From My Mailbox: “10 Ways to Use Technology to Spy on Your Kids”

Hi Readers — Out of the blue I got this “tip” sheet with a request to post it. As I replied to the sender: “I have a feeling you are not very familiar with my blog.”

Those of you who ARE familiar with the basic Free-Range Kids concept that our kids are less endangered and more capable than pop culture suggests, may be surprised to see just how far the over-protection faction seems willing to go:

Teens have access to unprecedented amounts of technology, and the problem is, they usually know how to use it better than their parents. With sexting, cyberstalking, cyberbullying and internet predators in abundance, parents need to closely monitor what their teens are doing on the internet and beyond. The best way to do this is to use the newest technology available to spy on their teens. Kids may not appreciate it, but it’s important for parents to know what their teens are up to at this impressionable age when they don’t always make good decisions. Here are 10 ways to use technology to spy on your teen.

  1. Nanny cam – Originally used to monitor in-home caregivers, nanny cams can be used to spy on your teens as well. These hidden cameras can be installed in common household objects and placed strategically throughout your home. Parents of teens may consider putting one in their teen’s bedroom to make sure their child is not engaging in inappropriate behavior when they’re not home.
  2. Facebook – Friend your teens on facebook to monitor what they’re posting on their facebook page. If you suspect they are blocking you from some of their postings, you could get sneaky and pose as someone else, such as another teen, to find out what they’re really up to.
  3. Twitter – It’s also a good idea to follow your kids on Twitter to see what they’re tweeting about. Your teen will be more likely to be careful about what they tweet if they know you’re watching. This can help prevent inappropriate pictures being sent into cyberspace where they will live on forever.
  4. Internet search history – Periodically check your teen’s internet search history on their computer to see what they looking at when they surf the web. Are they doing research for homework or just watching You Tube? Make sure you block any porn sights and check to see if the blocks are still in place. Teens will find ways to get around your parental controls, so hold them accountable if they do.
  5. Email – While you’re at it, check on their email history too. Teens won’t like the fact that you’re doing this and will accuse you of invading their privacy. This is a legitimate concern, but so is your concern for their safety. Unless you know that they’re using the computer responsibly, they shouldn’t be allowed to use it unsupervised.
  6. Computer monitor – If you want to know what your teen is doing on their computer and are concerned they will delete any information they don’t want you to see, you can install a monitor to keep track of their computer activity. These monitors can record every keystroke, websites visited, take screen snapshots and give you detailed reports. This is the best way to monitor chat rooms, email and any social networking your teen is engaging in.
  7. Remote monitoring – The technology is also available to have these monitoring reports sent to your email so you can stay informed of your teen’s activities while you’re away from home. This is a great feature if you travel a lot for business. It’s also a good way for your child to let you know instantly if they’re in trouble.
  8. Cell phone monitor – You can get a similar monitoring system to track your child’s cell phone activity. These devices will send you reports on their calls, texting, location, web history and any pictures taken. Teens with mobile phone technology are more likely to use it than their home computers. This is also a great way to deter teen abductions and know instantly if anything goes wrong.
  9. Car monitor – Teens don’t always use good judgment when they get behind the wheel, so a car monitor is another way to use technology to spy on them. These GPS devices not only track where your kids are going, but what speed they’re driving and if they’re out past their curfew. They can even be set to give your teen an audible warning if they’re driving recklessly and emit an ear piercing sound if they’re driving too fast or staying out too late.
  10. Home security – Many people have security systems installed in their homes that can be used to spy on their teens. Security cameras can be reviewed plus checking the alarm history can let you know the exact time your child enters and leaves the house.

Of course your teen is not going to like all this spying, especially if you are doing it on the sly, so be sure to let them know what you’re doing and why. Be careful not to overreact over every little piece of information you get or your teen will find ways to get around your monitoring. There’s a delicate balance between ensuring your child’s safety and just plain being snoopy. Give them as much privacy as you can, but be ready to broach their boundaries if you think they’re in real danger.

LENORE HERE AGAIN: So let’s get this straight: We should put video cameras in our kids’ bedrooms and GPS devices in their cars, even as we follow them on the web and monitor their emails and phone calls?

Isn’t this what the government does with suspected terrorists?

The jolly publicist who sent me these suggestions concluded her email request for me to post them by saying, “It has been a sincere pleasure to read your great content.”

Something tells me she has not really had that pleasure, ever. But maybe now she’ll read your comments. — L 

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371 Responses to From My Mailbox: “10 Ways to Use Technology to Spy on Your Kids”

  1. corianne October 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    or, and this might be a little out there and crazy, you could try talking to your kid, taking an interest in their life, meeting their friends and gaining their trust.

  2. Amber K. Nelson October 12, 2011 at 12:59 pm #

    I hate all of these, yes I get checking your kid’s internet history once in a while, but the rest of these are utterly insane and would be considered stalking in any other case.
    I especially “love” #9, “… emit an ear piercing sound if they’re driving too fast…”
    Yes, because when I’m driving 20 over, a shockingly loud shriek will help me keep my attention on the road and I wouldn’t jump and swerve all over the road AT ALLLLLLLL.
    Lord save me from imbeciles.

  3. Russell October 12, 2011 at 1:01 pm #

    It’s not only bad advice generally, it’s bad advice specifically. Teens in 2011 can use the web without leaving a trace (Ctrl-Shift-N or Ctrl-Shift-P) and do so without thinking (because they are used to using shared computers at school, where private browsing is a good idea). They can (and do) also generate as many email addresses or online identities as they want.
    When parents try to use the hopeless methods outlined above, all they do is force the teens’ activities underground, which is where the real danger lies.
    Education about how to use technology safely is the only effective method – start early and teach them safe habits from the very start. If the parent isn’t tech savvy (and therefore doesn’t really understand the very real dangers), have someone else come and talk it through with both parents and children..

  4. Liz October 12, 2011 at 1:02 pm #

    I don’t know what to say…these are so not okay! Car monitors that can “emit an ear piercing sound?” That seems like more of a hazard than a safety measure.

  5. Mom's Journal October 12, 2011 at 1:10 pm #

    Who wrote these?!? “Facebook – Friend your teens on facebook to monitor what they’re posting on their facebook page. If you suspect they are blocking you from some of their postings, you could get sneaky and pose as someone else, such as another teen, to find out what they’re really up to.” What other teen could you pretend to be and your own teen not know? Seriously.

  6. Rich Wilson October 12, 2011 at 1:15 pm #

    Wait, that’s from The Onion, right?

  7. oncefallendotcom October 12, 2011 at 1:24 pm #

    Terrorists? Sounds like the laws we use against sex offenders. Considering how John Walsh is trying to get your child’s DNA into the national database, just save the trouble now and register your kids today!

  8. HQD October 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    Take it from someone who WAS a more tech-savvy teen: if your kids want to hide from you, they will. I learned quickly enough to only visit certain sites at school/a friend’s house (nothing unsavory; just sites my mom hated because they were time-wasters), to delete history, and get around the Net Nanny.

    And it is true about alternate aliases. I have about ten that I still use, some of which, I keep private even from my friends.

    But still. Knowing my parents trusted me actually kept me away from using unsavory sites more than any net nanny could. Knowing they would be disappointed was worse than knowing they did not trust me (and now my dad enjoys some of the same sites I do. XD).

    Seriously. Having a talk with your kid, trusting them, and occasionally checking their history is better than spying on everything they do—and if you are really bothered, then only allow the public computer to have net with the desired controls. It is easier to check up on what kids are doing, and harder for teens to hide when Mommy or Daddy could walk by at any moment.

    We were all teens once, and we all did something stupid that we would rather not let our parents know. If they are not doing anything illegal, en hlet them screw up and make mistakes. It is better they learn some lessons now than later as adults.

  9. oncefallendotcom October 12, 2011 at 1:26 pm #

    PS: I’ve seen plenty of Spy vs. Spy, and I always thought they were white cartoons wearing black and white coats, not black with brown trenchcoats. Is this the flasher spy v spy?

  10. elizabeth (aka Lady K) October 12, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    OUI VEY! So, I used to work consumer tech support for a large ISP (still do, but don’t have to take phone calls now YAY!). I’m tech savvy. People would ask me “How do I make sure kids aren’t doing anything wrong on the internet? Is there any software I can use?”. I’d say “Put the computer in a public area. If your kids are smart at all they’ll figure out a way around it”. One lady said, and I quote “Well I hope my kids are never that smart”.

    Oh dear LAWD I weep.

  11. Ben October 12, 2011 at 2:47 pm #

    There is a reason the government is limited in their ability to spy on people. It’s called privacy and teens have just as much right to it as anyone else. I’m surprised someone can think lying and spying are good ways to check on your kids. What happened to open lines of communication and frank talks?

  12. Robin from Israel October 12, 2011 at 4:01 pm #

    You know, I friended my son on FB so that I could occasionally spot check how he was handling himself on social media (he’s younger, it was still very new to him) – with his full knowledge and consent – and really the only censoring that gets done is mine, since I know he could be reading my status updates just as easily as I read his (which are nearly all about the fantasy soccer team he manages and occasional chit chat with various relatives, maybe he’s trying to bore me out?).

    And, I’m happy to say, when he did have a problem with a classmate’s FB behavior that I’m the one he came to for help.

    It’s all about keeping the lines of communication open and free. The more you try to sneak, the more they’ll feel as if they have to hide.

    My photography is available for purchase – visit Around the Island Photography and bring home something beautiful today!

  13. Meagan October 12, 2011 at 4:32 pm #

    “Isn’t this what the government does with suspected terrorists?”

    You bring up a good point – they forgot to raise another concern. If you don’t spy on your kidthey could become a terrorist. I’ve seen it on the news.

  14. Leppi October 12, 2011 at 4:39 pm #

    If the government did this without a court order, I believe the evidence would not be allowed in court….. unless of cause we are on Cuba!

  15. freebornjayne October 12, 2011 at 5:45 pm #

    Any one of these things would have driven me, as a teenager, to rebel, possibly putting myself in danger. Why would a teenager respect their parents’ wishes if the parents can’t respect the teenager’s right to privacy?

  16. Bartimaeus October 12, 2011 at 5:56 pm #

    Nanny cams? Seriously? If I were a teen and I found a hidden camera in my bedroom (or was made aware of one’s existence) I would go APESHIT. If a parent is that worried about a kid’s activities, then they need to have a talk with the kid now, whether or not anything has happened— and if the parent isn’t worried, they should respect something known as ‘privacy’.

  17. Kimberly Herbert October 12, 2011 at 6:02 pm #

    Um – the nanny cam thing could get a parent on the register for making kiddie porn.

    Facebook and Twitter – Honestly I think that parents should be upfront especially with younger teens that they will be friends with full access. It should be a condition of having the account.

    There was a firestorm at my school recently. Our principal and AP lied and said the new district policy was that you couldn’t be friends with anyone enrolled in our district. Including our own kids. Teachers felt that this was pulling a safety net out from under their kids. That other teachers who were friends with their kids acted as sounding boards for their teens, and social networks were vital part of that.

    Other teachers were part of religious youth groups, a network of youth tennis players and other groups. They were told they had to leave the online portion of these groups.

    Principal and AP got in trouble because either they completely misread the policy that made exceptions for family and other previous relationships or they lied to us.

  18. JustaDad October 12, 2011 at 7:08 pm #

    I know, Let’s find more ways to alienate our kids from us, If you have so little trust in your kids that you have to resort to any of the measures listed in the article, there are deeper issues you need to face.

    Pretty sure my kids would never speak to me again if there were cameras in thier rooms. And aren’t some of these suggestions borderline illegal?

  19. curiositycat October 12, 2011 at 7:24 pm #

    Anyone who needs these measures has deeper problems than a slightly wayward teen and should probably be seeking professional parenting assistance.

    Also, this publicist clearly has not heard what can happen to (ahem) PR firms who don’t bother to research their pitch recipients: (warning: mature language. Also: extremely funny, do not read with your mouth full).

    Maybe they should be worrying about the very real online dangers to their reputation rather than telling people how to react to potential dangers by spying on their kids.

  20. LRH October 12, 2011 at 7:38 pm #

    Oh my freaking goodness. Someone sent this to you thinking you would be SYMPATHETIC to what they were advocating?

    {Laughing out loud, so hard they can hear me in Italy, with earplugs in their ears.}

    They got your attention all right, but not in the way they had hoped. Way to go Lenore.

    Anyone else got any “tips” they wanna share? Any John Walsh worshipers out there want to be “helpful?” Don’t raise your hands all at once! (Ha ha.)


  21. Dolly October 12, 2011 at 7:47 pm #

    I have always felt that you trust your kids till they give you a reason not to. My parents always trusted me because I was a good girl and never got in trouble. When they failed to trust me unfairly, it hurt me greatly. Nothing upset me more than being treated like a baby or being lectured for something I did not even do. I think because I was such a good kid my parents felt they weren’t doing their job right if they didn’t lecture me occasionally so if they had nothing real to lecture me about they just lectured me about something I didn’t even do, but could do. Talk about frustrating!

    So for all this stuff it should only be used, after your kid has already gotten into trouble. I think parents should keep an eye on what your child does on the internet and stuff like that, but as for the car stuff and other things, unless they break your trust, you have NO right to do this. Now if your kid gets in a wreck or gets a speeding ticket, sure monitor their car usage. But till that happens, don’t.

    I used to have a best friend in high school whose mother would illegally record her phone calls. It was illegal because the law in our state is that if you call someone else you cannot record their phone call unless you warn them first. She would not warn me but sometimes my friend would know her mom was doing it and warn me. First of all I was a good influence on her daughter. I actually would make her do her homework. Secondly, you have no right to break the damn law because you don’t trust your daughter. I almost called the cops on her. That was unacceptable.

  22. Tara October 12, 2011 at 8:24 pm #

    I have my son’s email and password as well as his facebook information. This is not because I don’t trust him, but because he is in a learning stage of internet use. Consider it the training wheels of computer use. Once I am confident in his ability to navigate the web in a safe and friendly manner he can have those training wheels removed. (Our one and only computer is in the dining room in full sight of everyone though, so really, I consider it safe anyway!)

  23. Heather P. October 12, 2011 at 8:39 pm #

    I can think of some extreme, and extremely rare, circumstances where some of this monitoring might make sense. If your child has addiction problems, or behavioral problems, or is a suicide risk, or was recently paroled, then some above-normal surveillance may prove beneficial. Like searching their rooms while they’re out–not a normal procedure but if there is just cause possible.
    But for the vast majority of kids? As a general rule? I don’t think so. Certainly not for more than one child; if you have to watch two or more this intently you’re not doing anything else.

  24. Robin October 12, 2011 at 8:40 pm #

    Wow. So much to comment on here. First, you can be Facebook friends all you want but you cannot see their private chats. I’m friends with my son but he never posts anything, just uses it for instant messaging. It’s totally useless as a spying device.

    Unless you feel there is a legitimate reason, such as illegal activities, spying is a horrible choice. My best friend installed a keystroke spying software on her computer. She has begun a cat and mouse game with her son. The more she spies, the more he tries to evade her. He’s doing some “bad” things, smoking, sex, shoplifting, but I’m not sure which came first. I believe her total lack of trust may have pushed him further into seeing what he could get away with.

    I have, on occasion, looked through drawers in my son’s room and logged onto his computer as him to “look” around. If anything was amiss I would have addressed it with him, not spied. There ahve been a few times when my son has looked at me and asked, “Don’t you trust me?” If you’re spying on them how do you answer that? Do you lie and say yes, or tell the truth and say no? Neither one is a very good choice.

  25. Claudia Conway October 12, 2011 at 8:41 pm #

    Corriane, my thoughts exactly. This reminds me of an article I saw years ago on the MSN homepage about ‘How to tell if your kids are using drugs’ or something, which suggested that secretly taking hair samples from your kids and sending them for drug testing was the act of a concerned parent, rather than a paranoid nutcase with no parenting skills. I just thought ‘Or you could try having an open channel with your kids so that they feel they can be honest with you about what they’re doing?’

    You get scary stats about ‘N% of kids say they’ve been contacted by a pervy weirdo online’ Well, you know what? That means that they recognise them for a pervy weirdo and break contact – danger over!

    And no amount of spying is going to prevent your child doing something dumb like sending a nude picture of themselves to their partner who, of course, will love them forever and never share it, proudly or hurtfully, with their mates or with someone who might be irresponsible with it, oh no. So you teach your kids why doing it is a bad idea, and they’ll either listen to it or not.

  26. opsomath October 12, 2011 at 9:23 pm #

    Lenore –

    You have been trolled.

    Lo siento!


  27. SKL October 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    Eeew, nannycams in the bedrooms?

    Isn’t that kiddy porn?

    Even if it isn’t kiddy porn, it’s gonna send a bunch of kids to the looney bin. Maybe this list was compiled by someone who runs a private looney bin / residential treatment center.

  28. Lollipoplover October 12, 2011 at 9:26 pm #

    If you feel the need to spy on your own children because of technology concerns, perhaps being a parent and TAKING AWAY the items that cause so much distrust would serve all better. I assume said child is not paying for them (I can barely afford my high speed internet and car insurance), so do as many parents need to do these days, have child pay for luxury items. This may mean you need to actually talk directly to your kids, but I think in the long run you will have a stronger relationship vs. SPYING on your own child.

    This is the modern day equivalent of reading someone’s diary. It does not build good relationships. If you feel the need to know every little thing your kid is doing, maybe you should have considered a dog instead of being a parent. Kids have individual rights to privacy, and not respecting them (and never trusting them) makes for one paranoid kid.

  29. Silver Fang October 12, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    How lame and stupid! Just yesterday, I read an article that said kids are more careful online than adults give them credit for being. Teaching kids right and wrong when they are little will go a lot further in preventing Web abuses when they are teens than spying on them will!

  30. socalledauthor October 12, 2011 at 9:40 pm #

    The thing that gets me is that barely two generations ago, it was possible for teens to be considered mature enough for marriage. Now, rather than being treated as nearly-adults, they’re treated like babies. So they act immature and irresponsible. I don’t understand why wouldn’t educate them towards the potential dangers of the world and then let the kids explore with guidance. Seems a lot better to me than suddenly expecting them to know how to handle creepers online.

    Though, I’m suspect of the reports about how common strangers approach teens online– I have to wonder if it isn’t their friends (or enemies or frenemies) screwing with them or a distortion of the survey data to manipulate the fear-factor. Not that the media would EVER do such a thing…

  31. Kim October 12, 2011 at 9:48 pm #

    If anyone really thinks that the suggestions on this list are good ideas, then they have a much bigger problem than whatever their teens might be doing behind their backs.

    Here’s a novel idea…try trusting your kids and actually paying attention to them. If you notice behavior that concerns you, try talking to them about it–TO them, not AT them. LISTEN to what they have to say. You might just find out that none of this amateur 007 crap is necessary.

  32. Lisa October 12, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    I will say, I am pretty free-range in my attitudes toward parenting (I – GASP – let my kids, 7 and 4, walk to the next-door neighbors unescorted!) and yes, most of these are pretty crazy. However, I may use GPS tracking for my kids’ phones when they are old enough to have them (at least initially), and will put a GPS tracker on our cars when they are old enough to drive and still in high school. I have no plans to check that data on a regular basis, but in a truly need-to-know situation only. And they will know such monitoring is in place… my real intent is that by knowing I can look up at any time where they are and how fast they’re going, they will make better decisions. I want these things to be a proactive deterrent, not a reactive source of punishment fodder.

    I also plan on having a couple rules:
    1) you CANNOT text me for a curfew extension; such requests must be made in person or via phone call
    2) you must always answer your phone when I call you, except if you’re driving. In return I will call you as infrequently as (motherly) possible. Not answering can be grounds for checking the GPS data!

    And I will NOT get a GPS tracker that makes noise when they go too fast! Egads that is just stupid.

  33. Sconi Mommy October 12, 2011 at 10:00 pm #

    Do you *really* want to record what your teen is doing in their bedroom? Think about it. What the heck are teens doing with all those hormones? How freaking embarrassing for them.. and you!
    When I was in HS, the internet was fairly new. There weren’t really any social media outlets.. just AIM really. My friend’s mom routinely rifled through her backpack, notebooks and bedroom looking for notes and such. I couldn’t imagine my mom doing that to me!
    My son is a toddler.. I’m sure we’ll have a whole new set of technological concerns by the time he’s a teen, and he’ll be far, far better at using all of it than me (I admit I’m far from tech savvy now!). But even if I was some kind of IT whiz, I would NOT be doing these things. In order to gain respect, you need to give it. Lead by example. Not by spying and sneaking around. What are you teaching your kid then?
    Wow. Terrible stuff here. I feel bad for this person’s kid/s.

  34. LisaS October 12, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    I’m just entering the crazy tween-dom, so these conversations are starting among my friends. I find it really sad that people don’t trust their own parenting enough that they feel this is necessary. My kids prove (when they’re unsupervised) that I’ve done things right more often than the reverse, maybe because we’ve explained *why* we do the things we do and ask them to do. This goes for all parts of life – walking to/from the bus stop, internet, going to friends’ houses, etc. We practice situations where there may be issues so they have something to say that doesn’t sound completely dorky.

    I do supervise or check up on them when I feel I need to, and the rest of the time, I am as blissfully ignorant as my mother was, and that’s how I intend to stay unless given reason to do otherwise.

    and ^Lisa … great cell phone rules.

  35. Elisa October 12, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    I can’t get past the first item — a hidden camera in a teenager’s bedroom?!? That is just super, super creepy. I have this horrible image of a pervy dad watching his teenage daughter getting undressed every day . . . and justifying it in the name of safety.

    I have two teens and I can’t imagine doing most of the things suggested. Pretending to be another teenager in order to “friend” my kid on Facebook? Again, super creepy.

  36. stephanie October 12, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    I have no issue if the kid is told in advance these things are in place (except the nanny cam- yuck!) and can be accessed by the adults at any time. I view it as similar to computer use policies in many workplaces- if you use the equipment then they have the right to check everything.
    My stepson uses the computer here and knows we can check his email/internet history anytime- the computer is in the living room where we can see it and he is a good kid so we never have.
    A friend’s teenager had the car monitor in her car and she was able to beat a speeding ticket when her time/date stamped report showed her mph when she was stopped. This kid had not been making good choices and just got her driving privileges back so that is why they had the monitor installed- if she was driving dangerously as a minor and killed someone then her parents would be on the hook.

  37. Milo Moon October 12, 2011 at 10:22 pm #

    We have access to our son’s online profile. He knows it. He also knows that if he is caught having fake profiles that he will lose all electronic access that is not tied to school. He knows that the only reason why we want access is in the case of an emergency. We talk about right and wrong behavior. We talk about how to handle situations that will probably come up. He has no issues coming to us and discussing sensitive items because he knows that we will not freak out and will give him a truthful answer. However he is not allowed to have a TV, phone or computer in his room. There is no need. There is not a conversation that he should be having with anyone that could not be had in front of his parents. He is 12 by the way, and is being overrun with technology. You can either hide from it or teach your kids to manage it. Technology is not going away and will just keep invading out lives.

  38. Irina October 12, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    I’m surprised that they don’t suggest bugging your teen’s clothes in order to “monitor” all their FTF conversations. (And aren’t hidden cameras illegal? Here, in the Netherlands, even a kid could have you sued for it.)

    I let my 16-year-old read this. First she was indignant, then the absurdity dawned on her and she howled with laughter; then she showed me her mailbox. Apart from the spam she hadn’t bothered to delete yet, it contained about a thousand messages about collaboration on school projects, some “please print this” messages to me, and a conversation with her grandfather about what she planned to do with her birthday money.

  39. Dave October 12, 2011 at 10:28 pm #

    Teens used to travel the world and now they can’t be trusted even in their own homes. This is a sad commentary on our society. What is really sad is that there are parents who will see this as good advice and put these things into practice.

  40. pentamom October 12, 2011 at 10:32 pm #

    That’s not Spy vs. Spy — if it’s anything familiar, it’s a spy from the Pink Panther cartoons, I think. Spy vs. Spy was a black and white line drawing of one spy dressed all in black, and one dressed all in white, and they had huge noses, not invisible faces.

  41. anonymous October 12, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    How are we expected to raise competent, confident adults when we are also expected to treat them like infants? This is like a crib monitor writ big!

    The best way to monitor kids that I have found, and mine travel the metro area on bikes and on the transit system, is to make them check in at agreed upon times. If they blow this, their privileges are reduced. If they are where they say they will be when they say they will be, and check in as agreed, they get roaming privileges.

    It really is that simple. Same goes for what goes on in the room – girlfriend over means door open. My nose would tell me if something was up on the drug front, or I can just PAY ATTENTION to them and make them spend time with me once in a while – easy enough to spot a drugged kid then.

    You don’t need technology. You need good old fashioned parenting, expectations, limits, accountability, and actually spending time with your teens.

  42. pentamom October 12, 2011 at 10:37 pm #

    “Anyone who needs these measures has deeper problems than a slightly wayward teen and should probably be seeking professional parenting assistance.”

    Right, and in situations just short of that — they’ve lost your trust by doing things that could be directly harmful and/or you could be held responsible for and so you need to know what they’re up to, for example — why not just TELL THEM they’ve lost their privacy by their behavior, and that you’ll be monitoring and restricting their behavior, rather than all this cloak and dagger stuff? (And with everyone else, the Nannycam is right out, period.)

  43. anonymous October 12, 2011 at 10:38 pm #

    Are people’s houses so absurdly large that they can’t hear, see and smell what their teens are up to without technology?

  44. pentamom October 12, 2011 at 10:39 pm #

    But read the first paragraph — this isn’t even being suggested for extreme situations like that. It’s being touted as a normal measure for….wait for it…. the dangerous world we live in! (paraphrase) It’s just kneepads, “never say your kid’s name in public,” and toilet locks, all grown up!

  45. Gen October 12, 2011 at 10:42 pm #

    I just have to say this. If we are trying to teach our kids to be responsible on the web then one of the first things I will teach my daughter is to not make friends with ANYONE they don’t know. So how would I make friends with her online? If I was a fake person she did not know I would expect her to not add me. If she did that would send up some red flags for me!

