The days of paranoid parents locking away the laptops so their kids can't get on the Internet finally seem to be coming to an end. A new era has dawned! Welcome to the age of stalking your kids on the Internet! It's official ... The New York Times even says so.
Oh come on, it's not perfect. But let me be the first one to congratulate these big brother parents. They've finally accepted reality. And they're trying to come to grips with it.
I'm the first one to admit that letting our kids have access to the Internet is a scary thing. As I told The New York Times just a few months ago, I thought I was doing everything right and my then 6-year-old still stumbled upon something rather naughty on YouTube. So when the Times introduced its whole "big brother" parent theory on Monday, I got it.
They stalking parents aren't moms and dads of little kids who might accidentally see something bad. They're parents of teenagers, their kids might actively seek something bad on the Internet, but there is a much bigger fear here. Teens have the potential to put something awful out there themselves.
I'm all for kids having private space online so they can let off a little steam ... so long as it is private. You don't have to be your kid's friend on Facebook if they will ensure that they lock that page up tight.
But then there's all the rest of the Internet. And none of that is private. Stalking, in the long run, is less about "tracking" your kids than it is protecting them.
Kids have to be online. They do homework there. They talk to granny there. Trying to keep them off is just plain naive ... because then they're going to be sneaking on there, which means you don't have the CHANCE to monitor them.
In a perfect world, you wouldn't have to subscribe to your kid's YouTube channel or follow them on Twitter so you can monitor whether they'll put up something that could potentially cost them a job some day. But the sad fact is, teenagers have been doing things for decades (centuries?) that would put a potential employer off. Only when we were kids, our parents were pretty safe knowing that what happens at sleepovers stayed at sleepovers.
So I'm calling this new attitude toward teen Internet use what it is: parenting in reality. It's not perfect, but it's better than nothing.
Do you monitor your teenager's public Internet identity? How?
Image via trostle/Flickr