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Friday, September 28, 2018

Is it OK to spy on your child's online life? | Parenting - Telegraph.co.uk

Rachel Halliwell, The Telegraph inform, "It's the great modern parenting dilemma: how far off the metaphorical leash ought we allow our children to roam when it comes to navigating an increasingly complex technological world?"

Rachel Halliwell seeks out advice on how to keep our offspring safe but not mollycoddled
Photo: E+
For just as views on when to let a child venture out unattended vary widely, so too does parental thinking on how closely monitored their online activity ought to be.

The levels of freedom youngsters are afforded in either area rarely seem to align. Little wonder, says a friend, pointing out how different the two ­environments are. She happily trusts her 12-year-old twin sons to safely take the bus into town, and they've been allowed to hang around our village with their pals for the past couple of years. Yet she worries deeply about the trouble they could get into using their smartphones, despite being physically safe inside their bedrooms. And so she surreptitiously monitors the conversations they hold in cyberspace, going through every message they've sent or received while they sleep.

I argue that she might as well hide behind a bush when they meet their mates at the skate park so she can eavesdrop on their conversations there as well...

I think my friend is overzealous; she believes my approach is naively laissez-faire. Surely there's a middle ground.

"Absolutely," says Liz Stanton, a former police officer who advises parents and schools on this subject via her role with the internet safety organisation, Get Safe Online. The first thing she recommends is an appreciation that our kids are digital natives.

"This is their world," Stanton explains. "And it doesn't scare them the way it does us. Technology is part of their everyday life - we shouldn't presume they're abusing it, or being abused, just because that's possible."

Parental blocks and filters that will stop children from viewing dangerous or unsavoury content have their place, she says. You can also set up programmes that automatically disconnect their phones from the online world at set times. But the most effective tool any parent can employ in helping our children be good digital citizens is talking to them about how to be just that.

"Smartphones are changing how and where children go online, and we have to accept we'll never be able to monitor them 24/7, no matter how much we might want to try," says Stanton. "You might well have every filter and firewall imaginable, and the best monitoring apps downloaded on to your child's phone, but they only have to go to a friend's house where there's none of that control to be exposed to everything you're so frightened of.
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Source: Telegraph.co.uk