Should You Spy on Your Kids?

Excerpt from this article:

Digital monitoring — from tracking those whom loved ones communicate with to snooping on their social media accounts to checking their locations — is becoming common even among people who view themselves as mindful of the boundaries with their children and partners.

Is there such a thing as responsible spying on loved ones?

The answer depends on whom you ask. Strong believers in privacy reject the premise of the question outright, while others believe it is possible if consent, trust and respect are involved.

“It comes down to power dynamics,” said Mary Madden, a researcher at Data & Society, a nonprofit research organization. “You can imagine a scenario where, in a family, it’s an unhealthy dynamic.”

…“The game changes when we’re talking about a 16-year-old who feels ‘stalked’ by their parents,” Dr. Boyd wrote in an email. “This is because the sharing of information isn’t a mutual sign of trust and respect but a process of surveillance.”

In her fieldwork with teenagers, she said, she was disturbed to find that the privacy norms established by parents influenced their children’s relationships with their peers. Teenagers share their passwords for social media and other accounts with boyfriends and girlfriends.

“They learned this from watching us and from the language we used when we explained why we demanded to have their passwords,” she said. “And this is all fine, albeit weird, in a healthy relationship. But devastating in an unhealthy one.”

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