Monday, September 16, 2013

How much privacy should your child have?

From WFLA's  News Channel 8

Polk teen's death spurs social media conversation

Polk County authorities are investigating the death of a 12-year-old girl. Her mother believes her daughter's death can be linked to cyber bullying.

"If I had known about it, I would have taken her phone and all of her electronics away," said Tricia Norman, outside her Lakeland home. She believes her daughter, Becca, took her own life by jumping from the tower at an abandoned cement plant.

Authorities found numerous negative messages on her phone, including "nobody cares about you" and "you seriously deserve to die."

Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd says the recent case of cyber bullying should be a lesson to all parents: know what your children are doing on the phone and online.

"If you're not searching your children's devices, if you're not taking them from your 12, 13, 14, 15, 16-year olds, and demanding to look and see what's happening, you're not being a responsible parent," Sheriff Judd said.

Reed the full story here!

I decided to post this on and you can check it out here: How much privacy should your child have?

My question was prompted by this sad suicide story but at it's core it raised this question...

How much privacy should your child have?

This sad story is an example of what can happen if you are not fully aware of what is going on in your child's life. I am NOT blaming the mom. She is just one part of a sad story that led to this sad end. Had the mom gone through her phone, had the girl asked for help, had the kids who bullied her not done so, had thier parents paid more attention to what they were doing... but sadly these are all what ifs.

I asked Tampa Bay Moms Group Members:
Do/would you go through your child's cell phone?
Would you periodically search their room? Their backpack or purse?
Would you read her diary or private blog?
Do you check up on them online?

My answer is YES to all. I want my kids to have some privacy but I rather them be safe.

That means they can have a phone when they are responsible enough and with it comes the understanding that they can not lock it unless I have the password. I get it handed to me as soon as I ask. I can check it whenever I like. Same goes with their personal space and belongings, online accounts.

It's not that I don't trust my kids but I am their mom. Not their friend. And they are kids. I can trust them but that doesn't mean I can always trust their judgment.  As a parent I feel is it my duty to check up on every aspect of their lives.

Now that doesn't mean as take a peek at B's diary I have to read every page. I am not trying to see who she has a crush on or what she ate or why shes mad at a friend. I am grazing through looking only for things that I need to be involved in... like bullying (whether she is being bullied or doing the bullying). Same with A's cell phone. I pop on and go through his texts, I check on his instagram and facebook (both of which I am a friend on) and that's it. They know I will do this and if they don't like it they can hand over their phone or close their accounts or stop writing in their journal.

I hate that I feel I have to do this but I would hate even more to be standing on TV saying "If only I had checked her phone I would have known how bad things were".