General Question

Tantigirl's avatar

Do you personally monitor your teen's computer useage?

Asked by Tantigirl (1709points) August 21st, 2008

Have you/do you personally check to see what sites they’ve been on? Do they know that you do it? Would you tell them or do it on the sly?

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59 Answers

flameboi's avatar

My parents never did that to me, as they know they have to respect my privacy, and that has not changed so far

Hobbes's avatar

I assume you’re talking about porn, right? If this is the case, then no. Do you really want to find out exactly what porn your teenager looks at? And how exactly do you see the confrontation going? Plus, it’s a huge invasion of their privacy and a breach of their trust.

If you’re worrying about internet predators or scams, just have a short talk with him. Check that he’s not giving out credit card or social security information, and that he isn’t talking to anyone online that he doesn’t know, at least through a mutual friend. Although, honestly, I think the whole “internet predators” thing has been blown way out of proportion.

wundayatta's avatar

I have checked when she was first starting, and discovered that she really didn’t like things that I didn’t want her to like. We’ve educated her about stalking, and predators, and warned her not to use her real name or address, or ever to give them out, and I think she gets it.

Lately she’s been haunting that vampire in new york site about the Twilight books, and she’s been doing fan fiction (writing stories), but she also figured out how to password protect her profile on our computer, so I can no longer check what she’s up to. I have to take her word on it.

She gave the password to my wife. But my wife isn’t as computer savvy, and may not know how to look around.

Part of me says I raised my daughter to be responsible, and I’ve taught her what I know, and she is taking good care. Part of me worries about why I can’t see what she’s up to, and I think about telling her she has to. But I want her to be independent and I trust her judgement.

So, it’s a conundrum.

robmandu's avatar

Perhaps monitoring is not where I’d want to go.

But if you use OpenDNS, you can setup limits as to what your household will be able to access.

It will require some small technical ability to set it up, but they walk thru the steps for the most part.


1. Get a router… don’t hookup the one computer in your home up directly to the cable/dsl modem.
2. Lock down administrator access to the router so that you’re the only one who can modify it.
3. Following the OpenDNS instructions, setup your router to use their DNS services (which are likely better, faster, and more secure than what your ISP is using).
4. Sign up for the optional free account so that you can enable additional controls, like automatic site filtering, phishing protection, block illegal activities, however much or as little as you desire.

mzgator's avatar

Yes we do. She has her own laptop which she uses in her room. We have a program running which only allows her to go to age appropriate sites. If she wants to go to a new site, she emails us with the site, and we will approve or deny access . She can receive and send emails or instant messages from people on her list…. Only!

Having her own laptop is a privelage, not. Right. We have a desktop computer in our home office which can be used for schoolwork if she doesn’t follow the rules. She is a good kid, but she is still a kid!

Skyrail's avatar

My parents don’t, I have two PCs of my own both of which only have one account on (besides the admin accounts, which I only know the passwords to) which are mine. I’m also the only one who knows how to access the router (and the only one with the correct details to do so) and the same with OpenDNS, I have complete control over all networking in our house haha – insert evil laugh here – If I was as restricted as your daughter is mzgator, I would learn very little. I’m always using Stumble Upon to find new sites, images and music and I do a lot of research of my own into multiple things (programming, nuclear ‘stuff’, physics, engineering, images etc.). By the sounds of things though I’m probably a bit older then mzgator’s daughter and so it’s a privilege I have gained age wise, I’m also the most computer savvy in the house so I tend to ‘dominate’ in that area.

In just under a year my parents won’t be able to monitor anything I do. I’ll have left home! heh…oh man.

Hobbes's avatar

Why do parents today feel the need to constantly monitor their children’s activities? I understand the instinct to protect your child’s safety, but to not trust them to make responsible decisions? I believe the US government is doing something similar under the Patriot Act – monitoring us “for our own protection”. When did it become necessary to raise kids in a bubble?

scamp's avatar

@Hobbes do you have kids?

