Friday, 20 May 2016

Kids are complicated

Kids are complicated. They need privacy.
In this article, Livingstone walks us through the daily routine of her research subjects -- the way networks ebb and flow through their face to face interactions, family time, homework and leisure. Her account sharply highlights danah boyd's finding from her indispensable book It's Complicated, that teens prize face-to-face time above computer and phone time, but it has to be time with their peers and away from adult supervision -- a rare commodity in the era of bubblewrap child-rearing.
I've come across a few real life reasons why kids need privacy.  In one case, a girl was being abused by her parents and confided in a friend. They spoke about it on their phones.  The parents of the friend snooped her phone, found messages about the abuse and confronted the abusers. This made things much worse for the girl and put her in even more danger.

Image result for spying on your kidsI'm not suggesting that the abuse should have been kept secret.  Clearly the abusers needed to be stopped.  I'm saying that snooping your own kid's phone can have dire consequences for other people.  Because kids are complicated.  In this case, the assumption of privacy was vital; the girl likely wouldn't have confided in anyone if she thought it would be intercepted.  If your kids know you're snooping their phones, they won't use them to communicate about sensitive things.  If they know you're tracking their phones they won't take them when they go somewhere without their approval.

Spying on your kids is likely only to put them at greater risk.  Fostering a trusting environment is a lot more difficult but obviously superior.  Respect your kids, Accept their need for privacy.

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