Should You Invade Your Kid's Online Privacy?

By REDBOOK


The Internet can be a scary place, but does that give you the right to spy on your kid's online activity?

YES: It could make all the difference. "One week shy of his high school graduation, my 18-year-old son, Henry, died of a drug-related brain injury. Several months before his death, he was in rehab, and I hacked into his computer to find any clues that might help treat him. It felt like a terrible invasion... until the information spilled out. There were emails discussing where to buy drugs and links to message boards where he discussed drug-related topics with strangers. The information went back years. If I had peeked into his Internet activities sooner, I would have known how serious the problem was. The warning signs were there, and in hindsight, the very first thing I should have done was crack his online world wide open. Kids today have lives that exist entirely online, and they don't want their parents to see them. For that reason, parenting requires a new set of rules when it comes to keeping our children safe-and that includes making it clear to our kids that their digital privacy is extremely limited and subject to review."-Katie Allison Granju, mamapundit.com

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NO: You learn much more by listening. "Like many parents, I've been tempted to police my kids' online activities. But I believe that the minute your child suspects you're checking up on them, the more secretive they'll become, and they'll shut you out. So instead of reading my 12-year-old daughter's Google history, I try to educate her about the dangers and consequences of cyber-bullying or sending inappropriate messages. I think one of the keys to raising a safe, well-rounded child is teaching them to be responsible and ethical online. But snooping won't accomplish that-if anything, it sets the wrong example. I try to connect with my kids offline often by asking them about what's going on in their world. I learn so much more by really listening to them than I ever could by snooping in their inboxes. Growing up today can't be easy, and the more you can bond, share, and teach your kids, the less likely they are to get in trouble online-and off."-Beth Feldman, founder of rolemommy.com

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