Hobbes's avatar

Nope. I do have parents, though. I was not sheltered from every nasty thing you find on the internet, and I turned out just fine.

cyndyh's avatar

My kids pretty much had freedom to the internet, and they’re fine. I will say that we had only a family computer in a common area of the house until they were both teens. Then we helped them build their own machines from a lot of leftover parts of older machines. They learned a lot. They knew the rules about giving out their personal information. That’s about it.

robmandu's avatar

@Hobbes… everyone thinks they turned out just fine. And your parents will always love you.

But are there things that some parents wished they could’ve prevented their kids from being exposed to until later? Yes, lots.

I, for one, wouldn’t want a tweenager of mine (or anyone else for that matter) to accidentally check out 2 girls, 1 cup, for example.

Hobbes's avatar

I understand what you mean, robmandu, but if it comes at the price of not trusting your children to be responsible… Why not simply give them the information about sharing personal information, about the weird stuff on the internet? Why block 4chan and all but tell your child that you don’t trust them, when you could inform them that there are things on /b/ they will wish they had never seen?

wundayatta's avatar

@Hobbes, what role do you think your parents’ confidence in your decision-making ability plays in the formation of your personality, interests, and talents?

robmandu's avatar

Mainly because, if it were me being told that, first thing I’d do is go look all over /b/.

How is the internet different than cars, contracts, and drinking? We don’t let kids under 16 drive b/c they’re not ready for that responsibility.

Until 18, cannot enter into a legal contract b/c they’re not ready for that responsibility.

Until 21, cannot drink alcohol b/c they’re not ready for that responsibility.

- Let’s not get into an argument about drinking age, legalization of pot, etc. Just an example here. -

Parents try to protect their kids from the things their not ready for. I’ll stipulate that that can extend too far sometimes, but usually due to best intentions. Underage looking at pornographic imagery is not something any parent should apologize protecting their kids from… heck, they’d even be legally liable for abuse if they knowingly allowed it.

Hobbes's avatar

@daloon – that’s a rather broad question, but I think the knowledge that my parents trusted me made me very leery about breaking that trust, gave me great emotional support, and allowed me the freedom to learn all sorts of interesting things.

@robmandu – drinking is an interesting parallel, actually. In the US, as you know, the drinking age is 21, which makes alcohol consumption taboo. The excitement of the forbidden means that teens consume alcohol irresponsibly in far greater numbers than in areas of the world where the drinking age is lower. If something is forbidden, whether it’s webpages or alcohol, it makes people more likely to do it, not less.

On the other hand, I can see the sense in blocking pages to prevent someone from accidentally stumbling on them. But actively limiting what someone can view when they want to is something I do not support.

robmandu's avatar

@Hobbes, I agree that parental censorship should be conscientiously done with the realization that the kids will be old enough one day to look at whatever they want. Intelligent and reasoning discussion when the parent thinks the kids are mature and ready should be a planned waypoint.

And, I think I read in another recent discussion that the U.S. in general exceeds other countries for misuse of alcohol… not just by youngsters.

Your position that allowing anything just because people will find a way to do it anyways isn’t logically sound… unless you’re an anarchist.

scamp's avatar

@Hobbes it’s not just an issue of whether or not a parent can trust a child. Not everyone thinks the same way you do. I’m glad that you truned out to be a trustworthy kid who listened to your parents warnings, but not all do. Like rob says, some kids woulld become all the more curious because of a warning.

The issue of parents snooping has not changed over the years, just the things they have to snoop about. In the days before internet, many teen girls were totally pissed off because their Mom read their diary. As long as there are kids, there will be snooping parents. parents need to know what’s going on with there kids to protect them and keep them out of truble. Maybe even more so now because the laws have evolved so that parents are held accountable financially .

wundayatta's avatar

@robmandu: I think it is a serious problem when a government passes laws, or a parent makes rules that are unenforceable. It makes the power look out-of-it, and ineffective. There’s no point in making such rules.

