Alicia Kozakiewicz was a victim of an internet predator. She had chatted and texted him for months. When they met in person, he drugged her, beat her, and chained her up in his basement. She was 13 years old.
You wouldn’t think Alexis Pilkington had any problems. She friendly and extremely popular. She was a victim of cyberbullying which led to her suicide.
A group of high school students made a video using their phone that showed themselves in drunken sex acts. Then they showed the video to friends at school. They were reported, arrested and charged with child pornography. In Virginia, where this incident took place, a charge of child pornography could result in 20 years in prison and being required to register as a sex offender.
Statistics show that nearly 40% of teenagers participate in sexting where they send sexually suggestive messages, pictures, or videos to others. They may know that it is wrong but think nobody else will find out. These pictures may be shared with others. Even worse, once they get posted on the internet, they’re there forever. This can definitely affect the future plans of going to college and getting a job.
The point of all these stories and statistics is to show that we don’t always know what our children do online. These parents certainly didn’t. I suggest that if parents knew beforehand, teenagers wouldn’t be sexting. They wouldn’t become victims of internet predators or cyber bullying.
The only way to truly know what they are doing online is by monitoring their activity. I know this is a controversial subject, and a lot of people would disagree with me, but it is the parent’s responsibility to know what their child is getting themselves into. This is why parents spy on text messages.
Why Some Parents Will Not Use a Monitoring Tool
On the opposite side of the coin, some parents believe you should not monitor what your child does online because it invades their privacy. It’s also about trust. They want their children to know they trust them.
Teenagers make dumb decisions without thinking about the consequences. In fact, their brains aren’t even fully developed until around age 22. They have a lot on their mind from trying to understand what’s going on with their bodies to trying to fit in socially with their peers. We have to help them whether they like it or not. I’m all for letting my kids learn from their mistakes but not when it comes to endangering their lives. Not if I can prevent it.
It Does Invade Their Privacy
Parents who feel monitoring is an invasion of their child’s privacy maintain they will trust their child until they are given a reason not to. Personally, I don’t want to wait until they make that mistake. You may find out that your child was texting or being cyber bullied when it’s too late to help them. No, I want to be able to sleep peacefully at night.
You Should Be Able to Trust Them
Don’t get me wrong. I do believe you should show your child you trust them – to a certain point. For example, I will trust my son to go to a friend’s house as long as he behaves. If he acts like a “bull in a china shop” and is disrespectful to his friend’s parents, he will lose my trust and not be able to go anywhere for a while. If my daughter asks, I will trust her to take my car and go shopping with a friend, but if she’s caught speeding and gets a ticket, she’ll lose my trust and may not be able to drive again for a while. She’ll also find a way to pay for that ticket.
So, you see, there are plenty of other opportunities to show your child you trust them. But when it comes to the internet, it’s extremely dangerous to give them complete control. Even adults have to be careful to not fall prey to fraudulent emails and advertisements.
The internet has changed our world, and it happened quickly. It’s a way to stay in contact with people or answer questions. No longer do we have to buy a set of encyclopedias for our child to use at home because they can find the information they need on the internet. Parents can do their bills online, shop online, and find good quality entertainment. You can even do your job online. The internet is wonderful in so many ways.
Website, blogs, and social media sites are exploding with growth. Unfortunately, also exploding online are scammers, thieves, and dangerous criminals.
Teens want their privacy, but they are not very good about following the privacy policies posted on websites they visit. For example, many will lie about their ages so they can join the site. They give out private information and post inappropriate pictures making themselves prime targets for predators and scammers. They are victims of cyber bullies or may even be bullies themselves.
If you do decide to install a monitoring tool to help protect your child, do your research. There are many types of monitoring apps that can be downloaded to your computer. TeenSafe can be downloaded to any computer with internet, and you can access the information from any computer, such as your computer at work. TeenSafe provides many services including a location tool. You’ll also be able to see your child’s text messages, even deleted ones. You can see where they go and what they do or say on social media sites like Facebook or Instagram. The cost is very reasonable, and they offer a free trial period.
So, is a monitoring tool the way to go. A million times – Yes! Just the peace of mind you’ll have knowing your child is safe from internet criminals is worth it.