Monitoring vs. Spying – which way is the right way?

Online Überwachung - Und die Privatsphäre?

The most basic impulse of parenting is to make sure that children are safe. Ironically, in our culture of constant checking in, selfies, status updates, and tweets, ensuring our children’s online safety can feel more complicated than ever.

Recent studies show that 78% of teens now have a mobile phone, almost half (47%) of those own smartphones, and over 90% of teens have access to a computer or have one of their own. With all of this access to technology that changes on a dime, how can parents monitor their teens without crossing over into spying on them? Does privacy exist for teenagers, and does online monitoring cause teens to lose trust in their parents?

Before addressing the sticky subject of teen privacy within a family unit, it is essential for all teenagers to understand that privacy, while a privilege, does not exist online or anywhere else, for that matter. Regardless of where we go and what we do online or in the physical world, we are observed through a variety of tools, such as security cameras, traffic cameras, internet records, mobile phone records, what comes in the mail, credit card purchases, social media sites, and GPS devices. And even though we believe that certain information can be deleted, that is just not true when it comes to our online reputations.

This is a hard lesson that teens need to learn as soon as possible: If it is online, it is forever, even if they think there is privacy.

The Difference Between Monitoring and Spying on Teens

This hard lesson is partly why parents are so concerned about their children’s behavior online, but the fact remains that teens require the chance to be independent, show responsibility, and experience privacy as they develop into adults. Monitoring software such as Safe Lagoon, can be added to teens’ smartphones and other devices by parents as a preventive measure, offering protection against people who want to do their children harm.

The best way to monitor kids of all ages is to keep talking with them, no matter how difficult it might feel, especially with teens. Open communication is the key when it comes to monitoring online behavior and helping parents keep teens safe. Monitoring is a form of – and adds to – open communication between parents and teens, allowing them to cooperate in an increasingly noisy and busy world.

How to Talk to Your Teen About Monitoring Software

When talking to your teen about online behavior, it’s good to begin with statistics:

  • On average, teens spend 5 hours and 38 minutes online every day
  • More than half of teens have witnessed cyberbullying on social media.
  • Out of over 1300 teens surveyed, 18% have considered meeting with someone in person whom they first met online. Of these, 58% have actually met up with someone in person.
  • 15 percent of teens admit they have hacked into a social network account.
  • In 100% of the cases teens that are the victims of sexual predators have gone willingly to meet with them.
  • About half of young people have experienced some form of cyberbullying, and 10 to 20 percent experience it regularly.

Your teen probably doesn’t realize what’s going on in the world outside of themselves. Also, share some stories you’ve read about recently that concern you. Teens need to hear examples of what other teens have done and the consequences of their choices. Even as adults, we learn from others mistakes.

Parents may decide for their child’s safety monitoring software would give them peace of mind. If you do decide to go this route, it is important to give your child a heads-up before you do. Again, you may discuss the statistics, the stories, but mainly your concern is for their safety. Explain to them that you are not spying on them, and you want to make sure they are not putting themselves or their family at risk.

We all want that ideal, picturesque relationship with our teens. We all want to avoid dealing with their bad attitudes and senseless behaviors. Part of us would love to just have them skip their teenage years and go straight into adulthood. The thing is we know that can’t happen and really we don’t want to miss out on any part of their growing years. And fact is teenagers are good at drama. While they are reacting negatively to being monitored, secretly, I’d bet they are thanking you for caring so much about them. It’s simple. We need to open our eyes and be the parent! And remember that Safe Lagoon is always ready to give a helping hand!

-based on TeenSafe publication