If you want to change behavior in a situation where rules are unpoliceable, the only way you can do it is through education. I have to say that Hobbes is right here, and that I find your opinion to lack logic.

robmandu's avatar

Here… let me cut to the chase.

Picture yourself the parent of an underage child (age 3 – 17 doesn’t matter). Would you knowingly allow your child to illegally download the latest Vivid video release from The Pirate Bay to watch?

Hobbes's avatar

@scamp – if they’re curious because of a warning, imagine how much more curious they will become when unilaterally forbidden to do something.

Also, I think teen girls had a right to be pissed when their mom read their diary. It was an invasion of privacy, just as snooping around their computer is.

Thank you daloon, that’s a good way of putting it. I think you’re setting up a straw man, robmandu – my position is not that we should allow anything. It is, as daloon said, that we should not make laws that we can’t enforce. Anti-prostitution laws don’t alleviate the problems of prostitution, anti-drinking laws do not stop people drinking, and rules against what a child can view ill not stop them finding ways to view it.

@robmandu again – speaking of unenforcable laws… yes, I would allow them to do that, because laws against file-sharing cannot be and are not enforced, and because I have no moral objection to it.

robmandu's avatar

@Hobbes, that’s a false answer. If you stand by it, you show yourself to be an unreasonable individual who would rather make a point than learn a lesson.

Let me try again: your child wants to run out on to the I-5 during rush hour because he thinks it will be fun. Do you let him?

(We’ve reduced here to physical damage to body and property rather than the more theoretical damage to psyche and monetary corporate loss… but the point is the same.)

scamp's avatar

@Hobbes I have been both a teen and a parent of one. I think you will be more able to debate this once you can say the same.

mzgator's avatar

Great answer Scamp! I often find that people who don’t have kids, especially teens, seem to think they have all the answers. Once that baby is put into your arms you realize you don’t know anything. All the things you swore you would never say or do… You find yourself doing some or most of them. Parenting is a hard job in which you learn as they grow!

cyndyh's avatar

I’ve been both a teen and later a parent of teens. I never read my daughter’s diary, either. If the kids seem reasonable with their usage for an extended period of time with the computer in a common room, then you have an idea whether or not they understand and can and will abide by certain reasonable rules. The options are not just

a) be over their shoulder every minute allowing no privacy or trust


b) put the computer in the kid’s room and allow a free-for-all without ever discussing any of the issues they may encounter. Oh, and buy them a webcam, too.

I think there’s a whole world of in-between here.

augustlan's avatar

Our computers are all in public rooms of the house, and can be seen by anyone casually walking by. I have a MySpace page, so I can check in on my daughter’s page. Of course we’ve had the talks about privacy, predators and appropriate use of the internet. None of that has prevented a couple of problems, all nipped in the bud. It’s not a matter of distrust of our children, but of understanding that they are, in fact children! As you may be aware, kids don’t always follow the rules, are curious beings, and do push the envelope in many ways. While we’re not sitting on their shoulders, we do keep an eye on the situation.

scamp's avatar

@cyndyh you bring up some good points. I didn’t read my daughter’s diary either by the way, I was just using that as an example because my Mother read mine.

@augustlan You are so right! I am fortunate enough to have a daughter who didn’t need much monotoring, but if I had a kid like I was I’d be on her like white on rice.

My Mom put the Mother’s curse on me. she said:” I hope one day you have a daughter and she gives you just half the trouble you gave me.”

Smart ass that I was thought, half? cool, I can handle half, especially since I knew all the tricks. But the curse got me. I ended up with a very well behaved child, who hardly ever got into any trouble and when older, started to lecture me. it’s like my Mom came back to haunt me, ha ha!!

cyndyh's avatar

@augustlan: I think it also really depends on how the kid’s handling things when you see them. They get a little more freedom when they show they understand and can handle themselves well. They get a little less freedom when something makes you think you need to be watching more closely.

cyndyh's avatar

@scamp: I hear what you’re saying. I didn’t like that kind of invasiveness, so I always tried to never do those types of things to my kids. I’m glad I never had call to question whether that was warranted or not when mine were teens.

