust between parent and child.

  38. ken
    December 31, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    I have three grown, well adjusted mature children. The rules were simple. If they ate at our table, their mother and I were entitled to know about all their activities....no exceptions. Children are their parent's responsibility and must be closely supervised until their judgement has developed (40 yrs maybe? Lol).
    Respect is an important two way street and the kids must be treated with respect and consideration, but someone must set the guidelines.

  39. RedDawg
    December 31, 2013 at 10:27 pm

    Do you like the NSA spying? Neither do your children! Love them TRUST them. If your family life was good, their approach to life will be good! If you wonder, I have been through 3 generations. No matter the doubt at the time ALL TURNED OUT PRETTY WELL... LOL HAPPY NEW NEW YEAR ALL! (PS there seems to be more than one of me)

    • dragonmouth
      January 1, 2014 at 2:54 pm

      Trust is earned, not given.

      Show me I can trust you and I will.

  40. RedDawg
    December 31, 2013 at 10:20 pm

    IF YOU TAUGHT YOUR CHILDREN PROPERLY WHY WORRY??? Sorry about the screaming, but I taught my children my values. If they go wrong I DID SOMETHING WRONG, NOT THEM. No I don't need to monitor them, I trust them. I don't think they will betray it.

  41. RedDawg
    December 31, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    NO!!! How do we teach our children about privacy if we SPY on them? Are we the NSA that needs to track everyone in our nation? Teach our children responsibility, respect, and an individuals right to live their own life, AND PRIVACY! I raised my children the best I knew how. I HAVE to trust that I taught them right from wrong; if not I AM WRONG not them!

    Sorry about any previous post. fat fingers when typing my name

  42. RedsDawg
    December 31, 2013 at 10:10 pm

    NO!!! How do we teach our children about privacy if we SPY on them? Are we the NSA that needs to track everyone in our nation? Teach our children responsibility, respect, and an individuals right to live their own life, AND PRIVACY! I raised my children the best I knew how. I HAVE to trust that I taught them right from wrong; if not I AM WRONG not them!

  43. Deon
    December 31, 2013 at 9:49 pm

    How many of you had parents who, when you were kids, called up your friends' parents when you visited them and asked them to relay every detail of what you did, what you said, to whom you spoke? Did they perhaps get a little brother to eavesdrop on your conversations and call back every time you might have said something that they considered inappropriate?

    Spying/guarding/monitoring/keystroke logging software has its place - but as a consequence. Portray trust first. Kids are innately good, and the vast majority don't need you abusing the technology available to you, so you can be the "helicopter parent", buzzing around everything they do.

    However, if they abuse the privileges given to them, monitoring software could be a good step to take.

    A couple of useful guidelines:
    don't let younger kids loose on the Internet in their bedrooms - no PCs in there, and keep portable devices in shared, family spaces;
    have access to their login details for social networks - just in case - but don't use them unless you are given a reason to use them;
    talk to your kids about what they are doing online - if your default setting is to block things they want to do because you are scared of them or don't understand them, then their default setting will be "mute on".

  44. Franz W
    December 31, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Spying is what happens if you don't feel yourself up to handling the competition honestly.
    Guarding is watching on behalf of someone not able to watch.
    A good guard makes you feel safe.
    A good spy doesn't, even one on your own side.
    A guard may stop you climbing secretly over your back fence, knowing your spouse might shoot you.
    A spy will just make sure to stay out of the line of fire.
    You spy on your kids to make yourself look like a good parent.
    You guard your kids because you want them to be safe.
    In case you are wondering - kids know the difference.

    • dragonmouth
      January 1, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      "A good guard makes you feel safe."
      Not really. I'm neither a rent-a-cop nor a jailer, I am a parent.

  45. avigot
    December 31, 2013 at 6:33 pm

    I never spied my daughter!

