Life's Tool Box – A Guide for Parents and Educators

April 29, 2012

It’s 10 P M – Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Filed under: Tools for Life Posts — by Life's Toolbox @ 8:06 pm
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   I grew up hearing every night before the news on channel 5 – “It’s 10 PM – do you know where your children are?”   This week, on the morning news I heard: “Over 70 percent of parents admit to spying on their children’s Facebook pages. “   For today’s parents to know where their children are – physically and virtually – at ten and around the clock, they need to expand their supervision.  Parenting and supervising children, following their real and digital footprints  is NOT SPYING. It is conscientious parenting to support safe and healthy development!

Spying is done surreptitiously, and that is not a good model for parenting.  Sneaky parenting inevitably leads to the discovery of important information, but then, what do you do with it?  Too often I have had parents in my office, or similarly teachers consult with me, sharing information they obtained by raiding lockers, reading journals, or through other undercover operations.  If they share what they know with the children they are trying to protect, they lose all credibility.  Their covert operations have made them into spies with whom one can never trust your secrets.

That does not mean, however, that parents and educators should pull back and relinquish their authority – especially in areas where child safety is concerned.  What a child does on the computer, especially if that computer connects to the outside world complete with stalkers, con artists and college admissions representatives (not that they are in the same category as the nefarious others mentioned), is not private and requires adult scrutiny.  There is no point in hiding the fact that the child’s actions will be monitored – – in fact, that knowledge can help children and teens think before they digitally act.

The same paradigm operates whether parents are supervising live or on-line behavior.  One of our sons was spending a weekend away, attending the celebration of a friend’s bar mitzvah that we weren’t close enough to the family to be included.  We told him directly that although we would not be there, we had asked adult friends who would to “keep an eye” on him, and report back to us.  Not telling him in advance would have constituted spying.  Being clear about our expectations of him, and what we had put in place to be certain we fulfill our parenting responsibilities lets everyone understand that our care, concern and supervision is important enough to continue,  even when we can not be present.  When that same son begged for text messaging on his phone, we agreed only after explaining that we would be checking the monthly bills to guarantee that no texting was occurring during school hours.  And we did check, and thanked him regularly for his responsible use of technology.

Parents and educators increasingly recognize that children and teens are living digital lives.  They bemoan the hours spent plugged in and mesmerized by screens and gadgets.  Yet the same adults seem squeamish about supervising such activity – about asking to see what children are doing in the virtual world, about checking on their digital signature, about reviewing what personal profile they have in cyberland.  It is good parenting and teaching to engage your children and students, to know them, to spend time sharing their interests.  It is not spying to ask, request, say, require . . . let me see your facebook page . . . I want to review your cell phone usage . . . Our family doesn’t say those kinds of things on line.  We should be happy and proud to be the  POS (parent over shoulder) – not wearing camouflage, but out in the open, doing our adult duty to help our children be smart and safe.

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3 Comments »

  1. Reblogged this on gothster.

    Comment by gothster — April 29, 2012 @ 8:15 pm |Reply

  2. Reblogged this on emmageraln.

    Comment by emmageraln — April 29, 2012 @ 8:55 pm |Reply

  3. I guess we grandparents can heave a sigh of relief… Did we ever walk that “fine line” between concern and snoopimg???? (Well, there were diaries; far less lethal, of course than the intrnet!) Please continue to emphasize that “POS” for loving motives is never “ulterior”. Every individual will have a lifetime of wonderful secrets to share with loving partners…..no need for technology, there! E and S Milch

    Comment by E and S Milch — May 1, 2012 @ 11:19 pm |Reply


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