Hobbes's avatar

@robmandu – Although I do have an unfortunate tendency to be very stubborn when defending a point, you’re still using straw men. I’m not advocating allowing your kids to run across freeways, nor am I saying that computer use should be a free-for-all, though looking back on my posts I can see why you may have thought that. What I’m saying is that snooping around your kid’s computer sends a very clear message that you don’t trust them. Similarly, forbidding them access to certain sites not only sends the same message, but simply doesn’t work once they reach a certain age. There are many things that parents can successfully prevent a child from doing, but given the near-ubiquitousness of the internet, it seems very unlikely that a child would not find some way of getting onto the forbidden site, just as they would find a way to watch TV if you tried to stop them doing that.

I agree with cyndyh – it seems perfectly possible to me to allow your children privacy and trust without giving them a webcam and saying “go nuts!”. I personally have a very negative gut reaction against surveillance and invasion of privacy, so I probably wouldn’t do things augustlan’s way, but that is a viable alternative.

@scamp – I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to imply that I have all the answers, and I recognize that you have much greater experience in this area than I do. However, I don’t think my opinion should be disregarded simply because I have no children of my own.

wundayatta's avatar

It seems to me that the I5 example is relevant. We watch over our kids to make sure they don’t run into the street for a while, maybe many years, depending on the kid, but eventually we let them cross streets on their own, and by the time they’re 16, some kids are driving down I5, as well.

Well, the analogy is apt. My daughter started on the computer with games and no internet. When she got onto the Internet, it was PBS sites and Webkinz. Then she got the training about safety, and now, even though she’s 12, she can pretty much go where she wants. The computer she uses is in a common room, although she is lobbying hard for a computer of her own (but then, so am I, LOL). We’ve been holding out on other tech for her, long past when her friends got it. In fact, for her last birthday, her friend all chipped in to get her some kind of iPOD. So now she is music enabled, I guess. Still doesn’t stop her playing the piano, thank heaven.

All I can say is that parenting is an art, not a science, and we each make the judgements about our own kids, except when social services gets in the way, because neighbors think we’re doing it wrong.

One more thing. I think several people have said they were lucky to have good kids. I suspect that luck had nothing to do with it. I bet you have good kids because you are good parents. Now, I know it ain’t cool to brag, but let’s say this isn’t bragging, because I bet we have a lot of good parenting tips to share with each other.

Hobbes's avatar

Parents of course have a right to raise their children however they see fit (within reason). I just have a very strong aversion to over-protective parenting. I’m not accusing anyone of being over-protective, simply cautioning anyone who would monitor their child’s computer usage against being too protective. The instinct to protect and shelter you child is a powerful and often justified one, but it can easily lead to parents not trusting their children and to those children being raised in an overly controlled, sanitized environment. My own parents were relatively good on this score, but I know several people who’ve been raised in little bubbles and have suffered for it.

robmandu's avatar

I submit that preventing your 12 year old from illegally downloading copyrighted porn videos and then watching them… is not an overly protective bubble.

@Hobbes, if you continue to maintain that that is actually okay (letting your kid do that), I’m afraid I’ll have to move forward with the opinion that you in fact did not “turn out okay.” :-\

Hobbes's avatar

Robmandu, you continue to misrepresent my position. I have never said that I believe 12 year olds should download porn (Incidentally, there is plenty of porn that is perfectly legal to download, but that’s another topic entirely). Nor have I ever said that kids should be allowed to do whatever they want, and it’s insulting that you continue to imply that this is my position.

I’ll repeat myself again: my position is that blocking websites in order to prevent a child from stumbling across “two girls one cup” or “goatse” accidentally is perfectly understandable. However, constantly trying to prevent a child from accessing inappropriate websites is not only much less effective than talking to them about why you feel they shouldn’t be looking at that material and getting their agreement on the decision, but also breeds a sense of mistrust between you and the child. Such tactics can also lead to overprotective parenting and sheltered children.

