I have always been skeptical about technology being used for surveillance purposes- as mentioned in a previous post about GPS-tracking your kids- and I am glad that some experts agree with me. Prof. Harry Lewis writes on the Blown to Bits blog about his stance on “spying” on children and I agree with him in that I don’t think surveilling your child’s activities on the web will help him grow up.
It is true that pornographic material is easier to access nowadays thanks to the web, but it’s not as if children of the past did not try to find out about such content. Before the web, it was video tapes, or magazines, or erotic manga. Certainly parents weren’t buying their kids such material- but they got a hold of it anyway.
What is more important than trying to prevent your child from doing something potentially bad is to let that child lead a healthy life in all other aspects- to encourage openness with feelings and to help that child find means of emotional and physical output. If they know what is right and wrong, I don’t see harm in pure knowledge. Not everyone with sexual desires goes out and rapes people. Not everyone with emotional frustration beats up other kids. It’s bigger things, such as lack of communication, lack of a loving environment, a stable family, and so forth that make children go off the track.
In some sense, parents have always wanted to control their childrens’ lives, and I think the fundamental problem is that now that they have the technology to do so, they are abusing it. By creating baby blogs and attaching GPS wristbands on their kids, they are refusing to acknowledge that their children are totally independent beings and should be treated with respect and given the opportunity to form their own personas.
Despite what they do, parents can’t stop bad things from happening, since life is not a one way street. Bad things happen all the time and it is more important for parents to create an environment where their children know what is bad and make efforts to stop it from happening, but even if it does happen, be completely supportive so that life can go on. Until when will they keep tabs on their children? First it will be kidnappers or child molesters, but as they grow up, it will then be drunken boyfriends or abusive husbands, bad bosses, etc. It will never stop.
Here is another way of saying what I think, courtesy of Khalil Gibran:
Your children are not your children.
They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.
They come through you but not from you,
And though they are with you yet they belong not to you.
You may give them your love but not your thoughts,
For they have their own thoughts.
You may house their bodies but not their souls,
For their souls dwell in the house of tomorrow,
which you cannot visit, not even in your dreams.