I do not agree with Weston’s statement that installing spyware translates to “I don’t trust you”, however, I understand where she’s coming from. As a parent, I know first-hand how protective teenagers can be about their privacy. Therefore, the matter of spyware installation, for the purpose of monitoring all online activity, needs to be approached carefully. In order to conserve the parent-child relationship, I believe that having an upfront and honest conversation is critical. The conversation should include facts and statistics that give credibility to the parents’ argument for online monitoring. For example, according to the FBI’s “Keeping Kids Safe Online” article, recent studies show that one in seven youngsters has experienced unwanted sexual solicitations online. One in three has been exposed to unwanted sexual material online and one in 11 has been harassed or bullied online. These are only some examples of the great dangers our children could be faced with while surfing the internet. Once the facts are established, we need to discuss the safety responsibilities for both parents and children. There are a number of great resources online designed to help parents.
My favorite is RULES ’N TOOLS® CHECKLIST which can be found at the following site: http://www.internetsafety101.org. This tool helps to implement both safety rules and software tools to protect children online. Positioning the spyware is extremely important. Instead of the child seeing it as a lack of trust and invasion of privacy, we need to position it in a way that allows the child to see it in a more positive light. The monitoring software should be positioned as an ally and protector, the child’s very own bodyguard, in a potentially dangerous world. Spyware is a great tool to keep your child safe while capturing the necessary data that law enforcement officials need to make the internet a safe place for our children. We have to educate and protect our children. In my opinion, setting boundaries and clear expectations around all internet-based activity is a parental obligation that supersedes a child’s privacy. Therefore, my child’s internet access would be contingent upon spyware installation and monitoring.