The internet has become both a hub of positivity and negativity in this techno-savvy era. Internet access has placed a dilemma on the dos and don\’ts of parenting concerning internet usage by children. Today children have easy access to YouTube videos and millions of internet sites. Moreover, the question that often stands out in parent-child relation is; \’Should parents monitor their children\’s online activity?\’ Technology can be a learning tool but it can be risky for children.
Parents are concerned about children using the internet and what to know what websites they are visiting, how they are using the computer. When it comes to some parents, monitoring is not about invading privacy but the safety of their child. Other parents think talking to children and educating them on the dangers of online activities is enough. They believe the internet is a primary educational and developmental tool for children. However, it is not arguably universal that parents should not monitor their children\’s online activities. Here is an in-depth discussion of why parents should and should not monitor their children\’s online activity.
Why should children monitor their children\’s online activity?
The internet has sometimes been called a large city with no police. Think of all those megacities like New York or Paris without a police force. It sounds scary. The most arguments put forward by parents in favor of monitoring their kids\’ online activities are safety over privacy. Contrary to what the children may want, here are some reasons parents believe that this is not only important but necessary.
The internet is the most efficient instrument of child predators, enabling the finding and establishing of friendships. When parental monitoring is restricted, parents may not be aware of whom their children have been talking to. Monitoring can help parents protect their children from becoming vulnerable to online predators and reduce the risk and possibility of manipulation and trafficking.
Parents love their children to allow them to get exposed to cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can induce emotional stress and trauma in children. Some children may not be open enough to alert their parents of the kind of harassment they would be facing on social media platforms. Monitoring can assist parents in knowing what their children are going through and provide them with necessary parental remedies and support. It makes it easier for parents to observe the signs and become aware of whether their parents have been recipients of perpetrators of cyberbullying.
Bad relationships online
Children\’s minds are full of naughty ideas. Furthermore, social media brings to life these ideas when children see some of their online friends posting what may be right in their minds but as parents deemed immoral. Today anyone online can lie about their age and children are getting exposed to such people who can impose them on bad habits such as shoplifting, drugs, or getting a lousy tattoo before making a fully informed choice. Parents may want to monitor their children to become aware of what kind of stories and issues they would be chatting about with their online friends. The kind of information children trade influences their behaviors and, in the long run, makes it necessary for parents to monitor what their children hear and what they should not.
Sometimes children post the kind of information that they should not be posting online. The commonly known kind of such information is nudity. It may damage the child\’s reputation and affect their future college admission chances or getting a job. Monitoring allows parents to know what their parents are posting online, and if damaging, they can quickly assist with damage control.
Children tend to unintentionally reveal more information about themselves than they are supposed to. More often than not, they reveal information regarding their whereabouts, which enables online strangers to locate them in the real world. It is dangerous to the safety of the children. Intervention can best work if parents are allowed to monitor their children online.
Viruses and malware
It is sometimes tricky to impossible for kids to identify and evaluate the trustworthiness of internet sites or apps. They may infect the computer with viruses sent by online cybercriminals, the virus, it accesses data or compromises network security. Computer repair may also be expensive in case of damage and can have a toll on the family budget.
When children are vulnerable to dishing out excess information about themselves to strangers, it makes it easy for predators to steal their identities for fraudulent activities or opening up credit cards. In the future, it may implicate the child in criminal activities and complicate their lives. Prevention is better than cure.
Limiting screen time
Monitoring can allow parents to understand how much time children spend online and implement strategies to limit it. Children require time of being active and exercising their minds through other means off the screen as the screen can become addictive.
Over 75 percent of children are said to be spending 90 percent of their time online. This increases their ability to explore and utilize technology, yet at the same time, they can develop an online addiction, and this can result in adverse mental and physical health problems. Children can either learn how to navigate the digital environment or start posting nude pictures. However, regardless of the imperative to protect, others still feel that privacy is critical for children, and parents should desist from monitoring their children\’s online activities.
Here are some of the reasons why parents should not monitor their children\’s online activity.
Some parents argue that no amount of monitoring can protect children from everything and that the adolescent period is filled with several difficulties for the kids, which makes them require privacy and personal freedom to develop their own identities. Even though parents find it difficult to let loose their children, sometimes maintaining \’surveillance\’ on children can cause more harm than good. So why should children monitor their children\’s online activity? The main objective of parenting is to create a healthy and sufficient child, and the process reaches its climax when the children begin to enjoy autonomy. Parents should accord their children a balance between safety and freedom, which may not go well with monitoring their online activities.
