An invasion of privacy?

So, my kids are techno savvy in the sense that they know how to use it. I’ve had other parents give me the “are you mental?” look when I tell them that my kids have a computer in their room, both have mobile phones and one has a tablet.

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I’m not talking about teenagers here. These kids are aged 6 and 8. Am I mad? No.

The computer allows them to access their school’s VLE (virtual learning environment), complete homework, and yes play games. It does have Internet access, but its through a dongle which I can remove from its USB port should I feel it necessary to remove the Internet.

The phones are old android phones that my husband and I had when we upgraded a few years back and we added a pay as you go sim for emergencies. Their phone books have family members in them only and all texts and call logs are looked at by us. (They also have to earn their credit by doing jobs around the house). Why does a 6 year old need a phone? Well, they don’t. But… With a parent who works long hours during term time it is a way of letting them stay in touch with me even if I can’t be there to pick them up from school.

And a tablet? Well, that was a bit of frivolity (and also I wanted my iPad back!)

As a computing teacher, I am more than aware of some of the dangers online, and before you scoff, I’ve seen these first hand and they are very real. Its not just sexual predators, although they are out there, it’s cyber bullying and a vast amount of adult material (I’ll go into these at length in another post). There is an argument for privacy in a child’s life, but the argument for safety is greater. I have a few rules for my two on this:

– if its offline and a diary type thing, it’s all yours.
– if its online and others can see it, or there is a messaging element to it, I’m looking.

For my own peace of mind I have an account with parentsaround.com which gives me a management account for all the kids devices (phones, tablet and PC) on which I can set up what they can access, times on each day of the week and a maximum time limit per day. The nice thing about this is my ability to actually view all the web pages my kids have been on, for how long and when. After a while, it gives you a pattern of how they use each device and let’s you pick up on issues. There is an add on to this that lets you view all of their online messages and texts and also remotely turn off the device.

Is all this monitoring an Invasion of privacy? Maybe, but for all the arguments over you seeing which boy / girl they like, or how evil you are for making them load the dishwasher, you may just be there to catch the anonymous user who asks them to turn on their camera and just take off their top.

As with all my parenting online posts, I’m going to beg and plead with you to take a look at the CEOP parents / kids website – http://www.thinkuknow.co.uk

Image courtesy of [image creator name] / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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