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Old 01-29-09, 10:36 PM   #1
RubenX 
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What would you do here? (Episode #2 - Parental Control/Monitoring)

...Following these events...

This friend of mine is now asking me to teach him about PC monitoring software. He knows I got to work within the Computer Security division and knows I am familiar with the technology. For those who don't know, these are sneaky programs that are installed on the PCs at work and record/report everything you do. He came with the argument that he suspects his daughter is using drugs but he is not sure and he wants to find out and intervene before is too late.

Problem is, his daughter is 19yo, an adult by legal standards. She can do with her life as she pleases (IMHO). In fact, it would be illegal for him to monitor her daughter in such a way. I told him that. He said that he believes he is in his right to monitor his PCs at his home, just as any corporation does with their employees. But IMHO, this is different... employers make you sign a paper that specifically say you will be monitored.

Then he went on attacking his daughter adulthood by saying that she is not 21, ergo she can't even marry without his consent, or buy cigarretes... etc etc etc. I replied that either way, it looks wrong to me and I'm not doing it.

I was close to just tell him to google it out... but instead I told him that finding out information that way will always do more harm than good.

I stood by my decision, I'm not helping this guy spy on his girl's life.

Later I talked with my wife about this. She agree that at this point the girl is free to do whatever she wants. My friend had 19 years to raise her, now his parent time is up and he has to deal with the results. But we are parents ourselves and inevitably we ended up trying to decide how much we will monitor our kids and for how long.

We talked about the stuff that many of our friends are now doing to monitor their teenagers. Some had placed GPS on the cars, most had given cellphones to their kids, some eavesdrop their phone conversations every now and then, most go trough their kids things and check every suspicious bags... etc etc... We found that it is a very fine line, a BIG Grey area.

Thanks God our kids are young and we still have years to hammer out a policy on this. We do agree that some monitoring is a must. But excessive intrusion could be very harmful. On one hand we want our kids to know that if they tell us they are at the movies, we will trust them. But on the other hand we don't want our kids to think they could go out drinking 4 counties away, tell us they were at the movies and get away with it.

I mention some simplified version of this story to my Mom too, trying to obtain some of her wisdom. My Mom laughed hard and said:

"Son, back in the day I didn't had all these technology you have now. But I can assure you, I ALWAYS knew what you were up to... even BEFORE YOU KNEW YOURSELF...".

So... parents of Foo and all Foosters in general. What's your opinion on teenager monitoring? Where do you draw the line (if any)? Discuss...
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Old 01-30-09, 08:10 AM   #2
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I like your Mom.
As a parent of two teens, my son turns 18 in May, I say give your friend some guidance. It's up to him how and when to use it. He may be trying to catch up to past failings, or maybe his daughter just started listening to the wrong crowd. But assume he is trying to help his daughter. And he correct, IMHO, that he has the right to monitor his computer in his house. Whether he tells his daughter about it is up to him. If his daughter doesn't like it, she can get a job and buy her own, my kids did.
So tell him to Google what he wants, at least give him that.
As my mother says, you never stop being a parent.
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Old 01-30-09, 09:35 AM   #3
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My rule here is, or will be when the kids are older, you live in my house, you do it by my rules. Don't like the rules? Move out.

That could include monitoring of all computers in the house, matter of fact, I do that now anyway.

I'd tell him to let his daughter know that he's installed such software on all the computers in the house. If she doesn't like it, she should get a job and move out.
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Old 01-30-09, 11:12 AM   #4
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19 y/o? And the suspect the teen is doing drugs? Put them out. Very simple. Unless they are in school and getting good grades. As for monitoring the comps? I dont knwo what info tehy are trying to get. If there is such a HUGE trust issue at home, perhaps it is time for the child to move on. Cant be a healthy household if there is that huge of a trust issue.

My 14 y/o sons computer died. Virus of some sorts and I had to reinstal the OS. Then all of his games. Took a little bit of time. I broke it down for him and asked him if he was visiting adult sites. He said yes and was honest so he didnt get in trouble. I game him a class on why adult sites are bad bad due to the amount of junk you can pick up on them. Now he is banned from the net unless parents are home. When he is 15 or 16 ill nudge him towards safe sites for his wackable material.
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Old 01-30-09, 11:38 AM   #5
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Disclaimer: I am not a parent, but being only 24 I feel I can say something on the kids side of the story.

