To be honest, the monitoring vs. privacy debate is as old as parenting itself. But it somehow has been escalated in the past 10-15 years since we let go of the communal family ‘computer room’ and gave everyone their own, personal handheld devices. So how exactly do we gauge when monitoring turns into invasion of privacy? Let’s try and sort this out today, shall we?
The Age Scale
Kids need different levels or privacy at different stages. By the age of 5, they might want to shower by themselves without your help. That’s because they this is the time they start to require a degree of bodily autonomy. By age 10, they might start seeking out their ‘hiding places’, somewhere they can spend some time by themselves. And then by the time they are preteens, the privacy game truly begins. They start locking their bedroom doors.
The thing is, you can give them their designated me-time and be aware of everything they do at the same time. What you have to keep in mind is that you are the parent. Being in the know of all the things they do is your duty.
The Internet Monitoring Scale
Now let’s talk about the internet monitoring gauge. What should you worry about? What should you go easy on? No matter how rigorously or how lightly you monitor your child’s internet activity, you are going to be met with protests. Nevertheless, here are a few things you should do…
- Go through their Facebook meticulously. Look at their friend list and see if there is someone who is not supposed to be there. Read their wall posts and see what they talk about with their friends. Some parental monitoring apps will let you read their inbox, too.
- Go through their internet history. This is a sure-fire way to know of their browsing habits. However, if they are aware you’re going to be checking up on it, they might just clear up the nasty so you won’t catch it.
- Your monitoring should be silent. If you spot something inappropriate on their Facebook wall and jump right in. Observe quietly and have a conversation about the things you found were wrong.
- Go through their social media bios and make sure they are not giving too much away. Putting things like phone numbers or email addresses would make them accessible to the less than desired people of the internet. Yes I’m talking cyberstalkers… and real stalkers.
Monitoring or Privacy? Both is Good
Here’s the thing we learn with most debates: there is no right or wrong. When you choose monitoring over privacy (or vice versa) you’re assuming that each exists in isolation to the other. And that’s where you go wrong. But I am going to say this though—if your kids have smartphones, going that extra mile to monitor them is necessary. As long as you’re allowing them breathing space, you’ll be fine.