Are Parents Going Too Far To Check In On Their Kids?

So far, It’s Complicated by Deborah Boyd is very interesting to me because I have never read a piece of text like it before, especially written by an adult. Boyd is defending teens and appears to be battling parents who disagree with, argue, or dislike how teens in modern day society are using the internet. Many parents feel that teens are “addicted” to the internet and that they are being brainwashed and kept from seeing their friends in person. When in reality, teens would much rather see their friends in person; it is just made much more difficult today due to lack of transportation, busy schedules, parental concerns about safety, and property owners having a distaste for teenagers hanging around on their property.

One main concern among parents that Boyd brings up is that teens are now living in a whole new world that is blocked off to them. Since children are living these separate lives that are not willingly shared with adults, parents get the idea that teens are actively making efforts to hide what they are doing online and get the assumption that their children are engaging in inappropriate and dangerous acts on the internet. This causes friction and distrust between parents and their children and ultimately leads to parents snooping around, by any means possible, to find out what their child is doing online because they feel they have the right to. Boyd explains that “teens are not particularly concerned about organizational actors; rather, they wish to avoid paternalistic adults who use safety and protection as an excuse to monitor their everyday sociality” (56). There is a vicious cycle of teens using the internet to communicate with friends they cannot see in person, teens not wanting their parents to read their private conversations, parents misinterpreting this desire of privacy and interpreting it as their children putting themselves in danger, and parents snooping in their child’s personal life as a result.

Many of the teens Boyd interview expressed a huge desire for trust form their parents. Boyd brings up the important point that “there is a significant difference between having the ability to violate privacy and making the choice to do so” (74). As seen by the many examples of parents prying in on their children’s internet activity, it is very easy for a parent to see what their child is doing. But just because it is easy, doesn’t mean there is an entitled right to do so.

Teen Safe news segment (Scoundcloud)

I have pulled the audio from a clip on a news show that discusses this program called “TeenSafe” that allows parents to see all the activity on their child’s smartphone. This discussion really highlights the lengths that some parents go to in order to pry in on their kids and how they feel entitled in doing so.


6 thoughts on “Are Parents Going Too Far To Check In On Their Kids?”

  1. Parents spend a lot of time talking about how the internet is changing their children and less time considering how it impacts their own behavior and, as a result, the lack of trust between parents and their children. The vicious cycle that you brought up outlines that effectively, especially when you bring up that the internet makes it easier for parents to snoop on their kids. Safety and protection do become an excuse (as does the popular phrase: “I trust you, not everyone else” and “I pay for it so I can do what I want”). Parents do not stop to consider that their children may resent them for this and, as a result, act out more. The Teen Safe Audio seems like something a lot of parents would use, rather than just acting on their supposed trust and talking to them. I think that the audio went well with your response and that your response was well thought out.


  2. Nicole, You restate boyd’s argument clearly and compellingly. Nicely done! And the Teen Safe program discussed in the audio clip seems pretty creepy. An interesting find. I wish you had given yourself a little more space to draw on boyd to analyze it. (I’m struck by how many of the parents seem to feel it’s okay to spy on their kids so long as they feel kind of guilty about it.) ~Joe


  3. It seems strange to me just how much parents want to ‘check in’ on their kids. For the amount of freedom out parent’s generation had, you would think that their upbringing would influence their parenting style, one that leaned toward a more hands off approach. But I guess not, and similarly, I bet many of our friends have dealt with a narrative of overzealous and overbearing parents a few times in our childhood.


  4. My friend’s mom is a perfect example of a “helicopter” parent that Boyd sort of talks about. Ashley’s* mom would literally go through her phone every night to see who she was texting and what she was texting about. The lease she had on Ashley was so tight, that Ashley made separate social media accounts that her mom was unaware of so she could post the things she wanted. This seemed to work for a while, until Ashley found out one of the people who followed those accounts would send screenshots of her posts to her mother. (Talk about a bad friend). Now, Ashley is in college in a different state so I’m not sure how strict her mom is about her social media anymore. But, I’d be curious to find out.


  5. The idea that teens aren’t willing to share and that is what makes its danger in parent’s eyes is interesting to me. I do understand why parents would think that but if they trust their children and taught them how to use social media, they should understand. I hope that this distrust doesn’t lead to the prying into teen’s life, but as you discussed it does.


  6. I’m glad everyone liked the audio post I included- I was taken aback as well by how into snooping on their kids these parents were! I’s an interesting point that was brought up that it would be thought that parents would have a much more lenient parenting style than they do in reality because of the amount of freedom they were giving in their youth.


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