Earlier today, I served as the “young woman’s voice” in a panel of local experts at a Girl Scouts speaking event. One question for the panel was something to the effect of, "Should parents read their daughter’s texts or monitor her online activity for bad language and inappropriate content?"
I was surprised when the first panelist answered the question as if it were about cyberbullying. The adult audience nodded sagely as she spoke about the importance of protecting children online.
I reached for the microphone next. I said, “As far as reading your child’s texts or logging into their social media profiles, I would say 99.9% of the time, do not do that.”
Looks of total shock answered me. I actually saw heads jerk back in surprise. Even some of my fellow panelists blinked.
Everyone stared as I explained that going behind a child’s back in such a way severs the bond of trust with the parent. When I said, “This is the most effective way to ensure that your child never tells you anything,” it was like I’d delivered a revelation.
It’s easy to talk about the disconnect between the old and the young, but I don’t think I’d ever been so slapped in the face by the reality of it. It was clear that for most of the parents I spoke to, the idea of such actions as a violation had never occurred to them at all.
It alarms me how quickly adults forget that children are people.
Apparently people are rediscovering this post somehow and I think that’s pretty cool! Having experienced similar violations of trust in my youth, this is an important issue to me, so I want to add my personal story:
Around age 13, I tried to express to my mother that I thought I might have clinical depression, and she snapped at me “not to joke about things like that.” I stopped telling my mother when I felt depressed.
Around age 15, I caught my mother reading my diary. She confessed that any time she saw me write in my diary, she would sneak into my room and read it, because I only wrote when I was upset. I stopped keeping a diary.
Around age 18, I had an emotional breakdown while on vacation because I didn’t want to go to college. I ended up seeing a therapist for - surprise surprise - depression.
Around age 21, I spoke on this panel with my mother in the audience, and afterwards I mentioned the diary incident to her with respect to this particular Q&A. Her eyes welled up, and she said, “You know I read those because I was worried you were depressed and going to hurt yourself, right?”
TL;DR: When you invade your child’s privacy, you communicate three things:
- You do not respect their rights as an individual.
- You do not trust them to navigate problems or seek help on their own.
- You probably haven’t been listening to them.
Information about almost every issue that you think you have to snoop for can probably be obtained by communicating with and listening to your child.
from ~13 - 17 I had some tracker application on my computer that would log my keystrokes and watch for swear words, sexual words, and I guess anything else my dad thought it was relevant to track. any time it recognized a relevant word on my end or the other person’s end it would capture the text for the next 30 seconds or something. I still don’t know what the actual application was, but know it existed because I got in trouble multiple times for things it found. my dad claimed it was to make sure I wasn’t talking to pedophiles on the internet [at this time I was on AIM basically any time my computer was on, and for the middle and end of it I was on World of Warcraft], but the things I ended up getting in trouble for were:
1) swearing in conversation with my friends.
2) exploring my sexuality online.
3) issues that my parents would know nothing about had they happened in person, rather than through an internet chat program.
I still hold a lot of animosity towards my dad for thinking that was an okay thing to do. I started developing weird slang to try to get around the filter for things I assumed it was tracking. I would plead with people in group chats not to swear so I could have some semblance of privacy in my online interactions [of course, being 16 and in Catholic school this made me look nuts]. in WoW people swore non-stop so any private conversation I was having at the time I immediately had to stop, and then worry about whether or not my dad was going to see it.
I still waver on whether or not I want children, but this is one issue that I KNOW I will handle better than my parents did. it’s not hard to talk to your child [especially one with a relationship that I had with my parents] about internet etiquette and how to be careful about information you give out and other relevant information beyond tracking every conversation they have online.
so one of my friends posted this to Facebook a bit ago agreeing with the author, and for some reason it sparked a late night rage rant in me. I commented, but it’s still awaiting moderation. what I said under the cut:
so I’ve been going to the gym for a few months now. nothing crazy, just a couple days a week and I do some weight lifting and cardio. it’s been fun. then yesterday I went with my friend Dan: literally the only healthy vegan I know and a straight up wall of muscle.
he basically personal trainered the fuck out of my and my legs have felt LIKE SHIT SINCE THEN. LIKE MORE THAN 24 HOURS. like standing and sitting are painful. I feel like an old lady.
muscles suck, man.
- Mario Kart 8
- Wii U Pro Controller
- Spreader Bar with Restraints
things that will never not stress me out and/or drive me fucking insane: having to rely on other people to do things that I’m unable to do (but not because of ability).
Since the start of 2013 I have:
Gotten a new piercing.
Dyed my hair.
Ended a relationship.
Started a new relationship.
Been on a long car journey.
Passed an exam.
Cried on someone’s shoulder.
Had a massive fight with a significant other.
Had a Valentine.
Written a letter using pen and paper.
Gone to see a therapist.
Been prescribed medication by a doctor.
Read a really good book.
Gone to the zoo.
Spent too much money on unnecessary things.Traveled by train.
Cried over someone. (CAT)
Spent a day out in the sun getting a tan.
Slammed a door out of frustration.
Had an anxiety attack.
Had a BBQ.
Gone to the fair.
Seen a film at the cinema in 3D.
Gone on a date.
Been the only sober one on a night out.
Helped someone home after they’d had too much to drink.
Stayed up all night.
Talked on the phone for over 2 hours.
Supported someone who’d received bad news.
Watched some kind of live sporting event.
Read an entire book in one day.
Bought a DVD the day it was released.
Eaten McDonald’s more than four times in a single week.
Cried as a result of exam stress.
Met some incredible new people.
Fallen backwards off a chair.
Broken my glasses.
Cried over someone in my past.
Spent hours aimlessly browsing the internet.
Cried over a film.
Gone out of my way to avoid an ex-significant other.
Fought with someone in public.
Been in a relationship for a year or longer.
laying on Greg's bed, eating Cheeto puffs together, looking at Kato porn, and discussing how if we were Kato we'd just sit around all day masturbating to ourselves.
this is dating.
one of my students messaged me to let me know he recognized that I used an Oglaf comic in one of my powerpoint presentations…
today my housemates and I went to the grocery store. the first thing I picked up was 2 bags of mallowcreme pumpkins [IT’S THAT TIME]. so we had a cart with literally just 2 bags of mallowcreme pumpkins. then our team broke down two separate aisles, leaving the cart in between both of them as we grabbed what we needed and walked back.
in the time it took me to get a jug of Green Tea, our cart with 2 bags of mallowcreme pumpkins had disappeared.
now we all had a bunch of stuff in our hands. so we walked back to the entrance to grab another cart, figuring one of the store employees thought the cart was abandoned and took it away. then we see this little old woman shuffle by us.
with a cart.
with a SINGLE plastic bag.
and in that plastic bag was just 2 bags of mallowcreme pumpkins.
who was this mallowcreme pumpkin theif? why did she need to steal our cart to get her mallowcreme pumpkins? why didn’t she just walk into the Halloween candy aisle [literally one aisle away] and get her own bags of mallowcreme pumpkins? WHY DID THIS WHOLE EVENT MAKE ME FORGET TO EVEN GET BACK MY BAGS OF MALLOWCREME PUMPKINS?