Parents, I have to say, I am confused. As I continue to entrench myself in the phenomenon of social media as it relates to teens, parents, reputations and overall cyber safety, I continue to hear the same few words from parents, “Well, I don’t want to SPY on my child.”
And it leaves me very, very confused.
When I was raising my daughters, who are now grown, I was involved in many aspects of their lives. We had a close relationship as mother and daughter(s), but I was their mom first and found that an honorable and respectful position to be in. I wanted to be involved in their lives, not only as a confidant, but also as a teacher, mentor, and someone they could always count on no matter what they were going through.
I’d ask them daily about their lives. How was school, how was your job, your event, the fight you had with your friend? And, if I sensed trouble, I dug deeper.
Everything I did, I did to keep them safe and to learn more about what was going on in their world when I got that funny feeling in my gut.
But the world has changed a lot since then. Kids are living online lives. They connect with strangers through social networking sites, they post everything about their lives online, they share pictures of all types, and they also share more sensitive information about their feelings, mental state of mind, etc. They share everything in their social media world.
If I were a parent of tweens or teens today, I would CERTAINLY be checking their social media accounts (in addition to the many actions mentioned above), since most of their sharing occurs online, for the world to see!
When I talk to my clients and other parents about this, they look puzzled. “Isn’t that spying?”
No, keeping tabs on your kids and what they do online is not spying, it’s good parenting. The internet is not private, it’s public. So, if your child is posting information for the world to see, then you are free to see it as well!
In addition, monitoring your child’s online behavior will help keep them safe — safe from predators and strangers, safe from cyber bullies, safe from defamed reputations, and so much more.
So, my friends, monitoring is not spying. To monitor means:
- Keeping tabs on your child
- Checking in on their activity
- Keeping an eye out for their safety
Parents have different ways of monitoring their kids online. Some allow their children to only open the social media accounts if they share their passwords (kudos, by the way). They can go in freely and poke around to make sure everything is okay.
Other parents prefer to be connected to their child via network to keep an eye on what they are doing. That works well assuming their child hasn’t set privacy settings to keep specific content from their parents (yes, the systems have settings that allow them to share or restrict information from anyone they want).
Lastly, some parents put parental controls and monitoring systems on computers and cell phones . These controls work filtering content and sending a flag or alert when suspicious behaviors occur. I’m proud to be associated with and a knowledge expert for TrueCare.com, who offers one of these monitoring tools for parents, I recommend them as an effective way to be connected to your child’s online world.
Some parents tell me that they can’t figure out all of the new technologies or they simply don’t want to understand them. Parents, it’s worth the time and effort. These communication tools are not going away. They will only progress into more advanced means of social interaction. They are the future and we should educate ourselves in order to connect with our kids and protect them.
Thanks to Mary Jo Rapini Psychotherapist for this insightful guest post!
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