Tech & Media
I Give My Kids No Privacy Online And I Plan To Keep It That Way
By Leslie Kennedy
PHOTO © DragonImages/Getty Images
May 22, 2019
Technology is a wonderful and amazing thing. Literally everything I could ever want to know about anything ever, I can find out using my telephone! That I carry around with me in my pocket! What a wonderful time to be alive.
I am laying the foundation NOW about what level of privacy they can expect on the tech they use: none.
The thing is, as any parent will tell you, this "wonderful thing" also brings along with it a host of challenges we 21st-century parents are dealing with that our parents never did. Times have changed and, as such, so is the level of privacy I plan to allow my children versus what I felt entitled to be afforded 30 years ago.
If my kids want to keep locked journals, they can go nuts. I’ll do my very best at self-control to avoid grabbing it from between the mattresses and rummaging through the pages over chips and a glass of wine. But if they want access to the internet and accessibility to social media? Sorry, kids, but there's no such thing as online privacy in this house.
Relevant Reading: My Eight-Year-Old Daughter’s On Instagram And I Like It
I have zero trust in the internet. I’m not typically a helicopter mom when it comes to the world outside my house, but you better believe my kids can hear the whirring of my presence any time they’re on their tech.
My children are currently almost eight and a newly minted 10. They are still too young for social media and their access to chatting with friends online is limited to Facebook Messenger for kids, over which my husband and I have control.
Hopefully they’ll be too worried about their nosey parents seeing their business that maybe, just maybe, they’ll turn to old lock-and-key journals and the good ol' telephone to converse with friends.
So, yes, I’m one of those moms who says "When my kids are older I will X," as if I have any clue what actualities we will face down the line. But I am laying the foundation NOW about what level of privacy they can expect on the tech they use: none.
I randomly walk behind my children while they’re online and look at what they’re doing when they don’t know. I will demand they hand over their tablets immediately, randomly and without warning, so that I can browse the screens they’re looking at. Tablets are not allowed above the main floor of the house. There is no tech allowed upstairs, at all.
Yes, my kids are little and as school work increases and my children grow, they’re going to demand more privacy and more access to the internet and all of the advantages it provides. It won’t always be this easy to be nosey. My seven-year-old is far less likely to throw a fit if I ask to see his tablet while he’s really only ever playing Roblox (or watching some random dude in his basement play Roblox), than he will be at 17.
But the expectation I'm setting is that I will always be in their faces asking to see what they’re doing and making it clear that I know what lies beyond the particular screen they’re looking at. The internet is not going to be a place my children ever get to wander freely, without any oversight — at least not in this house.
But the expectation I'm setting is that I will always be in their faces asking to see what they’re doing....
We will likely bend our rule about tech upstairs, eventually. But for now, I expect an answer to "Who are you talking to?" and immediate compliance with "Pass me your tablet." I will go through the open screens with zero remorse and I will tell my kids if I see them doing something that I don’t approve of.
I'm hoping this will limit their attempts or desire to use their tech for nefarious purposes. Hopefully they’ll be too worried about their nosey parents seeing their business that maybe, just maybe, they’ll turn to old lock-and-key journals and the good ol' telephone to converse with friends. My kids may eventually get sneaky and try to hide their online habits better, but for now, I have a shot of making sure they aren't bullying, talking to dangerous people or visiting unsafe places on the web.
My children are entitled to privacy, yes. But that entitlement ends the second they enter the world of the internet.