For parents, making a decision to spy on their kids is not always an easy one. The struggle with the conscience of not knowing whether to use some form of surveillance - which they might see as in the best interests of their kids - against the feelings that they might be making unnecessary intrusions into their children’s lives.
There’s another strong fear some parents go through, which is the fear of their kids eventually finding out, causing repercussions on their parent-child relationship. It’s often a line parents have to cross weighing up the pros and cons of using such techniques.
The two most popular forms of surveillance to spy on kids or young teens are personal tracking devices - fitted inside their favourite toy or inside a backpack - and computer monitoring software, to track their online activities.
Here are some possible for-and-against reasons that might make surveillance worthy in the eyes of some, while against it with others.
+ It could save a child’s life. If a parent was to find their child communicating with people which could lead to crime or worse, then the parent could in theory stop it from happening if they confront the child.+ There are paedophiles who prey on young children on the internet by assuming aliases and identities of kids the same age as their targets. There have been many cases of young children falling victim to online predators. No doubt, if the kids had been monitored, many of these cases might never have happened.+ It could stop young children viewing adult material on their computers.
+ It can dilute a child’s privacy.+ It can cause strain on the child-parent relationship if the child detects they are being monitored.+ If the child becomes aware of the spying they may become extremely secretive, even more so than perhaps before.
There are arguments for both sides. Naturally, parents only want the best for their children, which can be difficult to understand from the child’s viewpoint, who wants the freedom to do anything they want.
It’s likely there wouldn’t be strong objection if a young child had a tracking device put into their bag or jacket, but spying on an older child is tricky. The balance has to be struck between surveillance and how aggressive in nature the surveillance is. However, there is an argument for saying any surveillance is aggressive in nature because it is being done without the child’s knowledge.
If a child seems very upright and sincere and unlikely to get into trouble, perhaps there is no moral justification for spying on that child (using a tracking device - which is more for safety - is another issue altogether), but in other cases, there might be great justification.
It won’t be easy for a parent whose child gets into trouble knowing covert surveillance might have prevented such a scenario.
If you have a trusting relationship with your kids then spying on them is probably not a good idea. If you can’t trust your child then perhaps to spy on them is the only option. You can spy on them periodically and that way gives you peace of mind and also gives your child a degree of privacy and trust.
So what do you do?
Tell your child you are going to spy on them, or don’t tell them and do it anyway?