Experts disagree about whether parents should use commercial services to electronically monitor their kids’ online activity.
These services can provide a lot of information in a way that’s easy for parents to scan. Telling your child you’re using a monitoring service can show him that you care. It may also encourage him to reflect more about what he’s doing online.
But there are two potential downsides to consider. Your child may stop trusting you. And he may also find a way to work around the monitoring service you’ve installed.
There’s no one answer to this debate. Your decision will depend on the specifics of your family dynamics. Whatever you end up deciding, it’s good to have an open discussion with your child about your concerns and fears about his online activity.
What you can say
“Jacob, this is a really tough decision. We want to give you your space and the freedom to be who you are. But it’s our job to keep you safe. And sometimes things can get out of hand really fast and way out of your control.”
“That’s why we’re interested in using one of these monitoring services. We want you to take some time and think about this. And when you’re ready, we can sit down and talk more about it.”
Why this will help
Kids with learning and attention issues often are impulsive and not very reflective when using social media. They also tend to be more naive, impressionable and vulnerable than kids who don’t have learning and attention issues.
Electronic monitoring services can help you see how much your child is revealing on social media as well as what kinds of things people are saying to him online. But the issue of trust is a significant one. Talking openly about these issues can help.