In the world of social media, parents should walk a thin line in determining their child’s privacy. A child who seems to be happy and thriving could have depression lurking at the surface. Last year, I became lenient with my rules and around the middle of February, I decided to check my daughter’s phone- and was completely shocked at the discovery. My daughter, who to most people seemed full of life and happy was falling into the world of depression and talking to a “girl” about suicide. This “girl” even talked about possibly running away and meeting. I called her counselor at school as well as her pediatrician – both were shocked and helped me intervene and enroll her into counseling.
Parents, our children need their privacy but rules and privacy limits are necessary. My rules/limits are not terrible and my kids don’t always like the rules of social media and cell phones/computer use, BUT I believe this saved my child’s life. Our rules still stand with all our children. Our rules:
No passwords to any social media site that my husband and I do not know
We can and will check all social media sites, when we want- no if/ands or buts
No erasing text messages without permission- and I have checked the bill to double check
No accepting friend’s requests without permission or talking to people on social media that you do not know.
We can check all apps on phones, tablets and computers.
Do not give out your number to anyone without permission from parents and you must know the person from school, church, ect.
It is not just my daughter. There are children everywhere who believe that this will not happen to them and children are being murdered, committing suicide and bullying others without anyone noticing. Below are a few top stories from recent events.
(Chart courtesy of http://www.statista.com/chart/
First, two teens from Florida bullied another girl until she committed suicide. Both girls faced charges- later dropped due to lack of evidence and the prosecutors office doing what is right for the girls: each girl received counseling and were enrolled in diversion programs.
A girl in Van Buren, Angela Allen, who used mBuzzy to meet individuals, met and texted a local man who ended her life in a fit of anger because she was not 18. (http://www.cnn.com/2012/02/24/justice/arkansas-girl-killed/)
Amanda Todd is another story. This girl videoed her reasons for suicide that has taken YouTube and media by storm. An adult male convinced her to flash him. He took a picture and spread it around. Through the torture she received, she decided her only option was suicide. http://abcnews.go.com/US/bullied-teen-amanda-todds-death-investigation/story?id=17489034
The cases have me wonder if parents were more involved in social media and monitored their children’s accounts, maybe these events could have been prevented. The way people can “connect” with others from all over the world is something parents should make parents wary.
A friend’s daughter “met” someone online. They talked several times and were discussing a meeting. Her mother decided to check her Facebook, and found the messages. The police were called and the 16-year-old boy turned out to be a predator. My friend has since taken away her daughter’s social media freedom.
If you believe you child is disobeying the rules, there are programs such as keyloggers that monitor (http://download.cnet.com/Refog-Free-Keylogger/3000-2162_4-10357898.html) Internet activity. You can download other child monitoring programs varying in price (free+)
For a time period- really still going on- my daughter does not have any privacy. Shortly after this event is when Angela Allen was murdered and I have used her as an example. This girl was not someone in another state or country but someone who attended my daughter’s school. Someone she had seen- it helped her understand the depth of meeting people on social media. We discussed the importance of talking to us, a trusted teacher or the counselor at her school. We have enforced the rules, beginning with phone checks everyday, to every other day to about once a month now.
My children argue with me and we all have disagreed on the privacy and the lack of privacy when it comes to social media, tablets/computers and cell phones. We will not bend or change our rules and I sometimes wonder if more parents/guardians checked their children’s social media sites, emails and text messages if more children would be saved.
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