Spying on Your kids
The technology to spy on your kids is out there. But should you?
A Matter of Trust continued...
"Adolescents are trying to separate from their parents, and
that's developmentally appropriate," he says. "For normal adolescents,
these devices would be intrusive and possibly damaging to the parents'
relationship with the child. That means people who want to use these devices
need to look carefully at their concerns. Is there some particular reason this
child needs extra supervision, such as a drug problem, or drinking and driving?
In those cases it may be appropriate to explain that you have to keep a closer
eye on them."
Another question should be: Are we legally allowed to
monitor our children?
Dean Kaufman, a lawyer who practices in Eugene, Ore., says in
his state if you record a conversation without letting all participants know
about it first, it's a Class A misdemeanor, subject to a fine or as much as a
year in jail. However, the prohibition doesn't apply if you record members of
your own family within your own home.
Which means, in Oregon, at least, children could theoretically
file civil lawsuits against their parents for harassment and invasion of
privacy. The lawsuit would be more plausible if use of monitoring devices was
secret, Kaufman says, less plausible if it was part of a management program
discussed with the child.
Since each state makes its own laws on these issues, parents
would be well-served to consult a lawyer for information on local laws on
childhood monitoring, he says.
What Brought Us to This?
The romanticized idea of an American childhood used to mean
pickup ball games, putting on an impromptu show in the back yard, and
unscheduled time to decipher cloud shapes and daydream. Ask grownups today for
images of an ideal childhood, and they'll describe Tom Sawyer whitewashing a
fence or Huck Finn drifting down the Mississippi.
Tomorrow's adults are more likely to recall back-to-back
appointments for Little League, drama club, soccer camp, dance recitals, and
foreign language drills.
"In general, parents are highly stressed today, more
worried about their jobs," Brush says. "As everybody gets busier we
have less contact with our kids. We're not at home as much, and the kids, too,
are out doing other things."