Blog Stalking Parents…Fair Game?

by Marianne Richmond on November 26, 2005

The Weekend Journal has an article about yet another innovative way to join the blogosphere, spying on your children. Big Mother is Watching (available by subscription) tells of a mother (unfortunately working "outside the home" as a marketing consultant….giving marketing consultants and mothers a bad name) who caught her daughter behaving badly by monitoring her blog….the mother said she would not read her daughter’s diary if it were in her room but inasmuch as her daughter was telling the world via the Internet, blog stalking her daughter’s activities seemed totally OK.

Well, I have two adolescent kids and would have to say that if they had blogs, just like the rest of us, they should understand that anything that they write would be available for the world to read. The world of a teenage blogger could include parents, grandparents, teachers and of course, their peers. If this is not obvious, this might be a good thing to add to our parental repertoire of warnings!

Now,  the next paragraph of the WSJ article goes on to say that the mother, after her initial blog discovery went on to put various spying software programs on her computers and now spends 30 minutes a day monitoring her daughter’s activities. 30 minutes a day spying on her daughter! Maybe she should take 30 minutes a day to hang out with her daughter to find out what she is up to. The Journal had a little sub-section on the necessary tools for spying on ones children on-line. What a tangled web!

The Pew statistics say that 19% of 12-17 year olds, 4mm kids, who use the Internet, have a blog. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has recently published FAQs for Student Blogging that discusses legal issues associated with blogging but also points out that it would be a good idea to remember that a blog is not a private diary that is kept in ones room….discretion is the better part of valor.

OK, there have been various "on-line" incidents, with my kids….all of the IM variety. I don’t particularly appreciate that they try to minimize the screen when I enter the room.  I try to keep an eye on it and I lecture them far more than they want to hear. My standard monologue is mostly don’t IM anything that you wouldn’t say out loud, if everyone you knew including your parents were listening.

I also have told them of discussions among their friend’s parents who DO keep monitoring devices on their computers… and even though I don’t, someone else’s Big Mother could be listening. I have also told them about one of my friend’s whose son was in my son’s class who would get on her son’s IM account and blithely pretend to be him. I hope that they are listening to me. If not, the IMs will end. I do not want to be a spy.

As far as blogging is concerned, they don’t blog. They think it is stupid that I do…and there you have it as far as that goes. My older son tells me there is a kid in his class who blogs…he says he is kind of "depressed" and writes depressing things; he says he has very high readership. Niches are important.

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