Our Gender, Ourselves

The changing American family

Why Teens Need Privacy Online

There's a real danger in too closely monitoring, or even limiting, teens' online behavior. To shield kids from social media is to leave them under prepared for a time when their parents aren't there to protect them. There's a period during which young drivers are required to drive an automobile with an adult. But that period ends, and then the kids are on their own. Read More

Online Safety

I agree that kids need to learn the hard way that some things are permanent. However, parents need to protect their kids from online dangers such as pedophilia. To that effect, the only real way is to spy on them and ensure they aren't contacting anyone they shouldn't.

Real danger in NOT monitoring

There's real danger in not monitoring. Kids have lousy judgment as a rule. That bad judgment was not an issue when it was just talk, but when it gets committed to print and bytes, it can be dangerous to themselves and others. I have seen this happen time and again. I've seen kids get kicked out of schools for stupid FB posts that no parent was even aware of.

The rule you should be stating is: let your kids talk to other kids all they want by phone or in real face time. No one should monitor phone calls. But the minute that it gets memorialized on a Tweet, FB page, askme.fm, or wherever? It has changed character, can haunt that kid forever, and is open to being monitored.

From a Teen's Perspective

Coming from a teenager, I can say that a constant monitoring of one's online activities is never the way to go. Frankly, when I'm being watched so closely, I just distance myself from my parents because I don't feel like they respect my privacy enough. Why should I confide in them about the things I do when chances are they already know what I'm doing anyway? And the more they probe around, the more likely I am to sneak around and hide away. To simply put it, the invasion of privacy symbolizes the lack of trust and respect.
I may not use Facebook much, but I am active on Tumblr. In my opinion, it is harder to monitor someone on Tumblr because you don't have to go by your real name. It is easier to be anonymous, and not just because there is an anonymous button. Yet I have never abused the system. True, I have seen haters and spammers on the site, and yes, I have tried to interact with them in hopes of figuring out what goes on in that head of theirs. But I think everything should be based on the situation, not as whole. Parents' should decide what to do based on how their child behaves, not how teenagers behave.

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Peggy Drexler, Ph.D. is a research psychologist, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Weill Medical College, Cornell University and author of two books about modern families and their children.

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