TELECOM Digest OnLine - Sorted: Parental Electronic Supervision of Teens - Good or Bad?

Parental Electronic Supervision of Teens - Good or Bad?
12 Dec 2005 10:12:58 -0800

There are more and more devices coming onto the affordable marketplace
that allow parents to monitor their teenagers' whereabout and
activities. Is this a good or bad thing?

One is a video camera in the car which monitors their driving. It can
see whether they use their seatbelts (kids often forget) and whether
they drive carefully or not (samples show kids, even knowing of the
device, get distracted easily).

Another is a GPS device for car or cell phone so they know where the
kid is at all times.

I have very mixed feelings about these devices and this kind of

Sometimes I think the stricter the parents with this stuff and various
house rules, the more wild the kid will end up as they figure out ways
to circumvent them or just lie to cover up. In other words, sometimes
I think a more flexible structure and some trust works out better. If
I were a kid I'd be furious if my parents used such devices on me, and
I wouldn't be keen if a friend's parents did so. Admittedly, myself
and my friends were a pretty tame (lame?) crowd.

But on the flip side, some kids out there are pretty wild and do need
more structure. I knew a girl whose parents were terribly strict with
her, but this girl was in the fast lane and I could see the parents
not wanting to be grandparents too early. Some kids hit puberty and
become totally different people, with tons of energy and restlessness,
and a desire to be as adventerous as possible. Plenty of 14 y/o girls
lie to their parents and seek out college boys to date (and lie to
them as well). Plenty of new drivers (either gender) make the
Indianapolis 500 look tame and get killed in the process.

So I don't know what the ethical answer is. I am very grateful they
didn't have this kind of monitoring when I was kid, as well as no
metal detectors to go into high school. Indeed, in my high school
they abolished the hall pass system and the halls became _quieter_
than before.

I will note one big change from my teen days is that (1) parents today
seem to be more involved in their own lives than in my day, that is,
they don't have the time to really know their kids' day-to-day
activities and friends since both parents work long hours or aren't
even there. (2) more kids have their very own cars at age 16 and the
freedom that goes with them. I didn't get my own car until I was 21,
in my younger years a parent would drive kids out on their dates (not
a lot of fun, but it did act as a damper). Borrowing the parents' car
first means the car must be available and it not always is in a
one-car household, and secondly requires a explanation of need,
destination, etc. When a kid has their very own car it's a lot easier
to just take off.

[public replies please]

[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: When I was in high school (1956-60)
there were no metal detectors to walk through either, nor any of the
other 'security' devices so prevalent these days. Somehow, we managed
to survive. My friends, and the people who administer my household
(Margaret [the meals on wheels lady]; the nurse and the SRS housekeeper
who come around now and then, etc) always seem so amazed to hear me
humming [or listening to a recording of] my favorite musical composition,
the music of Johann Sebastian Bach 'Come Sweet Death, Come Blest Repose'.
Don't you want to live forever, they ask. Hell no, is my reply. When
my time comes for a _natural_ death, I will be so happy to be gone. PAT]

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