You expect your children and teens to respect your privacy. And as a parent, you want to be respectful of theirs, as well. Sometimes, however, it’s hard to know when to give privacy and when to interfere. If you’re not comfortable about the amount of time your teen spends on the internet, it may be time to look into what they’re doing while online.
You would probably feel like your privacy was invaded if someone got onto your computer and searched through your online browsing history. However, if your teen has been acting unusual lately about the time they spend on the internet, you may have grounds to do a little bit of snooping.
Does your teen have a computer in their bedroom? This may be asking for trouble. It’s not that your teen will get into trouble if they have a computer in their room, but the chances are they’ll try to hide their online activity if they’re not sure you’d approve of a chat room or website. You may want to keep computers in a common area so that everyone in the family can be held accountable for the time they spend online.
However, if your teen has their own computer, you may have noticed they shut the door when they get online. Is this because they’re visiting a website you don’t approve of? Are they putting up pictures of themselves on social sites such as MySpace or Facebook and they don’t want you to see? Or are they in a chat room and don’t want you to know about it?
Not all chat rooms are bad or dangerous. And the people that frequent chat rooms may be harmless, but if your teen is acting like they have something to hide, you may want to check things out. Of course, don’t go snooping around your teen’s computer if you don’t have reason to, but if you’re concerned because of behavioral changes, it may be something to consider.
Perhaps you already have all computers in a common area. If your teen turns the monitor off whenever you walk in the room or is scrambling to close windows, it may be a sign that they’re up to something. What do you do if you check the internet history and find that it’s blank? You may want to confront them about what they’re doing online.
Obviously you want to trust your teen and their judgment. This pertains to dating, friends, and the internet. Until they give you a reason to be concerned, you probably don’t have anything to worry about. However, once the warning signs of turning off the computer, closing windows, clearing history files, and shutting the door while on the computer manifest, you have every right to find out what’s going on.
If you’re concerned about your teen’s online activities, don’t forget that you can always take away computer privileges for a time if they don’t follow established computer and internet rules. Should your teen complain about your concerns, you can explain to them that you love them and are concerned for their safety. And, whether they like it or not, as their parent you are well within your rights and obligated to intervene if you feel it’s necessary.