  46. Emily October 12, 2011 at 10:43 pm #

    I know a few people have already said this, but there are situations where some degree of monitoring is important. Some of those are bizarre and creepy (nanny cam, fake profile), but there are times others might apply. I have a close family member who has been involved in some serious stuff. Had her parents not been watching her computer use they wouldn’t have seen her telling a friend about suicide or seeing someone else offer to give her some really hard drugs (and her say she’d accept!). In her situation, this was important for her to get help. As my kids reach that age, they will know we can check on anything at any time. Of course you need to respect privacy, but you also need to protect your kids. For the average kid, no this probably isn’t necessary. Establish boundaries from the beginning and most kids won’t need this.

  47. Christina October 12, 2011 at 10:46 pm #

    Insane and completely illogical. If you’re going to be considered guilty when you’ve done nothing wrong, and treated accordingly, then you might as well do the stuff your parents seem to think you’re going to be guilty of doing. This attitude is one of the primary reasons why I moved out of the house before my senior year in high school (and yes, I finished and went off to college).

  48. Robin H October 12, 2011 at 10:49 pm #

    Milo – you are absolutely correct. The kids that have phones and computers in their rooms are the ones who will be tempted to do things they wouldn’t do in the living room. I see facebook messages sent from the middle of the night. What the heck are they doing up then? They’re teens, they need sleep.

    Anonymous – No, the houses are not huge but the parents are usually at work or the kids are locked in their rooms. Why come out when you have everything you need there?

  49. LauraL October 12, 2011 at 11:03 pm #

    Heh. Did you read what The Bloggess had to say the other day when a PR firm failed to read her blog and sent her a pitch? (Warning for language…)

    Yeah. So my kid has two FB accounts and when I questioned her, she freely admitted it was so she could a little more free with what she wanted to say where mom and grandma and little sister wouldn’t really see. I’ve peered in, she’s doing fine. As long as we continue to be honest with each other, I’m ok with that. Lord help her if she starts to lie…

  50. Oelsen October 12, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

    For God’s sake! Do not advocate against this spying on kids. They have to learn to get around technical oppression for the future. We live already in a fascistoid state. Any technical education helps them in the future. They have to know that somebody spies on them and they have to know that some parts of what they do is perfectly legal. After putting the nagging feeling away of potentially being caught ( so called second thoughts) and getting used to it they will do the same when they are adults.

    They will look for GSM-jammers, GPS-jammers, how proxies work, how dns-aliases word, how Ubuntu-Live-ROMS work, how cheap a netbook really is (a week of work in the summer and they can buy it), how to get wireless from a uninformed neighbor with a yagi, etcetc.

    Many won’t learn anything, but if only 10% learn *something* about how our surrounding technology works and how you can jam it, then I have hope again.

    As I think about it, I had it much easier. My parents didn’t even know about other browsers, so installing a browser without a shortcut on the desktop did the trick 😀

  51. Brian October 12, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    What about the new remote rectal thermometer probe and iphone ap to monitor your child’s temperature throughout the day?

  52. Kate October 12, 2011 at 11:16 pm #

    I’m 30, so I was in 8th grade in 1992-93ish. I recently learned that when we were moving, my mom found a VERY graphic note I had written (but never gave!) to a boy in my class. I have always been (and still am) highly sexual and while I explored my own sexuality (through writing, mostly), I didn’t act on it until I was 20.

    Bless her heart… when she found the note, she could’ve said something to me. But instead, she never said anything to me. She knew I would be MORTIFIED, and she’d rather I keep exploring my sexuality via the written word than act on it. She also knew and trusted that I would come to her if I was ever going to act on these very graphic fantasies. In turn, I trusted her enough to know that she wouldn’t lie to me, and that if she thinks I should wait, then that’s what I would do.

    If she ever parented me under the guise of “it’s for your own good,” but without explanation, I probably wouldn’t have trusted her advice. Instead, she always gave me very good reasoning for why I was or wasn’t allowed to do something. That really helped in our trust.

  53. pentamom October 12, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    “I just have to say this. If we are trying to teach our kids to be responsible on the web then one of the first things I will teach my daughter is to not make friends with ANYONE they don’t know. So how would I make friends with her online? If I was a fake person she did not know I would expect her to not add me. If she did that would send up some red flags for me!”

    Excellent point! That’s our first rule of Facebook!

  54. racheljoyhatten October 12, 2011 at 11:22 pm #

    Wouldn’t an adult posing as a teen raise flags to the authorities that that person may be a predator? So the parent would set themselves up for accusations and labels that may well be undeserved.

  55. bmax October 12, 2011 at 11:33 pm #

    haha..the “nanny cam” to make sure you’re teen is not engaging in inappropriate behavior when you’re not home.

    Ways to get arrested 101: Child porn from filming your own teen’s bedroom.

    Sick suggestion.. I can’t believe that’s on the list at all!

  56. bmax October 12, 2011 at 11:36 pm #

    Actually all these suggestions are insane. How about communication and educating your child first?

  57. Dave Webster Hare Cochran October 12, 2011 at 11:50 pm #

    OK, this is totally sack-of-hammers insane, especially the feloniously creepy bedroom pornocam. However, I could see myself telling my kid; “I am going to try to snoop on you via social media & the internet. You will not be disciplined for circumventing this – in fact, please try your best to do so, as it will get you into good habits over maintaining your privacy online.”

  58. Elaine October 13, 2011 at 12:03 am #

    My goodness what happend to talking with your children and teaching them?
    I am in my forties and I still recall being a teenager and wanting to grow up and not having my mum and dad interfering in my life. I think I would have been a much more difficult teenager if my parents had snooped this way

  59. Rich Wilson October 13, 2011 at 12:09 am #

    Now that I’ve gone and actually looked at this site- Lenore, you haven’t exactly been trolled, but you have been tricked into linking to someone simply trying to raise their google rank. They don’t care if we agree with them or not. In fact, they may have crazzied up their ideas TO GET people to link to them saying “look how crazy they are!” That your high traffic blog links to them is all they want.


    If the government did this without a court order, I believe the evidence would not be allowed in court….. unless of cause we are on Cuba!

    You’d be amazed at what’s in the PATRIOT act.

  60. pentamom October 13, 2011 at 12:20 am #

    Though I think it’s a creepy and ridiculous idea, I don’t think you can be arrested for putting a camera in your own home. Or for child porn if your children misbehaved in front of a camera, because what someone chooses to do in front of a camera you own, that you do not initiate, is not a crime.

  61. Lynn October 13, 2011 at 12:21 am #

    I think the trolling comment was right. Someone just sent this to you to get you and your commentors going.

  62. Lori W. October 13, 2011 at 12:39 am #

    I’ve just finished raising two amazing, well-adjusted teens. (My youngest is 19, oldest is 23.) I did a ‘little’ bit of spying over the years, i.e. reading a chat log that was left open on a computer, checking facebook pages and friends, etc. I found some things of concern but nothing earth-shattering. I was able to use that information to start a conversation along the lines of “You know, if x ever happens you can always come to me.” Nothing will ever replace an honest discussion. Make sure that they know your concern is based in love, give them a little freedom and the results will be amazing.

  63. Lihtox October 13, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    @Oelsen: Interesting point, though you might get the same results by just making them *think* you’re monitoring them, without doing so. Maybe even better results: “I’ve been looking for weeks and I can’t find the camera, man!” 🙂

  64. Stephanie October 13, 2011 at 12:41 am #

    One successful attempt at getting a link, but it still amazes me that people can even think that way. I hope they’re just going for reaction and not really suggesting this stuff, especially the car monitor making a high pitched sound. Most of the advice goes beyond a sensible level of knowing what your teen’s up to, but that part sounds dangerous.

  65. Suzanne October 13, 2011 at 12:45 am #

    Wow, those tips are so bad. I don’t know about everyone else but posing as a teen and trying to friend one of my kids would break the “no ‘friends’ online that you don’t know if real life” rule at my house which seems a much safer option than encouraging them to friend someone they don’t know. I can sort of see the GPS tracker for being able to see where they have really been if you think that they have been lying about it but not checking it without cause and no loud noises. Great way to help a new driver wreck the car. I do kind of like the idea that GPS could nicely say “hey, you’re driving too fast” though.

    I think the sender probably assumed this was a paranoid parent site like most of the others and has never actually read any of the articles here.

  66. Jenny Islander October 13, 2011 at 12:48 am #

    Wow, Lenore, you almost found a topper for that nutty cop who said that toddlers were safer standing by the gas pump at the gas station than buckled into the car!

    Here’s my attempt at a list with some actual rational thought in it:

    1. Our house is not everybody’s house–Clearly explain the rules about who can visit when you are away. Outline consequences if the rules are broken. Make sure that your teen has your number in case overbearing “friends” butt their way into the house and try to start a party in your absence.

    2.Facebook and similar social media–Friend your teens after informing them beforehand that you plan to do so. Check in on them occasionally to verify that they are handling social media well, but don’t talk to them where their friends can see if you can help it because MOOOoomm, that’s emBARRassing!

    3.Twitter–Explain that nothing ever vanishes from cyberspace. Take them to see the Wayback Machine. Print out the stories of earlier scandals involving incautious sending of pictures, etc. Take them to Fandom Wank or SF Drama to see the consequences of saying stupid crap in a public forum. Follow them on Twitter if you must, but you probably won’t have the time to read it all.

    4.Internet search history–Tell them exactly how much usage your system can handle before you get billed for overage and let them know that you’ll be checking the browser history now and then. Warn them about malicious sites, phishing scams, etc. Be sure that you are passing on verified info, not net rumors.

    5.Email–Teach them not to give their e-mail or website passwords to ANYONE, EVER. Friends having a spat have sent nasty e-mails to third parties in someone else’s name before they cooled down. Let them know that they can leave their usernames and passwords with you in case they forget, show them where the list will be kept, and don’t spy.

    6.Computer monitor–Make sure that they have been briefed on safety when using public terminals. Resist the temptation to use keystroke loggers at home. Install anti-virus software and update it regularly. Forbid the installation of any program whatsoever without clearing it with you first and outline consequences.

    7.Remote monitoring–Arrange more than one way to contact you with your teen when you are away. Not every method should run through your cell phone or other device–just in case.

    8.Cell phone monitor–Reiterate that any file can be stored, duplicated, shared, altered, and otherwised used to ruin a teenager’s day. If your teenager shows poor judgment, get a basic cell phone. Also explain the limits of your minutes and if your teen uses them all up, that’s it until the next purchase period.

    9.Car monitor–Forbid other teens to ride with your teen. Statistics show that one teen may be a safe driver, but more than one teen in a car is dangerous. Get your teen a learner’s permit, explain the rules of the road, and practice response to common problems.

    10.Home security–Make sure that your teen understands that nobody gets the password to turn off the burglar alarm without your permission!

    Final thoughts: Your teenager may not be able to control her use of social media; she may be up until 2:30 on most school nights because she simply can’t stop talking, txting, and Tweeting with her friends. She may be a trusting, gentle sort who can’t stand up to the “friend” who wants to have a party in your place because you’re gone. But don’t assume this beforehand. Prepare your teen for increased responsibility and freedom and if problems arise, deal with them as they happen.

    There is no magic device that will remove the onus of responsibility from you. Your prime directive is the same as it was when your teen was a toddler: Get off your butt and parent!

  67. Dolly October 13, 2011 at 12:51 am #

    anonymous: In some houses yes. I see how many families have large houses now so that they could hardly ever even see their kids living in the same house unless they made a point of doing so. We are too poor to afford one of those McMansions and honestly I am kinda glad about that fact. Our house is more small but not too small. I will see my kids everytime they come out to use the bathroom or leave the house. I will be able to interact with them and keep up with them better that way.

    Those giant houses where teens have their own bathrooms and even their own entrances and exits from the house are way way way harder to monitor than if they are right under your nose for sure. I have been in many a basement den drinking or smoking weed when the parents were none the wiser. They had no idea what was going on down there.

    The biggest problem though is working parents. I don’t care if that gets me flamed. It is just the truth of the matter. Working parents that work 9 to 5 jobs are not home when their teenagers get home. The teenagers have two to three hours after school to have sex, do drugs, drink, whatever before their parents get home to catch them. I have seen in firsthand with my high school friends. My next door neighbors were two teenage girls and everyday about 5 they would send the teenage boys out of the house before their mom got home from work. She never knew till finally my mom went and told her about it. Big shock one of her daughter’s had a teenage pregnancy. If the parents are home when the kids are home a lot of this stuff can be avoided at least a little bit more so. They can always go elsewhere to do the sex, drugs, drinking but at the very least they can’t do it at your house because you are home and in contact with them.

  68. Lihtox October 13, 2011 at 12:52 am #

    I agree that it’s much better to warn kids about what’s out there, than to try to hide it from them. That means talking about sex at a level beyond “birds and the bees”: pornography, rape, molestation, etc. Information quells curiosity; I’ve often thought that teens might not be so obsessed about sex if we had them attend nude drawing classes: “This is a breast, this is a penis, this is a vulva: now you don’t have to devote all your spare time trying to see them.” 😀

    And speaking of which, if you put a secret camera in your teen’s room, then you will have film of them masturbating, end of story. Do you really want to see that, even for the moment it takes to hit the fast-forward button?

  69. Coccinelle October 13, 2011 at 1:16 am #

    I would never spy on my kids like that but I got to admit that when I was a teenager and a young adult, if it would have enable me to ride my parents’ car, I would gladly have accepted the GPS tracking system.

    I think that besides the craziness of all these tips, the main point is mutual trust. How can you teach your child to be trusting if you never trust them? How can they trust YOU if you sneek in their life?

  70. Lihtox October 13, 2011 at 1:18 am #

    And, as is often in these threads, the issue of age comes to mind: there must be a transitional age where some of these measures, at least, would be appropriate? When my daughter gets her first email address or starts surfing the web for the first time, I will be monitoring her very closely because she won’t know anything about spam or porn sites or anything like that.

    I think a useful guideline is if that a kid’s old enough to seriously bristle at being monitored, and old enough to find ways around your security, than they’re old enough to understand their responsibilities and the dangers you’re trying to protect them from.

  71. Cheryl W October 13, 2011 at 1:43 am #

    I didn’t need the car bugged or anything like that to get “caught”. I went with my step sister and some of her friends one nigh to get “pizza”. We did get it, then we drove around doing Chinese Fire Drills at the 3 stop lights in town. (Horrible, I know.)

    When we got home at 9:30 or so, my mom was waiting at the door. She knew all about it because some relative saw us and called her. My step sister didn’t really get it, (that the community was watching us and would tell on us) but I sure did. No more public stupidity!

    At my house with dates, the doors had to be open or we had to sit in the living room or kitchen. As our upstairs was not heated in the winter (nor did we have AC) we pretty much stayed in the kitchen.

    Our computer and TV are in the living room, and I intend for them to stay that way. No need for extra monitoring.

  72. SKL October 13, 2011 at 1:49 am #

    Dolly, let me just say that in my experience, the kids who have engaged in dangerous / age-inappropriate behaviors mostly did NOT have working moms. Mostly their parents were themselves messed up – including some who were living in the clouds – “my kids would never do that.”

    My parents both worked and we came home to an empty house. But my parents had rules and enforced them. They also remembered what they were like as kids. We had a lot of freedom, balanced by a lot of responsibility and accountability. None of us (we are 6) got into any serious trouble. Yes, there was some experimentation (NOT in our house), but that would be true regardless.

    Knowing how much it aggravates me even now to think someone is looking over my shoulder, I think it would have driven me nuts as a teen. I liked being able to go somewhere and NOT be monitored – not because I wanted to do something wrong, but just so I could be do my own thing without wondering what anyone else might think about it.

    This post has me feeling like maybe my boss has a nannycam pointing at me right now, to see how much time I spend on the internet. (If so, I’m screwed! Or liberated, depending on how you look at it.) Eek. Think about how that would feel. Teens are people too!

  73. helynna October 13, 2011 at 1:53 am #

    I have a friend who is a police officer so when his daughter got into chat rooms when she was 13, he was a little concerned because in his job he sees mostly the perps. Instead of monitoring or spying he taught his daughter how to spot them. First he talked directly about the fact that perverts are posing on these chats as teens. Then he suggested they look together for suspicious postings. After a while she got really good and even became the “tutor” for her friends. If they found something they were unsure of they would contact her. He was teaching her skills she can use the rest of her life.

  74. JustaDad October 13, 2011 at 2:02 am #

    Dolly “The biggest problem though is working parents. I don’t care if that gets me flamed. It is just the truth of the matter. Working parents that work 9 to 5 jobs are not home when their teenagers get home”

    Well that thought is okay if there is no need for both parents to work. But what if both parents have to work to feed and clothe the kids. can’t always be helped. just because some people can have the choice to have both working or one not working, does not mean everyone can.

    Many couples have to be both working, just a fact in today’s economy.

    and both my parents worked, no serious trouble, from any of us 4 we were more responsible than friends with stay at home moms(or dads), we knew more was expected of us.

    Before you blame working parents, realize that in many cases there is no choice.

  75. Lissa October 13, 2011 at 2:29 am #

    @Lihtox: I think that is a marvelous idea. Drawing a nude model would enforce the ideas that there’s nothing dirty and shameful about certain body parts, and that our bodies really are amazing and beautiful pieces of work. Maybe if teenagers understood that our bodies are not shameful, and are, in fact, beautiful, they would be smarter and safer about how and whom they share theirs with.

    I think that we’ve reached the point in our society that the internet has been around long enough that we forget that it is not a necessity, but a luxury. Just like you wouldn’t let your child walk to the park alone if they weren’t well-prepared and mature enough to handle it, if you don’t feel that your teen is well-prepared and mature enough to deal with the potential pitfalls of technology, then don’t let them use it. Like someone else stated, they do not pay for it, and despite what they may think, internet access and cell phones are not God-given rights.

  76. socalledauthor October 13, 2011 at 2:34 am #

    Dolly– my experience working with troubled-teens is actually that I saw more children of stay-at-home moms whose whole life revolved around their chidlren. They wanted so badly to be the “cool” mom who was “buddies” with their children, that they would hand over the car keys, cash, and more without even checking on the kids because that would be “uncool.” Not to say there weren’t a few working parents who had similar problems with wanting to be freinds instead of parents, but at least in my area, it’s more the stay-at-home moms that created the little hellions in my classroom. (Also created young men with little respect for women, but that’s a whole separate issue.)

  77. Hels October 13, 2011 at 3:11 am #

    This is insane and insulting. Had my parents been doing these things, our relationship would have been hopelessly ruined. How about building trust instead?

    My parents always trusted me. I had no curfew at any age – because I always told them where I was going and when I planned to be back. Without being asked. That’s because my parents never told me No without a good reason (such as they needed me to help out with something). And trusted me to make good decisions (which I did).

    Were I required to constantly report on my whereabouts and ask permission for every step, I would have rebelled for sure. Just out of spite. And did something stupid I would regret later on.

  78. Donna October 13, 2011 at 3:13 am #

    “The biggest problem though is working parents. I don’t care if that gets me flamed. It is just the truth of the matter. Working parents that work 9 to 5 jobs are not home when their teenagers get home”

    Growing up the classmates that I had who got into trouble came from both working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. There was no one over the other. As a matter of fact, probably 98% of our juvenile clients have a stay at home mothers. if not 2 stay at home parents. Their issues are many, but not having someone home when they get home from school is definitely not one of them.

    Kids are either inclined to do these things or they’re not. Parents either instill good values in their children or they don’t. Parents are either good disciplinarians or they’re not. Parents are either in-tune with their kids or they’re not. Location isn’t relevant as to whether you will get in trouble or not. If they had a stay-at-home mother, kids who want to drink, smoke, do drugs and have sex after school will simply do it at another location. Even if their parents work, kids who have no interest in drinking, smoking, doing drugs and having sex will not do so.

  79. Daniel October 13, 2011 at 3:26 am #

    Agreed that our society locks the concept of nudity into sex all too often. A nude drawing class isn’t a bad idea. Teens are curious about their changing body and how they measure up, but there are no “safe” places on the internet to see non-sexual nudity. They will go looking, and they will soon be over their heads in hardcore porn that is not at all age appropriate. Those parents who raised their children going to nude beaches in Europe or wherever have much less problem with their children going and searching the internet for such things since their children already know the spectrum of human development from young to old, from skinny to fat, from short to tall. Their children don’t have the level of curiosity that the child from a hyper-modest family will have.

    As far as blocking porn is concerned on the computers in the house – it only works so far. Remember when we were young that there was this one kid who found his father’s stack of Playboys and would sneak one out of the house to share with the other guys? It is now the one kid who found his father’s stack of porn DVD’s. The kids know how to rip and compress a DVD down to a much smaller file. With just a little bit of effort he will have all his father’s DVD’s ripped and put into files, record them off on a single DVD (who doesn’t have a DVD burner these days?) and will be sharing copies of those files either on thumb drive or DVD or CD with all his friends. A local adult shop is advertising 4 porn DVD’s for $20, and the number of houses with parents who have tried to spice up their relationship with such things is much higher these days. You think you have them too well hidden for your snooping kids to find? You are wrong. The kids have their own file sharing networks using sneaker-net where they just exchange videos on thumbdrives. Good luck on trying to block porn – they will just carry it into the house on a drive hidden in their pocket, a disk hidden inside a school book or whatever.

    Talk to your children about the human body. Be completely aware of their curiosity and quit making the body a shameful thing. Tell them which things are prudent to do and which are not. – The Hebrew word ARUMIYM means both “naked” and “prudent” and is translated both ways in the Bible. So the Biblical view of the body is that nude and prude are the same thing (without being lewd).

  80. LauraS October 13, 2011 at 4:01 am #

    Talking with your kids is certainly the most important thing, but no child (under 18) is going to be telling their parents the total 100% truth about their computer and phone usage. I say checking computer use (internet, Facebook etc) and cell phone use is an absolute must. Not only for what they’re doing but for what other’s may be doing to/with them.
    I would certainly hate to get a nearly naked pic of my daughter sent to my phone by accident, like a friend of mine did. Only after that did the mom check the computer and phone use, and she was most unpleasantly surprised at what she found!

    Your little angel who you trust so much is probably not as innocent as you think. I certainly know when I was a teen my parents didn’t know half of the things I was up to (and that was before the PC and cell phones), but we did talk a lot and they trusted me implicitly, I never got into trouble, but only because I was lucky and never got caught. They still think I was a great teen!
    Thinking back on my own teen years, I know I can only hope my daughter will make the right decisions, but I cannot assume that she always will, so we will most definitely be checking her computer and phone. And, the minute we hand her her first computer/phone we will explain to her that we will be checking the usage and why.

  81. RobC October 13, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    “Parents of teens may consider putting (a nannycam) in their teen’s bedroom to make sure their child is not engaging in inappropriate behavior when they’re not home.”

    Yeah, then get sent to jail for child pornography the first time they take their clothes off, or do other things that teenagers are wont to do when alone in their bedrooms.

    I’m having trouble envisaging the kind of thinking that does not regard placing a hidden camera in a teenager’s bedroom as inappropriate behaviour in itself.

  82. Claudia Conway October 13, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    I think one thing that really disturbs me about these ‘tips’ actually is that it proposes that parents should be enforcing rather than teaching. Behave and don’t do anything stupid because Big Momma is watching you! Rather than doing the right thing, because, well, it’s the right thing to do.

    ‘Because your parents are watching and you’ll get in trouble’ may have a place to some extent in the social learning of young children, but teenagers?

  83. Mushroom October 13, 2011 at 4:52 am #

    If a teenager can’t engage in “inappropriate behavior” alone in their own bedroom without being watched… Hey, it just occurred to me that you hear stories on the news about hidden cameras being found in teenagers’ bedrooms. Parents or Pervert?!? Whomever wrote this list had their heart in the right place but their head up their bummies.

  84. Mushroom October 13, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    Also, the monitoring of cell phones they talk about isn’t a special device like the article implies, it’s a service offered by major cell phone carriers. Available to any customer free is the ability to go online and check call and texting activity/content, that’s nothing special; available at a small premium are the GPS-based tracking and activity allowances/blocks toward certain numbers and timeframes. Kids should know by now that anything they do on their phones (unsure about browsing history though…) is visible to the person paying the bill.

  85. Dolly October 13, 2011 at 5:15 am #

    Well here are the stats speaking of backing up your claims like Lenore likes to do.

    The after school hours are the peak time for juvenile crime and experimentation with drugs, alcohol, cigarettes and sex. (Source: Bureau, Urban Institute Estimate, 2000) Fight Crime: Invest in Kids, 2002)

    The hours between 3-6 p.m. on school days (referred to by law enforcement officials as a “danger zone”) are the prime time for violent juvenile crime; this is also the time period during which kids are most likely to become victims of violent crime, be involved in all kinds of accidents, experiment with drugs or alcohol, and become pregnant

    · Lack of adult supervision and participation in self-care for both children and adolescents have been linked to: increased likelihood of accidents, injuries, lower social competence, lower GPAs, lower achievement test scores and greater likelihood of participation in delinquent or other high risk activities such as experimentation with alcohol, tobacco, drugs and sex. Teens who are unsupervised during after school hours are 37% more likely to become teen parents.

    Thank you very much. This comes from a site about after school care and activities being a good thing for teens. I agree. So it is not about working versus non working parents so much as does your teen have supervision after school???? If they are home alone, then chances are they might be having boys over and having sex like my neighbors (funny how everyone quoting me didn’t bother to talk about that point at all), or doing drugs, or driving recklessly (this one is way obvious because when the school bell rang the teens peeled out of the parking lot 90 miles an hour everyday).

    Teens can still get into trouble when their parents are not involved or present and around but it is way less likely.

  86. RobC October 13, 2011 at 5:25 am #

    Creeping around and spying on my kids doesn’t count as me being involved in their lives, Dolly.

