Spying on your kids: where to draw the line

Spying on your kids: where to draw the line (Photo: Joel Feick NBC25/FOX66)

(FLINT, Mich.) Getting a cell phone has become a milestone for most kids. But with that new responsibility comes horror stories of how the devices have been misused.

One teen told us about an incident at school, which lead to major consequences.

Robert Burton, who graduated high school and is entering college says "the couple broke up, so they sent nudes to other people at school. Everyone got suspensions"

To prevent scenarios like that, parents are monitoring their child's cell phone use. A dad says his 9 year old has a phone, so he's taking action.

The man who asked that we simply call him Tim from Davison says " we eavesdrop while he's playing those games..but we've built a relationship so I don't see it as a problem.

A U of M Flint professor, who teaches a course on digital culture says monitoring their kids social media can raise questions of trust..

Marcus Paroske says"they need to be involved, engaged and set ground rules with your children on how much interaction is appropriate and who they're talking to".

Jada Rogers parents put strict limits on her social media use.

Rogers says "every social media account had to have a password. I was very monitored and it made me uncomfortable".

Another student ,Jeff Norberg says "my mom had my Facebook password and she'd go in there and check the messages. It made me unhappy".

Addiction to the phone is having new consequences for kids who aren't familair with the long range consequences.

Paroske says"it's one thing to make decisions when you're 14 about what you're broadcasting. But to have then come back at you at 24. Don't think potential employers aren't monitoring the accounts of their young job applicants".

And that can be a problem as kids grow older as they try to get into a particular school or get a job.

So it it OK to actually spy on your kids. Paroske says there's a line parents can cross when mom and dad go too far with their surveillance.

Paroske says for example "listening in on phone calls or following them when they leave. At some point they need to navigate the world.

Tim adds, "what we've done is to try to safeguard and build a relationship so he can tell us anything and he does".

According to Paroske, "I would rather have parents have continuing conversations about the pitfalls and the prospects of that then trying to think they can surveil their way into knowing everything their child is doing because the child will be able to hide things you won't know about".

Paroske says parents need to set boundaries. And most of all talk to your kids.

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