Thursday, May 1, 2014

Invasion Of Privacy Or Safety? Should You Monitor Your Child's Phone by Naomi Shaw

It’s gotten to a point where you and your child need to have cell phones and private computers simply for convenience and communication, but those things can come with a cost. We’ve all heard the horror stories of teens meeting someone online, agreeing to meet up in person, and quickly realizing that they’re in way over their head and are dealing with someone who lied about who they are and their intentions. From online predators to cyberbullying, there are many digital dangers that you want to protect your child from, but that can be hard to do without sacrificing your child’s privacy and trust.

What to Look For

It’s perfectly normal these days for your child to always have their nose in their phone or laptop. Having access to those things is important for socializing, learning, exploring, creating, and expressing themselves. Their texts, phone conversations, and blog posts can usually be likened to keeping a personal journal in that they are simply expressing their thoughts and not putting themselves into danger. It’s when they start chatting with people they don’t know, often using anonymous profiles, when things can get iffy.

Here are some signs that your child might be at risk:
● They hide their internet and phone activity from you.
● They receive texts, phone calls, emails, letters or packages from people you don’t know.
● They are withdrawn and quiet.
● They use someone else’s name or an anonymous profile.

It can be hard to tell exactly what your child is doing online or on their phone, and usually what they’re doing is safe and completely innocent. However, if you are ever worried that your child might be engaging in risky behavior, it’s important for their safety that you address the problem right away, even if it turns out to be nothing.

What You Can Do

First and foremost, you should talk to your child about internet safety and be very clear about your rules and expectations. Having a phone and a laptop is a privilege that shouldn’t be abused, and for good reason. Make it clear that you aren’t trying to invade their privacy or take away the great, positive things that technology has to offer, but rather that you’re simply looking out for their safety.

Sometimes talking isn’t enough, and there’s still the matter of responsibility. You can have every intention to respect your child’s privacy, but if they’re under the age of 18 you have to consider that you can be held responsible for many of their actions. While you want to create trust with your child, there are still situations that kids can fall into online where they aren’t safe and the risks they take can have a huge effect on your life as well as theirs. With this taken into consideration, you may want to look into tools which allow you to monitor what your child does online and on their phone, which can come in handy in situations where their safety is at risk.

The best way to keep your child safe and happy is to have good communication and trust. In a perfect world that would be enough, but as a teenager in this digital age, there are constant threats out there and sometimes kids don’t have the tools or the insight to deal with those situations in the safest way. If you’re worried that your child really is at risk and they aren’t being open and honest with you, you many need to take measures to ensure their safety either through limitations or monitoring tools or by seeking outside help through counseling so that you can better communicate about the situation.

Naomi Shaw is a journalist who lives in California with her husband and three kids. She has a passion for writing on home decor, DIY and parenting. Her having 3 kids has made her even more aware and take all the right precautions when it comes to social media.

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