  46. Alex
    December 31, 2013 at 6:09 pm

    The case for spying on children should parallel the case for spying on adults, IMO. As children demonstrate the ability to behave maturely and follow both parental and societal rules, they should be given more freedom and more privacy. But when they display poor judgment and irresponsible behavior, their freedom and responsibility should be scaled back accordingly. As parents, obviously we don't need "warrants" to monitor our children's activities (I guess nowadays, the Government doesn't seem to need warrants, either), but if we don't exercise good judgment ourselves, we will only encourage our children to sneak around behind our backs, just as overly intrusive Government snooping drives even law-abiding citizens underground. We should teach our kids that if they prove themselves trustworthy, we will trust them, but if they don't, we won't.

  47. Shiva Yalal
    December 31, 2013 at 6:07 pm

    Of Course, in the present situation it is becoming necessary....

  48. Dee Wheat
    December 31, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    It is one of your many jobs as a parent to protect your children from harm as much as possible. A juvie cop once told me, and this was when my son, who is now 40 was a pre-teen, that you raise your kids until they hit 12 or 13, and from that point their friends raise them. He went on to say that, no matter what you do, you can't pick their friends. All you can do until they smarten up is hang on, and limit the damage as much as possible.

    You cannot control all the risk factors all the time. You can, however, control a great many of them, and you should. If you don't, you're shortchanging your children.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:58 pm

      What that probation officer told you was a cowardice thing. You and him are both making up excuses for your laziness. Trusting kids is not a simple thing. Since doing your job will reflect on how much you will be able to trust them.

    • Dee Wheat
      April 28, 2015 at 10:59 pm

      Georgiy,

      You are, with all due respect, absolutely incorrect. I was a registered nurse working in trauma center emergency rooms on the California coast, seeing every single day the consequences of people blindly trusting their children. I decided early on that I would never make a fellow nurse tell me my child was dead, as I was forced to do on more than one occasion, or tell them that their child was injured in the process of causing the death of other people whether by accident or design. You probably have no frame of reference that is remotely close to mine, because if you did you would not be nearly as self righteous as you are now.

  49. Phillip E. Banks
    December 31, 2013 at 5:31 pm

    Spying on your kids is NOT parenting; it denotes a lack of parenting skills. It means that YOU are not doing real parenting, which is talking with your kids; you have betrayed their trust and abused it. It has never been easy raising kids - just ask your parents - but unless they show you that they cannot be trusted (and again, I feel that this is a failing on your part) you should give them the benefit of the doubt. You are the adult, you are supposedly the one in control, so "nobless oblige". For you folks that think your kids need to "earn" your trust, God, I feel sorry for your kids. It is YOUR responsibility to teach them to be honest, to be open and to know the difference between right and wrong. YOUR failure is their failure, not vice-versa.

  50. Jaime Buckley
    December 31, 2013 at 5:26 pm

    First of, I won't use the term "spying". It's a horsepucky term as far as I'm concerned. Completely agree with Joel L. above.

    As a parent of 11 kids and now grandfather, I have a honor, privilege AND duty to raise my children, which includes instructing and protecting them until they are old enough to leave the home and start independent lives of their own. My object as a parent, is to help them gain the skills and habits to be productive members of society and extraordinary human beings. That means I have access to every...and I mean "every" aspect of their lives. This is not up for debate, nor is it negotiable, regardless of popular opinion or government mandate.

    These are my children, not yours.

    Do I have to 'monitor' them? Some of the time, and some more than others. 95% of what happens in my home is teaching them correct principle and they check themselves. We have build a large degree of trust and confidence, because they know what I'm doing and why. However, I also have a solid belief in agency. I "ask" my children to do things, explaining why--NOT "because I said so." There are natural consequences to all actions. If that trust and my expectations are broken by that child's actions, then consequences follow.

    Our society is rotting with a misconception that children have "rights" to certain freedoms before they reach adulthood. Many parents lack the skills to raise children in such a society--while media and the social decline of morals and attacks on the family structure make it near impossible to be what I would call a "proper parent."