1) I see the 'Don't like it? Move out!' advice often. My parents had a phase of this too. This is possibly the worst thing to do as it breeds distrust, an atmosphere of sneakiness (They'll do it anyway) and a constant tension. Or at least that's what it did for me. At some point my parents split up and I moved in with my dad. He had a clear set of rules, and breaking them would get me into serious trouble. However, if I didn't like them, there was reasonable conversation about it. My dad put forth his reasons and I put forth mine, and usually an agreement was reached.

2) My parents never 'spied' on me, and I still cannot see why people would do that (I perceive it as really, really bad parenting). Especially later on in my teens, it would just piss me off and bring out the 'mule' in me.

3) What's the problem with doing drugs? Besides the illegality, most of us have tried it at some point and most of us grew up to be responsible adults. Doing drugs is not a problem (well, stay away from the really hard stuff, but I assume we're talking about pot and the likes), having a drug habit is. This drug habit will be evident when it's truly problematic. And even at that point, going the uncompromising hardline on his daughter will most likely not produce the wanted results.

To come to a conclusion, what's wrong with showing some trust and just asking? If they lie about it, you're not in any position to change their behavior anyway.

Finally, kicking somebody out because they're doing drugs (I'm not talking a full blown crack habit here, but more like occasionally (up to a few times a week) doing marijuana is more likely to produce adverse effects than anything else. If there is a bad habit, it is symptomatic of something, and can only be remedied by mutual understanding, a building of trust and a supported movement towards 'clean' living (whatever that is).
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Old 01-30-09, 11:40 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RubenX View Post
I mention some simplified version of this story to my Mom too, trying to obtain some of her wisdom. My Mom laughed hard and said:

"Son, back in the day I didn't had all these technology you have now. But I can assure you, I ALWAYS knew what you were up to... even BEFORE YOU KNEW YOURSELF...".
My parents say that too....pretty sure they are lying though...
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Old 01-30-09, 11:50 AM   #7
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You should have helped, or, directed him to someone who can - when you have kids, you will understand.

Even when they leave your house, they never leave your family!
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Old 01-30-09, 12:51 PM   #8
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RubenX, I think you're right, but maybe for the wrong reason (or maybe for the right reason, but you're thinking about/saying it differently).

After looking at the original message you pointed to, there seems to be some history here. Not knowing what you did in the previous situation, I'm going to have to work from generalities.

Your friend seems to be looking to "bust" his daughter. That isn't going to help her, unless things have already gone so far that we're talking intervention (in which case he should be more than "suspecting" that she's got a problem).

If he thinks she's sneaking behind his back, his sneaking behind her back just reinforces that it's OK to be sneaky. If he wants honesty, he has to start by being honest. (If being sneaky is his first inclination, he may have already established that sneakiness is OK, so this may now be a long uphill climb in the wrong gear. Based on the earlier situation, this seems likely.)

I think he needs to start by talking with her about his concerns. Openly, honestly (bluntly, if need be), and lovingly. Not shouting or threatening, but expressing care for her well-being. If he handles that properly, she'll either be straight with him, or she'll lie to him. Which it is will become obvious as time goes on.

If she is honest with him, they can work on the problem (if there really is one, and it may not be the problem he thinks it is) and move on from there.
If she lies to him, then there are consequences for that. He may have to provide them, or life may take care of that for him.

That's the hardest part of being a parent, watching your kid take the consequences for his/her choices. It's the only way they learn, though. (Heck, it's the only way we learned!)
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Old 01-30-09, 01:22 PM   #9
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From what I understand as far as a legal standpoint if the daughter has the understanding or is under the impression that her activity is not being monitered, then she's protected. If he tells her he's putting the software on his computers and then does it, that's a different story.

I'm speaking from an experience I had at work, and the results.

Edit: I think you're right not to help him, IMO.
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