Should Parents Be Required to Monitor Their Child’s Digital Device?

Today is September 7, 2017 and it was only a year ago on September 5, 2017 that Hope instagram messaged Max for the first time.  Thinking of this day has me compelled to discuss the role parents play in their child’s ability to harm or be harmed by a digital device (i.e., cellphone, computer, iPad, etc.). Would you hand your child a plane ticket to travel anywhere in the world with any random stranger?  Isn’t that what we are doing when we hand them a digital device connected to the World Wide Web?

If you knew that removing the stigmatism of “invasion of privacy” from your child’s device could save their’s or someone else’s life, or spare them from unnecessary pain, would you remove it?  Some might fear their child is too old to implement this new perspective even though they are still paying for the device;  and perhaps they are right.  However, it’s not too late for those of you with young children. When my 20 year old son and his girlfriend read the draft of this post they said they felt it would be hard if a parent were to suddenly demand to start reading their phone, however, when thinking of their future children, they hope it will be common place to monitor their child’s device.  I am not here to tell you what to do, especially as I am also still considering these same questions.  I am just here to encourage you to ask yourself some questions and consider other perspectives.  Are you practicing your gift of free will if controlled and entrapped by specific beliefs?

There was a day when it was considered an “invasion of privacy” to read your child’s private diary because it was usually locked and hidden away only for the eyes of the author.  Should it also be considered an invasion of privacy to monitor/read the contents of a digital device,  that you are paying for, when it is not limited to one-sided communication with the author; and could bring harm to others?  How is a parent expected to monitor, educate, protect and provide for a child when they have no idea what they are doing and it is considered an invasion of privacy to attempt to see and monitor how they are maturing and interacting with others?

When I was young, we had wired telephones. Parents had the ability to monitor and limit the time their children spent on the phone. You could only drag the chord so far; and even a stack of towels shoved under the bathroom door didn’t mean your parents couldn’t hear your conversation. If you wanted to say something mean to someone, you would have to go out of your way to do it in private. If your parents heard you being mean or bullying someone, would they have been held accountable as your parents? If so, how is a digital device any different?  Now, with the internet, once we hand them a digital device, we are handing them a plane ticket to travel anywhere in the world in the care of any random stranger. Is it even kind to place someone who can not provide for themselves alone in a digital/cyber world?

Would you use your device differently if the person paying for your service (if other than yourself) was expected to monitor what you say and do with that device? If your boss was expected to read and monitor your company phone or computer, would you be more conscious of how you used that device? Is it so wrong to ask that the child/person who we are providing the service and/or device to, to be conscious of how they use the device? Would it be wrong to educate, monitor and require that anyone we provide a car, keys, gas and/or insurance to; to drive safely and be conscious of how they use that vehicle? Would it be wrong NOT to, and allow someone who can not provide for themselves, be able to handle a possible weapon without education and supervision?

Would it be easier for us as parents if the day we hand our child their device we could say, “This is my device and I am allowing you to use it. As long as I allow you to use it or provide you with the ability to use it, I am required to make sure that you can and are using it safely and responsibly. If you would prefer to be in complete control of this device you are welcome to purchase and pay for one as soon as you are able to do so. Until then, I may not want to, but I have to monitor the use of this device.”?

All I ask is that you consider these questions. I am not suggesting that laws be put into place or people lose any rights.   Perhaps we give mankind the ability to use common sense by removing digital devices as possible weapons by simply changing the way we manage/perceive them and attach some accountability to them?

Practice your free will. Make your own choice. At least consider the perspective and make an educated choice.  Every day I witness a child being babysat by a digital device and I fear that if it doesn’t become common place to monitor what your child is doing on such a device, we will lose the ability to protect our youth.  Please remember that it only took four short months from September 5th, 2017 for Max to lose his desire to live due to the digital deception and relationship with Hope.  If you want to see something change, be the change and have the conversation with your child.

1 Comment

  1. Such important considerations!!! I agree that attention must be given to how digital devices are used. We parents know we are responsible for teaching other communication skills; why should this be any different?!

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