Parents must exercise oversight of media use by children

7 Jul

In Monitoring the media use by kids, moi said:

Bullying is increasingly a problem in schools and the new venue for bullies has become the Internet. Kristanda Cooper writes in the Florida A & M student paper about Social Media  is New Venue for Cyber Bullying of Children

With the emergence of Facebook, Twitter and even MySpace, bullying has moved from the schoolyard into people’s homes via the Internet.

There are more children enduring harsh harassment from their peers that they are deciding to end their lives to escape the verbal and physical abuse.

In January, 15-year-old Phoebe Prince, an Irish native who moved to Northampton, Mass. with her family, ended her life due to pressures of being bullied and harassed at school. For five months, Prince was harassed verbally and via the Internet. According to, the day Prince ended her life, was the day she was “pelted with a beverage container and cursed at as she walked home from school.” Nine teens are currently facing charges of stalking, criminal harassment and violating Prince’s rights.

Sadly, Prince’s story is not the first.

Stephanie Clifford has an article in the New York Times, Teaching About the Web Includes Troublesome Parts It is important for parents to know how their children are using social media not only for the prevention of the child becoming a victim of bullies, but also to ensure that their child is not the aggressor.

Michele Molnar writes in the Education Week article, Does Parents’ Role Include Close Monitoring of Online Activities?

In “It’s Modern Parental Involvement,” National PTA President Betsy Landers recently wrote for the New York Times expressing her view that parents should “try to stay a step ahead—or at least keep up with—new media and technology to protect their children.”

Well, good luck with that! I suspect some of the most technologically adept among us adults can still be stymied by a savvy teen bent on circumventing our social media prowess. But, I digress. Landers’ points are interesting and earnest.

She continued that it’s the parents’ responsibility “to protect their children, at least until these children become adults. Parental use of all available resources, including electronic monitoring tools, should not be considered an invasion of privacy; it’s simply modern involvement….”

Other viewpoints in the series include:

Many parents are asking the question of whether they should spy on their kids?

Perhaps the best advice comes from Carleton Kendrick in the Family Education article, Spying on Kids

Staying connected

So how do you make sure your teens are on the straight and narrow? You can’t. And don’t think you can forbid them to experiment with risky behavior. That’s what they’re good at during this stage, along with testing your limits. You can help them stay healthy, safe, and secure by doing the following:

  • Keep communicating with your teens, even if they don’t seem to be listening. Talk about topics that interest them.

  • Respect and ask their opinions.

  • Give them privacy. That doesn’t mean you can’t knock on their door when you want to talk.

  • Set limits on their behavior based on your values and principles. They will grudgingly respect you for this.

  • Continually tell them and show them you believe in who they are rather than what they accomplish.

  • Seek professional help if your teen’s abnormal behaviors last more than three weeks.

A 1997 landmark adolescent health study, which interviewed over 12,000 teenagers, concluded that the single greatest protection against high-risk teenage behavior, like substance abuse and suicide, is a strong emotional connection to a parent. Tough as it may be, you should always try to connect with them. And leave the spying to James Bond. It will only drive away the children you wish to bring closer.

In truth, a close relationship with your child will probably be more effective than spying. Put down that Blackberry, iPhone, and Droid and try connecting with your child. You should not only know who your children’s friends are, but you should know the parents of your children’s friends. Many parents have the house where all the kids hang out because they want to know what is going on with their kids. Often parents volunteer to chauffeur kids because that gives them the opportunity to listen to what kids are talking about. It is important to know the values of the families of your kid’s friends. Do they furnish liquor to underage kids, for example?  How do they feel about teen sex and is their house the place where kids meet for sex?

So, in answer to the question should you spy on your Kids? Depends on the child. Some children are more susceptible to peer pressure and impulsive behavior than others. They will require more and possibly more intrusive direction. Others really are free range children and have the resources and judgment to make good decisions in a variety of circumstances. Even within a family there will be different needs and abilities. The difficulty for parents is to make the appropriate judgments and still give each child the feeling that they have been treated fairly. Still, for some kids, it is not out of line for parents to be snoops, they just might save the child and themselves a lot of heartache.


Protecting your child from predators            

Social media spreads eating disorder ‘Thinspiration’

Children’s sensory overload from technology

Dr. Wilda says this about that ©

One Response to “Parents must exercise oversight of media use by children”

  1. Lynn Severance July 8, 2012 at 6:12 pm #

    This is such a crucial issue – bullying ( first of all ) and then how parents need to respect privacy but also stay current with their children by keeping communication open regarding social media. I felt the point made in “Spying on Kids” that was most relevant was let them know how you feel ( as a parent ) if behavior is not of one’s liking but do not tell them what to do. A parent can then guide them through some thought provoking questions to, hopefully, have them look at different views. Parenting. The hardest job on the planet but in time ( with most ) one of the most rewarding. Thanks for addressing this subject.

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