    Good parenting doesn’t mean lurking around every corner just waiting for them to do something wrong so you can leap out and go, “Aha! I caught you!” Good parenting means bringing up your children to be the kind of people who are hopefully going to be able to resist the temptation to use drugs, or have risky sex, or other harmful behaviours.

    If parents put as much time and effort into being involved with their kids lives as they seem willing to spend spying on them, there might not be a need to spy on them in the first place.

  87. Renee October 13, 2011 at 5:30 am #

    Be a good role model. Our computer is in a public space, my nine year old is behind me. Our cell phones stay down stairs at night, no media in our bedrooms. Bedrooms are a place of peace and quiet, a place to sleep or read or whatever that doesn’t involve technology. Also I purposely friended my mother-in-law, I figure if it is something I wouldn’t say in front of her I shouldn’t be saying to others.

  88. RobC October 13, 2011 at 5:32 am #

    “I don’t think you can be arrested for putting a camera in your own home. Or for child porn if your children misbehaved in front of a camera, because what someone chooses to do in front of a camera you own, that you do not initiate, is not a crime.”

    Are you sure about this, Pentamom? Because if putting a hidden camera in my teenage daughter’s bedroom so I can spy on her isn’t a crime, it damn well should be.

  89. Renee October 13, 2011 at 5:33 am #

    I have to admit #10 is something I would do though…. Bedrooms and monitoring texts/emails is creepy, but the front/side/back door is seen from the street and neighbors.

  90. Dolly October 13, 2011 at 5:37 am #

    Another point is that if you read your kids emails or notes etc you are not just violating THEIR privacy but you are violating their friend’s privacy as well and you definitely do not have that authority. I told my mother about how my best friend’s mother would record phone conversations and read notes etc and my mother was pissed about it. She was upset my privacy was being violated and my own mother was never consulted about this.

    My mom actually told her mother off several times because when she was spending the night with me she would call my mother all hours of the day and night over and over bugging my mother checking up on us. It is like if you trust us to have your daughter in our care, than just trust us and don’t call 100 times. Otherwise, don’t let her come over here. Pick one. She probably wanted her daughter out of her hair for the night but still wanted to feel she was 100% in control of her and sorry it doesn’t work that way.

  91. Eika October 13, 2011 at 6:29 am #

    Pentamom, to quote your post: Though I think it’s a creepy and ridiculous idea, I don’t think you can be arrested… what someone chooses to do in front of a camera you own, that you do not initiate, is not a crime.

    It is. There were recently a series of lawsuits, which I will not link because I don’t want this marked as spam. Essentially, a school gave free laptops to its students, then tried to expell one for drug use. Except the drugs were Mike and Ike candies handed to a friend, in the boy’s bedroom. It was caught on camera by the laptop, which was activating remotely.

    School camera, school property. But because he WAS NOT INFORMED the camera would be on, and because he was UNAWARE he could be filmed, and because it INVADED HIS PRIVACY, the school is in very serious doo-doo. (and a quick google search about any of this will confirm it). The issue is part ‘lied to the kid’ part ‘privacy invasion’ part ‘there HAS to be child porn on there with all the video you took’… not legal.

  92. Donna October 13, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    Dolly, the statistics you are quoting are talking about getting kids involved in after school activities instead of hanging out on the street and NOT working vs non-working parents. Most of this juvenile crime is not happening AT HOME. If it were, the kids would be taken from their homes and put in foster care. The juvenile crime is occurring on the street. Unless, you are planning to refuse to allow your teens to leave the house after school, whether your home or not is completely irrelevant to these statistics. A kid with a mother at home can rob a convenience store (in fact I could give you the names of several who have) just as easily as a kid with a mother at work. It may take lying about going to a friend’s house instead of simply walking out of the house but it’s really the same result. All these statistics indicate is that teens do better if they have some activity to do after school rather than having nothing to do until dinnertime.

    Further, without more information these types of random statistics are totally meaningless. Life in America includes too many variables. Are we talking about my child’s peers – middle class, educated, intelligent kids with decent parents? Or are we talking about kids in the ‘hood with crack whores as parents who run with gangs? Obviously the results are going to be VERY different.

    “If they are home alone, then chances are they might be having boys over and having sex like my neighbors (funny how everyone quoting me didn’t bother to talk about that point at all),”

    Actually I did but it seems like you care more about the location of the sex than the actual sex. My mother had a stay-at-home mom and still got pregnant at 17. Why? Because when she wanted to have sex, there were a million other places to go. Again, unless you plan to hold your teens hostage in the house after school, they can have sex anywhere.

    Further, being a stay-at-home mom doesn’t in any way shape or form indicate that you are an involved parent. 98% of my clients had parents who didn’t work. They also didn’t stop their kids from running the streets. They also didn’t stop their kids from joining gangs. They also didn’t teach their kids right from wrong.

    Frankly, I don’t care whether parents stay home with their kids are not. I’d rather blow my brains out than be a stay at home mom but many enjoy it. Ultimately the quality of parenting matters a whole lot more than whether you work or not.

  93. Rich Wilson October 13, 2011 at 6:43 am #

    @Eika I don’t think that case is a good example. Installing a hidden camera in your own home is not the same thing as giving someone a hidden camera.

    I think a better case would be

    I’m pretty sure this is fairly new law.

    There was one further back in which a frequent patron at a bar offered a server the use of his shower while her’s was being repaired, and had a hidden camera. They were unable to find any charges for that person (and sorry I can’t find a link, it was 6 or 8 years ago).

    It probably varies by state.

  94. socalledauthor October 13, 2011 at 6:55 am #

    Rob C said: “Good parenting doesn’t mean lurking around every corner just waiting for them to do something wrong so you can leap out and go, “Aha! I caught you!” Good parenting means bringing up your children to be the kind of people who are hopefully going to be able to resist the temptation to use drugs, or have risky sex, or other harmful behaviours.

    If parents put as much time and effort into being involved with their kids lives as they seem willing to spend spying on them, there might not be a need to spy on them in the first place.”

    This reminds me of how I deal with minor infractions (usually profanity) in my classroom. I have to start with “You’re not in trouble” before the kid will even listen to the request to watch their language. They’re so used to just being in trouble for every single (little) thing that they get defensive at the drop of a hat. And yet, so many of their infractions aren’t worth any real penalty. I know adults that can’t keep their profanity in check because they use it so fluently.

    I think there’s a great emphasis on teens being trouble-makers. Instead of guiding them as they explore the good and bad things in life, it’s all about figuring out how to catch them when the do things bad. Instead of waiting until they get caught, an involved parent will talk with the kid pre-emptively and repeatedly about sex, drugs, alcohol, and reinforce why the parents are concerned. An involved parent will also be in their kid’s life enough to notice changes in friends, behavior, or other things that might signal a need to do some further investigating. Being involved builds bridges, but spying builds paranoia and mistrust.

    I suppose, though, it’s hard for many parents to give their teenager some trust and freedom when they’ve never offered their child any real trust or freedom up to that point.

  95. Dolly October 13, 2011 at 7:16 am #

    Donna: Umm actually the stats I gave DO support what I am saying, but it is clear you have a chip on your shoulder about being a working mom and therefore there is no convincing you either way. It is about having adult supervision after school whether that be because your parent is at home with you or because you are doing an after school activity. Either way when an adult is supervising you, you are not getting into trouble.

  96. Sarah in Iowa October 13, 2011 at 7:40 am #

    “Unless you know that they’re using the computer responsibly, they shouldn’t be allowed to use it unsupervised.”

    That doesn’t even make sense.

  97. E-man October 13, 2011 at 7:41 am #

    I’m 15. If my parents put a nanny cam in my room, I would run away.

  98. Donna October 13, 2011 at 7:47 am #

    Actually, Dolly, the statistics simply show that kids are better if supervised after school. If your point is that teens are better off if supervised in some way after school, I agree wholeheartedly. My daughter staying home alone after school every day will not be an option at any age.

    However, that is not what you said. You said children of stay at home parents fare better than those of working parents. That I completely disagree with and that assertion is not backed up by your statistics at all as there are many other types of supervision and a parent present at home does not automatically equal good supervision. After school jobs, activities, clubs, teams, study groups, volunteer work, mentoring, college classes all provide supervision. A crappy parent provides no supervision by their mere presence. Nor does one preclude the other. My mother worked from home all my teen years. I still never saw her before dinnertime. I was too busy with my many after school activities.

    And I have no chip on my shoulder about being a working parent. I love my job. I love being a parent. I have no desire to change either aspect of my life. I’m very glad that it’s 2011 and I don’t have to. It seems more to me that you have a chip on your shoulder about being a stay at home parent.

  99. Dolly October 13, 2011 at 7:52 am #

    Yes, I do change my statement to it is the problem with teens not being supervised enough at home especially after school. Therefore teens with stay at home parents, or jobs, or after school activities, are less likely to get into trouble.

  100. pentamom October 13, 2011 at 8:23 am #

    “Are you sure about this, Pentamom? Because if putting a hidden camera in my teenage daughter’s bedroom so I can spy on her isn’t a crime, it damn well should be.”

    You really don’t want to live in a world where that would be illegal, because making that illegal would remove all kinds of underlying rights you have to do things in your home and with respect to the raising of your own underaged children.

    Like I said, it’s a bad and creepy thing, but it isn’t, and shouldn’t, be illegal to place a camera in any part OF YOUR OWN HOME.

  101. Tracy October 13, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    the only thing on this list I have done and been glad I did, was monitor my son’s history on computer usage. It showed that a virus had downloaded while he was at school and we had a porn site unleashing its videos of all things onto his laptop unbeknownst to him/us. Luckily my husband is a whizz and found out what happened, when and cleared it up.
    With the rest of the list, i wonder how the parent would ever establish trust with a teen monitored like this! What will they do when he goes to college? move in with him? sheesh. how about forming a relationship with them instead of policing?

  102. pentamom October 13, 2011 at 8:26 am #

    Eika, a school spying on other-people’s kids with school-issued laptops is, legally speaking, worlds apart from people putting a stationary camera in part of the home that belongs to them in order to see their own minor, dependent children. Rich’s example is a little closer, but the home still not being the guy’s property and the child who lived in the home still not being his own makes it, legally speaking, highly significantly different.

  103. pentamom October 13, 2011 at 8:30 am #

    Oh, and Eika, I didn’t mean it wasn’t a crime to have the camera in front of someone (other than your own child in a place not your own home), I meant that you’re not legally responsible for “pornography” just because your kid engages in inappropriate behavior in front of a camera. If it’s someone else’s kid and not in your own home, it’s definitely illegal on some level, but not child pornography as such, if your intent was not to create the images and you do nothing to distribute them. The crime of creating child pornography has to involve intent to create or distribute from the images, not some kid misbehaving in front of a security camera or something like that.

  104. Ali October 13, 2011 at 8:34 am #

    PR Fail.

  105. RobC October 13, 2011 at 8:43 am #

    Pentamom, you’re just making this shit up, aren’t you?

  106. RobC October 13, 2011 at 8:46 am #

    Seriously Pentamom, you have no problem with a father setting up a hidden camera in his teenage daughter’s bedroom with the sole purpose of spying on her, knowing full well that she’s going to be naked in there at some point, and probably doing other things that, while not harmful to her and anyone else, she wouldn’t want her parents to be watching? You don’t see a potential here for misuse at all, even knowing that most sexual abuse of children takes place within the family home?

  107. bmj2k October 13, 2011 at 8:58 am #

    I mean this seriously. Is that article a joke? It reads so oddly like it was meant to be a parody but doesn’t hit that level of humor. I do think it is real, sadly, but I have to wonder if it is a poor job of satire.

  108. Karla October 13, 2011 at 9:20 am #

    Wowie! This is outrageous. I really don’t have a problem w friending your teen on FB or following them on Twitter. That really does seem like common sense, to monitor what they’re posting in a public forum. But cameras all over your home? That is appalling. Monitoring the computer to make sure they aren’t playing on YouTUBE? Monitoring their every move on the cell phone? Why not just force them to sign an agreement that they have no right to any privacy until they leave your home? At least that would be honest.

  109. CedricS October 13, 2011 at 9:25 am #

    “(Ctrl-Shift-N or Ctrl-Shift-P) and do so without thinking (because they are used to using shared computers at school, where private browsing is a good idea). ”

    This is not true. Those key combinations may open a separate window with no saved history,but all the URL traffic is still freely available on the router itself. The google history is also freely available. Chrome and Firefox saves prior opened tabs. The sites themselves, and the ISP have records of all activity. As the person that administers my home network and the one that pays for it I have the authority to call the ISP and get the records myself, if I want to. Letting your kids have a little fun is all well and good, but letting them assume that those ‘private’ key combinations or web proxies, or Tor browsing will save them from anyone that admins a network is (schools and employers, anyone?) faulty and misleading knowledge.

  110. Pitcher Itcher October 13, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    This is a massive thread, and I am actually surprised at how much agreement there is on this thread. The only thing I am going to add is more agreement with those who advocate keeping technology away from kids post bedtime. Call me what you will, but the evidence is clear: Teens sleep dramatically less per night than they did in the 1970s. There is a correlation with lack of bed times and lack of rules around technology and depression and anxiety symptoms. (Yes, I know correlation is not causation, but it should not be ignored.) Teens have always fought against sleep, but it is becoming a very real cultural issue in an age of electric light and ever increasing electronic distractions. To me, we are talking about health care here.

  111. tina October 13, 2011 at 9:29 am #

    sometimes i pray so that i dont have too go looking for what did my kids do that day i have been preaching and teaching and so much through there life i know my voice is in the back saying yes do that no dont do that but one important thing a child needs too do is learn to obey moving my self away from there protector i tell them and i let them hear me without being there that i have also taught them and that there choice has good and bad consequences .i also let them know that the bad i am not there to bail them out i am there to take the side of what is right . i explain to them to honestly take the responsibility reaction to every event in there life .

  112. RobC October 13, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    You should also explain to them the importance of punctuation.

  113. Uly October 13, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    And spelling, and capitalization….

  114. Coccinelle October 13, 2011 at 9:40 am #

    I don’t understand why so many people are against pentamom…

    Baby monitors with camera are legal, yes? And there is no “age limit”, yes? So why normal cameras would be illegal?

    I don’t say that I approve of people who do that, it just seems to me that it’s legal.

  115. Cedric October 13, 2011 at 9:44 am #

    Legally kids have no right to privacy from their parents, but just because something is legal doesn’t mean it should be done.

  116. Donna October 13, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    @Pentamom – I can’t speak for any state but my own, but, yes putting a camera in your child’s bedroom can be illegal. I’ve represented a client who was arrested for placing a camera in his own bathroom in his own house. He was convicted of something – I can’t remember what now but it was solely based on the placement of the camera. He was not charged with anything pornography-related because he never captured anyone on tape.

    Much will probably have to do with placement of the camera. If you put a camera in your child’s room and it is set in such a way to capture him/her changing clothes or it is aimed directly at the bed or something otherwise suggestive, you will likely be charged with something. If you place a camera in your child’s room so that you are unlikely to catch anything suggestive – i.e. it’s aimed at the window to make sure your child isn’t sneaking out – you can probably get away with it and would not be charged with kiddie porn even if your child happened to crawl out the window naked.

  117. Beth October 13, 2011 at 10:03 am #

    So, it seems like we’re calling masturbation “inappropriate behavior” now? Is that really something we need to catch our kids doing? I’d really rather not know.

  118. Jamie Dale October 13, 2011 at 10:09 am #

    I suspect this was sent by a blog-bot. It doesn’t have anything to do with reality. Anybody reading it would say, Oh my God, look at how fearful some parents are. It’s just a scam to get people to click.

    This is a prime example of how we have to be aware on the web.

    I love Free Range Kids. I’m raising one. But remember to watch where you’re looking because you end up going where you look.

  119. Joni Sinclair October 13, 2011 at 10:13 am #

    OMG this article is truly frightening. I have a better idea if parents want to know what their teens are doing they should try talking to or spending time with them the old-fashioned way before technology.

  120. CathyRinMelb October 13, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    I’m sure this is a spoof! Surely!

  121. Uly October 13, 2011 at 11:14 am #

    Baby monitors with camera are legal, yes? And there is no “age limit”, yes? So why normal cameras would be illegal?

    I think the implied age limit would be, uh, “baby”. Not a baby? No use for a baby monitor.

  122. SKL October 13, 2011 at 11:23 am #

    Dolly: “This comes from a site about after school care and activities being a good thing for teens.”

    Well, no kidding! A site promoting after-school supervision selectively pulled some stats from . . . somewhere (?) to support what it’s promoting!

    Correlation isn’t causation. If SOME kids who are unsupervised after school also have sex etc., the question to ask is, what’s the common denominator? Because there are many, many teens who have developed enough responsibility to conduct themselves prudently while home alone.

    Is there something about going home from school that makes kids feel horney? I never (with a capital N) thought about having sex after school. I thought about doing my chores and my paper route, taking care of my younger siblings, and planning my homework. I chatted with my siblings while dinner was being prepared, played the piano, drew in my sketch pad. I even visited friends – yes, even troubled friends (who, by the way, had stay-at-home parents). What does after-school free time have to do with sex?

    Now if a kid is already obsessed with having sex, sex can occur on school grounds, at a friend’s house, in a car, on the school bus, etc. My granny used to climb out her window at night to do it. (Yep, I’m the indirect result of illicit sex!) Sex happens, but not because moms work.

    If you don’t want your kid trying to have sex, help her to understand that she has something better to shoot for and live for. Give her something important to do (like, you know, taking care of household stuff while you work) and let her know you believe she can do it.

  123. pentamom October 13, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    “Baby monitors with camera are legal, yes? And there is no “age limit”, yes? So why normal cameras would be illegal?

    I think the implied age limit would be, uh, “baby”. Not a baby? No use for a baby monitor.”

    I think we’re speaking legally, Uly. Is there really any law anywhere that says that baby monitors can only used for babies, somehow defined?

  124. pentamom October 13, 2011 at 11:42 am #

    RobC, how many times do I have to say I think it’s weird and stupid before you stop saying I “have no problem” with it?

    “Have no problem” and “legal to do on your own property with respect to your own children” are vastly, VASTLY different concepts. I thought anyone would know that. I thought most also people knew that everything that someone could possibly misuse neither is, nor should be, illegal.

    Besides, sexual abuse of children is already illegal, so sure, the camera being used *for that purpose* being illegal, I get. I was less sure about the *mere existence of a camera* in one room of the house as opposed to others being a legal issue. So you can stop with the words in my mouth and the implied stupidity, thanks.

    On the legal point, though, I’ll defer to Donna’s superior knowledge.

  125. BMommy October 13, 2011 at 12:48 pm #

    OMG, where is the trust? why even let them do anything at all?

  126. Emily Osgood October 13, 2011 at 2:36 pm #

    Wow. Just wow. My parents know better than this. I think this chick was vying for free publicity of her list, and most of the comments are ridiculing the list. Epic Fail.
    I am a teenage female. Sometimes I walk ~5.5 miles home from my high school on a secluded-ish walking trail and I have not once been accosted, mugged, harassed, raped, abducted, or murdered (my parents’ chief worries about my walking home alone).

  127. CedricS October 13, 2011 at 8:33 pm #

    While that may be true, you are still a minor child.There is a balance between free ranging and total despotism, but it still rests on the side of the parent, and despite all the good intentions in the world, and all the trustworthy kids, there are those that are not. Having the means to monitor what kids are doing, especially in their own house, in the face of the child lying or being involved in things that they should not be is still within the parents purvey and responsibility. Remember, adults get penalized all the time for things that their kids do under the color of ‘neglect’. There are situations where without some of these things the parent would have no idea at all what their kid was doing even if they are involved in their lives. It is idealistic to think that there is a perfect relationship between children and their parents, or that all parents that keep an eye on things are subscribing to fear. Ultimately, it’s still my name and my reputation, and in some cases my legal culpability as a parent for things that my kids do, therefore, if necessary, yes, I will monitor their internet use, phone use, car use, what have you. Until a child in the US is 18 (or 19 in some states) they are still a child.

    Move to change the laws is great, but they are what they are, and as parents you still have to live within them.

  128. Dolly October 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm #

    Alright Cedric, you can spy on your kids by law but you have no right to spy on other people’s kids. So are you saying you would listen in on phone conversations without alerting the other teen? Or read notes written by another teen to your teen? Reading emails from other teens to your teen? That is all invasion of the other teen’s privacy and it is not acceptable unless you get permission from that teen’s parent first. If my teen is ever friends with your teen and I find out you were breaching my teen’s privacy, me and you will have WORDS!

  129. Uly October 13, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

    Pentamom, you are talking legally. I’m not sure anybody else is anymore.

  130. Cedric October 13, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    Then that is your prerogative. If it is in my house, how is that spying on other people’s kids? I have every right to read every email and listen to every phone call in my house, if I choose it to be necessary. It is not against the law, or an invasion of privacy because 1. minors little to no right to privacy, and 2. it’s only illegal to record the conversation.
    You are choosing to take what im saying to the extreme. Free-range parenting is not letting your kids do whatever they want because you ‘trust them’. If a situation warrant my intervention, my kids know that no matter how much freedom I normally give them, it can and will disappear the instant that I feel it is necessary.

  131. Cedric October 13, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Any other parents’ child’s privacy ends at my front door if they are involving my child in something that is dangerous, or illegal. Them’s the rules. It doesn’t make me any less of a free range type parent. I don’t rule over the house as a despot, but my kids know they can’t hide behind a right to privacy, either. If they are involved in something that is self endangering, or illegal, then that affects me, too, legally-sometimes to the point of culpability on my part. You bet i’m involved.

  132. pentamom October 13, 2011 at 11:02 pm #

    Uly, I don’t want to beat this to death, but the comment you were responding to used the words “legal” and “illegal” in the part you quoted. So I was responding to your response to that, which was certainly “speaking legally.”

    Anyway, like I said, I’ll defer to Donna on that point.

  133. Tracy October 13, 2011 at 11:05 pm #

    I agree with cedric. Teens do not have automatic rights to every privacy. If my teen writes down suicidal thoughts and his teen “friend” sees this and chooses not to share with me, they have violated my rights as the parent. When you find yourself in that situation and not sitting in your armchair with 5 year olds playing at your feet, THEN you’re in a position to say what you’d do.

  134. Uly October 13, 2011 at 11:21 pm #

    Tracy, if your teen’s friend sees this and doesn’t inform you, they may have made a bad choice.

    But parental rights do not extend to other people’s behavior. You do not have the right, as a parent, to be told things by other people’s children. If you want to know what-all is in your teen’s diary you can go ahead and break the lock and read it yourself.

  135. Cedric October 13, 2011 at 11:30 pm #

    true on technicality, but if said teen writes a bunch of stuff in a letter or says it in a phone call to my teen, then there is no expectation of privacy. When I am paying for internet and cell service, and I own the car, and I own the house, there is no ‘expectation’ of privacy. (see “Georgia v. Randolph” 2006, USSC). The 4th extends some protection of privacy to the minor from the State’s intrusion, but not from their parents.

  136. Neener October 13, 2011 at 11:46 pm #

    @ Dolly: If you think that the recipe for instant teenaged sex is a working parent and a few hours after school, I have beachfront property to sell you. I got pregnant at 15 in the back of my boyfriend’s Pinto on a parent-sanctioned date. Ever seen a Pinto? All you really need for instant teenaged sex is two motivated teens. (Extraordinarily motivated if the boy drives a Pinto!)

  137. Donna October 14, 2011 at 1:13 am #

    I don’t know where Dolly is getting her information but it is 100% wrong legally. A person has a very limited right to privacy in someone else’s house. Again, you’ll have issues if you’re putting cameras up in bathrooms and guest bedrooms in order to catch guests naked but otherwise a guest has little protection from even government action in someone else’s house.

    You also have absolutely no right to privacy in anything sent to another person. The recipient can do with it as he or she wishes. If he or she leaves it out so that others can read it, your right to privacy has not been violated. If someone reads her email, they are possibly invading her privacy but not yours.

    Nor can your parents consent to someone else violating your privacy. A camera in the bathroom is an invasion of privacy. It does not become okay because your parents agree to let your host put it there.

  138. Renee October 14, 2011 at 1:17 am #

    @ Neener

    Very true…..

    I have older relatives and they got pregnant as teenagers, fortunately there was a healthy relationship with the father and got married and remain married for 35+ years.

    My own parents and in-laws married relatively young, still married.

    I know most people don’t want teens to marry in the state we have raised to be, and some of it is by necessity because of post-high school education/training and financially get off your feet. Still they’re adults, who actually can raise children of their own and if allowed be responsible.

    I remember as a teenager, I didn’t want to ‘have fun’ or essentially be babysat with activities to keep me out of trouble. I wanted to something more productive, why pretend, when really at the time I had the mind to actually do something.

  139. Tracy October 14, 2011 at 1:20 am #

    my comment is not about legality. It’s about common decency. My example was real life so be careful about assuming anything. Good friends do not withhold deadly information. Finding out was by my own sifting thru’ the kid’s stuff. It just is very hard to know that another knew but decided not to let us know.

  140. Rika October 14, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Definitely an automated spam/bot/troll email for 2 reasons: 1–It’s a lot of generic and somewhat sensationalistic info which is freely available on the net, and 2–the big tip-off is the comment: “It has been a sincere pleasure to read your great content.” Usually this kind of blog compliment (stilted wording, complimentary, sounds like someone for whom English is not the first language) is posted on blogs by websites selling something or to create a linkage for page ranking.

  141. crowjoy October 14, 2011 at 2:03 am #

    @curiositycat – that link made my DAY! “Please stand by for a demonstration of relevancy.” HAHAHAHA

    Ahem. Carry on. 🙂

  142. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 3:34 am #

    Cedric, accept when I was a teen I was spied on by my friend’s parents and I was a good kid that actually encouraged their teen to do their homework and just spend the night hanging out in my room watching movies. The point is their parent had no right to listen to my phone conversations with their child without my knowledge or read my notes to their child to find out what I was doing good or bad. Especially because I was not being bad. Never did I get an apology from that parent. Never did my mother get an apology from that parent. You sound just like that woman and sorry that is wrong.

