A New Jersey police chief named James Batelli has some rather controversial advice for parents navigating their children’s use of social media: He says that parents should install keyloggers to steal their kids’ passwords without their knowledge and use that information to spy on their Facebook activity.
“Trust sounds good. It’s a good cliché,” says Batelli. “[But] to stick your head in the sand and think that, in 9th, 10th, 8th grade, your child is not going to be exposed to alcohol, is not going to be exposed to drugs is kind of a naïve way to go about it.”
“When it comes down to safety and welfare of your child, I don’t think any parent would sacrifice anything to make sure nothing happens to their children. If it means buying an $80 package of software and putting it on and seeing some inappropriate words you don’t want your child to say. Then that’s part of society.”
(Editor’s note: $80? Really now?)
Young children should definitely have some parental guidance as they define their identities online, but advising parents to use spyware on their kids — it’s called spyware, for heaven’s sake — would seem to sacrifice trust in the process. Most children would resent their parents pretty mightily if they discovered they were always hiding in the bushes at every social gathering they went to, and there has got to be a better way to negotiate the balance between privacy and safety online.
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