Have you ever wondered if your child’s safety could be endangered on the Internet? Or how about what websites they could be going onto and if they are talking to strangers? These are some topics that Harlen Coben discusses in his article entitled “Undercover Parent”. He suggests that parents should put spyware on their child’s computers, or other electronic devices, to monitor their Internet usage, activity, and safety. Now some may say that this is an invasion of privacy, but others disagree and say that it will benefit your child. Throughout the article, Coben presents information about the pros and cons of spyware. In my opinion, I both agree and disagree with Coben’s argument on spyware.
First, the reason as to why I agree with Coben is that your child’s safety could be endangered on the Internet. In some cases, it can lead to fatal outcomes. If a parent were to put spyware on their child’s computer, then they can see if their child is talking to strangers, giving out personal information, or if they are being cyber bullied. This way, if these incidents were to occur, the parent can take action, and put a stop to it. Most people have heard of the stories of children who were being cyber bullied on the Internet.
In some cases, if the child is being cyber bulled to an excruciating point, then they might commit suicide. Studies show that the main reason why kids will take their life when being bullied, is to stop the pain. One of the most recent stories is of a young girl at age 12 who committed suicide. Her name was Rebecca Anna Sedwick, and she lived in Florida. 15 middle-school kids were bullying her for months, and were urging her to kill herself. Before the incident had happened she went onto her Kik account and changed her username to “That Dead Girl”. Then she sent out messages to her friends saying “goodbye forever.”
Once she had sent out the messages, Rebecca went to a cement plant by her house. There she climbed to the top of the building, then plummeted herself to the ground. Later she was found dead by the police. Rebecca’s life could have been saved if there was some type of spyware on her phone or computer. Her mother would have gotten an alert of what was happening online, and could have prevented her daughter from taking her life.
Another reason as to why parents should have spyware on their child’s electronic devices is to monitor whom they talking to, and if they are giving out personal information online. An example of this is about another story of a young girl who was murdered. It all started when she was chatting on Facebook with someone who she thought was her friend. So then she decided to invite this so called “friend” to meet her at the corner by her house. The person that she was going to meet had different intentions than just meeting up and talking. Instead he had killed the girl that he was meeting up with. Once the man who committed the crime was arrested, he was put in jail and charged with the case of murder. In both scenarios of the girl who committed suicide, and the girl who was murdered, spyware was not used on any of their devices. If there had been spyware on their daughter’s devices, the parents could have seen what was occurring online and may have prevented their daughters’ from either killing themselves or from being killed. In this case, spyware could have saved the lives of these two young girls.
On the other hand, I disagree with Coben’s suggestions about spyware. In my presumption, this is considered an invasion of a child’s privacy. I wouldn’t want someone watching my every move 24/7, so why should I do it to someone else. They call it “privacy” for a reason. It means that something is private and is known by you and maybe someone else as well. If parents want to find out information about what their child is doing, then the parent should simply ask or talk to their child about their concerns that they have about them. Instead some parents decide to put spyware on their child’s devices to find out information on their own. Some say that it is merely parenting and not spying, but in my opinion it is spying. I believe that the parent should trust their child while they are on the Internet. Parents should teach their children about the dangers of the Internet, and how to make the right decisions while online.
If the parent doesn’t teach their child online safety, and then their child gets into trouble, then it’s the parent’s fault for not teaching their kid online safety. I presuppose that parents should be cautious and concerned instead of being nosy. There is a fine line between these two types of parents. A nosy parent would be someone who is reading their child’s conversations and watching their every move online to find out information, when really they don’t need to. I like to call these types of parents, “hover parents”. I call them this because it is like as if they are hovering over their child’s shoulder and watching their every move. I would not want to have a parent who is like this. I would rather have my parent be a concerned or cautious one. This type of parent would just be using spyware to monitor or check up on their child’s Internet usage. These parents might not even use spyware at all on any of their children’s devices.
These types of parents will have trust in their child to be safe and make the right decisions. If a parent should use spyware and they find out bad information about their child, they should just come to their child and have a calm and open conversation about the child’s situation. An example of this is found in Coben’s article, in paragraph 13. “One friend of mine, using spyware to monitor his college-bound, straight-A daughter, found out that not only was she using drugs but she was also sleeping with her dealer. He wisely took a deep breathe before confronting her. Then he decided to come clean, to let her know how he had found out, to speak with her about the dangers inherent in her behavior. He’d had these conversations before, of course, but this time he had context. She listened. There was no anger. Things seem better now.” Whether the parent uses spyware or not, this would be the correct way for a parent to approach their child when they have something to discuss with them.
Furthermore, an example of what a cautious or concerned parent would be is, my own parents. My parents do not use spyware on any of my electronic
devices. They know that they can trust me when I’m online and that I will make the right decisions. I won’t give out my personal information, talk to strangers, or go onto websites that are inappropriate. My parents have taught me well about how to be safe online and to be alert of the dangers that are out there on the Internet. I know that they can’t protect me from everything but they can ensure my safety if tell them that something is wrong. My parents can take action and put an end to whatever it is that is trying to harm me. They occasionally will check my computer just to make sure that everything is fine and that I am safe. This I have no problem with, and I understand their reasons as to why they should do so.
In closing, my position with Coben’s arguments is that I both agree and disagree with him. Coben advises that parents should show his article to their children, and discuss with them the dangers of the Internet. He also suggests that if you don’t feel the need to use spyware, then don’t use it at all. But if you’re the type of parent who decides to use spyware, then let your son or daughter know that there is spyware on their computer or phone. So what would you choose? Are you for spyware or against it? Take a stand today and pick the side that you will stand for!