    You only have authority over YOUR child. Not mine. Not anyone else’s. If you want your kid to have friends you have to accept that you cannot control their friends only your child. If you can’t handle that, then make your child a social pariah and never let them have friends. Your choice, but not a wise choice. Otherwise you need to get along with their friends and especially their friend’s parents and be respectful to them meaning you have NO right to invade their privacy.

  143. Bose in St. Peter MN October 14, 2011 at 3:36 am #

    Echoing those who have pointed out clear signs of the article — and the entire site — being junk: No author, no personalization, no reference to the writer’s expertise or experience base.

    I welcome open discussion and the sense of FRK community, but the responses here were to a “straw man.” There was never an actual person proposing or standing behind this 10-point list, which is I’d argue isn’t just provocative, it’s incendiary. For the small number of parents who are abusive towards their kids, it offered justification.

    Lenore, the prior comment by Jamie Dale resonates with me: This is a prime example of how we have to be aware on the web. I love the work you do so well, but if a middle school kid’s paper cites the article as credible, that should earn earn it some red ink from the teacher.

  144. Cheryl W October 14, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    Not sure if this pertains to listening in, but in MD it is illegal to tape a phone call unless both parties know and agree to the taping. So taping your kids’ phone calls there, unless you inform both of them, is illegal. This has come to court with cases where the police or one party taped the other without consent.

  145. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 3:44 am #

    If my teen enters your house, sure you have some authority over them since they are in your home. If my teen however gives your teen a note at school or on public property, then no, you have no right to read it. It was not written in your house, it was not mailed to your house. Actually speaking of mailing, I almost called the law on my MIL because by law even minors count to where it is illegal to read other’s mail if it is not addressed to them. Tampering with the mail. She opened his mail and I heard about it and was going to call the cops on her. It did not matter that he lived there. She by law had no right to tamper with it.

    If my teen calls your home, you have no right to listen in on the phone call without making your presence known. If you want to listen in since you pay for the phone, fine, but you need to let my teen know you are listening. A teenage girl has the right to discuss her menstral period with her best friend without her best friend’s father listening in. That is sick and gross. Teens do deserve respect and privacy as long as they have yet to violate it. So unless my kids have been arrested or knock some girl up or drop out of school, etc than you better not violate their privacy or you have ME to deal with and you do not want to deal with me!

  146. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 3:57 am #

    Dolly, you are assuming, again, that I have the whole house wired up for sound and Technicolor, and then I don’t communicate with the parents of my children’s friends-I do, and they welcome it.

    I never said I would record anything, thus, if necessary, I am fully within my rights under the law to listen-i only need to notify another party if it is being recorded.

    If they were checking up on you, then you have an issue with creepy parents. If they were checking up on their kid and you happened to be involved somehow, they were perfectly within their rights to do so.

    IF I need to do any or all of this, I will. If your (collective your) kid is involved, tough. Free range is not a blank check to your kids. My children know that these are the results of breaking our trust. So long as they are up front and communicative with my wife and I then none of this is necessary.

  147. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 3:59 am #

    Im not all that worried about dealing with anyone. The applicable law is on my side. I work in info-sec with things a lot more sensitive than my daughter’s future boyfriend, so i’m really not all that worried about coming out on the wrong side of the law. I am not malicious, i am fair. I have told all my kids, and will continue to do so, what the expectations are for them, and consequences for breaking them-just like real life. How is that any less ‘free-range’?

  148. Kiesha October 14, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    Another former teenager who spent time alone after school. I always came home unless it had been prearranged for me to go somewhere else. I couldn’t even drive to my best friend’s house after school senior year if I hadn’t already talked to my mom about it.

    Never got high, never drank, never had sex in all that time. I would mostly just come home and watch TV, then do my homework.

  149. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    Cedric: It is less free range because you are not just checking up on YOUR kid, you are checking up on other people’s kids without first making sure that their parent are okay with what you are doing. If you are going to read her notes or listen to her phone calls or read her emails, I think that is fair only IF you let the other parties and their parents involved know about it first. You cannot stick your nose in other people’s business or try to check up on their kids. We get mad about parents doing that all the time on this site. You parent how you want. You have to allow other parents the right to do their parenting and that means at least having the decency to let their parents know if you are going to be spying on their kid.

  150. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 4:11 am #

    Like I said Cedric, you don’t think it would be a little creepy to be listening in on your teenage daughter talking periods with her best friend? I mean come on! Or how about your son discussing erections during math class with his best friend? That is something you have no right to listen to and frankly the fact that you seem eager to listen to such things, makes you seem like a perv.

    Maybe I am reaching with that, but you get the point. Teens discuss all kinds of stuff, drugs, sex, and other bad things being only a small small percentage of the things discussed. So you are sticking your nose in all forms of conversation by listening in and spying. I just hope for your kids and their friends sake they discuss at length shopping, periods, erections in class, jock itch, bras, tampons, masturbation, and all kinds of really really boring and gross stuff so that maybe you will get so bored and grossed out you might back the hell off of them!

  151. Renee October 14, 2011 at 4:12 am #

    What if my teen is talking about family related issues to her friends? I really don’t want other adults listening in on my teens feelings. Teens actually do talk about their parents and family stressors in confidence with their friends, it isn’t all about sex and drugs.

  152. Uly October 14, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    Tracy, I’m not assuming ANYthing other than the fact that if one unrelated child declines to tell you something about your kid, they’re not actually violating your parental rights.

    The term “parental rights” does not mean “things I’d like people to do for me”.

  153. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 4:13 am #

    For example, under the ECPA, if I have an extension in my house that is connected to the same line, I can legally listen, because I could just as easily be standing in their room, or outside their door, thus their conversation is not private because it could otherwise be heard legally. I can’t record, but Ive not said anywhere in this thread up to now that I would record, or was recording, so, no laws-federal or state- are being broken.

  154. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 4:21 am #

    Let me fix that for you, Dolly. You are reaching. Here is me…..Here is the issue at hand______

    Here is you, assuming that I run my house like a Stalinist gulag. I do believe ive stated more than once “IF” it is necessary, and that I DO communicate with the parents of my friends. It is common knowldege amongst them from us, or from my kids to their friends (and thus to their parents) that IF my children are doing something that I feel endangers them legally, or myself, then all bets are off, and the law agrees with me. I couldn’t care less about my sons erections or my daughters’ period. That is not the discussion here, though you continue to make it so.

  155. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 4:22 am #

    Most of that stuff, Dolly, they discuss with us anyway.

  156. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    Nevermind the fact that many teens now have their own cell phones they pay for. So then where are the whole “I pay for it” argument going? I worked and bought and paid for my own pager when I was 15. I gave my mother the number to be nice and so she could page me if needed, but I didn’t have to. She signed for me to get it and all, but she was decent enough to understand that it was MY property because I paid for it on my own. She never once read the pages or even touched it. That is how a proper parent behaves. They respect their teens as a soon to be adult and treats them accordingly. Now if I was staying out too late, not making good grades, skipping school, etc, sure, she might have a right to look at the pages or take it away. Otherwise, hands off.

  157. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 4:25 am #

    Teens can not legally sign a contract for a cell phone.

  158. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 4:27 am #

    Cedric: I agree with you that if kids are in trouble that parents need to step in. Agree 100%. But you step in to your kids. Not someone else’s. That means if my son is skipping school and getting bad grades, I just cut off all phone use. There. I fixed the problem without getting into his friend’s business. Easy.

  159. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 4:28 am #

    Actually Cedric they can at 18. In this area at least many seniors still are 18 and in school. I was 18 from Nov to May of my Senior high school year. So many teens still in high school and living at home CAN get their own cell phone.

  160. Orual October 14, 2011 at 4:29 am #

    You know what is way more effective way to keep your kids out of trouble online.
    1. Have a relationship with your kids, so that you can trust them.
    2. Keep your family computer in an area of the house where any person using it can be walked in on at anytime by anyone. A major hub of the home so the reason you walk through is never just to check. (This is as they are starting to use the internet, where they stumble into places they shouldn’t be)
    3. Talk to them about online safety and modle it.

    I have been working with Teens for 10 years, and with very few exceptions they are all interested in keeping the trust of adults who have given it to them. They all screw up, but few endever to loose your trust once they have it. If you never trust them, they have nothing to loose.

  161. Rich Wilson October 14, 2011 at 4:37 am #

    Teens can not legally sign a contract for a cell phone.

    You don’t need to sign a contract to buy a cell phone and prepay minutes.

  162. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 4:47 am #

    well, fine, but noting that exception……

    it doesn’t change much. Some people seem to be reaching for the moon to make an argument that a parent has no right over their child’s activities if it happens to touch or involve someone else’s child. I called BS. There is the gist. If Dolly’s kid is skipping school and it doesn’t affect my kid, then it isn’t my problem and she can do what she wants. I only care about teh information that is relevant to my child’s activities-unless they are involved with something illegal. In that case Ill quite happily drive my kid, and yours, to the police department, and call you on the way.

  163. Donna October 14, 2011 at 4:52 am #

    Dolly, You have no legal authority at all for anything that you are saying. You may not want another parent to read a note your kid wrote to his child or listen in on a phone call involving your child. You can certainly want such things. You may think it’s rude. You’re welcome to your opinion. You have NO LEGAL AUTHORITY to stop them, demand apologies or get any reparations in any way. The other parents have no obligation to ask your permission and get your approval. As long as the other parents are listening in on THEIR phones, going through THEIR kid’s backpack and looking at THEIR kid’s mail, there is no problem. They can’t tap your phones, go through your kid’s backpack or read mail addressed to your kid, but they can do whatever they want with their kid’s stuff regardless of who else is involved.

    And a parent listening in on his child’s conversations is not spying on YOUR child. He’s spying on HIS child. Say I listen in on my child’s calls (unlikely to ever happen) and hear something disturbing from your child, I may say something about what I heard if it were something that I would want to know as a parent, but I would not be listening in because I truly give one damn about your child’s life. I’m listening in because I care about my child’s life.

    And mail tampering only extends to unopened mail. I cannot open someone else’s unopened mail. I can, however, read an opened letter that is left sitting on my dining room table. The fact that it was once in a mailbox does not put a force field around it. I’m honestly not sure if parents can open their own children’s unopened mail (wasn’t covered in my mail fraud class). There are situations when mail can be read by others (prison mail for instance) but I don’t know if this is one.

  164. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 4:55 am #

    As parents are legal custodians of a child until that child reaches the age of majority in their jurisdiction, a child’s mail is not sacrosanct and can be opened at any time by a parent or legal guardian.

  165. Donna October 14, 2011 at 4:57 am #

    Further, Dolly, how exactly is it that your system works? Say I find a note folded up in my child’s backpack that I want to read. I can’t possibly know BEFORE I read it whether it was written by my child, your child or someone else’s child. I cannot possibly know what other person needs to be asked for permission BEFORE I read the note. Once I do know this, I’ve already read the note so asking for permission to read it seems idiotic.

  166. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 5:00 am #

    My intent was not to set up Dolly for cross examination, merely to demonstrate that, as a parent, I have considerable authority and power over my children should I need to exert it. I am not a ‘friend’ to my children, that comes later. I do not treat them as ‘equals’ because they aren’t, yet. That being said, provided that my kids don’t give me a reason to do any of the above, they have nothing to worry about and they know they can bring anything to me. Its when I find about it from somewhere or someone else that the problems will start.

  167. Renee October 14, 2011 at 5:19 am #

    Cedric, and when my mom did that, I got a P.O. Box. Really, I did.

  168. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 5:39 am #

    What is your point? You deliberately engaged in behavior that would invite more scrutiny on the part of an involved parent.

    What part of ‘minor child’ do some of you not understand? Just because you are free range parents doesn’t mean your kids get to do whatever they want to in the interest of perpetuating how much more of a ‘free ranger’ you are than other parents, or me. This is not a competition, but I feel like some of you are deliberately looking for things to try to ‘prove’ that parents can’t parent their children or something.

  169. LRH October 14, 2011 at 5:59 am #

    Allow me to comment on my views on this.

    Obviously, spying on kids to the extent that the article implies is, to me, a ridiculous thing to do. A teenager is in that precarious place where they’re emerging from being a child to being an adult, yet they’re still a minor living at home & still not yet able to take over 100% everything, yet they don’t belong in the “child box” either per se. It’s a precarious place. They should be respected somewhat with regards to privacy & not being subjected to KGB-like surveillance by default.

    THAT SAID, I don’t have a problem with “locking down” a computer to where, for instance, the computer isn’t “wide open” to go to whatever site they enter no matter what site it is. Things like that operating “by default” are among minor things I don’t have a problem with. Beyond that, I actually somewhat AGREE with Cedric–once they do something seriously wrong, their “right” to privacy is immediately terminated, as is their “right” to have/own/use (say) a cellular phone even if they paid for it prepaid. The rule still goes “as long as you’re in my house you’ll do as I say.” That doesn’t mean a parent should be Stalin-esque & pound the iron fist everyday, again teens deserve far more flexibility than an 8-year old, but still–at the end of the day, it is the parents’ house, they’re in charge, and that’s it.

    So you can still tell a teen not to (say) text at the table, if you want your kitchen table to be “text free,” even if they don’t see the problem with doing it & even if they paid for the phone. If you manage to, by a matter of incidental living (not by snooping), discover your 15 year-old is seriously involved with a 24-year old, or they’re buying meth from a friend at school & using, then at that point you DO have the right to immediately go in their room, comb through their computer logs, phone records, etc–period. The right to privacy, at that point, is over. To expect their right to privacy to be protected once they’re using your house as a homebase for reckless activity is nuts.

    Their right to do whatever they want/whenever they want with absolute 100% respect of privacy NO MATTER how they are living their life ends with BOTH of these events occur: (a) they are 18 or older and (b) they no longer live at home.

    Until then, the parents are king. The parents are GOD. Period. Again, that doesn’t mean the parent should be snoops from the get-go without just cause, but once “just cause” happens, all bets are off and and boundaries per the teenager’s “right to privacy” are gone.


  170. Renee October 14, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    Cedric, I love my mother very much, but you know what? She’s crazy. I can’t fault her for that, now I’m an adult and understanding bacck ground. But she had no business opening up my mail. It wasn’t about parenting, but control. Home is about feeling safe and secure, not imprisoned in fear of parents. Now I’m socially conservative, I don’t teach my values by control. I teach by example and the ability to explain my values and why I hold them with my children.

  171. LRH October 14, 2011 at 6:05 am #


    In the next-to-last paragraph I meant to say that their absolute right to do whatever they want etc without accountability BEGINS (not ends) with the 2 events.

    Typos, ugh!


  172. Donna October 14, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    I am not trying to cross examine Dolly. I wanted to correct any misconceptions. Dolly was presenting her opinions as if they have some kind of legal validity.

  173. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 6:17 am #

    Donna: Can you not recognize your own child’s handwriting at a glance? You don’t have to read a whole note to realize “Oh whoops my child did not write this note.”

  174. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    As for the mail thing: My husband (then boyfriend at the time) was 20 and in college and living with his mom. She opened his grades from college before he could even get a chance to look at them first. I felt that was a huge breach of all things right in the world. She opened his mail which is mail tampering first of all. She did not even let him look at his own grades first. And it shows she did not trust him at all. FYI, the grades were perfect as usual. So she had no reason to doubt him or get uppity about it. Her conditions to live there were he made good grades. Well he did, and he would have happily shown her his grades if she asked. However, she had no right to open them first. They came addressed to him, not her. He got out of that house the MINUTE he graduated and has never gone back, not even to visit more than a handful of times. So lesson learned folks. TRUST YOUR KIDS OR YOU WILL PAY FOR IT LATER!

  175. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 6:32 am #

    Just to make myself clear: If you want to control every little aspect of your teenager, that is your right even though I would advise against it as long as your teen is being good.

    However, my main argument here what does that have to do with their friends or boyfriends/girlfriends? You can cut off phone access if you want with your teen. But why listen in on phone conversations or read texts? That involves other people’s teens. If you want to keep them home on lockdown. Do it. But why read their notes in their backpack written by other teens? If you want to take away their car. Do it. But why put a camera in the car that might have a video with another teen in it? I feel personally and if not legally at least civilly that you need to leave other teens that are not yours OUT OF IT. You can talk to their parents, but you need to go through them. If they want their teen’s privacy protected you need to respect that. If that means not letting the teens hang out, so be it.

    If you disrespect me in that way, I will do everything I can to get you back, legally or illegally. I have my rights violated when I was a teen and I will refuse to let my son’s rights be violated in similar ways.

  176. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 6:49 am #

    Donna- I wasn’t responding to anyone in particular-Dolly and I have had a pretty good dialogue going, I just didn’t want people trying to create litmus situations to try to disprove anything that she is saying.

    Donna, any of the things that you mentioned would be inviolate, until such time as my kid did something that required my more direct intervention-and if someone else’s kid is involved in some manner, so be it. If my kid was caught doing something on the phone that was illegal, after they finally got the phone back you can bet Id be listening for a while. Since these are the house rules anyway, ‘your’ kid would know them as well as mine, and so the easy solution is don’t do anything that requires scrutiny in the first place.

    as for the example with the mail-he was no longer a minor and thus could have pursued charges for his mother opening his mail. Of course, again, if the parents are paying for the school, then they are a vested party and have every right to know what grades he got. If he didn’t want to tell them then they could just as easily get them from the school.
    This, in part, is why I have issues with legally extending adolescence past the age of majority. Now you have ‘legal’ adults that are still using their parent’s insurance, or living in their houses, or aren’t paying for school on their own ( or at least in part) -now the line between who has the defining interest is blurred.

    None of what I presented as examples of penalties for my kids is an absolute-but they are still legitimate and perfectly acceptable examples of the rights of a parent, despite what a teenager barracks lawyer would construe as a violation of their ‘rights’.

  177. socalledauthor October 14, 2011 at 7:06 am #

    Dolly– serious, you need to settle down. Your child will be on camera a great many places. You have no control over it. Neither can you control their “right” to privacy, which doesn’t extend nearly as far as you think. Any quest for vengeance over perceived sleights will only alienate your child from their peers and/ or from you. (I’ve had students with crazy moms who INSISTED that their way was the LAW or the TRUTH or whatever, even when they were wrong. And the kid tries to disappear into the carpet during such displays.)

    It’s not entirely possible to leave other teens out of it if their lives intersect with my kid’s life. It’s just not possible, no matter how much you insist it is and should be or how you set up “perfect scenarios” (your favorite MO) on how things work. Teens don’t always write on the outside of folded note or they label their friends with nicknames in their phones rather than real names, or they don’t always share with their parents which of their friends are bat-shit crazy about alleged violation of privacy, so I might pick up the texts and see something going down between my kid and yours, but instead of the phone contact saying “Dolly’s kid” it says “Red.” I don’t know who Red is, but I’m now set up for your style of vengeance. (And really, illegally? How is THAT okay? What a lovely role model you’ll make for your kids…)

  178. Donna October 14, 2011 at 7:18 am #

    Personally, I don’t believe that you should read your kid’s notes or listen in on their phone calls. However, a reason you would do so is because they will tell their friends things they will never tell you. If your child is misbehaving on the phone, taking the phone away resolves that problem. If you suspect that your kid is suicidal, using meth, has a 25 year old boyfriend you don’t know about, is pregnant, knocked over a liquor store after school, etc, taking the phone away will not provide an answer to those questions. Listening in on your child’s phone calls and reading their notes and email may. If I am desperate enough to resort to spying in this fashion, I’m way more concerned about my child’s future than I am about what her friends are up to and some notions of privacy that I have no legal obligation to follow whatsoever.

    There is absolutely nothing whatsoever you can legally do about another parent reading his own child’s email (notes, listening in on phone calls) that happens to include your child. If you attempt to “get them back,” YOU are in the wrong and YOU could be prosecuted. All you can do is refuse to allow your child to interact with that other child. Odds are you will never know if I’ve “invaded your child’s privacy” anyway. I’m not interested in your kid so whatever he said would be ignored unless it was something dire that the parents need to know. Most parents, upon seeing a note I intercepted where their child expresses plans to kill himself, are not going to be concerned about their child’s privacy over their child’s suicide. If you are, I’d be glad to know that too since my child is NEVER going to your house again because I don’t trust you anymore.

  179. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 7:31 am #

    Well if you want your kid a social reject, if my kids are popular at all, your kid will now be on the exclusion list to all the parties, events, etc that my kids have and I will pass on the word to all the other parents about what went down as well. I am probably not the only parent out there that does not like someone spying on their kids without asking permission. There were some parents that pissed my parents off when I was younger. It was a mutual thing, however their daughter missed out on a lot of fun things because of it. I would invite the entire grade to parties where I would rent out an entire skating rink for example and she was the ONLY kid in the grade not there. Talk about feeling like an outcast. So, that is one very good way that you will suffer if you piss me off. I hate your poor kid will have to suffer too, but know that it was your causing.

    In the end, as a parent my goals are to not let the same bad things that happened to me as a kid happen to my kids. I had my privacy invaded unjustly by one of my friend’s parents and therefore this is a very hot button topic for me. I won’t let my kids suffer that same humiliation. I had some private personal things I told my friend either on the phone or by a note read by her mother and stepfather and that was NOT okay. Again, it was nothing bad, but it was my personal business and it was NOT okay. 15 years later I am STILL mad about it.

  180. Tracy October 14, 2011 at 7:48 am #

    I wish i had never used the term parental rights. It was not meant in a literal sense. However Uly, should you ever come across a suicide note written by your child that someone else knows about and doesn’t tell, i hope u remember your callous remark about “things I would like other people to do for me!” Good luck with that attitude! May you never bump into someone like yourself should it hit the fan for you one day!

  181. Donna October 14, 2011 at 7:53 am #

    Dolly, my child’s popularity does not play into a single decision that I make as a parent. I’m concerned with making the best decisions to raise my child into that best adult she can be not winning popularity contests. If I believe, under certain circumstances, that spying on my child is what I need to do to make that happen, your kid’s birthday parties are not going to factor into my decision. If you are such a bully that that you exclude one child in your child’s classes while inviting the rest of the class, I’m not remotely interested in my child being friends with your child. Your children will, however, be invited to our parties (if inviting the whole class) since I will raise my child better than that. If that makes her a social outcast at school, she’ll have to deal with it. She has many friends from outside her school that she can play with whenever she wants.

  182. LRH October 14, 2011 at 8:24 am #

    The problem with what you’re advocating, Dolly, is that it’s tantamount, if I understand it correctly, to telling another parent that if your teen is somehow intertwined with that parent’s teen in someway, then the parent now has no business doing any investigating because your teen happens to be there also.

    Nope, wouldn’t work that way in my house. You come into my house, you’re subject to it too. Otherwise, don’t come in my house.

    Understand: it’s not like there will be metal detectors scanning everyone as they enter our house. I’m going to basically respect privacy so long as nothing goes wrong. However, I have the right to know at least some BASICS about other people in my house, if not their life story. More to the point: if something goes wrong and I (say) feel compelled to read the content of my teen’s phone & I HAPPEN by COINCIDENCE to read something that reveals some aspect of your own teen in the process, or I search Internet history & the sites I think my teen visited were in fact sites your teen was visiting & so now I know what sites your teen were visiting while at my house–oh well. How was I supposed to know it would be there, and even if I did, why should that stand in the way of what I feel I need to do? It’s a coincidental side-effect of what I have the right to do regarding my own kiddo.


  183. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Larry: Nope you read it all wrong. I am not talking about your house. I am talking about if you listen in on phone conversations when your teen calls my teen. Or reading notes my teen gives to your teen while at school. Or opening mail my teen mails to your teen. Or reading emails my teen sends to your teen. None of the above was done by my teen entering your house whatsoever. I agree in your house you actually WOULD have some control over my teen. Same if you teen is in my home. However just my teen calling or emailing your teen or meeting your teen in a public place gives you zero right to anything about my teen.

  184. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 9:13 am #

    Well actually Donna in my parent’s case I did invite the girl but her parents never let her come because of their problems with my parents. So she missed out because of her parents when every other kid in the whole grade was there.

  185. pentamom October 14, 2011 at 9:26 am #

    So what you’re saying, Dolly, is that the moment Donna’s or Larry’s kid interacts with your kid, Donna or Larry lose the right to know what THEIR OWN KID is doing. The presence of your child in the conversation puts up this big firewall that makes it impossible for people to monitor their *own* children.

    You’ll learn differently eventually. And you’ll learn which kids actually DO get excluded from the parties — the ones whose parents make excessive demands about what they can and cannot do to parent their own kids if your kid walks into the picture somehow.

  186. Donna October 14, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Dolly, are you aware that I can legally record any conversation we have on the phone without your knowledge or consent and play it on prime-time TV? You only need the consent of one party to record any phone call. Obviously I consent since I’m taping it. And that is for an adult, not a minor with less right to privacy.

    You don’t have the privacy you want to have. You can stress out about, make a big deal about it and make yourself look stupid over it. You can choose to punish a child because your pissed at the adult. None of that changes the fact that a parent can read his own child’s email and notes and listen to his child’s phone calls even if those things involve your child. While your child may never enter my house, his notes, emails and phone calls do, making them my property.

  187. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 9:31 am #

    No, they lose the right to read my kid’s private notes, eavesdrop on private conversations and read private emails. That is a good lesson for life. I mean you can’t teach your kids that eavesdropping and snooping and reading other people’s mail is wrong: but then DO IT TO YOUR TEEN! It is hypocritical. It is a lesson in life that some things are private and shall remain so. You can keep control of your teen without doing all the above things. My mom did just fine. She trusted me. She talked to me. If I needed punishing, she just took away the phone, grounded me, etc. She never had to do something to me that involved other teenagers that were not hers. It is possible.

  188. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 9:34 am #

    Actually Donna in TN where I live last time I checked you have to have BOTH parties consent or at least notify them that you are recording a phone conversation if you call them. I know this because I checked the laws when I was a teen and my best friend’s mother was recording my phone conversations with her daughter without my consent or knowledge. So she was breaking the law since sometimes her daughter called me. I could have had her arrested or at least have sued her.