    The basis, IMO, is on the parenting styles of families. Is there a reason a parent feels they should monitor their child closely? Only that parent knows or can make that decision, based on the character of that child.

    There is no question on whether or not a parent has a right to closely watch their child.

    • Ryan Dube
      December 31, 2013 at 5:55 pm

      Wow - I couldn't have said it any better myself, Jaime.

    • Sherry Warren
      January 1, 2014 at 2:06 am

      Well said. Thank you. I wish that I had grown up in a home that was based on the principles you spoke of. Perhaps, I would have made better choices.

    • dragonmouth
      January 1, 2014 at 3:07 pm

      Right on, Jamie!

      No discussion possible. No discussion necessary.

  51. randyman5775
    December 31, 2013 at 5:08 pm

    There are a couple of real fallacies to Justin's argument.

    1- There is no "right to privacy". Privacy is something that only people that live in big cities have an expectation of. If you grew up in a small town, then you're very aware that everyone knows everyone else's business. As we get a larger population, its not really that we gain privacy, we gain anonymity.

    2- Kids need to learn right up front that what they do on the web isn't private. It's the largest public forum in the world. E-mails are available to whoever has the savvy to acquire them. Images are copied and photoshopped, then reposted, sometimes to the detriment of the person whose head or face ends up on the final product. Potential employers check out an applicant's web presence to see if they're a good fit for their company.

    I used to proudly say that I spied on my kids, but is it spying? I told them that I was going to be checking up on them -- just like I did in the real world. One of the primary responsibilities of parenting is to prepare your kids to go out into the world on their own. Watching over them to protect them only goes so far, then they need to be taught to protect themselves. Justin is right that you can't control them on or offline. They will make their own choices. It's being awre of the choices that they've made that helps in the parenting process, so they can be taught a better way through the dangers of life in both the real and virtual realities of this life.

  52. Joel L
    December 31, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    There is no way to spy on your own kids. Until the age of 18, they have no legal autonomy and they are the responsibility of the parent. Do children actually have a right to privacy or is it just a social stigma that children outright deserve it? No, children ought to EARN the privilege of privacy by demonstrating maturity.

    Anyone who equates spying on one's own kids to the spying done by the NSA is out of their mind.

    • Joel L
      December 31, 2013 at 4:30 pm

      Meant to say "social stigma to deny," not that deserving privacy is the stigma itself.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:49 pm

      How bout being a responsible adult and doing your job and by trusting them instead of taking the short cut by wrapping them in a bubble.. I have seen titties horror violent films since I was 5. I am was born and raised in Russia until I was 7, the culture is slightly different but to make the story short I came out to be a pretty decnt human being. The key is to have meaningful conversations with your children. Too many narcissistic Americans not giving attention to their children.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:51 pm

      Not giving a damn about their kids*

  53. Joe
    December 31, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    Why spy on kids? Just ask NSA.
    There is premium package which you can order, from them. When your kid will do some nasty stuff on internet they will send you SMS on your phone (you don't need to provide the phone number, because they already know it).

  54. Amber
    December 31, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    If you think about it, kids gave parenting a bad vibe, specially when they tell you you're spying on their personal life. Not spying just watching after you and unless your roof over your head has your name on it, I'll parent all activities you do. Don't like it, the door is wide open when you've got as much experience as I do on life to take care of yourself and make right decisions.

  55. Mike G.
    December 31, 2013 at 1:14 pm

    I'm confused! Since when did parenting become "Spying"?

    "Spying" is what people do to a spouse.

