Windows 10 Will Help You Spy On Your Kids, If You're Into Never Letting Them Have Privacy

The best way to know what's going with your child is to talk to them about it. But if your family owns a computer with Windows 10, you may have a cheat code to get you in on the details of your child's life, in the form of a Windows 10 weekly email report of all her online activities.


The new operating system from Windows takes parental diary-snooping and notebook-reading one step farther, by sending an email to parents once a week with information about kids' computer use. The report includes information about how much time a child was online and what apps they were using, and it also includes a comprehensive listing of each website that was accessed and what search terms they were looking for. Clearing the browser history or using anonymous browsing doesn't keep information from being sent, either.

Parents who are worried about getting these reports can turn the feature off, but this is a default feature of the operating system. So unless you actively turn it off, you're going to receive this data. You can probably see how this could obviously be a huge safety concern in some situations: Imagine what might happen to a child from a strict religious family who's been Googling to learn more about possibly being gay after his parents get the scoop. Or the danger to a child who's been reading sites about how to deal with an abusive parent.

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Many kids have alternative ways to access information: school and library computers, a friend's house (hopefully one where Windows 10 hasn't been installed). But not all do, and even worse, not all kids will be aware that their home computer isn't safe to use until it's too late.

The possibilities for how this feature could be misused are as endless as they are ugly, but it also doesn't take one of these extreme cases to make this kind of snooping wrong. There's nothing you can learn from spying on your child's computer activities that you can't also learn by having a relationship where you talk to one another -- and there's a lot you can lose by going behind his back to find out what you want to know. There's no easy way to turn back the clock once a child knows his parent doesn't trust him, or once he knows that one of his sources for safe information and a private space to himself has been cut off. It's just not worth trading that relationship for an easy in on whether your kid is Snapchatting too much.


Image © 145/Ross Durant Photography/Ocean/Corbis

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