Furthermore, do you really worry about your 12 year old downloading a bunch of porn?

Judi's avatar

My kids were pre teen and teenagers when the whole Internet began to boom. I was probably TOO restrictive. My youngest is now 24 and he is not real computer literate. He was also a challenging kid who took everything to the edge and fell over a few times, so for him, it could have been a problem. His older sisters were more responsible and in retrospect, didn’t really need the strict limits I put on them when it came to the computer. Every kid is different and is ready to handle freedoms at different times.
I AM myspace and facebook friends with all my nieces and nephews so I can keep up with what they’re doing and what’s going on in their heads. I have one nephew that rarely speaks, but I’ve gotten to know him pretty well on myspace and he’ll answer an email even if he won’t give more than a 2 word answer in conversation.

robmandu's avatar

@Hobbes, ah, pardon the confusion.

I setup the hypothetical with “Picture yourself the parent of an underage child (age 3 – 17 doesn’t matter). Would you knowingly allow your child to illegally download the latest Vivid video release from The Pirate Bay to watch?”

To which you replied, “speaking of unenforcable laws… yes, I would allow them to do that, because laws against file-sharing cannot be and are not enforced, and because I have no moral objection to it.”

I took your response as agreement to the entire premise. You merely meant you’d allow illegal file sharing of copyrighted material… not the underage looking at porn thing. I didn’t purposely misrepresent your position. You poorly worded it.

For theoretical discussion of online behaviors, porn is the natural topic. If we were talking intoxicating substances, this would be about alcohol.

In any case, it seems like we agree then that there are indeed some boundaries parents should place on their child’s online activity. And I’ve already stipulated that I think parents should use mechanisms to enforce those boundaries that are age-appropriate.

Personally, with the RIAA suing and winning thousands and thousands of dollars from each defendant in cases where they pursue their copyrights, I look at blocking illegal file sharing as a way to keep my money in my own pocket. You got money to throw away? More power to ya, brother.

Also, realize that not all of these problems are due to the bad behavior of the kid. A parent’s protectiveness extends even further to prevent the bad guys from coming at our kids. If you’re running all your computers on Windows, many of the blocking options that OpenDNS provides are useful for keeping bad things out that are trying to get in on their own.

Finally, I hope everyone realizes that the only prevention of bad/immoral/illegal behavior is people themselves. No law has ever physically stopped a crime. No law will stop a murder, for example. By that definition, which is what I think Hobbes and Daloon appear to use, all laws are unenforceable. And that’s a silly way to think.

scamp's avatar

@Hobbes, I didn’t say you thought you had all the answers. I’m saying that your position is that of the child, and not the parent. As mzgator said above, Once that baby is put into your arms you realize you don’t know anything. Right now you are only guessing from a child’s point of view. I promise you, that will change if and when you become a parent.

I only hope your kids are as good as you were, because if you end up with a headstrong sneaky kid like I was, you are in for one hell of a ride. They will be able to pull the wool over your eyes very easily because you are so trusting. Hopefully you won’t be so naive then.

cak's avatar

Here’s how it works in my house. First of all – both of my children are minors and they don’t live in a democratic household. They don’t live in fear, they aren’t restricted from trying things – within reason; however, they don’t have free reign. We never assume they are only up to no good, we try to believe they are doing the right thing. We’re not dumb, though. Children – all ages, are curious. Neither my husband and I want to stop that curiosity – but we need to protect our chilren.

My daughter is 14 and my son is 5. Clearly, our 5 year old is not surfing the net, yet. For our daughter, we have a list of her passwords. We do check history, we do look at the cookies. We also have a program that tracks time and will lock certain sites out. It’s not to restrict her, it’s to protect her. You never know exactly how predators might work, they lure children from all walks of life, from families that say they’ve educated their child and from families that don’t spend a second talking to their children about computer safety.

