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Tuesday, January 27, 2009



So when I was in high school I had an email - this was way back when they were new. My parents had the password. I felt weird about it but I knew they were looking out for me. So I did all the things they didn't want me to in person or on chat - why put it in email where they could catch me and hold it over me?

I also had a cell - my boyfriends parents actually had a car phone - remember those? I could only use it to call approved numbers and only took it with me when I drove, in case of an accident.

Now I was a dream child as a teenager, even if my parents didn't realize it until the other 3 got older. They eventually all had emails and cells.

I caught my sister with porn on her computer - she was 15 or 16 at the time (she's all growed up and married now). *I* didn't think it was a big deal at the time. I'm sure my parents would have felt differently.

I don't have kids, and I don't have the right to say a thing about how anyone raises theirs. I know that my parents snooping over my shoulder left me feeling like they didn't trust me, made me less likely to go to them with issues, and more likely to hide things. I think, as the older sister of 3, my siblings came to me more then they ever went to our/their parents.

Open communication from early on is what prevented me from engaging in risky behavior as a teen. My mom had the sex talk early, I knew drugs were bad, and alcohol dangerous before I hit 7th grade. I was a fairly responsible teen too in that regard - having 1 beer in high school and few in college, no sex until college, and waiting until I was actually mature enough to be responsible for my actions.

My answer, I think if I were a parent, would be A. Let her show you before you ask to see it.

You wanna know what going on in your kids lives? Talk early. Talk honestly. Talk often.

My son is only 15 months old and I have already had thoughts of what this is going to be like when he is of age. Its scary stuff! I love the site, you write about some cool stuff.

Summer: My instinct is right along with yours. I guess it will require a lot of faith in my own abilities as a parent.

Chase: Thanks. Good luck with the blog.

I don't think there's a one-size-fits-all answer for this sort of thing. I was in college before internet and email use became widespread, and my mom, God bless her, has trouble with anything more technologically advanced than a toaster, so I knew there was no danger of her discovering any of my email or websurfing habits. But she certainly was an expert and finding things I stashed under the mattress or deep inside my dresser, and it irritated the heck out of me as a fairly typically surly, moody teenager and I swore I'd never snoop on my own kids.

Now, living with another typically surly, moody teenage stepson that I have very little say over and a toddler that hopefully I will, I'm probably swinging back the other direction. A little snooping probably doesn't hurt -- not necessarily because you do a good or a bad job as a parent. But because sometimes even good kids don't have the best judgement and will forget to mention or outright lie about things they don't want you to know about, regardless of whether you probably SHOULD know about them. You don't necessarily need to act on everything, but it's a good idea to know about it. IMO.

I suspect I won't need to snoop. I sense moods like a bee senses pollen. Then again, I've been fooled a lot too, over the years.

I will probably err on the side of monitoring, and limiting access, but I haven't thought through all of this clearly yet.

I would also add, girls will be girls. If the NYTimes magazine story about female sexuality wasn't all BS, women in our culture are aroused by the idea of being desired. I happen to think the culture feeds and nurtures that concept, but regardless, plenty of teenage girls may choose for themselves to send erotic photos of themselves. Teenage sexual awakening is not simply a story about boys "who just gotta have it," after all.

I agree that you can only go so far in keeping teens from being teens. I suppose over the years I'll go too far in one direction, then too far the other way.

BTW, I've been trying to find time to read the NYT piece. Is it worth it or a waste of time?

Simple outlook for me. If you don't trust your kid with the product, don't give the product to your kid. At 13, a kid is likely to be dependent upon you for paying for such things.

For a 13-year-old, I'm straining to conceive of a critical need for a cell phone beyond just peer pressure. We as a species somehow survived before cell phones were invented.

I think that's a good way of looking at: only give kids products their mature enough to handle.

As for cell phones: I lean against them, at least early on, too. Then again, they are a nice safety feature.

I don't think monitoring is a solution, but there definitely must be a parental control software .

For me...its Ok to have that technology...this is the big role in us being a parents...we're here to remind and guide them what's the things should be in good or bad...:)! We have to be a SuperParents! but beware of being OA...:)

From the Philippines
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