  189. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 9:37 am #

    I’m supposed to just sign over my parental responsibility to your better judgement because your child called mine (your example)? That is, quite frankly, the most irresponsible, ridiculous, asinine thing I have ever heard. Who initiates contact makes no difference, the phone is still in my house. If I was listening on YOUR phone, that is a different matter, but one that is subtle, and one that you seem to be completely unable to grasp.

    I don’t operate in a vacuum, and the parents of my childrens’ friends are fully aware of my views, and have been the recipients of bad news about their kids before, and welcomed it. Your views are your own, but they make you painfully naive. I don’t care if my kids calls the Pope. If its on my phone line and I pay for it, or I let them have it, it is not ‘theirs’ and it is subject to my inquiry or monitoring, if I deem it necessary, at any time.

    Youve been informed, by several in here, that your views, while yours, are not legally tenable, and would not have any support from anyone in any position to make me think twice, legally or otherwise.

  190. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 9:39 am #

    In all 50 states and through federal law, it’s considered illegal to record telephone conversations outside of one party consent. There are a couple of exceptions. In the state of California, one party consent can be applied only under circumstances in which one party is involved in criminal activity which would include extortion or blackmail. In the state of Arizona, the subscriber to a telephone service can record telephone conversations with no party consent when criminal activity is involved. Other than those two known exceptions, all other recordings outside of those states that permit one party consent are a violation of state and federal law. The question is often asked by clients if they can record the telephone conversations of their spouse in a domestic case or the conversations of their children concerning drug usage. In both of these cases, the answer is it’s unlawful. Many clients will complain that they own the telephone and pay the telephone bill so they should therefore have a right to record what they want. However, the law doesn’t address who owns the phone nor who pays the phone bill. It only addresses the use of one party and all party consent. Anything outside of that is a violation of state law and federal wiretapping law.

    The Federal Communications Commission goes further into details on recording telephone conversations and states that the party recording must give verbal notification before the recording and that there must be a beep tone on the line to indicate that the line is being recorded.

    BooYa! According to this it is illegal to record phone conversations of your kids specifically without notifying at least either your kid or whomever you kid is talking to.

  191. Donna October 14, 2011 at 9:43 am #

    Actually, Dolly, I don’t know what you researched but the Supreme Court of the United States (which overrides TN) says that you only need the consent of one person to record any conversation. It’s the only way things like wires and undercover investigations work. The drug dealer is not going to agree to have his drug deals recorded, is he (okay some of my clients are so dumb they might, but in general)? However, drug deals can be recorded because the confidential informant agrees to the recording.

  192. Donna October 14, 2011 at 9:45 am #

    I believe that we all conceded that we could not RECORD our kid’s conversations. I said that I can record OUR conversations, a recording to which I, as one of the parties, consent.

  193. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 9:46 am #

    Again, you are wrong, Dolly. Tennessee party only state.

  194. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 9:49 am #

    Dolly, the ECPA (ive already mentioned this case once) provides an exception for people in thier own homes to listen to their own phone conversations that take place on their phone line. You insist on focusing on ‘recording’ and most of us are not talking about recording, anyway.

  195. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 9:50 am #

    Tennessee is a one party only state (correction of above post)

  196. Donna October 14, 2011 at 9:51 am #

    “No, they lose the right to read my kid’s private notes, eavesdrop on private conversations and read private emails.”

    No, they don’t. You can be bull-headed all you want. You can insist that you are right all you want. You are wrong. I always have the ability to read my child’s notes, emails and mail and listen in on her phone conversations (albeit not record them unless I notify my child that her phone calls are recorded). That power is not altered in any way because your child is involved.

  197. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    Plus this

    Yes TN is a one party state. However from all the stuff I am finding a parent CANNOT give consent for their minor child. The child has to. Consent means you are part of the conversation. So two teens talking on the phone means one of them has to agree to being recorded and that did not happen in my case or in the cases we are talking about here.

  198. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 9:52 am #

    As a teenager, Dolly, you could not have had anyone arrested for anything, as you could not initiate police contact as a minor. You don’t have as much power as you seem to think, and you aren’t as smart either. I work in information security, and Donna has a legal background. You are not right, despite your assertion to the contrary.

  199. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    A parent can only not give consent of their child away to the State, such as a consent to search to authorities (also covered in the previously mentioned Georgia case). A parent can themselves search whatever they want.

  200. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 10:02 am #

    That case was from 2004. It predates the USSC case that was won in 2006, and discussed previously.

  201. Uly October 14, 2011 at 11:00 am #

    Tracy, wait, are you saying that “telling me about a suicide note” does NOT fall into the category of “things you want people to do for you”? Does that mean that it falls into the other category, “things I don’t want people to do for me, or that I don’t care about one way or another”?

    C’mon. Of *course* it’s something you want other people to do for you. I’m not really sure of any other way to describe the situation.

    Me, I’m thinking that people (especially teens) have any number of reasons for doing strange and misguided things. Your kid’s friend might think that she’s keeping your child out of trouble by not telling you, or that there’s no use making a big blow-up over a little situation*. Is that wrong-headed? Most probably. But what is it they say about common sense? It ain’t that common.

    Better that we have a trusting relationship where any kids in my family feel comfortable directly talking to me about their suicidal thoughts (though hopefully it’ll never come up!)

    If that can’t be managed, yes, I’d absolutely like it if I was informed about suicide notes made by kids in my care. But we don’t have a right to demand this information from other people, and I can’t really imagine why you’d use the phrase “that’s a violation of my parental rights” in a non-literal sense – or what on earth you mean by it other than that, well, you have a right to be told this stuff by your kids’ friends. (I can see it if the friend in question was really your child’s teacher or counselor or something, a responsible adult with a working relationship with him or her. But a teenaged friend?)

    Also – yes, incidentally, if I found such a note, I’d almost certainly tell the parents. This is because I’m an adult and I know better. But that’s not because they have a legal or moral right to make me tell them things, it’s because it’s the correct thing to do.

    (The almost certainly is in case telling them might be detrimental to the child. If, say, the kid wrote a note saying he wanted to kill himself because of how Mom beat up his baby sister, the last people I’m telling is the parents. Try the cops first.)

    *I know what you’re going to say. Don’t bother, these aren’t my thoughts, they’re the possible thoughts of a naive teenager who doesn’t want to think about this. People can tell themselves the most amazingly stupid things sometimes.

  202. SKL October 14, 2011 at 11:01 am #

    Wow, look what I’ve missed!

    As my kid’s parent, I have a “right” to be all up in her business 24/7 until she’s 18. Just like I was when she was a little baby. It’s up to me to decide how much to back off and when.

    My four-year-old has a “boyfriend” and she writes notes at school. I beg your pardon, but I take the liberty to read whatever she writes, and if any of her love notes make it to his house, I’m sure his mom does the same. I will decide when it’s no longer appropriate to read my kid’s personal correspondence, and other kids’ parents will decide when it’s no longer appropriate to read theirs. It’s an individual maturity thing. Same goes for being able to chat with friends in a closed room.

    If my kid doesn’t want to embarrass herself in front of her friends’ parents, she had better have enough sense to watch what she says, where, and how. Hopefully her friends’ parents give them similar advice.

    I will give my kid all the privacy she is ready for, but if I have any reason to believe it’s risky for my kid to have a secret conversation / visit, then I’m going to put my kid’s safety first. I could think of lots of examples of when this would kick in, but the point is that it’s up to me to decide. I really don’t care what my kids’ friends’ parents think about it.

    I would not put a video camera in my kid’s bedroom – eew. But depending on her age and behavior, I might find it advisable to limit internet access to the open living areas, forbid closed-door meetings with the opposite sex, or whatever. I don’t expect my every parenting choice to be appreciated in real time by my children. They will understand when they become parents.

  203. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 11:07 am #

    Finally. Sanity.

  204. pentamom October 14, 2011 at 11:13 am #

    Dolly, the point is, when you read your kid’s e-mails, you can’t know in advance that you’re not going to see something that someone else’s kid has written. When I pick up something someone has written, if it’s not sealed up in an addressed envelope, I can’t tell if your kid or my kid has written it. (Remember that not everything is hand-written.) And when I listen to a phone call, there are TWO PEOPLE talking. There is no way to keep tabs on your own kid’s phone calls without hearing other people!

  205. Virginia October 14, 2011 at 2:48 pm #

    Well, that piece was good for one thing: My son and I just had a good laugh over it. Because, as I told him, I REALLY want to install a keystroke monitor on his computer and get the reports emailed to me so I can spend all day tracking his every keystroke. Good Lord.

  206. obriensnz October 14, 2011 at 5:39 pm #

    Would be great to hear what the kids think of this – in their own words!

  207. obriensnz October 14, 2011 at 5:51 pm #

    Dignity and respect are the two things sorely lacking in this article. Ever since technology began, kids have been better at it than their parents by a very long way – if we parents think we can keep up with teens and technologies, we are in all sorts of trouble!

    Educating kids about cyber nasties is necessary and we all do that, however if the relationship between the two of you is nurturing and open, that’s the best defence against any issues.

    The kids I teach don’t have much technology and gadgets, and if you ask them they say they’re too busy for all that. Too busy in a town of 3000 people? Maybe it’s not what kids are doing with the technology that we need to worry about, it’s what the could be doing with the time, if they weren’t wired up and logged on that is the issue.
    If they read this article they would assume it was a wind up. Is it?!!

    I’d love for you to have a look at my blog – maybe there is scope for a different slant on this.

    Cheers and thanks

  208. JustaDad October 14, 2011 at 7:07 pm #

    My kids live with their mom, but i mentioned this article to my 15 year old, he laughed and when I asked him what his thoughts were, he said, If a parent wants to make sure thier child moves out at 18 and never comes back, they should do this, and Dolly, my son said that if his mom or I read his e-mails, or listened to his conversations, or read stuff that his friends had, or anything like that, he would stay until he was 18, but not do anything but stay in his room and go to school or work and just not be around if possible, ” If a parent has so little trust, than they either did something wrong in the way they brought thier kid up, or they are paranoid” his quote. So go ahead, do all that, see what happens. as for the video camera, he said, get ready for the show!

  209. JustaDad October 14, 2011 at 7:11 pm #

    And after some quick research, apparently, in some states and places in Canada, use of a keylogger, even if you are the parent is illegal, so what do you do then, Break the law to find out your kids e-mail passwords? Fine role model then.

  210. Dolly October 14, 2011 at 7:21 pm #

    haha JustaDad. Your son is a very smart and cool dude.

  211. Donna October 14, 2011 at 7:28 pm #

    Dolly, you are correct. Unless either one of you or your friend consented to the phone call being recorded, it was illegal to do so. However, consent is not what you think it is. If your friend knew her parents had a recording device on the phone or liked to record her calls and still made calls, that is consent. She doesn’t have to agree to each and every phone call recording. She doesn’t have to like that her calls are recorded. She doesn’t have to want her calls to be recorded. She simply has to make calls knowing that it’s a possibility.

    And nobody here is talking about recording our teens phone conversations except you. We’ve all said repeatedly that we know we can’t do that. Listening in on them, however, is perfectly okay.

    Cedric, yes minors can bring charges and initiate police contact, otherwise child abuse cases against parents would largely go unreported. If you are the victim of a crime, your age is irrelevant. There are some limits to the police talking to minor children who are witnesses to crimes without their parent’s consent but victims and suspects are in a different posture. Whether the police are going to take the complaints seriously or care that a parent recorded his child’s conversation and happened to record you is another matter entirely.

  212. JustaDad October 14, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

    Dolly, Thanks, he is, keeps me on my toes, But for me the issue of the whole thing is this, I trust him, and his brothers, and they trust me, so to violate that trust would undoubtably cause a huge rift between us, and we are just now getting back on track after the divorce. I don’t want to jeopardize that at all. If you have areason to believe that there is a problem then there are other avenues than spying. talk to your kids, their friends, thier friends parents, teachers, whatever first.

    From Barbara Colorosso
    “Having worked with many pregnant teenagers, I’ve yet to see one of them pregnant on information. It just doesn’t happen. Kids are less likely to have intercourse in their teen years…if they are given good information, have open communication with their parents, and see their parents interacting in sexually healthy ways.”

    If you try to keep the communication open (and non-judgemental) i believe that teenagers will come to you before the problems are severe.

  213. CedricS October 14, 2011 at 8:08 pm #

    I do understand that, Donna, but in the context that it seemed to be used, “I could have had them arrested…..” indicates that a minor child can, carte blance, invoke the full power of the justice system on a whim on their own with no other adult involvement. The child could initiate the call, but if it was found to be spurious, I would expect charges or sanctions to be filed against the child.

    JustADad-I hope that you aren’t one of those ‘friends of their kid’ parents. I, nor others, are advocating any of these measures unless the kid themselves initiates it-so, if your kid is ticked because you keylogged his computer and wants to stay in his room, but did something to bring it onto themselves then wahhhh, so be it. The part that you and Dolly are missing is that for many of us these practices are an anathema to what we are trying to foster in our kids but should the measures be necessary they are perfectly within our legal right to do enact.

    Key loggers are not completely illegal-my employer has one, and they also monitor URLs, file downloads, FTP traffic, VPN tunnel transfers, and disc activity. So long as I inform my kid that one was in use, once again, they have thus been told so consent laws have been followed and no law is broken..

  214. Donna October 14, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    “The part that you and Dolly are missing is that for many of us these practices are an anathema to what we are trying to foster in our kids but should the measures be necessary they are perfectly within our legal right to do enact.”

    Exactly. I hope and pray that I never feel as though I need to read my child’s emails or listen in on telephone calls or read her diary. However, if I am seriously worried about my child and talking to her is failing to get to the heart of the matter, I would do so. I would certainly rather my child (or parents of other children) be pissed off at me for invading her privacy than to read my child’s emails after her funeral and realize that I maybe could have done something to prevent it if I hadn’t put her privacy over her life.

  215. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 10:05 pm #

    I feel that while an emphasis on maintaining one’s personal privacy is always something to strive for, there are enough instances where you have no expectation of personal privacy-and you agree to it (employment, certain travel, usage of various computer systems) implicitly- that an awareness of what is and is not a violation is important to have. Just saying “that’s private, you’re invading my privacy” is laughable when it is in an instance where it is perfectly legal or expected. Fostering an incorrect expectation of privacy in situations where it is not warranted just creates confusion, much like barracks or CSI lawyers complicate things after watching last night’s epi and now they are an ‘expert. If I cried about the ‘invasion’ of privacy that I undergo (and my wife, and my kids, and my extended family) every time my clearance needs renewed, I wouldn’t have a job.

  216. JustaDad October 14, 2011 at 10:08 pm #

    Cedric, no I’m not my kid’s friend, I’m their dad, But I have open and honest dialogue with them, and that’s what I’m advocating, and yes, where I live, if you use a keylogger on someone else’s computer it is illegal , at work, it is not yours it is the company you work for that owns it. My kids all have thier own laptops, do you not think it is a huge violation of thier trust and privacy to use a keylogger on them? A work computer is diferrent than someones private one.

    If you fell that you have to go that far than so be it, just be prepared for the backlash. And if your read what I have written , i too feel that the whole idea of spying on my kids this way is wrong, I would never do it unless i felt there was a huge reason to do so. everyday spying, never going to happen. ANd If I was concerned, the technology would be taken from them.

    I am the account holder on thier cell phones. I can get the records anytime I want them, they are aware of this so no issues there. My ex is the account holder for the Internet where they live, one phone call and the internet history can be obtained by account holder it is tht simple, Less invasive yes?

    And I didn’t say that he would be ticked after I keylogged his computer if he did something to deserve It , he and I both meant if i did it for no apparant reason, plus If he did do something of that nature the computer would be locked up from his use anyway, until the trust is earned back.

    I’m way more on the side of “give em enough rope” If teens aren’t allowed some freedom to use thier judgement, than they cannot learn form thier mistakes and do better, is’nt that part of this job of rasing them?

  217. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 10:33 pm #

    “give ’em rope….” as am I, a thing that keeps getting lost in all this.

    I’m curious where you live that it is illegal to have a keylogger on a computer that belongs to your child. If they are using your internet service you have every right to know what occurs on your network. As a parent, you have every legal right to know and control anything your child does until they reach the age of majority, in the US. If you don’t live in the US then obviously your own laws apply.

    I’m not worried about backlash. No where in any of this have I said I would monitor my kids for ‘no apparent reason’. If I would have to resort to anything like this my kids already know that it is a possibility, thus I have informed consent, up to and including keylogging/screen monitoring, and phone listening.

  218. Neener October 14, 2011 at 10:35 pm #

    (…boring comment below, has nothing to do with the legality/illegality of mail snooping and whatnot 😉 …)

    @Pentamom: “And you’ll learn which kids actually DO get excluded from the parties — the ones whose parents make excessive demands about what they can and cannot do to parent their own kids if your kid walks into the picture somehow”

    I can attest to this 100000%. My daughter already has friends I don’t enjoy having over simply because I find the parental “rules” in place to be intrusive and onerous. One girl is not allowed *in the front yard* without an adult, no exceptions. One must phone her mom every time we change location (going to a restaurant, the mall, a movie). One has a mom who grills me on what they’ll be watching on tv that night (lest I pop in a porn DVD?). I love these kids to pieces, but HATE having them over. My daughter doesn’t even enjoy having them over anymore.

    My feeling is, okay, YOU may want to have your child in an iron vise 24/7 and that is certainly your right, but you won’t force ME and MY KID climb in, too.

  219. JustaDad October 14, 2011 at 10:54 pm #

    Cedric, as I said as the account holder to the internet, you can phone and ask for a detailed history of all internet activity from your service, easier than a keylogger. Using a keylogger is illegal, on someone else’s computer if you don’t have access, my kids laptops are passoword locked, I cannot get in without the passowrd, the only way past is if they tell me, or i use a keylogger to find it out, using one in this way is illegal. It is thier computer , not yours period. And While I may have every right to know what my child is doing do I really want to? As teens there has to be some expectation of freedom. My kids do have some boundaries, but as they have gotten older, the boundaries have gotten looser, as they have earned our trust. They have friends who have parents who text them constantly when they are away from home that the kids feel like they are constantly being monitored, I know where they are and who they are with, but I don’t know everything they are doing. I don’t control them either (perhaps it is the word control I don’t like it has bad connotations) But there are differing boundaries for all 3 as they are differnet ages.

    In the end though, I guess we are on the same page, neither of us would use this to actively spy on our kids, we are just looking at it from different angles

    And neener, I was a scout leader, some of those parents make outrageous demands too, I had a parent call me constantly on a camping trip, even though the boy’s father was there too. She said she wanted to double check that everything was as the dad said it was.

    total lack of trust there.

  220. Cedric October 14, 2011 at 11:12 pm #

    justadad-if i own the network that the computer is on I can log whatever I want. If I purchased the computer, I can key log it, despite a password lock on the laptop itself, even if I gave it to one of my kids.

    Drastic? Yes, but a blanket statement such as “it’s illegal to……” is not correct or accurate in all situation, and when it involves a parent Federal wiretapping laws and the ECPA all have exceptions built into them for parental monitoring of their children. At school and at home there is no expectation of privacy for a child under the direct care and supervision of a parent. I am required to notify third parties, but as a parent I am not required by law to tell my child anything. As their legal guardian it is not illegal for me to keylog, monitor URLs, remote view desktops, or anything like that. If you have been told that, then you (and they) are either misinformed, or not understanding the laws and what protections that it affords parents.

    Yes, we are on the same page, but as an IT Sec professional I REALLY get tired of hearing what ‘can’ and ‘cannot’ be ‘legally’ done on a computer or to monitor a person, based on what many people saw in “Hackers” or “CSI”.

  221. SKL October 14, 2011 at 11:19 pm #

    I agree that the ideal is to give kids privacy, BUT the fact is that there are some kids who need more supervision. Some kids are mentally ill, for one thing. Some are merely immature. Awesome free-range parenting from birth isn’t always enough to prepare every child for every freedom. And you can’t ignore a child’s vulnerabilities just because she’s reached a certain age. Otherwise, what’s the point of being a parent at all?

    So JustaDad, I’m sure your kid is ready for the trust and freedom you give him, and I would never advocate supervising a kid who apparently isn’t a danger to himself. I fully expect my kids to be in the same boat in their teens. But on the other hand, there are very real kids whose reaction to the world’s stresses is to run away, attempt suicide, etc. To make a blanket rule that parents have to be hands-off on all of kids’ comings, goings, and correspondence is foolish.

  222. JustaDad October 14, 2011 at 11:23 pm #

    Cedric, I’ll say this, I have been misinformed, you would know the law better than I would. But how about myself, the non-custodial parent, do I have the same right, not saying I’m wanting to do this, just curious is all. And what about thier frinds laptops, if they bring them to my house do I have that right?

    I guess I’m just concerned that there are parents out there who would go to extreme measures like this without justification, as I said the paranoid ones who believe everyone on the internet is out to get thier child, and who assume all teenagers are up to no good.

  223. JustaDad October 14, 2011 at 11:32 pm #

    SKL, I’m not advocating a blanket rule, I would never presume to tell another parent what is right for thier child, I’m just saying that there are some parents out there that live in extremes when it comes to thier kids. I’m hands off to a certain degree, I know thier friends and I know where they are hanging out, but do I feel the need to be in constant contact? Not always.

    There are parents who are too hands off, thier kids have no boundaries or rules and who are going to do whatever they please, simply because they have never had the guidance from thier parents.
    conversely, I have seen the kids whose parents are too involved, some of these kids go to extremes in behavior too,

    I guess it’s all about balance and trust.

  224. Donna October 15, 2011 at 12:01 am #

    There are definitely parents who would go to extremes to monitor their children without justification. While I think this particular article is a scam, the sad fact is that there are parents out there who would do these things. I don’t know any who would do ALL of these things but there are definitely parents who do some of them regularly. Based on us all being free range to different extents, I don’t think there is any regular reader of this blog who would go to extremes to monitor their children without good cause.

    “To make a blanket rule that parents have to be hands-off on all of kids’ comings, goings, and correspondence is foolish.”

    To adhere to a blanket rule that parents have to be hands-off on all of their kids’ correspondence lest they read or hear a word uttered by another child is even more foolish.

  225. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    Their friends laptops, no. They are outside of your domain of ownership or control. I don’t know about the custodial parent/non-custodial parent thing-it probably depends on whether or not you have actual joint legal custody in the decree. I don’t blame you at all for being cautious, but in many cases the laws for privacy are still erring on the side of the parents.

  226. SKL October 15, 2011 at 12:16 am #

    I would also observe that the parents who are most up in their teens’ business are the ones who remember being a bit wild themselves.

    Seems to me that the best way to prevent irresponsible behavior is to introduce responsibility earlier and more thoughtfully. But again, only the parent knows if that’s enough for a particular child.

  227. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 1:33 am #

    Neener: See the thing is though that my mom was the mom that didn’t ask questions or make demands or call constantly when I was with other friends. She trusted the other parents and me. It was the mom who recorded phone conversations and called all hours of the night checking up on her daughter that was the annoying one. So again, you are more likely to be considered the “annoying” parent if you are the type to spy and invade your teen’s privacy versus a mom like me that thinks that is crossing a line in most circumstances.

  228. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 1:39 am #

    Well Cedric my mother had my back on the whole being illegally recorded so if we felt it was worth it to have her arrested, my mom would have backed me. However, I loved my friend and she was one of the only good friends I had at that time. I knew if I had her mother rightly and justly arrested we would probably no longer be allowed to hang out anytime outside of school. So we let that bitch get away with invading my privacy and illegally recording my phone conversation with her daughter. However I made sure to tell my friend on the phone that her mother was probably recording that “What your mother is doing is illegal and she could be arrested for it. If she continues to do this I might involve the authorities.” I think she backed off after that for a while.

  229. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    Donna: Well at first the bitch set up the recorder and my friend did not know about it. Neither did I. Eventually I believe my friend found out because either her mother talked to her about something she heard on the recording or because my friend found the recorder. So at least at first there was NO consent given no way, shape or how. Then my friend told me about the recording and then we went from there. I no longer discussed anything private or personal on the phone with her ever again pretty much.

    Her mother worked and wanted to do what she wanted to do, so instead of being home and actually keeping an eye on her daughter she just installed a recorder to do the job for her. That is pure laziness and that is why I do feel that some working parents try to cut corners. At least this working parent sure did. It was sick and despicable and VERY anti free range.

    It would be nice of some of you would at least say you would do everything you could to try to respect the privacy of your teen’s friends if you did feel you needed to spy on your teen. If you accidentally heard something personal about another teen, you would feel ashamed and would try to do all you can to keep your nose out of the business of other people’s kids. Because like Larry says, that is no better than calling CPS on some other parent. You are invading and disrespecting their parents by spying on their kid without their permission.

  230. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 1:47 am #

    Good grief, Dolly, if the girls mother was recording on her own phones and her daughter, in her house, she probably wasn’t breaking any laws then, either. Where do you get this idea that parents have no control over things in their own house, or over their children? If you said, in a conversation, that you knew you were being recorded, then you GAVE consent because consent only means that you know you are being recorded, not that you have to like it.

  231. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 1:55 am #

    If you are in your own house, monitoring your own kids, and you own equipment THERE IS NO LAW BEING BROKEN. Notification of recording just means “hey, if your communication is within the confines of something I control, consider yourself notified”. You don’t have to like it, want it, agree with it. Respecting the privacy of my kids’ friends means I don’t tell the world about their embarrassing conversations or discuss it with my friends. It doesn’t mean that I have no right to monitor things that happen in my own house, including phone calls.

  232. Rich Wilson October 15, 2011 at 2:06 am #

    From waaay back:
    One does not need to be age of majority to sue someone else in civil court.
    One does not need to be age of majority to convince a DA to press criminal charges against someone else.


    If it comes to secretly recording your teen’s phone, or recording keystrokes, you’ve lost. Morality and legality aside, you’ve lost. For whatever reason, you and your teen failed to build a necessary level of trust for you to effectively parent.