We know she’s educated about safety, but to assume that a child will always make the right choice, it a bit idealistic, at least I think.

We have rules more for protection, than restriction. Hobbes, when I was a teenager I thought rules were awful. I thought it was TERRIBLE if my parents invaded my privacy. In my twenties – I swore I would never do such things – now. I’m 37. I get it that some of this is done, more for protection than to hurt or look for reasons to punish.

@Hobbes, I thought like you did, until I had a child and understood that it’s my job to protect my child, at all times. You can’t follow them everywhere, you can’t be with them at all times; however, you can do certain steps to provide that extra protection.

scamp's avatar

Very well said cak !

cak's avatar

Thank you, scamp!

tiffyandthewall's avatar

my mother doesn’t track my internet use (that i’m aware of, but i really doubt she does), however she does have a myspace and has added mine. this makes me kind of uncomfortable, not because i have things i don’t want her to see, but because i think she is looking for incriminating evidence. my mom is very very overprotective, and it seems that she’ll go to any lengths to find some sort of evidence of something, and blow it out of proportion. this happens with a lot of things (the irony is that i actually am a decent kid, even by parenting definition, haha), but it’s more noticeable with myspace because she lurks my comments, reads my picture comments and will mention them before i even see them myself, etc. i feel like i’m under such tight cover sometimes that regardless of whether i’m doing anything ‘bad’ or not, i’ll still get a million questions about everything.
but i do respect that she doesn’t stalk my computer usage and that she trusts me with that. she knows for the most part that i am a rather responsible person and make the right decisions for my safety for the most part.

wundayatta's avatar


As a parent, it’s hard to know how far to go. If my daughter ended up killing herself over a fake myspace love affair, I would have no end of misery and guilt. If she fell in thrall to some pederast and he pursuaded her to run off with him, and I never saw her again—I’d hate it.

Ok, so those things are pretty rare. But what if she unknowingly opens up our computer to con artists who then use it to hack into some company computer halfway around the world? What if she somehow lets someone in to the computer and they get access to all our financial records? What if they then empty our bank accounts and college savings?

Who knows what might happen? This may sound too overprotective, but we’d rather have our daughters alive, and our bank accounts safely in our names, than to let our children do something that unwittingly opens the door to disaster.

Having said that, I educate my daughter about all these things, and warn her never to share personal information with anyone she does not know in meat space. I’ll have to warn her about how quickly info can get spread around via friends on myspace.

To your mother, it’s love. Love for you. And she’ll do anything to protect you. You may not appreciate it now, but one day, you’ll have a child of your own, and you’ll begin to understand your mother. Of course, by that time, the technology we have now will seem like it is prehistoric. Your kids won’t believe what you had to deal with to share information and make friends.

tiffyandthewall's avatar

@daloon, i completely understand everything you said, and my mother has definitely informed me of all of that, and i know that she knows i understand. also, though it is definitely frustrating, i really do understand why she does what she does, and greatly appreciate it. she is overprotective, and will even admit it, and it is very irritating at times, but in the long run i really do appreciate it and hope she knows that. (:

wundayatta's avatar

@tiffy: tell her (to be sure she knows) and she’ll probably faint!

Hobbes's avatar

@Daloon – I have no children of my own, and so can’t entirely empathize with your position, but as an outsider, it seems to me that you have to balance being concerned for your child’s welfare with not stifling her. It is perfectly understandable to worry that your daughter may fall into a trap, but at some point you have to trust her. It seems that you’re basing your fears on the assumption that she is utterly naive and incapable of making good decisions – I think that if you educate her about internet predation and make sure that she feels she can tell you about anything in her life, you’ll be much better off than if you stalk her Myspace all the time.

Also – I think fear of “hackers” was a quite overblown a while ago. Most viruses are annoying, certainly, but it would take an enormous amount of time and effort to “hack into some company computer halfway around the world”. I very much doubt it would even be possible.

wundayatta's avatar

@hobbes: oh, I do trust her, maybe more than I should, because she seems to be so sensible, and careful about what information she gives out. She is sensible and careful in other areas of her life—maybe even more cautious than she needs to be.

