Salamat Dok: Do you spy on your kids online?

Posted at 07/02/2012 3:23 PM | Updated as of 07/02/2012 3:31 PM

Do you spy on your children whenever they go online?

Before, parents used to go out of the house to check on their children playing “piko”, “tumbang preso” or “luksong lubid”. In the age of the internet and social networks, more and more children stay indoors playing computer games or socializing online. Some openly admit to becoming addicted to their computers, to the extent that they do not notice they spend hours reading their friends’ online status updates, blogs and location check-ins; looking at photos; watching videos; and tweeting.

You may find this funny--way back in the day, some, if not most, parents cautioned their kids to stay indoors. Ironically,  parents now worry about their kids spending too much time inside the house, enjoying themselves online.

Curious and protective, parents may approach their kids to check what they are doing on their computers. Of course, it is instinctual for parents to want to know what their kids are up to, but should parents actually spy on their kids’ internet activities?

Child Behavior Therapist James Lehman said he thinks it is important for kids to have privacy.

"Adolescents need to separate and individuate. They want to have a life of their own and adolescence is really about preparing them for that. You should know that part of that process includes forming boundaries. To put it simply, boundaries are where your child ends and yours begin. Parents and kids often fight over where these boundaries exist, but your child’s need to establish them is very important," he said.

With the downside that communication technology brings–cyber bullying, inappropriate exposure to pornographic videos, and vulnerability to cyber crimes, we can’t blame parents who go beyond the boundaries that Lehman said are very important. 

Here are some insights from Parenting and Relationship Expert Maribel Dionisio:

• Don’t snoop on your kids, you might lose their trust
• Give them space and privacy but there should be limits and proper guidance
• Spend bonding moments with your family
• Engage your children with quality talk to develop their trust and confidence in you
• Explain the importance of openness in the family
• Don’t shout at them or avoid being easily angered because they might become rebellious and keep things to themselves

While some may agree that spying on children's online activities may protect them from harm, other experts believe that if children are responsible, honest and trustworthy, parents would not need to go to extremes to ensure their safety.

If you are a tech savvy parent, you can use internet monitoring software available on the market that monitor online activity and also provide "safety locks" that limit the websites your children can visit and protect them from potentially harmful websites.

Using these tools, which are available for a price, you can continue with your daily activities without being intrusive.

“With proper discipline, respect and trust in your child, there’s a big chance they’ll be far from danger, harm and bad influences. With proper guidance, they grow up to be responsible, confident and good citizens,” said Dionisio. – with a report from Rowena Campoy, Illustrated by Gregy Nillo

Segment: Family Matters, aired November 20, 2011