  233. Priscilla October 15, 2011 at 2:10 am #

    I wonder if the sender was being facetious when she sent it to you. Maybe she thought it was ridiculous too and was just expecting you to read it and agree.

  234. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 2:13 am #

    Cedric: I am not trying to be bitchy here but have you paid ANY attention to the above posts? I gave cites proving and others backed it up that YES it is illegal to record a phone conversation if neither party has consented to the recording. Even minors. Even in your own home. It does violate wire tapping laws. You don’t have to like that but it is the fact. Look it up. Or better yet read the many cites I gave above.

  235. SKL October 15, 2011 at 2:14 am #

    Dolly, I’m sorry, but if I think my child is at risk and needs to be supervised, I’m not going to dial that back just because your kid might wander by. You need to inform your kids that other parents have all kinds of access to their kids’ communications, regardless of who’s on the other side of those communications. I’ve always known to be careful what I say on the phone, especially in the days when someone could easily pick up another extension and quietly listen in. Kids should also realize that their “trusted friends” could be blabbermouths.

  236. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 2:15 am #

    No. I did read your cites. The USSC ruled on a similar case in 2006, and that would set precedent over your case citation from Seattle in 2004.

    Rich-a minor child in most jurisdictions must be represented by an parent, legal guardian, or attorney. whether they are the plaintiff or the defendant.

  237. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 2:16 am #

    Cedric: STOP BEING OBTUSE! I said above that she recorded me for weeks before me or my friend had any idea we were being recorded. So no, there was NO consent being given. Sorry you lose. She loses. I could have had her locked up or filed a lawsuit against her and won. The funny thing was she was in law school and should have known better.

    You can control your kids and your home many ways, that are not breaking any laws. She chose to break a law to gain control and sorry that is NOT okay. Plus, it doesn’t matter whether or not YOU tell people about their private personal conversations. You have NO right to hear them!!!! I would be beyond mortified to know my friend’s dad was hearing about my first experience with tampons or my heavy flow days or my bra size. Gross!

  238. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 2:17 am #

    Cedric: I posted more than that. I posted a specific cite where they said that parents cannot give consent in recordings for their kids. The kids have to.

  239. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 2:22 am #

    Dolly, you assume that consent has to come from ‘your’ end. It does not. As a parent, I can consent for my child to record, or, to listen to conversations in my own house on my phone network. There is no obligation to get consent from any party unless there is a recording and even in two party states there is usually an exception for parents monitoring children on thier own phone.

  240. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    If my kid was at risk you know what I would do? I would not listen in on phone conversations. I would just take away phone privledges. Simple and no one has their privacy violated. If they needed to use the phone I would let them do so on speakerphone and get permission from the other teen that that was okay. I would not read emails. I would just take away computer access or put the computer in a public room and be nearby. Simple. I would not put a camera in their car. I would just take away car access. Simple.

    You guys are having a hard time proving that invading privacy is 100% necessary to help out an at risk teen. Because its not! You can handle things by just restricting access. You don’t have to spy. A teen that can’t leave the house, can’t use the phone, can’t email, can’t get into trouble. Of course that might require the parent to buck up and stay home with the teen and be present and pay attention, but get over it. That is your job. It is not your job to be super spy 007.

  241. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 2:28 am #

    Cedric: NONO ! You cannot give consent as a parent. Not according to what I found and posted above.
    Here it is again since you keep ignoring it.
    In all 50 states and through federal law, it’s considered illegal to record telephone conversations outside of one party consent. There are a couple of exceptions. In the state of California, one party consent can be applied only under circumstances in which one party is involved in criminal activity which would include extortion or blackmail. In the state of Arizona, the subscriber to a telephone service can record telephone conversations with no party consent when criminal activity is involved. Other than those two known exceptions, all other recordings outside of those states that permit one party consent are a violation of state and federal law. The question is often asked by clients if they can record the telephone conversations of their spouse in a domestic case or the conversations of their children concerning drug usage. In both of these cases, the answer is it’s unlawful. Many clients will complain that they own the telephone and pay the telephone bill so they should therefore have a right to record what they want. However, the law doesn’t address who owns the phone nor who pays the phone bill. It only addresses the use of one party and all party consent. Anything outside of that is a violation of state law and federal wiretapping law.
    The Federal Communications Commission goes further into details on recording telephone conversations and states that the party recording must give verbal notification before the recording and that there must be a beep tone on the line to indicate that the line is being recorded.

    read it carefully because it proves you wrong and me right.

  242. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 2:31 am #

    A parent cannot abandon or consent to a violation of their child’s civil rights to the State, such as approving a search of their possessions. The laws applicable have no such distinction or restriction on a parent themselves dong the same thing, or monitoring their communications.

    You continually come back to recording on the phone. If no one is recording their kids its not against the law. If the mother was recording her own phone HERS was the 1 party consent. You admitted that you knew she was recording as well. You would have to prove that you knew she was recording you before you knew she was recording-and once you KNEW, that was your being verified.

    The FCC laws that you cite only apply to inter-state or international calls.

  243. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 2:47 am #


    “The Federal Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that a parent may “vicariously” consent for a minor child. If the parent has a “good faith, objectively reasonable basis for believing that it is necessary and in the best interest of the child,” he or she may not be liable under the federal wiretapping statute. Whether a parent meets this test is up to a jury.”

    So, you are about 1/2 right, sort of. The above has been upheld in several jurisdictions at both the State and Federal level.

    All the laws you cite still deal with ‘recording’ and, once again (as I’ve also stated several times) WHO’S ADVOCATING RECORDING? Even if I did the laws at the Federal level, and State are on my side, even under the Federal Wiretap Act of 1968. What jury would convict a parent for listening in or recording their minor child’s conversations for any but the most malicious or demeaning of reasons?

  244. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 2:50 am #

    “Cedric: NONO ! You cannot give consent as a parent. Not according to what I found and posted above…..”

    the block text you keep referring to in that post is from a blog/sales website-not exactly the place id be going for competent legal advice. If you’d chosen to read the Federal Wiretap act of 1968 (that the site even linked to) you’d find that it grants certain exceptions, and those exceptions have been strengthened since 1968 with the passage of up dated versions of COPPA and the ECPA.

  245. SKL October 15, 2011 at 3:07 am #

    Dolly, you are entitled to your opinion about what is best for an at-risk kid. They are all different, you know. I didn’t say I’d give them a phone or internet, etc. I didn’t say I’d eavesdrop, for that matter. It would depend on the situation.

    Say I received a tip that my daughter was planning to meet up with a guy she’d met online. Say that up until that point, she’d had access to email because I had trusted her. What do you think I’m gonna do? I’m gonna check her emails and find out whom she thinks she’s meeting and when/where. Then I’m gonna talk to her about it and go from there.

    Now maybe your kid has sent my kid an email and I’m gonna see it. TOO BAD. Tell your kid from day one that emails aren’t private. I’ll do the same.

    What would YOU do if you received a tip that your son was active on an online forum promoting, say, suicide, patricide, or kiddy porn?

  246. Donna October 15, 2011 at 3:24 am #

    Actually a parent absolutely CAN consent to the search of his child’s possessions as head of household. A parent cannot consent to a search of his child’s person and a parent cannot waive Miranda for his child but a parent can consent to the search of just about anything contained in his house.

    Dolly, are you purposely being obtuse or do you really just not understand teenage problems? The point of reading kids email and listening to phone calls is not always to monitor the use of those items. Much of the time it is to gain information about other things! If I am worried that my child is contemplating suicide, how does taking away phone privileges and internet answer that question? If I am worried that my child is doing drugs, how does taking away phone privileges and internet answer that question? Locking her up in the house doesn’t answer those questions (drugs can still be obtained in school). Reading her email may answer those questions. My child’s privacy ranks waaay below my child’s life and your child’s privacy as it pertains to emails and notes given to my child ranks even lower. If push comes to shove, I will read her email, texts, notes, etc. to try to get to the bottom of questionable behavior when all else fails.

    “I could have had her locked up or filed a lawsuit against her and won.”

    Possibly, but the world doesn’t revolve around Dolly. The odds of the police being interested in prosecuting parents who record their teen who happen to overhear other teens (a requirement unless the teen is talking to herself on the phone) are almost nil. They MAY, and that’s a big may, tell the parents to stop. But once the teen knows her parents record her calls and continue to make calls, they don’t even need to stop. There is consent. They don’t need yours. Even if the police do arrest or your do sue, the odds of winning in a jury of parents are even less. I’d love that trial as a defense attorney; I have a 99% chance of winning as long as I can give a good reason as to why the mother was monitoring her child’s calls.

  247. SKL October 15, 2011 at 4:08 am #

    Another thing, Dolly. You need to get off the “I’m better than you because I’m a housewife” trip. Just get off of it.

  248. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 4:17 am #

    “It’s not your job to by SuperSpy 007….”

    Actually………it kind of is.

  249. Neener October 15, 2011 at 5:25 am #

    @ SKL: I’m sensing a lot of that, too. Thought it was just me, though. I never like to assume another mom is going there.

  250. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Neener: Than don’t assume it. Several of my best mom friends work and they kick butt.

  251. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 6:05 am #

    I keep defending the recording part because you guys keep mouthing off to me that I would not have been able to have her arrested or that she was in the right and that she was not breaking the law blah blah. If you are going to argue with me about MY story and MY experience where I was a victim, damn right I am going to nail it in the ground that you are wrong and I am right. In that situation, she was 100% wrong and I was 100% right.

  252. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 6:11 am #

    SKL: I would TALK to my kid. Wow crazy concept! Who would have thought of that?! I certainly would not invade his friend’s privacy by reading emails or eavesdropping on their phone conversations. I would take my kid to therapy if need be. Restrict phone, internet, if need be. I would ground him if need be. But NO WAY would I invade another kid’s privacy that is not my child and really I would try to even respect my kid’s privacy as much as I could.

    Secondly, emails ARE private. Do you read every email your husband has? What about your best friend? Your mother? Would you be mad if you found out one of them read all your emails? See I bet you would be very pissed about it. Well, teens are people too and they have the same feelings. You cannot tell your kids or anyone else to respect your privacy if you don’t respect theirs because it makes you a huge hypocrite.

    Why would you need to read my kid’s emails to your kid as long as my kid is not the boyfriend you are worried about?! That really would not have anything to do with the situation. Instead of snooping why not keep your kid in the house and then they don’t meet the boyfriend? It seems common sense. It is like most of you guys think snooping would be the first and best step when to me it would be a very last resort.

  253. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 6:19 am #

    Donna: Well her mother had NO reason to record my phone conversations with her daughter. I was a honor roll student. Her daughter was not. I was actually helping her daughter get better grades. I had a perfectly clean record at school and with the law. So no, she had no reason to record my phone conversations with her daughter. If she was a better parent and actually tried to speak to me or my mother or her daughter or the school she could have easily found all that info out. Actually even after she knew all that info she continued to record us and give me a hard time and never apologized to me.

    See I do understand teenage problems. I had some friends with some bad problems. I tried to help them. I had zero problems though because I was a model child. Let’s see: how to find out if your child is on drugs without snooping. Drug test. Watch their behavior. It is easy to tell if someone is on drugs by behavior symptoms-grades slipping, personality changes, smell, appetite changes. You can even snoop and look for actual drugs without reading emails, notes, etc. So no, still am not buying it.

    Again, MY mother knew I was not on drugs without ever snooping. She NEVER snooped through emails, phone conversations, personal mail (She did mess with business mail and we had words over that), videotaping me, etc. She trusted me. She was home with me to monitor me first hand. She talked to me. She spent time with me. THAT my friends is how you handle finding out what your teen is up to.

  254. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    The point you keep missing is that the snooping wouldn’t start until our kid did something that opened up their life to the scrutiny. After that point it’s game on.

    And, without more detail we can dance around all day that you ‘could have, should have’ had your friends parents arrested. All they would have to show is a good faith reason why they felt that their daughter and the phone in their house warranted the extra scrutiny and there is hardly a jury in the country that would touch them. If they had no reason or basis for listening in, then yes, it was probably illegal, but since you are not them, and your friend may have been circumspect about the specifics to win your side of things to show that her parents were “Teh HorrIbLzZZ”, for all you know they were justified because of something she was doing. You never pursued it legally so the ‘facts’ of your situation aren’t really up for discussion, except that you keep bringing it up as a legal litmus and proof that they were legally in the wrong, and it may not be the case-all we have is your words, no specifics. Cases like this are all about the specifics. In the internal investigations that I do I have to be able to justify every thing, every file I save, every IP number I scan, every connection I monitor. There is no room for supposition.

    The only negative impact of the prior case you cited from Seattle in 2004 was that some kid (who had already had time served) got his conviction thrown out because the only evidence they had was the mom’s notes of the phone call. I still think the amicus filed by the ACLU on that one was wrong, and I think that the WA State Court of Appeals was as well. To me, it sounds like either there were extenuating circumstances to her reasons WHY she was listening to the phone calls, or, she couldn’t produce a good faith reason (as defined by the Federal Wiretap Act) for listening in.

  255. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 6:33 am #

    No, Dolly. Teens are not adults, and have no expectation of privacy. I don’t know where you keep getting that, because it is not supported. I, as a parent (as has been mentioned by Rich, earlier) can get copies of email from the ISP, or off my computer-either one is legal and I don’t need a court order. As a parent/legal guardian that is my right to do so. Would I? It depends on the situation. It would be a last resort, but still within rights. At that point, if it got there, I couldn’t care less about my (not yet a teen) child’s admonitions for oppression. Life is. The rules are. The rules support my right to do ‘this’ or ‘that’ if necessary. When they are an adult, then they can live by adult rules, but until then they have different permissions and privileges extended to them. That isn’t just me, that is ‘life’ in general.

  256. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    “Why would you need to read my kid’s emails to your kid as long as my kid is not the boyfriend you are worried about?! That really would not have anything to do with the situation. Instead of snooping why not keep your kid in the house and then they don’t meet the boyfriend? It seems common sense. It is like most of you guys think snooping would be the first and best step when to me it would be a very last resort.”

    When an email is sent it is no longer in the possession of the sender, and therefore is not their property. If I went on YOUR computer and looked it up, that is illegal. If they send an email to my child, it is not.

  257. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    Dolly, why do you assume that her mother cared one whit about you? You said yourself that you were honor roll and not a trouble maker, so why do you think the mother was watching/listening specifically for you?

    In any case, you still have not shown anything that makes her scrutiny of her child’s phone or calls illegal, other than you not liking the idea.

  258. Donna October 15, 2011 at 6:36 am #

    Good grief Dolly for the millionth time – I know this a hard concept for you, but the world does not revolve around you!!! The mother was not recording your conversations. She was recording HER DAUGHTER’S conversation of which you were a part. I don’t need a good reason to record your conversations, I need a good reason to record the daughter’s conversations and you said she wasn’t a good kid so that’s there.

    Dolly, you raise your kids your way and deal with their problems your way and the rest of us will do the same. Just don’t expect everyone else to do it your way because you don’t have a leg to stand on if they don’t.

  259. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 10:40 am #

    Well as the other Dad and his wise son said, go ahead and spy on your teens and take away not only their right to privacy but their friend’s privacy too. I just hope if you do it that your kids grow up and never have anything to do with you.

    I can tell you for certain my husband made his mom pay for her crimes of not trusting him and giving him a hard time for no reason. He has not been to her house which is 15 minutes away in over 3 years. He never calls her or emails her. He has not spent Christmas with her in over 3 years. He does not send cards or see her on Mother’s Day. She hardly ever sees her grandchildren and her daughter in law (me) hates her.

  260. CedricS October 15, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    With all do respect, it sounds like your husband is more of the problem than she was. To hold a grudge like that for years unless she abused him is absurd, but hey, each to their own.

    Did she call his teachers at school every day? Show up at a HS District Speech/Drama competition in the middle of it to take him home (since he was grounded and went anyway)? Show up at his friends houses with police to humiliate him and make him return home (truant)? Call the cops on he and his girlfriend so she could be harassed by them since she was 18 and he wasn’t? (in NE the age of majority is 19)?

    I had all that happen to me, by my own mother. Did I warrant it? At the time-YES. I was belligerant, truant, disrespectful, involved with a girl that turned out to be really bad news later, and getting into stealing stuff.

    And, I still visited her in college-and THANKED her before she died that I was able to make it through HS and get an academic scholarship because she forced me to get my head out of my third point of contact. It made boot camp a breeze, as well.

  261. CedricS October 15, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    She was 19. *typo*

  262. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    You… Are…… Inventing……. Rights…… That……. They…… Do……. Not……… Have.

  263. SKL October 15, 2011 at 12:06 pm #

    Dolly, you are starting to sound hysterical as well as mean.

    Back to my example of hearing that my kid was planning to meet a guy she met on the internet.

    I might just read all of her emails to see what conversations she has been having with her friends about this guy.

    Talking to my kid in that situation is not enough. If some adult is trying to meet up with my jailbait daughter, I want to report him to the authorities before he vicimizes someone else. I’m not leaving it up to my obviously confused kid to make that decision.

    I am not worried that my intervention and “invasion” of my kid’s privacy for a good reason is going to make her hate me forever. She might hate me forever, true, even if I do everything “right.” But the point of parenthood is bringing up the kids as best we can. Friendship when I’m old would be icing on the cake.

    For the record, I always knew my parents considered it their right to stick their nose in my business (though they rarely did). And neither I nor any of my siblings has anything but a great relationship with our parents. Your comments about hate for parents who are just trying to do their job (albeit imperfectly) are rather offensive to me.

  264. Rich Wilson October 15, 2011 at 12:15 pm #

    As someone diagnosed with SIWOTI syndrome, I gotta say, y’all should look up the symptoms.

  265. Cedric October 15, 2011 at 2:26 pm #

    Rich- LOVE IT! I read that comic almost every day. I spend a lot of time helping vets online navigate the V A system. I try to disseminate correct info as much as I can, and disprove when necessary. Rumors and assumptions help no one, especially in legal matters.

  266. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 7:06 pm #

    Cedric: So what? My mom still had a relationships with her Dad and apparently he molested her! People stay in all kinds of f-ed up parent/child relationships. Doesn’t make it right.

    My husband did not deserve any of her treatment of him. Never had so much as a speeding ticket. Never made lower than a C and even then the C was only for AP Math. It was mostly all As and Bs. Went to school every day. Worked a job and saved all his money up for his adult life. If most parents had a kid that good, they would be doing cartwheels in joy! He didn’t have his first girlfriend until he was 19! So no, he did not deserve that treatment.

    I can tell you the first time he ever brought a girl home (me), at age 19 his mother had a damn fit because in her tiny house he wanted to shut his door so we could talk privately from sitting across the room from one another. He introduced me to her first like a good boy. She kept freaking out and slamming open the door. He was not 15! It was not like we were going to strip our clothes off and start screwing with her bedroom being 2 feet away! She was just a freak and she saw her control over her son slipping since he finally had another woman more important than her in his life. So then she kicked me out of the house and screamed at him for about 2 hours so badly he ended up in the fetal position and the neighbors called the cops.

    So yeah……..the woman deserves what she gets and then some. How dare you say the problem is my husband?! Or how about how she threatened to boycott our wedding at the last minute!? Or how she wore black to our wedding!? Yeah no, that woman is a saint and we are just horrible cruel people……..

    So explain to me again how my husband was the problem? Because he didn’t want his mother opening his mail when he was 19? Yeah what a horrible son……

  267. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 7:13 pm #

    It may be your job SKL to parent and check up on your kid. It is NOT your job to check up on and parent other people’s kids. So there is where you are making the huge mistake. But you all seem to think that is hunky dory which is funny since this is free range kids site and we are all about respecting parental rights here. That means you have to respect other parent’s rights too. And as a parent if I tell you do not read my child’s emails, listen in on their phone calls etc. you would need to respect that. All of you are saying you wouldn’t respect that and that is getting me irate. I am a huge advocate of parental rights and you would be violating mine by ignoring my rule about my children’s privacy being respected.

  268. Taradlion October 15, 2011 at 7:42 pm #

    Going outside the privacy scope here, but DOLLY, remember when you said sometimes you would ask older kids not to do things on the playground b/c your smaller boys might imitate them, or get trampled…even though that involved OTHER parents’ kids, you were doing it to protect YOUR boys…you don’t ask other parents’ permission. I think what Cedric, and Donna are getting at is that they WOULD (only IF a situation warranted it) read emails or listen (not record) phone calls to protect their OWN kids. The other kids are like the jumping/climbing big kids. Maybe they are a bad influence, maybe not…

    You know what they say, “little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems”

  269. Kim October 15, 2011 at 8:03 pm #

    I have to say I find the whole article way over the top, BUT, I have a good friend with a now high-schooler but several years ago, when he was 9 or 10 he was spending a lot of time at a friend’s house. His mom and dad were very comfortable with this family. They knew each other through church and had spent a lot of time together as families. One day she noticed something was bothering her son after he returned from his friend’s house. She pressed him on it and it turns out his friend was spending the entire time they were together on the internet. Surfing porn. Kid had a computer with internet access in his room and it never occured to the parents to check what he was doing. My friend’s son didn’t really want to go play with this kid anymore because, as he put it, “it’s boring. all he does is stare at the computer. we never play”. They had to call the parents of this kid and they were shocked. Had no idea. My friend was appalled as this had been going on for a long time.

    I’ve had a little bit of a similar situation with my oldest (6) and his friend next door (8). My child was over at his house and they were watching what I would consider very inappropriate videos on YouTube (as well as really inappropriate shows on tv.) I no longer let my son go to his house as his mom has a whole different level of what’s ok for kids than I do.

    So, yeah. I I will spy on what my kid does on the internet without a twinge of guilt. I mean, even us adults get on the wrong sites sometimes. I googled “dicks” as in dicks sporting goods and I thought my computer was going to break down from the obscene pop ups which somehow over-road my security. And it will be a long, long time before my kid has access to a computer that isn’t right in the line of traffic through the house.

  270. SKL October 15, 2011 at 8:49 pm #

    Dolly, if a parent steamrolled over here and told me that I was not allowed to read emails from her kid to mine etc., I would inform her that in that case, her kid’s emails would be blocked or deleted before they reached my child, so he might as well never send any. I don’t care if her kid is an honor student boy scout.

    Basically you are saying you want to be able to tell me what I must allow your kid to do in MY house, regardless of my house rules. I set up my house rules based on the needs of my family first. You are welcome to visit / interact or not.

    As for your earlier argument that my right to read my kid’s emails is going to make my kids unpopular – I doubt it, since most parents consider that to be their right, and many exercise it. I really think your views on that are in the minority. So if popularity is your biggest issue, you might want to tone down the hysteria before it starts to scare other families away.

    It’s true, I believe in respecting other parents’ rights. BUT you have NO right to make the rules that apply in MY house, including rules about emails. Get over it. And if you told me you didn’t want your kid receiving emails from my computer, I would respect that. Because it’s about your kid, and you’re his parent. My kids aren’t going to drop dead because they aren’t allowed to do XYZ (privately or otherwise) with your kid.

    Maybe I take issue with the fact that you’re always there after school when my kids come to visit at your house. You should get out of the house because you have no business to watch what my kids are doing while they are there. What if you hear something they say to your kid? That’s an invasion of my kids’ privacy. Please find somewhere else to hang out while my kids are at your house. See how ridiculous that sounds?

  271. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 8:50 pm #

    Tara: You have a point in that I will say something to other kids, but the point is I would only do so IF their parents did not step in first and do it for me. I always wait a minute or two and look around to see if their parents are going to step in and handle it for me. If they don’t, then I will say something. I at least give their parents the right of way on that or I try to. I would want the same done for me. Give me a minute to deal with it and if I don’t, then deal with it yourself.

    So for example SKL’s kid is friends with my kid. She wants to read emails to make sure her daughter is not going to meet that older boy she met on the internet. I would be fine if she called me first and explained the situation to me and then asked if she could read my kids emails to her kid or asked if I would check them. Then I can respond to it. She is giving me right of way and respecting that I am the parent of my child, not her. Then if I say “Well I would prefer you don’t read my child’s emails to your child,” she should respect that. But if she bothered to ask me, I would probably let her. It is about respect and not stepping on someone else’s parental rights.

  272. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 8:52 pm #

    It wouldn’t be ridiculous if I were actually putting my ear on the door and spying on them. If I was doing that, then you would have every right to tell me to stop it. Because it is creepy and wrong.

  273. SKL October 15, 2011 at 8:54 pm #

    Dolly: Oh, I should call you and inform you that my kid has set up a date with an internet stranger? That’s not an invasion of privacy?

  274. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 8:55 pm #

    I plan on monitoring my kids internet usage too. When they are young the computer will be in a common area so I can check up on them. But that is not the same as reading personal emails between my kid and another kid. When it comes to that I won’t go there. I am not saying parents should not check up on their kids. I am saying you should not be doing it in a way that violates not only your kid’s privacy but other kid’s privacy as well.

  275. SKL October 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    Just tell your children that they have no right to expect email privacy, and my reading their emails will be the same as if you were sitting in your living room hearing what they were saying in the next room.

    Anyone who tells their kid they have that kind of privacy is doing their kid a disservice. That’s your fault, then, if they embarrass themselves in an email that I happen to read.

  276. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 8:57 pm #

    SKL: You don’t even have to tell me the reason. You just need to ask me before you read my kids private emails to your kid. Because if you just do it and I find out after the fact that my kid’s privacy was invaded without my or their consent, me and you would be having words. It is a respect thing. Just like I would not take your daughter to the OB to get birth control pills behind your back. I would check with you first. You don’t steamroll over another parent’s rights like that!

