This week I had a great conversation with my son about privacy and the online world. Well OK, it started off as more of an argument and there were some tense moments….but in the end I think we reached a compromise. And we bought to the surface some interesting dilemmas faced by our kids and indeed by us as parents.
Dilemma 1: he wants me to trust him
Dilemma 2: he wants to protect the privacy of his friends
Dilemma 1 for me: It’s not necessarily him I don’t trust
Dilemma 2 for me: finding the compromise between letting him test out the responsibility I am hoping I have instilled in him… and keeping a watchful eye that this ‘guidance’ is being adhered to. (After all….”God mum not everyone has a blogger for a mum so I think I have learnt everything I need!”)
This kid is particularly loyal. I would love to have him as a friend as he often puts others first. But our ‘conversation’ came about after I was quizzing him about his use of Kik and Instagram. I just wanted to check who he was talking to, what friends he was ‘connecting’ with….. he just wanted to protect what his friends were saying to him. He assured me there was nothing ‘bad’ or ‘wrong’ with what they were saying. It was just that he assumes responsibility for keeping their conversation private. So if I am found looking at stuff that his friends have written, then he is somehow betraying that trust.
The point I needed to make was, that no conversation he has with any other person online can ever be completely private. He and his friends need to understand that if they want to be absolutely certain no one else will read stuff, then they need not put it up in the first place. No one can guarantee their mum wont pick up their phone and scroll through. No one can guarantee the younger brother won’t come across conversations when searching for a game to play. No one can guarantee that a confiscated phone won’t be displaying a conversation to the teacher. No one can ever guarantee that words wont be forwarded, copied or shared. It is not the responsibility of the person with the device to keep things private, it is the responsibility of the person writing things online to be aware that there will always be a chance someone else will see it.
The compromise that we reached was that I can check who he is talking to, but I need not read the conversations they are having unless there are circumstances where I think it is warranted. But should he find the conversations are making him uncomfortable or if he thinks that what his friends are saying is not appropriate for online, then he will point that out to them or let them know that it should be better said in real life.
It is a work in progress…..a learning curve for all of us….and I suspect not the last time we will face a dilemma of privacy issues and the online world.
Have you had any issues relating to privacy and the online world with your kids?
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