Feature

On invading your child’s privacy

When you buy your kids a smartphone, you are giving them a powerful weapon.

Leonard SaxThe Wall Street Journal

When you buy your kids a smartphone, said Leonard Sax, you are giving them a powerful weapon. The technology in their hand can be used for bullying, sexting, and life-damaging mistakes, “and the person most responsible for that behavior is you, the parent.” Consider the recent example of a sixth-grader who used her phone to send a fairly mild cleavage shot to her 14-year-old boyfriend. The photo went viral in the community, and the fallout was toxic. Harassed at school, labeled a “slut,” and shunned by former friends, the 12-year-old crumbled under the abuse—refusing to go to school, repeatedly cutting herself with a razor blade, and contemplating suicide. Similar incidents occur almost daily around the country. But parents are not helpless. We can install software on our kids’ smartphones that lets us monitor what photos and messages they post—and tell them we’re doing so. Isn’t that a violation of their privacy? No, because “there is no privacy online.” It’s extremely important for kids to know that any photo or message they send via the Internet may wind up being seen by the whole world—including Mom and Dad.

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