Hurting of the parent-child relationship
Monitoring children\’s activities is a form of meddling in their privacy which may ruin the parent-to-child relationship. Monitoring can send the wrong signals to children that indicate mistrust from their parents and hurt their feelings. When parents monitor their children out of their insecurities and anxieties more than the real concerns for their children\’s safety, their relations with their children may get jeopardized.
Monitoring through spyware applications, however covert that may be, might eventually become known to them given the kids\’ tech-savvy attitudes. The moment they become aware that they are getting spied on, they become even more secretive. This harms their relationship with their parents and may prove to be counter-productive as they may continue with their dangerous online activities in more hideous ways. Monitoring diminishes trust, which makes parental protection more challenging to provide.
Need for space for practicing responsibility
Children need the space to learn and practice managing their online activities such as downloads, posts, uploads, and friends. Moreover, the big joke in some families is that parents force their children to use custom screen printing over digital printing to keep them away from computers. Monitoring may become a form of policing that deprives them of a sense of responsibility once they are no longer there. The use of cyber-spying by parents is an admission of the failure to instill values in their children, which motivates them against abusing the internet.
Monitoring different age groups.
When and if parents have decided to monitor the activities of their children online, it is crucial to consider the different age groups and the kind of monitoring they should accord them. Privacy matters to children, and the older they become, the more privacy and autonomy they demand and deserve.
It is easier for parents to monitor the online activities of the kindergartens given how low privacy the kindergartens require privacy. The kind of intimate relationship and less space between the kindergartens and their parents, especially the mothers, make it easier for them to monitor them closely. At this age, the children can even have no device of their own and use their parents\’ computer or cell phone devices. Parents can quickly scroll through the history and chats and see the kind of people their children are talking to, sites they visit, and the kind of material they would be downloading. Monitoring for kindergartens can be more intense given how young they are and their inability to make informed, independent decisions.
For the children of the ages between kindergarten and teenage striking, a balance between privacy and security is necessary. At this age, the majority of children may not be demanding more privacy than their teen counterparts. They may also not be responsible as compared to their elder counterparts. Less demand for autonomy tends to provide room for parents to monitor without compromising their relationship with their children. They can still manage to maintain trust while checking on what their children are doing online. Whereas children below the age of seven may have no problem with intense monitoring, those between seven and twelve may find parents\’ scrolling of their chats annoying. Parents can demand that children put no passwords on their devices, making their computers accessible to the rest of the family members to dissuade them from indulging in unacceptable activities.
As children grow, the use of the internet increases as they access services online. They may want to book for the dentist, shop online, or study online.
Children tend to require more autonomy as they grow older and develop a sense of freedom and forge independent identities. Giving them space allows them to decide what is good and bad and helps them figure out who they are in the world. Adolescence tends to experience many dilemmas with regards to their position in the world and their future. This is a time when decision-making starts, and they need to figure out how to become adults. Less monitoring and granting them more space for independent decision-making becomes imperative in helping them to become self-sufficient individuals.
Children tend to require more trust from their parents, making it necessary for parents to leave them alone and trust that they will make the right decisions and do the right things. As children grow and near adulthood, they need to be ready to be independent, and the process that prepares them for that requires more trust from their parents. Less monitoring through allowing them to put passwords on their phones and keep them to themselves is important in showing them that parents trust them. That will help them become responsible as a way of reciprocating and continue earning the same freedoms.
Parents with teaching jobs often recommend that children be taught values as part of security solutions that will motivate them to desist from specific actions. For these values to be practical and for parents to see whether their children are practicing them or not, less monitoring is required to give them space for self-actualization. As children grow, parents should allow them to play adults and experience the real world.
The question of why parents should monitor their children\’s online activities grasps security and privacy issues. With age increase, privacy demands tend to increase for the children, and security worries should decrease for the parents as the children become more knowledgeable and entirely responsible. If parents decide to monitor children\’s online activities, the first step is to talk to them about it. Let them know that they will be occasionally monitored. Parents should be familiar with today\’s apps to understand better what children like to do online. There is much debate whether parents should monitor their children\’s online activities, but at the end of the day, each parent always has to go for what is best for their child.