Hobbes's avatar

Well that’s alright then =] Personally, I’d trust her until she gave me a reason not to. That’s actually what prevented me from doing a lot of dumb stuff as a kid – I wasn’t scared of my parents, I just didn’t want them to lose their trust in me.

Tantigirl's avatar

Hobbes, I don’t actually agree with that. You cannot trust kids to do the right thing. They will some of the time, and they will trip up, more often than you will be aware of as a parent. Their brains are still developing up until they are in their late teens/early 20s. They don’t have the same logic as we do, and it is a fact of life that they lie. We all did when we were kids/teens, so it isn’t unreasonable to expect them to do it now. They are incredibly naive, their brains are not developed enough. You cannot protect your child enough as far as the computer is concerned, in my opinion.

Hobbes's avatar

I think you’re probably right that you can’t always trust kids to do the right thing, but then, you can’t always trust adults on that score. Also, I hate to break it to you, but adults actually lie too. People (including adults) often make mistakes, which sometimes end up harming them, but we can’t and shouldn’t monitor them to prevent them from doing so. All we can do, as I see it, is educate people on the likely pitfalls and trust that they’ll do their best to avoid them. Unless you take your hands off the bars, they’ll never learn to ride that bike.

I was raised around the computer and do not consider myself to have ever been naive about my usage of it. My parents let me know what their worries were, and I took them into account. I also don’t know what you mean by “their brains aren’t developed enough”. Yes, their brains are more plastic than ours, and continue developing until the mid-twenties. Are you proposing that all people be treated as though they were incapable of rational thought or decision making until their brains stop their development? In my experience, if you give them a chance, kids will surprise you with how intelligent and competent they really are.

cak's avatar

I don’t think that Tantigirl is saying that children, teens and even adults in their early twenties are incapable of making a rational decision. It’s just that as a parent, to not consider that off-chance that the child/teenager will make a poor decision is not looking out for their child.

We get one chance at doing the right thing with our children and kids don’t come with a manual. They might not like the decision and you might not understand a parent’s point of view on this, but it’s all done out of love and in the name of safety.

To assume, that a parent doesn’t ever see the intelligent side or competent side, based on a rule or belief in ways to protect a child or teen is, to me, off base. We do see that in our children; but, we are also all too aware that children / teens can have that indestructible attitude – the “It won’t happen to me” thought process.

Truly, it’s done to protect and it’s done because we love our children.

Hobbes's avatar

I understand that, but I think there’s a difference between considering the possibility and taking reasonable steps to head it off and hovering over them and invading their privacy. If you have reason to believe that they’ll get in trouble on the internet beyond “they’re young”, I could understand it, but that alone isn’t reason enough in my book. Just to be clear – I’m not proposing that parents shouldn’t look out for their kids, I’m just arguing against smothering them. I also don’t believe that “I love you” is an adequate justification. People do crazy, harmful things out of love, and the fact that you love your child is no guarantee that your actions won’t harm them. There are a lot of things out there that can hurt kids, and loving parents are an invaluable guide and more than capable of steering them away from danger, but when they start dragging the kid around by the scruff of their neck because they don’t think they can walk on their own, I take issue.

cak's avatar

I don’t see where you are getting “harmful” love out of all of this. If you have children, one day, you will understand that the explanation of, “I’m doing this because I love you, is part of the equation.

I monitor my child’s access, but I think you are picturing those of us that do this, as hovering. Quite the opposite. I spot check, I do check the history – among other things, but don’t do it daily.

You are citing all the “bad” forms of love and assuming that this maybe heading that way and it’s not, far from it.

This isn’t harmful, it’s being safe.

It’s funny, assuming that a child is too sensible to do a misguided thing is just as dangerous as hovering over a child and stifling. It’s hard to make those judgement calls. I do believe this is one of those things that you figure out when you have children, it’s a difficult balancing game. Am I doing too much? Am I not doing enough? When do you allow more freedom? When did you give too much?