    • Joy
      January 29, 2014 at 1:14 am

      very agree. with you. Sing when did parenting become "Spying"

  56. Art B
    December 31, 2013 at 1:10 pm

    I think that you should have a access level based on age, one access for all that is defined a certain age by law is allowed to access the web. We do have all adult content websites ask for age verification, we have spying software, etc... Why bother with that. If your kids want to bypass that, they will. They do in school or home any way, no matter how you protect them from the www. Specially now that they can just take a walk to McD with free wifi and access it plus have something to eat. Right? you can't stop your kid from accessing the wrong content. However limiting access by identification and verifying age at the source would stop 75% of wrongful access. Think of it this way, you can't go to a store and buy a cheap beer without getting carded, clubs will card you, events will card you, even at a damn dinner you will get carded. Sure I get it there is exceptions where under aged drinking happens and you get access to alcohol or club or porn or whatever some how or someone just doesn't follow but that's the 25% or less / more. However it be harder to get that access if everyone had a law to follow. Maybe not a law, it's a strong word, but regulations on who can access the net in general at what age. 18 would be a nice. It's an age where you can take your close off and no one complains, well some will do because you just shouldn't do that, without very good reason. I agree with person above, kids hide, trick, and do all kinda of things if something is not allowed, but they also give up quicker if right away it looks impossible to do. I see someone coming out with a world wide internet access verification gadget that would card you before you can access the internet. Why not, after all, you get a license to drive but it also stands for a lot other things such as giving you ID that represent you, your age, your access to certain world items you normally before shouldn't have with a good reason. It's a big world, it's nice but it's also evil. My kids won't get access period until they are mature enough to understand what Internet is. It can make you famous but it can ruin you too. It can strengthen you but it can also break you. If this doesn't make sense, ask yourself this, why wont you put your 3 year old son or 13 year old girl behind the wheel and let them drive? If you did they wouldn't get far because their mind isn't mature enough to think through more then one, two or three (tops) thoughts at a time. I'm not saying kids are dumb or anything but my 8 year old would be so excited each time she drove, she would forget to stop at the first stop. That doesn't make her dumb it's just how mature her thought process is. Same with the internet. Kids will share something that will hurt them, be that a naked photo, but that's because they didn't think well enough about how bad it can get. Words hurt too, even as adults we say the wrong stuff which is another thing of its own if I call you this or that and you kill yourself, then you've got issues. Kids on Facebook will do this to other kids with one though at the time. It's either funny or I'm just angry or I hate that kid. However they won't stop until something happens, when it does happen that's when they think otherwise. Little to late many times.

    At a certain age you are expected to be responsible for your actions. Expected that as an adult of this age, you thought of all the options. Thought about the wrongs and rights of your action. Its why your not old enough to be old enough, until your old enough.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:41 pm

      Why though?? I have watched titties violent horror movies since I was 4-5 years old and i came out just fine... Trying to stick our kids in a bubble is not going to help since the adult isn't doing his or her job by having meaningful talks with their kids instead of taking the easy way out n sticking them
      In a bubble wrap.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:42 pm

      Right on****

  57. Guy M
    December 31, 2013 at 12:35 pm

    I really hope we continue to do these kinds of debates.

    As my dear high school biology teacher used to say, "Where there are two extremes, the truth is somewhere in the middle." This definitely applies here.

    Parents should also consider that every child is different, even amongst their own children. If they were all the same, we would have had a manual done by now on how to parent them and the world would sing in harmony.

    As for spying...well, perhaps monitoring is a better word. Doing any of this completely covertly really undermines any trust between you and your child. I'm not concerned if a child has a right to privacy, exactly, because I don't believe that is an absolute and unalienable right for children. I base that on the fact that rights are contingent upon the person maintaining responsibilities that the right requires. A child's ability to respect the right of privacy fluctuates throughout their adolescence. A parent needs to respond accordingly.

    Cultivating a relationship of honesty and communication is definitely key, but a very tricky thing to actually accomplish. Yet, never stop trying and learning different ways to foster the communication. We've been really lucky with our kids that way, but it can change dramatically from day to day and for months on end. Such is life.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      The truth is right down the middle though.. If you have to 'spy' on your kids, then that already means that you do not trust your own kids judgment and it ultimately means that YOU as an adult have not done your job properly in raising your own kids.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:36 pm

      The truth is not***

    • Guy
      April 28, 2015 at 8:10 pm

      Your misjudgment of what I wrote, and what kids will do regardless of their raising, really underlines my point.

