Thursday, October 02, 2008

TMI?*

(*too much information)

I observed a conversation recently between several parents of 14-year-olds, and the topic was keeping tabs on the kids and their friends. These parents regularly and without shame read their kids' IMs, Facebook pages, emails, etc. (Apparently the teens have given them permission to do so, as well.) They know in detail who is friendly with whom, who is on the outs with whom, who likes whom, etc. They feel it is in their rights to have this kind of knowledge about their children in this new electronic age, in order to best protect them from harm.

I was surprised, and frankly, somewhat appalled. Does this mean when J is a teen, I have to read all his IMs and emails, too, in order to be a "good parent"? It sounds exhausting.

The concept of privacy seems to have changed in our new, electronic world. Twenty years ago, a mom or dad would think hard before reading their child's diary or listening in on phone calls. But today, things seem to have changed.

I know that there is more opportunity for strangers to make contact with kids nowadays, via chatrooms, IM, Facebook, what have you. I realize that kids need to be protected from these kinds of intrusions. But the type of knowledge these parents had about their children's social lives: is this typical? Or were these parents outside the norm?

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