  277. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:00 pm #

    Dolly, you really seem to have a hard time understanding that you are simply not the focus of everyone else’s life. Your friend’s parents were not checking up on YOU. Your friend’s parents were not parenting YOU. Your friend’s parents didn’t actually care one single bit about YOU, YOUR life, YOUR thoughts, YOUR ideas, YOUR anything. Your friend’s parents were, however, checking up on and parenting their daughter in the way that they thought best at the time, and, unfortunately, her life intersected with yours. Was it the best way? I don’t know as I’m not her parent. But, even if it wasn’t, parents aren’t required to be perfect 100% of the time. You can continue to fester about this incident that the true participants – your friend and her parents – have probably long since mended fences over or you can pull up your big girl panties, grow up and realize that – what, 15 years later – it doesn’t matter anymore. I understand the upset at the time but life for everyone involved has moved way beyond that time now.

    You can certainly make all sorts of demands on the parents of your children’s friends, including not reading their child’s emails or listening in on their child’s conversations if your child is involved, and should if it bothers you this much. The parents are not your loyal subjects so they do not have to obey you and the law is 100% on THEIR side, not yours. I suspect that, as others have said, your children will simply be excluded from the lives of children whose parents don’t feel being dictated to by you. This will happen more frequently as your children move through school and make friends outside of your circle of friends.

    It is also, as I suspected, a one-way street with you. You want to control the way other people parent their children. You want other people to respect your rules as a parent. But you don’t do the same. If you were truly a “huge advocate of parental rights,” you would accept that a parent has a right to listen in on THEIR OWN CHILD’s phone calls regardless of who is on the other side. You can forbid your child from communicating with the other child because your child is within your control. You cannot stop the other parent from listening in on their child’s phone calls, even if your child disobeys you and calls, and shouldn’t try because that is their right as a parent. But you are not a “huge advocate of parental rights,” you are a huge advocate of “Dolly is always right and it must be done her way by everyone or else.”

  278. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:01 pm #

    So you don’t have email privacy then SKL? Okay then give me your password and email account and I am going to go in and read every email you have ever written. Since emails are not private you should have no problem with me doing so. Right? And don’t pull the “I am an adult so I can have it, but my kids can’t argument.” That is a dumb argument. Things don’t magically change the moment a kid turns 18. How are we to prepare our kids for the adult world if we don’t start showing them how things are for adults. In the adult world, barring work email, email IS private.

    You never answered my earlier question about how you would feel if your boyfriend or mother or friend read all your emails against your wishes? How would you feel about that? Oh wait, emails aren’t private so I guess you would be cool with it. We need to teach our kids about respecting other’s privacy and what better way to teach it, then showing them by example.

  279. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:06 pm #

    Donna: Except her mother was all in my business. She would call my mother and blather on for hours about this and that questioning her about me and about my family. Her mother was checking up on me just as much as she was checking up on her daughter. She was trying to find out all about me so she could decide if I was good enough for her daughter to be friends with. So yes, it was about me. Even as an adult, that did not stop. I had an adult friend whose mother would do similar things like ask all kinds of personal questions about me and trying to decide if I was good enough to be her adult daughter’s friend. Some parents have trouble giving up control. But you know once your kid is a teenager or adult you have to accept you are not going to be able to control who they are friends with. You can control if you teenager goes out with someone or spends the night at someone’s house etc but in the end if they want to be friends with someone, they will. They can see each other at school and you cannot stop that barring taking them out of that school. So you might as well, get over it.

  280. SKL October 15, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    I don’t really care if you and I would be “having words.” However, this conversation has taught me something. When my kids are old enough to have email, I’m going to tell my kids and all their friends and their friends’ parents (to the extent I know them) that I reserve the right to read all emails addressed to my kid, to (without further notice) monitor their texts and phone calls, etc. I reserve the right. Doesn’t mean I will ever exercise it. But that way, you can’t complain to me that I went around you and infringed a “right” that you would like you kids to have.

    Funny you should bring up the OB. My sister-in-law has two daughters around the same age as my kid sister. One day she rounded up all three girls (my sister was 13) and drove them to Planned Parenthood for the “talk.” My mother only found out about this later. Can you imagine? Now that is an invasion, but reading emails that come to my kids in my house is a different story.

  281. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    Dolly, you are focused on your rights and not your child. So if I ask you and you agree to allow me to read my child’s email that involves your son, it’s okay.

    So you would have been fine if your mother had consented and let your phone calls be recorded by your friend’s parents for months without your knowledge? Would the fact that your friend’s parents get to hear all about your period and personal thoughts somehow be acceptable because your mother agreed?

  282. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:10 pm #

    I think the root of this argument is you guys think parenting is about “Do as I say,not as I do”. I don’t. I parent by leading by example. I tell my child eavesdropping is rude and I show them that by not doing it toward anyone. My father often tried to parent me by the “Do as I say, not as I do” and it horribly backfired on him because everytime he tried to lecture me on something, I just pointed out to him all the times he did the exact same thing he is lecturing me on.

  283. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:15 pm #

    Dolly, you can try to equate children and adults all you want. It is simply not fact. Kids have less privacy than adults. Kids have less freedom then adults. Kids have less rights than adults. Adults can do things that kids cannot. It is the way of the world. When we start blurring the lines and making our kids equals, parenting goes out the window.

    And, actually, I don’t care if people read my emails. I know better than to say anything in email that I wouldn’t say to someone’s face.

  284. SKL October 15, 2011 at 9:17 pm #

    Dolly, to answer your question about how I would feel: actually, my mother did feel free to open my mail (we didn’t have email in those days). Sometimes she did, sometimes she didn’t. I didn’t love that about her, and I let her know it bugged me, but then I got over it. I also had 5 siblings who had no qualms about reading my journals or listening in on my phone calls. They knew it wasn’t nice, but that wasn’t enough to stop them all the time, and I had enough sense to know it. And I moderated what I said accordingly. I also slept in the same bed with my sister until I was 13, so yeah, privacy is relative. It’s your choice to give it so much importance. People have managed to live their whole lives without much of it.

  285. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:24 pm #

    Dear Abby: I am a stay at home wife and mother. My husband makes all the money to pay the bills. He told me since he pays the bills he has the right to listen in on my phone conversations, read my emails since he pays the internet, phone and mortgage bills. However, I am a good wife that has never given him reason to not trust me. Shouldn’t trust me and give me some privacy? Isn’t that how we treat the ones we love? He says his parents used the same arguments with him when he was growing up that since they pay the bills, they can eavesdrop and invade his privacy all they want. Is this right? Why doesn’t he understand that some things are private and that he needs to trust me?

  286. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:25 pm #

    No, I don’t think parenting is do as I say and not as I do. Nobody here has said that they would monitor their children’s communication willy nilly or to monitor their friends or to control them. That is your interpretation based on nothing since Cedric, Larry, SKL, pentamom, me and everyone else who jumped into the conversation has directly said otherwise.

    That said, if I believe there is a serious threat to my child’s future, I will read her email, notes, diaries, etc. If my child hates me for the rest of her life, that’s a price I’ll have to pay. At least she’ll be alive to make me pay it. At the end of the day, I would hope that my mother, child, spouse, friend, other loved one would do the same if they seriously thought my life was threatened in some way and needed information I was not giving them to help.

  287. SKL October 15, 2011 at 9:28 pm #

    Dolly: Actually, it’s not because I pay the bills, it’s because I am a parent, and that comes with the responsibility to guide my kids and keep them safe. (I do pay the bills, but I don’t own Hotmail, so that argument kind of dies there.)

    Do you make sure your children bathe properly? Why is that not an invasion of their privacy? Only one reason: because they are your minor children.

  288. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

    Dolly, throwing up strawman arguments when you can’t counter what others are saying is entertaining but not effective.

  289. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:33 pm #

    Well I never said you didn’t have a right to read your 4 year olds friends notes to them. I said you didn’t have the right to read your 16 year olds friends notes to them. When my sons are 16 I will no longer be bathing them (at least I hope so or we are going to have serious problems lol!).

  290. SKL October 15, 2011 at 9:34 pm #

    How you got “do as I say, not as I do” out of any of this is beyond me.

  291. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:35 pm #

    nice to know I am entertaining you. SKL just threw up a strawman that I knocked down about the bathing thing. You don’t bathe your teenagers. Teenagers deserve privacy that toddlers don’t get. Duh!

  292. SKL October 15, 2011 at 9:38 pm #

    Dolly, it’s not up to you to decide when my kids are ready for that level of privacy. The law says 18. I decide how much sooner.

    So basically you don’t mind if I read your kids’ emails if they are sent to my 10yo but you mind if they are sent to my 16yo? Or are you saying I’m supposed to know how old all my kids’ friends are and only read the stuff from kids under a certain age? What if your kid doesn’t know how old my kid is? What if my kid or your kid lied about their age?

  293. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    So when your child is 16, you are no longer a parent? You no longer have interest in guiding your child? Society is going to hate your child.

    And yet you advocate forcing a teen to take a drug test (illegal, by the way) if you suspect drug use. Is that not an invasion of privacy? You also advocated searching his room. Is that not an invasion of privacy?

  294. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:39 pm #

    SKL: Because as an adult eavesdropping is considered rude and intrusive. Here is a little story. When I was about 9 or so I developed an eavesdropping problem. I would try to listen in on my parent’s phone conversations, open their mail, etc. My mom caught me and sat me down to have a talk. She explained that is was rude and not proper. She promised if I gave her privacy and respect by not snooping on her, she would show me the same respect. Do as I do= good parenting. She didn’t yell at me and punish me for eavesdropping and then turn around and eavesdrop on me. Do as I say, not as I do= bad parenting. I learned not to snoop anymore and therefore she was an effective parent.If I caught her being too snoopy later on in life I reminded her of that conversation we had when I was 10 and she apologized and stopped snooping. Then we would sit down and talk about what caused her to feel the need to snoop. THAT is a good teenager/parent relationship.

  295. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    Actually, SKL said to see that your children bathe properly. I do not bathe my child at all any more. I do continue to see that she bathes properly – meaning regularly – by running bath water and insisting she get in it. I hope not to have to do that when she is 16 and odds are, having a teenage girl, I will not have to but I would if I had to.

  296. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:43 pm #

    Donna: I probably would not do the room searching or drug testing except in the most extreme of situations. I was just showing there are ways to find out if your kid is on drugs that don’t involve snooping on other people’s teens. Those ways would not involve another teen. It is possible.

    Read my above post on how I plan on parenting my kids. I never use the old parent approach of lecturing my kids on something and then I turn around and do the same thing. I won’t be a hypocrite. I lead by good example. Kids will be good when their parents show a good example. Studies have proven that. If kids see their parents being polite, they will pick that up. If kids see their parents using drugs, they in turn might also use drugs. Parents are models. So I try to be the best I can be in order to inspire my kids. That is how I parent. I will never say “BECAUSE I SAID SO!” I will do as my parents did and sit my kids down and explain why they shouldn’t do that with logic and care. I turned out great. Good student, responsible adult and citizen. It worked with me.

  297. SKL October 15, 2011 at 9:49 pm #

    Donna: “I would if I had to.” That’s the point. If my child had special needs, I might still be bathing her at 16. Not only that, but I would be guilty of neglect if I didn’t. I doubt that will be my situation. But when I was 13 or 14, I had a rash in a private area, and my mom looked at it to decide whether I needed to see a doctor. It was embarrassing, but I don’t resent her for it. I would probably do the same. My children will know that I consider it my right and duty to invade their privacy if it’s in their best interest in my opinion.

  298. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

    Dolly, you have said repeatedly that you were a good child. Nobody here has advocated eavesdropping on “good” children who are doing the right thing. That is bad parenting on so many levels. But you cannot say “I was a good kid who did nothing wrong and my mother could figure that out without eavesdropping so you should be able to parent your troubled teen without eavesdropping.” You have no idea what your mother would have resorted to had you had serious issues. Your mother probably has no idea. Hopefully, you, me and SKL (since all our children are similarly aged and young) will not have to discover to what lengths we will go either and this will all remain theory. Hopefully, our children will all be “good” teens who get to keep their privacy. I did have a troubled brother and my parents should have gone to more lengths to try to straighten that problem out and maybe he wouldn’t be a 26 year old high school dropout drug addict.

  299. Donna October 15, 2011 at 9:53 pm #

    Great Dolly. Your methods will work great on a “good” kid. Your methods don’t guarantee a “good” kid because none of us are promised a “good” kid. What are you going to do if one of yours starts to be not so “good?” Because those are the kids we are talking about, not the good, compliant, responsible children.

  300. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Donna: well that is one thing we can agree on. I hope none of these measures are necessary either. As I said before this is a hot button topic for me because me and my husband were good kids. I had my privacy invaded by a friend’s mom and I did not deserve that. My husband had his privacy invaded by his mom and he didn’t deserve that. So I am a STRONG advocate for respecting the privacy of good kids. It is probably on my list of top 5 important things in life. If a person is good, then you treat them as such always. They deserve, they have earned it. I never said that if your teen is in trouble that you can’t start being more intrusive with them. I just said if their friends seem like good kids, leave their friends out of it. My best friend in high school had some problems, I was a good influence on her and was trying to help her. The only reason she passed the two classes she did pass freshman year was because of me helping her. So I did not deserve my privacy invaded by her mother. Period. At the very least I deserved an apology from her and I never got it.

  301. SKL October 15, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

    Dolly, I personally think that your mom’s conversation with you at age 9 (if it really happened) was inappropriate. I would never tell my child that my right to privacy (or anything else) depends on hers! That has nothing to do with “do what I say,” because supervising your kids is about parenting, not about eavesdropping. LIkewise if I tell my kid not to hit her sister and yet I reserve the right to spank, that is not contradictory because spanking is parenting; hitting a sister is not. The average child has the ability to understand the difference. I certainly did; my kids certainly do.

  302. pentamom October 15, 2011 at 9:56 pm #

    Dolly, “do as I say not as I do” does not apply to the things that are *necessary* to do in the course of raising and protecting your kids. Do you let your kids boss each other around? Discipline one another? Decide where you, Dolly, will go and what you will do that day? Tell you and your husband when to go to bed, what to eat, and to get dressed in the morning?

    If you let your kids do these things, you have a problem with your parenting. If you don’t do these things to and for your kids because you don’t let your kids do them to you, you have a problem with your parenting.

    Keeping tabs on your kids past the point of privacy *in necessary situations* falls much more into the realm of things that are necessary to do in your distinct role as a parent, than in things that you have to model in exactly the way you want your kids to do them. If you actually haven’t been teaching your kids that, while the rules of general human behavior aren’t different from parents and kids, there are things you can appropriately do that they cannot, it’s time to start.

  303. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 9:59 pm #

    Sure I teach my kids the difference between the parent and the child. But I also am not a hypocrite. See I don’t spank my kids for hitting their sibling. I do feel that would send the wrong message. That would be a time out. When me and my husband fight. we time ourselves out to cool down. See I am leading by example and practicing what I preach.

  304. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 10:02 pm #

    ps maybe the reason I turned out to be such a good kid is because my parents respected me even as a small child. They always talked to me like I was intelligent and reasonable and big shock I turned out that way! Kids live up to our expectations of them. You treat your kid like an idiot, they will turn out to be an idiot. That is one of the fundamental parts of free range kids isn’t it? Our kids can do more than we give them credit for and they will rise to the occasion if we give them the chance. Well there you go.

  305. SKL October 15, 2011 at 10:07 pm #

    Well, I don’t hit adults, or put them in time outs, or put their belongings in time out, or yell at them, or ground them, or sign them up for classes, or pull them out of bed in the morning to get ready for school, or tell them whether they need to wear something warmer or cooler or that their clothes don’t match well enough to wear them into the public. I don’t tell other people that they need to finish their vegetables before they can have another piece of cornbread. When my kids become parents, if they do the same with their kids, then that would be “do as I do,” and I’m really OK with that.

  306. pentamom October 15, 2011 at 10:09 pm #

    “even as a small child. They always talked to me like I was intelligent and reasonable”

    Dolly, I am not saying you should treat your kids like they’re stupid, but really, small children are NOT “reasonable.” That’s something they have to learn. Sometimes they simply have to be told what’s what for their own good. Only when necessary, of course, and as they grow, this happens less and less, of course. And even teenagers can be quite unreasonable, I assure you, though this is not reason not to treat them with respect. Treating people with respect and thinking they’re always reasonable is not the same thing.

  307. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 10:11 pm #

    I also find this pretty funny that often times you guys say I am not free range enough blah blah. Well turns out I am way more free range than you give me credit for. At least when it comes to teenagers. I say hands off on teenagers and young adults as long as there are not any problems. Let them start to learn to run their lives because in just a few years they will be! Be there for them when they need you, but don’t smother them.

  308. SKL October 15, 2011 at 10:12 pm #

    I really don’t think anyone is advocating treating our kids like idiots. Actually, I think you are treating your kids like idiots if you think they cannot understand “be careful what you write.”

    And by the way, we all need to be careful what we write. I once replied to an email (on my private Hotmail account) the recipient she picked out selected parts of my email (to make it look nasty and unprovoked) and posted it on her very popular blog. Boy, was that a great reminder! Part of being internet savvy is to never write something you wouldn’t want to see on CNN the next day.

  309. Dolly October 15, 2011 at 10:13 pm #

    Pentamom: Once I was out of the toddler and preschooler years I have always been pretty reasonable. I have a very very strong sense of fair and unfair and right and wrong. So I was always easy to reason with.

  310. SKL October 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    Well Dolly, you do say that about teenagers, but you are far from having teens yet, so your comments are still theoretical. As are mine.

    I was just going to say – you have criticized me in the past for expecting more of my kids and giving them more freedom than you consider age-appropriate. Maybe 10 years from now, we’ll be having a similar discussion about how much more online freedom my kids are allowed than yours – who knows? I never said I “will” snoop. I said I reserve the right to, because I don’t know what the future holds. Better to tell my kids up front that privacy is a PRIVILEGE granted at MY discretion which can be removed any time I see fit. Then they at least won’t feel betrayed if I ever do have to take such measures.

  311. SKL October 15, 2011 at 10:18 pm #

    “I was always easy to reason with.” We’ll have to take your word on that one, LOL.

  312. Donna October 15, 2011 at 10:25 pm #

    But what you don’t seem to get Dolly, is that my teen doesn’t exist in a vacuum. She interacts with other teens. I may not be able to get more intrusive with her without impacting other people.

    If there are lesser methods, we’ve all said we would try those first but sometimes you know something is wrong but have no idea what. These were your symptoms of drug use – “it is easy to tell if someone is on drugs by behavior symptoms-grades slipping, personality changes, smell, appetite changes.” Those are the symptoms of drug use (except smell unless it’s pot since coke, meth, prescription pills etc. have no smell). Those are also the symptoms of major depression, emotional difficulties, being a victim of bullying or molestation, eating disorders, possibly even a serious medical condition. I’d kinda like to narrow down what we are dealing with without sending my suicidal child to drug rehab.

    I can’t compel a drug test as that is illegal. I suppose I could refuse to allow my child to leave her room until she consents but that is going to have tragic consequences if my daughter is actually suicidal and I’ve further isolated her. Even if I get the test, drugs don’t stay in your system for more than a couple days so a negative test doesn’t indicate a lack of drug use, just a lack of very recent drug use. Searching her room may uncover drugs, but the lack of drugs is not indicative of no drug use. My brother never brought his drugs in the house. Reading her email might get me more answers so I know what problem I’m battling.

  313. CedricS October 15, 2011 at 11:55 pm #

    “So for example SKL’s kid is friends with my kid. She wants to read emails to make sure her daughter is not going to meet that older boy she met on the internet. I would be fine if she called me first and explained the situation to me and then asked if she could read my kids emails to her kid or asked if I would check them.”

    As soon as your kid emails them, they are no longer ‘their’ emails. This is the subtle, but important point that you continue to fail to grasp. It doesn’t matter what you ‘want’, or what you ‘wish’ was the case. As soon as it appears on my computer it’s mine.

    As for your husband, you apparently missed where I said unless there were some sort of extenuating circumstances that it sounded more like your husband was the issue. I didn’t need you to provide them, it was a rhetorical statement meant to make you think. Nothing that MY mom did was ‘abusive’ -it was all completely legal and within her rights as a parent, and I brought it on myself at the time. You are wanting control that you don’t have, and wishing for a world that doesn’t exist, and pretending that laws are on your side in this. Should you ever try to sue a parent for any of the things mentioned above that they would do to thier kid you are in for rude awakening in court.

  314. CedricS October 16, 2011 at 12:02 am #

    “And don’t pull the “I am an adult so I can have it, but my kids can’t argument.” That is a dumb argument. Things don’t magically change the moment a kid turns 18.”

    That is EXACTLY how it works, whether you like it or not. A line was drawn by the courts and the police, and society in general and it was at 18. I can choose to treat my child as an adult on my own before that, but if I let my kid drink, then I am breaking the law. If I let my kid drive before 16 I am breaking the law. If I pull them out of school I am breaking the law. Thems the realities.

  315. CedricS October 16, 2011 at 12:05 am #

    Dolly-if someone is on MY computer reading MY email it is against the law. If I am reading YOUR kids or YOUR email on my computer it is not.

    It is the way the law is written. If you don’t like it change it. Good luck to you.

  316. CedricS October 16, 2011 at 12:17 am #

    If the computer is a shared marital asset (and most courts have ruled that it is) then you can, once again, read a spouse’s email if you can provide a good reason for doing so-he or she is sleeping around and her whatever might be sneaking around the house and your kids? You BETCHA. But monitoring your spouse’s email is illegal. It all hinges on intent and ownership. I don’t own my wife, I may not own her computer, but if she was having an affair with a violent guy I have EVERY right to protect myself and my kids. Checking email is then warranted. I have my wife’ password because I help her run her business-in Dolly’s view, it sounds like im supposed to depend on my wife clearly labeling all email subject headers perfeclty in such a way that I don’t have to hunt for the specific emails that pertain to her business, lest I see some ‘other’ email subject in her in box and commit the unforgivable sin.

    It doesn’t work that way, and you are assuming powers under laws that don’t grant you the rights you think they do.

  317. pentamom October 16, 2011 at 3:31 am #

    “maybe the reason I turned out to be such a good kid”

    This is one of those things that’s generally not considered appropriate for a person to say of herself. I’m not disputing it, I’m just thinking that it’s something better left for other people to judge, not for you to announce.

  318. Beth October 16, 2011 at 3:58 am #

    Geez Dolly, it’s world gone mad if you think you are easy to reason with. Your self-awareness is at an all time low.

  319. Neener October 16, 2011 at 4:05 am #

    @ Dolly – in this thread only, thus far:

    “The biggest problem though is working parents. I don’t care if that gets me flamed. It is just the truth of the matter. Working parents that work 9 to 5 jobs are not home when their teenagers get home. The teenagers have two to three hours after school to have sex, do drugs, drink, whatever before their parents get home to catch them…”

    “Her mother worked and wanted to do what she wanted to do, so instead of being home and actually keeping an eye on her daughter she just installed a recorder to do the job for her. That is pure laziness and that is why I do feel that some working parents try to cut corners. At least this working parent sure did. It was sick and despicable and VERY anti free range.”

    “Of course that might require the parent to buck up and stay home with the teen and be present and pay attention, but get over it. That is your job. It is not your job to be super spy 007.”

    Yep, no idea where SKL and I got that idea.

  320. BeckaAnn October 16, 2011 at 5:20 am #

    With spying suggestions like the ones on that list, who has time for a job outside the home? What’s even more sad then than the list itself, is the idea that there are parents who are already doing some of that, and those who will read it and say to themselves (or heaven forbid a Free Range Parent!): “That is a great idea! I’m going to do that to keep track of my kid!”
    (long exasperated sigh at the thought of anyone believing these “tips” will prevent their child from doing something they shouldn’t)

  321. Dolly October 16, 2011 at 6:23 am #

    Neener: Yeah so, I insulted a working parent. I insult some Stay at home moms I have known too. I insult anyone if they deserve it. That mother in particular I was talking about in the second quote sucked. Are you saying that every working mother in the world is fantastic and above reproach? Now who is being ridiculous?

  322. Dolly October 16, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    Neener: But you know best. I guess my several working mom friends I am super close to are just total idiots who choose to be friends with a working mom hater like myself. Maybe they are gluttons for punishment. If you can’t tell I am being VERY sarcastic.

  323. CedricS October 16, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    No, but there is thing thing called ‘tact’…..

  324. Dolly October 16, 2011 at 6:28 am #

    I said I always had a good sense of fair and unfair and right and wrong and therefore was reasonable. I am. I said I would be willing to work with another parent if they wanted to read my kids emails or listen in on their phone conversations as long as they came to me first. Let’s see another great example of what a good kid I was and how even at a young age I had that great sense of right and wrong. At 13 every teenage girl I knew thought stealing was THE thing to do. They all would go to the Gap and steal clothes from there. Then make fun of the other girls for not having Gap clothes. These were my former best friends. I refused to do it. I refused to steal the clothes. I got made fun of for it. But I refused. I rose above it. At a very young and impressionable age I stood up for morality and beat peer pressure. Go me. If that is not a good example of someone with a great sense of fair and unfair, right and wrong and a good kid, I don’t know what is.

  325. CedricS October 16, 2011 at 6:34 am #

    Don’t break your arm patting yourself on the back. It hurts, and it doesn’t heal well, either. How ‘perfect’ you are, or were, is not relelvant to this discussion, since THE OTHER PARENT WAS NOT WATCHING YOU.

  326. Jashby October 16, 2011 at 6:56 am #

    I’m 5 days behind and in no way prepared to read the 300+ comments already here. Likely everything I have to say has been said, but I really really must react to this post.
    Given the abuses technology is being put to, even innocently–such as the case where a girl texted a nude photo to her boyfriend and within 24 hours school admin discovered everyone had it,with a slanderous label – I think adults really do need to help teen monitor technology usage. But nearly every suggestion on this list undermines what we want for our children. Research into relationships as I’m familiar with it, plus the strong, independent young adults I know, say build trust, get your kids to talk to you and tell you when someone has invited them through email. Putting cameras throughout the house or monitoring every key stroke your teen makes only undermines the underlying relationship that would keep kids safe.

  327. Neener October 16, 2011 at 6:57 am #

    @Dolly: I don’t recall making any commentary about your friends’ intelligence, the quality of all working mothers worldwide, or your status as a working-mom hater. What I recall doing is showing you the words that you typed that led to the conclusion. You paint with a very, very broad brush, and it is off-putting. And look how defensive (insulting, sarcastic) you became. I did nothing except point you toward your own words.

