Opinions expressed are those of
the individuals or organizations
represented and are presented
to foster discussion. Costco and
The Costco Connection take no
position on any Debate topic.
Is the Keystone
received by April 16, 2015. Results
may reflect Debate being
picked up by blogs.
Peggy Drexler ( peggydrexler.com) is a research psychologist, assistant
professor at Weill Cornell Medical College, writer, speaker and author.
MAY 2015 The Costco Connection 25
A recent study
found that nearly half of
all parents using Facebook
joined the social network
with the primary purpose
of spying on their kids; 93
percent of those parents
check their child’s profile
every single day. If you’re one of those informa-tion-hungry parents, you know: It’s a hard temptation to resist.
social media makes it easier to know the
goings-on of everyone in your life—without ever
having to exchange a word. so why not use it to
keep track of your kids? For the same reason you
resist the urge to sit in the backseat with your
newly licensed driver every time she takes the
car out. the state says she’s ready; she’s ready!
Letting kids grow up means acknowledging that
you can’t, and shouldn’t, steer them from every
Learning to stand on their own prepares
kids for a time when you aren’t there to protect
them. Making mistakes is part of that. Letting
kids grow up also means that we, as parents,
learn how to trust them—and, in turn, teach
them how to respect that trust.
While it’s OK to read social media posts
that are clearly public—at the very least, your
kids need to know that if you can see it, so can
the whole entire world—you shouldn’t go
deeper than that. using their passwords to
track private posts, read direct messages or
intercept emails in the name of figuring out
what they’re up to is an invitation to a world of
misunderstanding and miscommunication.
even trying too hard to use social media to
decipher where they’re going, what they’re
doing and who they’re with (and whether you
like those people) is problematic.
you’re the parent. Just ask them. If you
don’t feel like you’re getting a straight answer,
the way to solve that problem isn’t to go down
the long and winding rabbit hole of your kids’
and their friends’ twitter feeds. tracing their
every online—and offline—move won’t make
you feel any more connected or safer in the
knowledge that they’re out there making the
right decisions. What might? trust and respect.
the best approach: Make sure your kids are
clear about how social media works, and who
can see what. Give them examples of regrettable
behavior. talk to them about possible repercus-
sions. encourage them to practice honesty and
thoughtfulness and all the other qualities you’ve
worked hard to instill in them offline. And then
let them out into the cyber world. snooping
around will only make them better at hiding
things. And that’s most definitely not a skill you
want to teach. C
Like us on
Stephen Balkam is the founder and CEO of the Family Online Safety
Institute, an international nonprofit organization ( fosi.org).
answer to the question of
whether parents should
monitor social media use
is “yes, when the situation
requires it.” but there are
steps parents should take
before allowing kids
access to social media.
First, have an open conversation about
appropriate use of technology, and set ground
rules and parental controls. next, be open and
tell your children that you will be checking in
on their social media interactions. Parents need
to understand and respect their kids’ online
space as much as they do their personal space.
the main job of parents is to keep their children safe, and in an instance where there
appears to be true risk of harm, a parent should
feel entitled to read and monitor a child’s social
media activity in the name of ensuring the
there is a vast difference of opinion about
what some consider monitoring. Parents should
“friend” or follow their children from a respectful distance, and intervene only when necessary.
Most important, parents should encourage their
children to maintain a positive online reputa-
tion, reminding them that digital is forever and
not to post anything they wouldn’t want a par-
ent, grandparent or teacher to see.
this is especially true when one considers
the needs of different age groups. While it may
be perfectly acceptable to read a 13-year-old’s
social media posts, shouldn’t the rules change by
the time the child is applying for college? Parents
know their children best, and are therefore the
best equipped to decide when reading social
media posts is not an invasion of privacy but a
necessary teaching moment.
A better solution than attempting to monitor children’s every interaction on their social
media accounts would be to monitor their overall relationship with technology.
When giving them access to personal
devices, setting the appropriate rules and
boundaries, having regular conversations about
what is acceptable to share online and utilizing
the available parental controls may decrease the
chances that kids will begin to engage in behavior that requires restrictive monitoring.
this is why the Family Online safety
Institute has developed Good digital Parenting,
a resource to help parents start conversations
and learn more about the technology their kids
are using. C
Vote on future
Your opinion may appear
in an upcoming