To Spy or Not To Spy? That is the Question!

I am going to be doing a series of posts with Keeping Kids Safe Today author Joyce Jackson! We will be cross posting a series of articles on this topic for the next few weeks. Check out all of our posts here!

Chances are you have no idea what your child is really doing online. This doesn’t mean they’re doing
anything dangerous or wrong, you just don’t know what they are doing.

How’s that working for you?

Lots of parents tell me how they really want to know, deeply, what their child is actually doing, saying
and seeing on the Internet.  They also describe to me in excruciating detail what they fear their child is

What they are actually looking for, is for me to tell them is that it is “OK” to spy on their kid’s activities
online.  They want me to absolve them of their surreptitious guilt and solve their dilemma.

I’m not going to do it.

What do you think?

I hear, mostly from Moms, that they want to know if their daughter is being stalked in the chat rooms
or if their son is plying the adult sites at night. Both could be true, if you follow the latest research.
What do you think your child is doing and why are you suspicious or curious?

I also suspect that most parents are not seeking to find out if their child is cyberbullying anyone, in their
potential online spyfests.  Other things bother us as parents and it’s not cyberbullying.  It should be.  So
this is the time I take to remind you to support your child when they come across anything, absolutely
anything online that makes them uncomfortable.

They best course of action is to delete the offending material. Most cyberbullying incidents could go
away but escalate with interaction. Most, among same school students, can be addressed through
faculty and administrative intervention.  This works as evidenced by many cyberbullying reporting sites
having been discontinued.  The shear amount of incidents overwhelmed them.  The easy solutions
worked and have diminished their need.

Now, back to spying. By the time your teenager is online, it’s too late to be asking these questions.  It is
too late to be spying, too.  In some ways, it is more important to find out if they are using good
cybermanners or not than if they are on illicit sites.

When I grew up my brother stole my father’s magazines and stuffed them under his mattress.  I tittered
at the dating stories I overheard my older sister brag about on the phone.   Today, the internet is the
magazine and phones of days past and the volume of wild information online barely makes anyone’s
heart flutter … except parent’s.

I’m not a big spy-er.  I’m into trust until proven otherwise, with my kids.  It’s also hard to do this, too, as I
always worry as a parent about everything.  On top of that, I know the grisly “truths” as a safety expert.
I also know cyberbullying is more of a problem than budding teens exploring virtual worlds.

Put it in perspective.  If it really bothers you, shut down the home computer.  Oh, they’ll find what they
want at the library, school or friend’s house, for sure.  You just won’t have to deal with it.

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