I can tell you this, my daughter will be 15, in little over a month. She’s a very sensible young woman; however, every now and then, she sure does do something really boneheaded, things I would never expect from her, because that is what they do – test boundaries, they is how they learn, too. It’s when they are doing that and it seems like it’s always at the most inopportune moment, they just might do something they shouldn’t do. Parents don’t get a warning shot, it just happens.

Tantigirl's avatar

Cak, you got exactly what I meant, knocked that nail right on the head.

Hobbes, if I had not checked on my teen daughter’s computer usage in September 2008 (a spur of the moment decision), she would be dead now. Thats right, DEAD. I found a suicide note she had sent to her best friend via email, saying that she intended to overdose on medication the next day. She spent a week on an adolescent psych unit, and was on suicide watch for the first two days she was there. She is still under constant out-patient care. I never dreamed this was in the works, this is the only way I could have known. So, bearing my story in mind, and taking into account the fact that any child/teen can and will do this, what do you think about checking on their computer useage now?

cak's avatar

@Tantigirl – I can’t image how badly that terrified you. I am so glad you are a parent that checks on the doings of a child. I wish you and your daughter luck and do hope that she can move on in life and find that inner strength she needs to make it through life.

I am so sorry you daughter felt those lows and thought there was no other way to go on in life.

Thank you for sharing this, I think it’s so important for others to hear why parents need to keep that watchful eye on their children.

Hobbes's avatar

@Tantigirl – I’ve had two friends who attempted suicide, and the experience was a huge blow for me, but I can only imagine how much more that would have shaken you as a parent. I truly hope that your daughter can overcome whatever is troubling her so deeply.

I am not advocating never being involved with your child or keeping a watchful eye on them – your story demonstrates how important this is. Nor am I advocating letting them view any and all content they wish. I’m arguing that hovering, overly controlling parenting, censoring web access, prying into your child’s diary, and constantly going through their browser history, are far less effective (in most cases) at getting a child to not view inappropriate material than discussing with them why you feel that they shouldn’t be seeing it. Just to be clear, I am not accusing anyone of these practices, I am simply arguing against what some parents do.

In my personal experience, the approach my parents took (telling me why they felt I shouldn’t see a particular horror movie, for example) went much further than simply forbidding me from seeing it. The reason for this is, I think, that authoritarian dictations are very easy to circumvent, especially where the internet is concerned. If you go through your child’s browser history, that may tell you what they’ve been doing, but only if they don’t know that you can delete or disable those records. Approaches such as the ones my parents used have the added benefit of setting you up, not as the bad guy or the dictator, but as someone who is concerned for their welfare, who is on their team, and that’s something that can make a world of difference in a child’s life.

alliee's avatar

im not a parent but it annoys me when my parenmts check mine because their are inside jokes that my friends and i have that my parents think of as perverted or take the wrong way which makes them mad.

SilverFang77's avatar

Kids and the Internet are a balancing act. I would say young kids (under 10 or so) probably don’t need a lot of privacy online. Teens though, by their very nature, do begin to crave privacy as part of the process of growing away from their parents and gaining autonomy. Teens keep things secret and private from their parents, not to be bad, but because it is a necessary step in moving from childhood to adulthood.

I think the best way to handle things would be to give the teen enough rope to hang themselves by. Don’t snoop as a rule, but if you were to find out or stronglyg suspect they were up to no good, then would be the time to start checking their online records.

GlycerineSupernova's avatar

I wouldnt know i have no children but if i did i already laid down my law computer for an hour including schoool projects but if they have to go a little over time limit thats ok my kids arent gonna touch a computer until they are at least 7 i mean u still got what 93 yrs of computer after that

GlycerineSupernova's avatar

i have everything planned out for my kids eventhough im 13 lol

SilverFang77's avatar

I agree. Kids under seven should be riding bikes and playing outside, not rotting in front of a screen.

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