    You seem very bitter and almost as if you relish arguing, reiterating multiple times how one will basically rue the day they crossed you; you also spend an inordinate amount of time telling one and all what a flawless child you were, using words like “perfect” and “model child”. That’s off-putting, too.

    “Those giant houses where teens have their own bathrooms and even their own entrances and exits from the house are way way way harder to monitor than if they are right under your nose for sure. I have been in many a basement den drinking or smoking weed when the parents were none the wiser. They had no idea what was going on down there.”


    You are not perfect now, nor have you ever been even from the sandbox, and neither are any of us.

  328. Donna October 16, 2011 at 7:54 am #

    The fact that you need to insult anyone is telling Dolly.

    Also telling is the fact that you seem insist on providing examples of how a good a kid you were when we couldn’t possibly care less. So you were a good kid. So were many others on the list I’m sure. Good kids are not a rare commodity. They are actually the norm.

    Most of us are never going to find it reasonable that you expect parents stressed out about their child to figure out that they have a note from your child in their hand, track you down and ask your permission before they read it. Nor are we going to think it reasonable that you keep insisting that you have this right when that is 100% wrong. The fact that you were a “good kid” is irrelevant to anything.

  329. free range teen October 16, 2011 at 11:36 am #

    So there really is an abundance of adults online pretending to be teens. Oh wait, it’s their parents.

  330. Cedric October 16, 2011 at 11:58 am #

    Spoken like a teen.

  331. Dolly October 16, 2011 at 7:52 pm #

    Yeah free range teen, I find it pretty darn creepy about all these adults wanting to read their kids emails and notes from friends and listen in on phone conversations. Something about it just sets off my creep alert. Especially when it would be a Dad spying on his teenage daughter and her friends. Yuck

  332. Ren Höek October 16, 2011 at 10:52 pm #

    I personally am a teenager and have followed this blog for almost a year, but never posted. What the last 45 or so post have been is absoulte nonsense. This blog advocates free range, but at the same time you treat them as if they lack the intelligence to voice thier opinion behind your back. I personally there is a biasness in this thread towards teens in gerneral as poster ‘Cedric’ displays in his comment; No, Dolly. Teens are not adults, and have no expectation of privacy.

    In my opinion that is contridictory to the free range movement. Aren’t we supposed to give youth more rights, not less. And I am completly with Dolly on this one. She had every right for privacy in her situation. I feel these comments against Dolly are biases because of past debates with posters that will remain nameless.

    It is obvious who knew their rights and was mature as a teenager and didn’t let others step all over her. And finally when you parent, always think about how you wanted to be treated as a teen: and I want you to think with the maturity you had as a teen. If you think this won’t work with a teen, then you must have lacked the maturity to even has cognetive awarness of your personal rights and frankly you didn’t deserve any.

  333. CedricS October 16, 2011 at 11:56 pm #

    No, Ren, what you missed in the last several posts is that, as a teen, you can ‘want’ all the rights in the world, but legally you don’t have them yet. If you, as a teen, earn trust and respect from your parents that is enough to be treated as an adult, then there is no problem. If, however, you choose to do as you please, break the law, do drugs, sleep around, whatever, then you will discover that your parents still have the means and ability to keep an eye on you. While blog posts like the thread starter are over the top with the ‘fear’ factor, Dolly’s blanket statements about how teens have all the rights and privacy that are afforded adults under the laws are wrong, and have been shown to be so repeatedly by those of us that work within and are responsible for enforcing these laws on a daily basis.

    You have the luxury of looking at this as a teen with no responsibility. When and if you ever have kids that break the law you will discover just how responsible, legally, you are for their actions, up to and including monetary penalties or jail. The world doesn’t work as Dolly wants it do, and her repeated assertions to the contrary don’t make it so. None of us have a ‘need’ to spy on our kids. However, the laws freely allow us to do so, and as a ‘free range’ parent I am ‘free’ to make the decisions about how much or little freedom that I want my child to have. Free range is not a blank check by a parent to show how cool they are with their kid by letting them do whatever they want in the guise of treating them like an adult. If you are responsible and earn it, you’ll get treated like an adult. If you aren’t, you won’t. That is the way it works in the adult world.

    Dolly has repeatedly asserted that her rights were violated under the law. They were not. Be careful where you hook up your wagon. I worked with a lot of barracks lawyers in the Army that thought they were legally untouchable by JAG on technicalities and uninformed interpretations of the law. A few of them are still making little rocks out of big rocks in KS because of their legal ‘expertise’.

  334. SKL October 17, 2011 at 12:07 am #

    Ren, as a teen, I was frequently offended by blanket rules designed to control the relatively few teens who did need controlling. I don’t advocate such rules. What I advocate is that the parent, who is closest to the teen and should know what she’s capable, be the person to decide what’s an appropriate level of supervision. I had a lot of freedom as a teen, and I deserved it. However, I’ve known some young teens who truly could not make decisions in their best interest. Usually they were mentally ill or some variant of that. (Surely you can think of an example or two in your own life.) Leaving them to sink or swim on the theory that they are “old enough” for privacy was not in their best interest. A parent has a right and duty to make that call.

    I also strongly advocate that everyone, regardless of age, avoid putting something in an email, text, voice mail, or internet post that they would not like to see on CNN the next day. That’s just common sense. I would advise my kids of this whether or not I personally believed in reading my kids’ emails.

    The rule we’re advocating for is NOT that parents read their kids’ emails etc. It’s that parents get to decide whether that’s what their individual kids need. Surely most of us hope our kids won’t need that.

  335. Donna October 17, 2011 at 2:05 am #

    Ren, what you and Dolly fail to understand is that privacy is not a guarantee in life. It is something you earn by following the rules. This is for adults as well. I have great privacy because I act in a responsible way. If I were to stop doing so, my privacy would decrease. People on probation have less privacy than people who aren’t and people in prison have no privacy whatsoever. One of the reasons that I don’t commit crimes is that I don’t want to go to a place where I have to use the bathroom in a room with my 4 cell mates watching, have every letter sent or received read and all my telephone calls recorded. I would also expect that people who loved me would violate my privacy if they were seriously concerned about my life and believed it would help them have knowledge or information.

    It is no different for teens. If my child follows the rules and acts in a responsible manner, she will have as much privacy as she desires. If she fails to follow the rules or act in a responsible manner, her privacy will be diminished. How much privacy she has is 100% controlled by her.

    But, yes, Ren you are not an adult. You do not have all the rights of adults. I’m sorry if that bothers you but such is life. I do NOT consider how I would have wanted to be treated as a teen when I parent because doing so would be totally irresponsible parenting. When I was a teen, I thought I knew everything and should have complete freedom to do whatever I want. As adult, I realize how far from the truth that was (and to quote Dolly, “I was a good kid”). That is why parents don’t take parenting advice from teenagers and sometimes do things that teenagers don’t like.

  336. Gary October 17, 2011 at 3:55 am #

    Hypothetically, someone puts a spy cam in a place to watch their own 15 year old child. Said child brings a “friend” home one afternoon while the parents are away. They start fooling around, clothing gets removed and there is now video of a couple naked 15 year olds on mommy and daddy’s computer. Who will get in more trouble? The kids? Or the people with the kiddie porn?

  337. Mary Helen Sheriff October 17, 2011 at 4:03 am #

    I don’t have a teenager, and possibly I’m a bit naive, but it seems if we don’t trust our children to do the right thing then they won’t. If teens have proven themselves untrustworthy then that is a different story altogether. As far as protecting our kids from on-line bullies and predator, why don’t we teach them to recognize and avoid said behaviors and instill them with the self-confidence to do so, rather than spying on them and controlling them. Of course, when my children are older I might eat these words.

  338. CedricS October 17, 2011 at 4:24 am #

    Its not ‘kiddie’ porn if it isn’t distributed. If it was recorded non-specifically in the course of the normal recording, e.g. not recording a specific act than the possessor of the camera shouldn’t have any issues. There is a ‘mens rea’ requirement (intent) that applies.

    If the child is aware that there are cameras in the house then they have been notified under the law. A camera in their room is a bit much, though, and only the most paranoid people would probably do that. I would know something was up with my kids long before it got to that point using less invasive methods. The purpose of this whole thread is to show, though, that parents CAN do it, not to defend an individual parent’s methods and create straw man arguments to apply statutes against.

  339. Ren Höek October 17, 2011 at 4:44 am #

    Thank you all for your opinions and advice.

  340. CedricS October 17, 2011 at 5:12 am #

    No problem. Ive spent all day summarizing HIPPA and HITEC for a theoretical info sec policy that im drafting for work. Info Sec is on the brain today.

    I hate to say it, but as a parent, our perspective is somewhat different than yours. It makes me sound like one of those 35 year olds I knew when I was your age that said things like ” when I was your age……”. Legally, parents are culpable all over the place for the actions of their children, punitively or financially, so that explains, somewhat, why our view is different than yours.

  341. Donna October 17, 2011 at 5:54 am #

    Actually, it likely would be kiddie porn regardless of whether or not it is distributed. You can’t take pictures of your child naked for your own use. Some of this would depend on where the camera is directed. If you put the camera with full view of the room where you are likely to get your child naked, you have problems. If you point the camera at the window and your child goes out naked, you’d be fine.

  342. CedricS October 17, 2011 at 5:58 am #

    Is this a result of Adam Walsh Act? What about that lady photographer (name escapes me, sorry) that takes pictures of kids? Doesn’t mens rea apply? I wouldn’t likely be putting a camera in my child’s room, but once again, isn’t intent one of the key factors?

  343. SKL October 17, 2011 at 6:02 am #

    Yeah, just curious, but is there an age cutoff below which a parent’s photo of her own naked baby is not a crime / questionable? Do I need to burn those cute photos where my one-year-olds were reading newspapers on the potties?

  344. Bob Davis October 17, 2011 at 6:58 am #

    What an amazing number of responses! Is this a record? (I don’t really “have a dog in this fight” because my daughters grew up in the 1970’s, when the only “technology” in the house was a second-hand color TV and a rotary-dial phone.)

  345. Taradlion October 17, 2011 at 7:45 am #

    Ren – Teens often think they are being responsible when, in fact, they may be putting themselves or their parents at risk.

    As an example, when I was a teen, I did not drink at parties. I was a member of SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving). My high school boyfriend and I used to go to parties together, and, if friends were drinking, we would drive their cars (really, their parent’s cars) home and sneak them into the house. I thought this was very responsible, and in some ways, it may have been. Most of my friends would never have called their parents to come get them and would have risked driving home drunk.

    Now, most (all) parents would not want their intoxicated teen driving their car, but how many would want a newish, all be it sober, unrelated teen, driving their car home at night? What would have happened if I had been in an accident? Would my parent’s insurance have covered the damage and medical bills? Would the drunk friend’s parent’s insurance? Would deductibles have gone up? Who would have been inconvenienced? I am not sure how the parents of the drinking kids would feel about my “protecting” their kids. I think most parents would have wanted me to call them to come get their kids, or just have driven their kids home and left the car. I know my parents would not have wanted me to do this. Funny thing is, many of these kids signed the SADD “contract” saying they wouldn’t drive drunk and they would call the parents if they did drink….

  346. Cheryl W October 17, 2011 at 8:06 am #

    My parents have a shoe box containing kiddie porn. Yep, that is right. Photos of their kids, and even some friend’s kids, in the tub buck naked and bathing. No bubbles to cover things. When I was about 12, was when the first person was charged with having kiddie porn for photos of their child. That box of my parents’, it probably also has photos of them, and possibly some other kids from the 40s through 50s.

  347. Donna October 17, 2011 at 8:36 am #

    Mens rea has become somewhat muted in this country’s legal system. Intent can also be implied from the circumstances surrounding the action. It is not like the police interview you, and if you say that the pictures were taken innocently, they just say “okay” and let you go. If they did, we’d have far fewer people in prison. If the police believe that the pictures are kiddie porn, they will arrest you. If the DA believes that the pictures are kiddie porn, they will prosecute you.

    In this case, intent is formed when you intend to take the pictures. You don’t have to intend to make kiddie porn or be sexually aroused the by pictures. You don’t even really have to intend to take naked pictures; just place the camera in such a way as to create a reasonable likelihood of taking naked pictures. Now, if arrested, you could certainly argue to a jury that it was just routine surveillance and there was no erotic intent, but how far do you really think that is going to get you in this sex offender climate even if it is a legally sound argument?

    There is definitely a line where cute naked pictures of your baby (I have an adorable one of my toddler wearing nothing but my socks which come up to her hips) becomes kiddie porn. Where that line is depends on the police, the prosecutor and the jury. Baby pictures that aren’t sexual in nature are definitely on one side of that line. Pictures of your teenage daughter undressing taken from a hidden camera in her room are likely to fall on the other.

    And Adam Walsh hasn’t even been ratified by most states.

  348. CedricS October 17, 2011 at 8:55 am #

    Adam Walsh is a big deal with me. I have a co-worker friend that is married to a guy (11 years) that has a son from a former gf. That gf’s family was fine with them despite her being 15 and he 18 (small town) up until he sued for custody of the baby. Suddenly he was being arrested as a sex offender. He paid is fine and did his minimum in jail, registered at the time, and eventually fell off the list. Now, he has JOINT custody of the same child, and thanks to Adam Walsh, NE passed their own retroactive law that says he has to register again on the new and improved “Everyone is an Offender” list. He can’t go to his 8 year old daughter’s school things. He can’t go to his 15 year old son’s things at his school. I’m honestly surprised that he and his wife still have joint custody of him.

    Yeah, the Adam Walsh act is a big deal with me.

  349. Donna October 17, 2011 at 9:12 am #

    Oh I think Adam Walsh is awful, but it hasn’t been fully adopted by many states. I’d like to keep it that way.

  350. Dolly October 18, 2011 at 1:50 am #

    Thank you Ren.

    See what you guys keep ignoring is that you said that teens that are GOOD earn privacy. Several of you said it. Okay then! I was a model teen!!! So I earned my privacy. Therefore what my best friend’s mother did to me was WRONG! At the very least after she realized I was calling her daughter to talk about the boy I had a crush on or about our homework or about how someone farted in PE, she should have stopped recording me and apologized to me. She never did. She continued to treat me as a criminal and it was not right! Sometimes adults do need to realize that the teens might be more right than they are. In this case I as the teen was right and she was wrong! Nevermind the fact that under consent law me and my friend had not given consent to be recorded and therefore she was breaking the law. Same with my husband having his grades opened by his mother first. She was not only breaking the law but he had never gotten a bad grade in his life and therefore she was out of line. He had earned his privacy! Thank God my parents actually lived that and as long as I was good, they left me alone.

    Tara: Honestly by keeping your friend’s from driving drunk you were being responsible. I think it is very wishful thinking to expect your teens to never experiment with sex, pot, drinking, cigerettes, etc. Most will. I did. I was still a good kid. I never got arrested. I never drove drunk. Never had a wreck. Never got knocked up. Never got a bad grade. Never let it keep me from my activities. In fact, I quit my experimenting with smoking when it effected my ability to dance because I got short of breath too easily. I as a teen made the right decision on my own. That is what we want our teens to do! Figure stuff out on their own! I didn’t need my mom freaking out because I smoked! It was better I came to that conclusion on my own!

    I rolled with friends that were into more serious stuff than I was. I tried to help them by watching out for them and keeping them from hurting themselves or others. That is what friends do. If you expect your teen to sit around with their friends and read the Bible, you are probably setting yourself up for being dissapointed. Just saying. Teens are more likely to make that call to their parent to come pick them up if they know their parent is not going to FREAK out and go off the deep end about it. I am not saying not to punish them, just do it reasonably. If my sons called me to come pick them up drunk from a friend’s house, I would do it. I wouldn’t yell. I would just say they are no longer allowed at that friend’s house unless I can confirm the parents will be there. Then probably ground them. That fits the crime. I would not jump to: I am going to listen to all your phone calls, read every email, read every note, open your mail, etc. That is just going to make him rebel and probably get worse.

  351. Dolly October 18, 2011 at 1:52 am #

    ps- my friends who had parents that FREAKED when they caught their teens smoking, still smoke to this day or at least smoked for year and years. My mom caught me smoking and was like “okay you are stupid you know!?” Sure enough I ended up quitting on my own shortly after that. Whereas my friends continued to smoke just to rebel and spite their parents. I have always found the most uptight parents end up with the craziest wildest teenagers and the more laid back, rational, respectful parents end up with the more rational and respectful teens.

  352. Cedric October 18, 2011 at 2:00 am #

    Dolly, your friend’s parents owe you no privacy. We are talking about our own kids, you are discussing perceived sleights visited upon you by someone else. Obviously they had something to be worried about with their daughter, or maybe they were just control freaks. Either way, it is still their right to be so until your friend turned 18 (or 19, in NE). Whether or not you were affected is irrelevant, except philosophically.

    Was your husband’s mother paying his tuition? Then she had every right to see his grades. In any case, if he’s older, the letter may have been addressed to his mom, anyway. The laws protecting student grades are only a few years old. (FERPA was passed in 2004)

  353. SKL October 18, 2011 at 2:49 am #

    Dolly, I never commented on what happened to “you,” but now I will. Assuming I believe your self-description of your teen self, your parents were probably right to not monitor you.

    You friend’s parents were probably making a decision based on what they felt SHE needed. If that were the case, and her behavior/abilities justified it, then you were just caught in the crossfire. If she was a troubled teen, you knew it and were basically playing with fire. I had a few friends like that. Their mothers did and said things that were not justified in my opinion. For example, one friend ran away and her mom believed I was covering up for her. I was not. However, I couldn’t blame the mom for grasping at straws. Her 15yo daughter was out on the streets doing God knows what, and she’d lost the ability to protect her.

    Now, there is a possibility that your friends mom was spying on YOU because they thought you were a bad influence. I’ve known those types, too. Sad people. Their kids are the ones who get really messed up, because their parents won’t believe they have it in them to go astray all by themselves. They also believe they can control their every move 24/7, which they obviously can’t. So if that was the kind of parent you encountered, yeah, they were wrong. BUT they were still within the law if they were monitoring their kid’s communications in their own house. If they’d hacked into your personal computer or looked through your bedroom window, it would be a different story.

    So now, Dolly, this is officially “all about you.” Feel better?

    By the way, nobody gives a rat’s ass which of us were “good kids” when we were young. Our concern is with our own children now.

  354. Dolly October 18, 2011 at 3:02 am #

    Wrong. The grades were not addressed to her. I obviously checked that before I got so outraged about it. Oh yeah and thanks for ignoring what I said. I clearly stated earlier when I brought up about his mom opening his grades that he would have been happy to show them to her if she asked. It would not have hurt her to wait until he gets home, let him look at them first, then ask to see them. He would have immediately handed them over. The woman was just a control freak. I think she was hoping his grades slipped so she could stop him from seeing me since it was around when we were dating. Too bad so sad old lady! All him and I did when we hung out was study in my room. So no grade slippage for us.

    She had zero right morally or legally to open his mail that day.

  355. Dolly October 18, 2011 at 3:09 am #

    Why doesn’t anyone care about what kind of kids we were? I am oh so curious to know…..??? Maybe because the ones who were bad kids are the ones trying to be all up in teens business??? Just a shot in the dark? History repeating itself and all that.

    You are right. Her mother was the type that always blamed her daughter’s behavior on everyone but herself as the mother who failed or her daughter. Sometimes she blamed her daughter, but never herself. See I would like to think and I have examples that I can tell who is a good kid and who is not from meeting them and being around them a bit as her mother was with me. It is not that hard. A girl in high school with nerd glasses on the honor roll is probably not a teen you are going to have to worry about. I have met some kids who even as young kids I just knew they would be difficult teens and I was right. Then I can talk to one teen for 5 minutes and tell they are a good kid. It is not that hard. If her mother wanted to know about me, all she had to do was ASK her daughter about me, ASK me about me, ASK my parents about me. She didn’t have to spy.

  356. SKL October 18, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    LOL Dolly, the reason nobody cares is because that was a long time ago! Ever hear of letting things go? If I held every grudge over something that happened when I was a teen, I would have died years ago! Ever heard of forgiveness blessing the forgiver most?

    Do you really want to know what I was doing when I was a teen? Really? Or do you just want me to know what you were doing?

    Let’s see, I graduated high school in three years with one of the highest GPAs, had many jobs to earn spending/college money, helped raise my younger siblings (including homeschooling the youngest when she was 4), did lots of chores, went to university at 16 (took 21 credits in 1st semester) and did well. Volunteered at the local elementary school and received a Citizen of the Year award. Was a prude, but tried to be a good friend to whoever needed one. No hanky-panky with the opposite (or same) sex. Never disrespected anyone else’s parents. Bla, bla, bla.

    That said, my mom used to open my grade card every time. I hated it. She knew I hated it. But I GOT OVER IT. Big deal!

  357. Donna October 18, 2011 at 3:29 am #

    No, Dolly, we don’t care whether you were a good kid or not because your goodness or badness has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with whether another parent has a right to monitor the calls of THEIR OWN CHILDREN WHO ARE NOT YOU.

    Your behavior is irrelevant. Your goodness is irrelevant. The reason that the parents chose to monitor their own child’s phone calls is irrelevant. Do I think that monitoring your children for no reason is a good idea? Absolutely not. Can I still make that decision as a parent? ABSOLUTELY!!! And I do not need to get the consent of the parents of every single person who may communicate in some way with my child. The law is 100% on my side.

    You chose to “roll with with friends that were into more serious stuff than [you were],” and got burnt. Deal with it and move on.

  358. Cedric October 18, 2011 at 3:37 am #

    Student grades did not have privacy protection until FERPA was signed. She could have called the school and asked, and whether he was 20 or not, it wouldn’t have mattered one bit.

  359. Rich Wilson October 18, 2011 at 4:07 am #

    Holding a grudge is like letting someone live rent free in your head.

    Sometimes good smart people really do understand what you’re saying, and still disagree with you.

  360. Cedric October 18, 2011 at 4:16 am #

    Can I borrow that, Rich? That’s a great sentiment.

  361. Rich Wilson October 18, 2011 at 4:43 am #

    the former is, AFAIK, anonymous public domain. The latter wording is mine, but even if I thought it were unique enough to warrant a license, I’d give it a Create Commons.

  362. Tracy October 18, 2011 at 10:35 am #

    go Rich!

  363. pentamom October 18, 2011 at 10:44 am #

    I think Dolly is using the phrase “(S)he had no right to…” to mean, “I do not think it was respectful or appropriate for him/her to do so.” We can agree, or disagree, or agree to disagree over whether it was respectful or appropriate in a given circumstance, or any circumstance, but the bottom line is — yes, the person did have a “right” to do it. (According to Cedric’s testimony, that’s even the case with the mom, the adult son, and the grades, if it was before 2004.) That’s just the way it is, and how someone feels about it has nothing to do with it.

  364. pentamom October 18, 2011 at 10:47 am #

    Off topic, what I find weird is having to sign absence notes and permission slips for my 18 year old for school. The compulsory education laws and all the other laws have a strange disjuncture here.

  365. Larry B. October 19, 2011 at 12:40 am #

    It would be okay to use a spy cam to view your child if you expected them to be terrorists or smoking boatloads of joint., but not just because you want to see what theyre doing! You have to be open with them so they can learn to trust you and tell you how theyre feeling and what you do.

  366. Shannon October 23, 2011 at 2:24 am #

    nanny cams in the bedroom? you really wanna watch your kid jack off?
    also, something tells me whoever sent you these ‘tips’ knows exactly what kind of a blog you run, and how much of a kick we would all get out of reading it! ; )

  367. top ways to make easy money March 28, 2012 at 10:31 pm #

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  368. reader June 19, 2012 at 4:04 am #

    “I have a feeling you are not very familiar with my blog.”
    Time for a picture of Wil Wheaton collating!

  369. max February 4, 2013 at 1:20 pm #

    these are all absurd and pointless. the nanny cam is pointless, what is it going to be hidden as? a teddy bear? if i found thme i would go ape and they would lose all of both my trust and respect.things don’t just appear in my room unannounced so if they did i would be suspicious. the facebook is easy to get round, just don’t accept the friend request. nobody uses twitter for anything that a parent would want to know. people dont seem to realise that raising a teenager needs to go both ways whilst i do care about whether they do or dont respect and trust me. i need to be able to trust them and if they are spying on me i cannot do that. i also need to respect them for any control to occur and if they do not trust me to the extent that they go out of their way to stop me from hiding even the smallest thing from them.

    being a teenager is difficult enough without being able to trust your own parents.

  370. Joan June 5, 2013 at 6:14 pm #

    Nanny cam in the bedroom? SERIOUSLY??? Sorry but any parent who spies on their teen in the bedroom is just plain creepy. Since when we do we protect our kids from pedophiles by acting like pedophiles?

    If your teen has broken a law (illegal drugs, stealing, etc.) then spying is warranted. Otherwise, don’t do it.

    Teenagers have friends. These friends will visit your home, use the bathroom and change clothes in the bedroom. Who knows, maybe your teen has a friend with a Mom like me.

    If anyone spies on my daughter in the bathroom, or changing her clothes, I will call the police. If that person has a video of my daughter, they are guilty of child pornography.

    You wouldn’t want to be one of those sex offenders, now would you? Didn’t think so. Turn off those damn camera, and get rid of that freaking nanny cam. Unless you want to go to jail. If your teen has my friend for a daughter, I’ll make it happen.

  371. Kirk July 3, 2013 at 12:42 pm #

    I am a divorced dad who travels a great deal. I monitor the alarm system to see when my kids are entering and leaving, I get an alert if they don’t make it home from school or when they are out with friends at night, I have a camera that I can see from my phone set up in living room so I can see (and hear) if a party is going on in my house when I am not there. And I tell my kids that it is there.

    It has turned out that many of their friends know that I am a kook and they don’t pressure my kids to party at my house. My kids like the legitimate out.