Should we spy on our kids?

spy on our kids

Claire Perry, the former banker and current Conservative MP is always getting into trouble, generally for appearing to be way too happy and successful. She is a comprehensive school girl who made good and this week is the subject of a sneer campaign for suggesting that parents keep tabs on their children’s text messages and online chitchat. As a mother of three children, she admitted that when she suggested to her 13-year-old daughter that she be able to read her texts her daughter “looked at her as if she was insane”.

I know that look, and so do most mothers of teenagers in this country. And to be honest I don’t think Mrs Perry is seriously suggesting we spend cosy mother and daughter time scrolling through reams of text speak or wait to wrench it out of their cold clenched hands as they sleep to spy on our children. Generally we know what we will find, a mountain of trivial chit chat, some unwelcome glimpses into our child’s soul and almost certainly language that would make a sailor wince.

But by drawing attention to the dangers of the internet Mrs Perry, as the Prime Minister’s advisor on childhood, is reminding us, as so many have in the past, that childhood is another country. Until recently, that was fine, they could visit this ‘other country’ during and after school and make the occasional unsuitable overnight trip, but they couldn’t get too far, they could only talk in private for as long as they could bear the smell in the phone box, and they had to come home when they were hungry.

With computers, smart phones and the Internet children now have the equivalent of Dr Who’s Tardis and Harry Potter’s cloak of invisibility at their disposal. They can go anywhere any time, any place and we can do very little about it.

Spying on them is about as practical – or possible – as hiring a helicopter to follow them to school. Much as we’d love to, we can’t travel the Internet with them than we could sit behind them on the bus to stop the bullies flicking fags at them in days gone by. But knowing what’s out there means we can warn them, embarrass them, attempt to be a positive influence, and be there for them if or when it all comes crashing down around their ears.

As parents yourselves I’d love to know what you think? Should we monitor our children’s calls? Or just brace ourselves for the fallout when things go wrong? Have you ever had to deal with the latter. Let me know.


2 Responses to Should we spy on our kids?

  1. Louise from sutton cambridge says:

    I think cheeking what your kids do from time to time in there bedroom with out giving them notice and by creeping up the stairs to just open there door is a gr8 thing to do…..i have a 18 year old son and i pop in and chat to his girl friend on skye and say oh no not bikes again….This way if he is acting strange by cheeking in his room i may get a clue on how to help him….While he lives in my home he will never get 100% private life so that one day he will want to move out to get his own private space….other wise kids have no reason to get there own place…I just ask my son who was that on your phone and what you doing…If he dont answer me then i cheek up on his phone because i feel he is hiding something from me….but while he says you can open my parcels if you want mum…i’m not worried..His parcels are up grade for his race bike….

  2. Elaine Jeffery says:

    Yes we should keep a eye on them, as we would with anything they do, but not be too instrusive. My children have all grown up now. I have always shown a great interest in what they are doing and who with. I only interfere or comment if I think they are in danger, even leaving them to make fools of themselves if necessary. The best way to learn is by making mistakes. They trust me and come to me for advice. They are all open about what they are doing and I have them as “friends” on my Facebook etc, as do my grandchildren. None of them seem to hold back on what they let me see and I can see that they are all safe and enjoying themselves. They have good morals and sense of community. I am proud of them all.

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