Do Children Need Privacy Online?

Angela Skinner Mullen

The cyber world is a work-in-progress, and we’re still learning how to navigate all the ups and downs we’re encountering out there. We worry about our online accounts getting hacked into, we’re scared that our personal information is being viewed and used by people without our consent, and what worries us the most is that our kids are online too with same potential dangers.

Kids as young as two are playing educational games online. As they get older, it’s much more of challenge to keep them protected from all the bad stuff that is lurking out there. Many of us have our child’s password for their accounts, and for some kids, just knowing you have it can scare them into behaving better. But just because you have their passwords, don’t use them as an excuse to snoop.

It’s tempting, isn’t it? You could just pop in and make sure “all is well”. Make sure your daughter isn’t conversing with a potential predator. See if your teenager is posting party pics that could ruin his chances of running for office someday. But wait right there. Snooping isn’t the way to protect your kids, and if they find out (and they probably will), it can wreck your relationship.

A better way is to communicate with your kids. Talk to them about why they need to be safe. What the repercussions are if they behave badly online. Make sure they understand that whatever they post comments about or whatever picture they put up – it’s out there in cyberspace. Forever. Tell them you are choosing to trust them, and try to do so. All the bumps on the way to adulthood make us the grown-ups we are today. If we want our kids to be responsible, we have to let them take on a little responsibility. Start small, set limits, and have that talk now. If you really suspect there is trouble, you’ll have the passwords, just in case.

Have you ever invaded your child’s privacy online? Or been tempted to?

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