Monday, May 20, 2013

Would You (or Do You) Spy on Your Kids?

Growing up we had a lot of freedom as kids and teens. Our parents were pretty laid back and we didn't have a ton of rules. Thinking about it, I can only recall two. No talking on the phone after 9pm, and we had curfews. Actually, I had an early curfew (my parents weren't the biggest fan on my boyfriend), Mal had a later curfew than me, Alexis had a later curfew than her, and well Owen didn't have one.

However, we didn't have Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and cell phones. We had email and MSN and AOL chat. Our mom knew our password, but didn't use them and never demanded to see what were up to.

I used to think that I would check my kids' Facebook and keep close tabs on their online lives. I thought by cyber stalking my own kids, I would somehow be able to make sure they aren't sexting, getting cyber-bullied, or accessing websites that they shouldn't. But, I already find my views on this evolving and Love Bean is far from the age where this even becomes a reality for us. What made me change my opinion? Here a few things, in no particular order.
  1. I realized it's kind of naive: Kids often know the technology better than their parents. It's so easy for kids to create fake accounts, change usernames and passwords, or hide things from their parents online. 
  2. The relationship I want to have with my kids: My parents and I had would have a completely different relationship had they demanded to read my chats, emails and listen in on my phone calls. There would have been no trust, and I would have held a lot of resentment towards them. I appreciated the trust, openess and the willingness to let me make my own mistakes too much to not give my kids the same.
  3. I read this article: It underscored just how creepy and over protective all that snooping is. 
  4. Disappointment is worse than punishment: At least for me, the idea of disappointing my parents was far worse than any punishment they could have given me if I had been caught doing something bad online. That was enough to keep me from doing it. Crossing my fingers my kids have the same respect for me :)
Part of growing up and learning how to be a successful adult is making mistakes when you're a kid. Yeah, it's super stressful for parents, but isn't there a lot about being a parent that's stressful? I'm not saying that if one of the Beans abused the trust and respect we give them, that they wouldn't be disciplined, because they would be. I'm just saying, they'll get the chance to mess up before they're put on virtual lockdown.

We'd love to hear what your approach is...

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