Thursday, April 26, 2007

How Much Privacy?

Regarding reading her teen's online journals and posts, here's what one mom says:

This is definitely an issue that we deal with at our house! It reminds we that I am definitely in a different generation - dare I say "old fashioned". I think my husband and I don't understand the value of posting all kinds of personal information for strangers to read. Back in the day, we remember actually WRITING a note on a piece of a paper, and heaven forbid it was actually read by someone other than the intended recipient!

Our philosophy is that online information is public. It resides in the public domain and in fact, our daughter is putting it out there for the public. Consequently, she must be prepared for ALL of the public to read it - including her family members (we have internet savvy grandparents, too). Putting a privacy blocker doesn't make something "private" only available to certain eyes. Even these websites can be hacked into. Our rules are as follows, if it is posted online I will read it. If it is posted through our home computer, be prepared to share your password with me and understand their might be a key stroke log provided to me (which would
detail any and all instant message conversations, history of internet usage, etc.) I read and explore the site frequently. It is quite eye opening. I am shocked by not only things my daughter has posted, but her friends, too.
While I wouldn't dare post the kinds of things my daughter and her friends do, my reading these sites has lead us to many important discussions - what do people think of you when you post certain things? How can you communicate appropriately and effectively? Protecting her privacy and allowing her to self edit her postings making sure that nothing identifying (name, address,
school etc) is included has also helped her understand the importance of protecting herself.

I would recommend that you sit with your daughter, ask her to show you how to use myspace, set up your own (that's what I did) and use it as a learning experience. She might like that she is teaching you something. She'll be the expert. Understand her objectives and use the time to discuss your house rules about postings, instant messaging, etc. If your daughter is embarrassed or nervous for you to read her postings, perhaps she shouldn't be posting! Everyone has private thoughts and needs to get them out - on the phone, hanging with friends, at sleep overs, and even in a paper journal!
There are so many places that privacy can be enjoyed, but the internet is not one of them!