Is it truly ideal and effective to keep children from online dangers by allowing parents to monitor their social media accounts?

Opinions on Debatable Issues #10
Should Parents Monitor Their Kids Online?
The New York Times Upfront

Under the law, children in the United States are fully formed human beings with the same basic constitutional rights that adults enjoy. The Fourth Amendment protects privacy against unreasonable searches. A parent monitoring their children’s social media accounts with no evidence of any crimes being committed or dangers present is unreasonable searches. You might say that parents care about their children. However, if someone has a crush on you and cares about your safety, that person has no right to monitor your social media account.


It’s true that due to immature mental and physical development, children are not allowed to drink, vote, nor ran the office. But social media is only a way of socializing and we don’t monitor our kids when they go watch movies or shop at a mall with their friends.
Trust teens to handle their social security account allows them to learn to protect themselves on the internet. In fact, a study by the Pew Research Center revealed that 60% of Facebook users aged 12-17 set their profiles to private. It shows that the majority of teenagers are aware of the benefits of online security and have learned to be responsible for their own actions.

How to Follow a Private Account on Instagram Without Requesting
Techzillo


Monitoring social media is over-protective. Put yourselves into your children’s shoes. Do you want your parents to see you swearing or making inappropriate jokes with friends? Will you agree that your parents place a monitor on you on the ground that you will be kidnapped? No. Instead, we feel uncomfortable and even more reluctant to share anything with our parents. Knowing that hiding things incur serious consequences, we would not tell our parents if we really got into trouble, which makes the situation worse.

Stalker Alert – Signs that Your Child is being Stalked?
TheOneSpy


Many say cyberbullying is rampant or there are online predators. However, in real life, you won’t accompany your children to school only because there is the potential of other students bullying your children. There are teachers, just as there are online content regulations, to maintain the safety of social media users. In fact, Facebook acutely detected and prevented the 13 men’s conspiracy to kidnap Michigan Governor. Studies have shown that overprotective parenting can lead to risk aversion, a dependency on the parents, a higher risk of psychological disorders, a lack of strong coping mechanisms, and chronic anxiety.

Overprotective Parents and a New Generation of American Children – Berkeley  Political Review
Berkeley Political Review


Furthermore, free access to children’s social media accounts undermines any sense of trust between parents and children. When kids know that you can sign on to their social media sites, they can create alternate profiles (and engage in risky online behavior) with their more advanced knowledge of technology. Fake Instagram accounts often referred to as “finstas”, have become the norm for many teens. Joanne Orlando, a researcher at Western Sydney University, found teenagers are “acutely aware of the pressures on them to create and maintain the picture-perfect online profile.” If the parents have access to their social media, they have to behave in accordance with the expectations of their parents to avoid getting into trouble. However, social media is supposed to be a place where people can have fun, release stress, and socialize. To solve the problem and to truly find relief, many teens create alternative accounts under fake names and information so that they can be truly who they are with no concerns about upsetting their parents. Therefore, giving parents access does not make parenting easier or effectively prevent bad influences because it will only pressure the children to hide from their parents.

12 Clues a Relationship with a Parent Is Toxic | Psychology Today
Psychology Today

With children keeping more secrets from their parents, communication becomes harder and less genuine. It would be even harder for parents to understand their children and help them with any problems they might encounter. Let’s think about it. If your parents closely monitor your accounts, you become pressured to create a finsta so that you can chat with your friends freely and express your genuine opinions on the internet. Then, one day, you are threatened by a stranger online to expose your personal information to the entire community if you do not give that person $1000. What would you do? You would hesitate to tell your parents because they would be infuriated when they know you have a fake account and would impose even stricter rules.

finsta | Dictionary.com
Dictionary.com


In contrast, as Professor Peter Gray describes, “Trustful parents are not afraid of life, and they are not irrationally afraid for their children’s lives. Trustful parents have faith in their children’s capacities, and that faith becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.” Just think about it, if your parents do not monitor you, you will be responsible for your actions. Knowing that your parents have so much faith in you, it will be hard for you to fail them by messing around on the internet. Also, knowing that our parents are not overprotective and we will not get into big trouble if we use social media freely, we are more likely to ask our parents for help if we ever encounter issues, such as cyber-bullying.


Many say monitoring children is the best way to save them from the dangers out there. However, to better teach children how to protect themselves, fending off dangers for them only delay the problem instead of getting rid of the problem unless you can monitor them for their whole life. That is why we need to communicate with our children about digital safety and behavior issues. They have to learn to grow up to deal with cyberbullying or online threats on their own. By talking to them regularly and reminding them of the potential dangers of the internet is the best and most appropriate way to go about it. In fact, Pew Research found that “The vast majority of parents of online teenagers [about 98%] have had serious conversations with their kids about the do’s and don’ts of online behavior”. And what’s reassuring is that most teens reported having accepted and internalized those warnings and advice. These data show that education and communication can be an effective way to keep our kids safer not just for now, but for the rest of their life, without impinging on their privacy.

How can we educate students on Internet safety? - Panda Security
Panda Security

Lastly, horrific stories about children getting depressed or committing suicides under the influence of internet groups, such as the Blue Whale, show us that there are serious dangers. However, to effectively address cyberbullying, child predators, or suicide games, we must strengthen internet regulations and monitoring in general, as well as imposing severe penalties on those who harm others on the internet. Just like we should not tell women to cover their bodies and wear no makeups to prevent getting raped, we must deal with the culprit. In this case, those who cyberbully and stir suicidal thoughts should be hunted down and brought to justice.

Stop Using the Federal Death Penalty on Street Crime | Washington Monthly
Washington Monthly

Sources:

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