Where does parental responsibility end and a teenager’s right to privacy begin?
There’s been a lot of talk over the last few years about a parent’s responsibility to monitor their child’s social media use. And fair enough, the Internet is a dangerous place and anything you post on there will be around forever. But I’ve been wondering at what point does your child gain the right to a bit of privacy?
I’m sure you, like me, had a diary when you were growing up. Or if it wasn’t a diary, it was a book with a torch under the bedcovers. It was the cordless phone under your pillow until all the lights went out. It was a late night sneak up to the family computer to chat to your friends on ICQ until the wee hours of the morning.
Can you imagine if your parents were reading every word you wrote? Listening in on the phone? Sitting behind you on the computer? It’s pretty outrageous when you look at it like that but let me ask you this: how is insisting on having the password to your child’s Facebook any different?
It isn’t. And the simple fact is your child will probably find a way around it. If you have access to their Facebook they’ll have a secret twitter account, a tumblr, or a MySpace (haha, just kidding, no one h a MySpace anymore). And with smart phones their access is 24/7, right in their pockets. How can anyone hope to monitor that?
And if you are reading everything they write online, when does it end? Will you still have the password to their Facebook at 18? Don’t be silly… But then where’s the line? 16? 14? 12?
You have a parental responsibility to protect your child in the online world, I agree, but is this a bit like that time you told your child not to touch the stove, not to touch the stove, don’t touch the damn stove! But they didn’t listen, they didn’t heed your warning, until they had been burnt.
I don’t have the answer, just the question: Where does a parent’s responsibility end and a teenager’s right to privacy begin?
What do you think? Do you monitor your kids online? If so, when do you intend to stop?