Parents are doing more on Facebook than checking up on their friends' babies and divorces ... they're cracking into their kids' accounts and reading their emails. Security site BullGuard surveyed parents of kids 10 to 17 years old and found some pretty shady stuff. Parents admitted to all kinds of snooping on their kids, including guessing their passwords and accessing their social media and email accounts and reading messages; reading their text messages; checking their Internet history. In fact, 61 percent of parents surveyed confessed to spying on their kids -- and my question is, Why???
I don't mean why would you spy. I know why you would spy on your kids. You're worried about them. You want to know if they're being bullied or in contact with older adults who shouldn't be contacting them, or sending sexy selfies or watching porn, or any of the myriad things kids can get up to these days online.
My question is why are you spying?? Why not just TELL your kids you will be regularly checking their accounts and demand their passwords? Sure, kids can always have a secret email account somewhere, but most kids are going to use the same social media accounts and are likely not savvy enough to have secret email accounts. Even if they do, you can still watch the main ones.
I don't think this is bad. Since when should kids have online privacy? It's one thing not to read their diary -- a pedophile can't get them through a diary. He or she CAN online. There's really nothing that your 10- or 12-year-old should be saying online that you shouldn't be reading.
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And I'm not saying that kids should automatically be punished for online shenanigans you'd rather they not partake in, such as looking at porn or communicating with adults in an inappropriate way. Kids are curious and often don't really have a clue how dangerous the world can be. A young girl who is posting a pic of herself in a bikini online, asking the world if she is "pretty," genuinely just wants to play dress-up. She has no idea what she could be opening herself up to.
But YOU do. You know, and it's your job to sit down with your tween and let them know what is acceptable and what is not, and take away Internet privileges if these aren't being respected.
But spying? If your kid finds out, he or she is going to feel betrayed. Besides, how can you speak with your child about stuff you may need to if you can't confess how you know what is going on? One third of parents said they were "wracked with guilt" about their spying. Well, if you'd laid down the law, you wouldn't be guilt-ridden, because your kid would know the rules.
By the time a responsible tween reaches teenhood, you can renegotiate privacy and online boundaries, but I would still hold onto passwords just in case. Call me overzealous, but letting a 10-year-old loose on the Internet is like bringing a 10-year-old to a keg party and dropping her off.
Do you spy on your kids?
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