  58. Stephan H
    December 31, 2013 at 11:48 am

    My short answer: No, you shouldn't spy on your kids.

    The long answer: If you have the need to spy on your kids you have already lost. The way to communicate with anybody around you is in a trustful, meaningful way, appreciating what they're doing and assuring them that they're important, no matter what they do. You need to encourage honesty and spying on somebody does the exact opposite of that.

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:28 pm

      Well said, couldn't agree any more with you!

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:30 pm

      If you have to 'spy' on your kids, then that means that you do not trust your own kids judgment and that means that you as an adult have not done your job properly.

  59. Jo-anne P
    December 31, 2013 at 7:38 am

    Kids are naturally curious and trusting and there are predators out there that prey on these things. I think the level of security and scrutiny we give them should be based on their ages. What works for an 11 year old does not necessarily apply to a 13 year old. Kids hide things from parents its like a code lol. I did it my kids did it but I also know from their mood change and signs they give if there is something more going on. I believe there should be levels of filtering but each child is different

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:34 pm

      If you have to 'spy' on your kids, then that already means that you do not trust your own kids judgment and it ultimately means that YOU as an adult have not done your job properly in raising your own kids. (Not you in per say)

  60. Angela A
    December 31, 2013 at 6:53 am

    Interesting debate, but I think you were talking cross-purposes and should have broken "kids" down to under-12s versus teenagers in order to clarify. I can agree that under-12s should be prevented from accidentally stumbling across things, or chatting to the wrong person. This is when you teach them and want them to be perfectly safe when you're not looking.

    For the teenagers though, you need to trust them and get them to trust you as an advisor. Filtering and spying sends all the wrong messages to them, and in the end doesn't teach them to be sensible, rather it teaches them to circumvent the spying. Obviously, you need to have a solid mentoring phase between the two to ensure they are going to be sensible.

    I don't mind a couple of monitoring tools, things like Life360 to alert parents if the child goes out of a given area. Things that make it clear that your child is in trouble could be life-saving.

    On the other hand, all teenagers are different, so what works for one might not work for another.

  61. Michael Dennis
    December 31, 2013 at 4:48 am

    The depth of what I think on this subject is worthy of at least as much prose as Justin and Ryan submitted. As with most things it boils down to a middle road approach, sort of like a "trust but verify" approach.

    Justin you are correct a total "lock-down" can generate undesired results, being wide open and ignoring is even more dangerous. Ongoing education of the child (appropriate to their age) is absolutely needed. But so is the parent knowing what their child is doing and with whom.

    Ryan is dead on that teenagers can be easily, quickly mislead into doing things online and off that they absolutely should not do. There are many cunning predator adults just waiting for the opportunity to do so. As a parent of two great young men and the step-dad of one teenage girl I have always tried to walk that line and balance their need to be empowered and my need to keep them safe!

    The great thing about this debate is that you are getting others to think about it, that awareness is a great thing!

    • Georgiy
      April 28, 2015 at 1:33 pm

      If you have to 'spy' on your kids, then that means that you do not trust your own kids judgment and that means that you as an adult have not done your job properly.

  62. Mary S
    December 31, 2013 at 4:00 am

    I personally feel that it depends on a child's competence for the level of parental spying need.
    For example, when I was a kid, I knew better then to ever send naked photos of myself, or ever tell the passwords of my accounts to a random guy. In fact, I was pretty smart when I was a kid.
    However, if a child does not know better, It's best to spy on them, especially if said child is a single digit. Spying can also be ineffective as some clever children find other ways to do avoid spying, have a social media account if not allowed, or simply use incognito mode on their browsers.

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