We have all heard a lot about keeping our kids safe on their cell phones. Monitor their activities, check out what they are looking at, and keeping tabs on who they are talking to and texting with on their phones.
The question is: When does it cross the line and become a total invasion of their privacy?
I know if my parents had wanted to read every note I wrote to a friend (yes, I am of the generation before cell phones and texting where we used to pass written notes in class and write letters to distant friends), I would have been furious! If they had followed me around to see what I was up to every minute of the day, I would have gone bonkers! If they had listened in on every (or any for that matter) phone conversation I had, I would have blown a gasket for sure.
Was I doing anything wrong? No, but that doesn’t mean I wanted my parents to see or hear everything! I am sure there were things that they would have found not appropriate, but that is all part of the growing process for kids.
So... Why is it that different for our kids and their means of communication? Reading all their texts? Checking their browsing history?
In most ways, it is not.
Many have concerns that all the technology today has made it a more dangerous place for our kids. It has made it easier for them to fall victim to bullying, abuse, or worse. Perhaps there is some truth to this. However, in a lot of ways, technology had made the world safer for our kids.
I remember receiving prank phone calls that were quite upsetting. I was in seventh grade. There was no call display, no *69 to call the last number that called you – nothing! It got so bad that we had to involve the police and put a tracer on our phone.
The next time this boy called, we left the phone off the hook and a couple of hours later, the police and the phone company were able to trace the call. I’m sure this boy had no idea his call could even be traced. Kids don’t make these kinds of calls now because they would be caught in an instant due to current technology. Technology has made it harder for those who would bully or harass to remain anonymous.
Talk To Your Kids
If you are monitoring your kids phones, make sure they know it. If they know you are checking their interactions and activities, they may be less likely to get into mischief – at least on their own phones!
Some say that letting our kids know you are checking in on them may encourage them to be sneaky and just figure out a way around the snooping. But I think it is still better to be honest with your kids than sneaking around and spying on them. Imagine the trust that would be broken if they found out (and eventually, they will find out!).
Ultimately it really depends on the child, their age and maturity level, and a host of other factors. I think it is better to have conversations well before your child gets a cell phone, and continuing the conversation over time in order to give them the tools they need to help keep themselves safe. If you don’t think they can handle having a phone without constant snooping on your part, maybe they (and you) are not ready for them to have the responsibility of a cell phone.
Your kids also need to know they can always come to you with any concerns or problems. They should also know you are serious about punishment (such as taking away the phone or online access) if they do something wrong. Overall, communication is key.
Hopefully, you can find ways to ensure your children use technology responsibly and don't feel the need to spy on them. Well, not too much anyways...
For more from Anne, check out Maternity Corner.