AVG recently released its latest study into the role the Internet plays in the lives of children and teens as they grow up. The latest study called Digital Diaries: Coming of Age examines the teenage years (14-17) and in particular the behavior of parents with teens.

 

One of the most surprising statistics is that nearly half of parents around the world check up on their kids Facebook accounts…secretly!

 

In fact nearly 60% of US parents secretly checking their kids Facebook accounts, compared with only 40% of UK parents accessing their teens Facebook profiles.

 

Opinion is clearly split down the lines of “parenting” vs “privacy” so we took the debate to our Facebook community of over 950,000 users to see what they thought.

 

Here is what some community members said in favor of checking up on your teens:

 

  • In today’s world parents need to be ever vigilant — know what they are doing on phone, computer, etc. #1 role of parents is protect and guide.
  • I always check my daughter’s Facebook. It is normal to want to know they’re not getting into trouble or hurt while online.
  • I do random checks ‘cos I think kids today just aren’t as responsible as we were growing up as we didn’t have all this technology.
  • Parents are directly responsible for the safety of their children while the child resides with them. As for being open about it, the only time they will be allowed to use something like Facebook is if they agree to me being able to check it.
  • There are kids out there committing suicide from the bullying they receive 24-7 and parents need to monitor the kids a lot better to help stop or at least keep the bullying to a minimum. The Federal Government should make it a law that if your kid is being a bully and causes injury, whether physical or mental, the parents get charged along with the kid.

 

And some comments against the secret monitoring of Facebook accounts.

  • If you establish trust and communication with your kids there should be no reason to check. I agree the Internet is a scary place, however, if you teach them without threats or distrust they will make the right choices. Setting examples like distrust is not the way to go.
  •  Just know that whatever you can check there are a bunch of thing you can’t. Just teach your kids as best as you can and trust your teaching holds up. We all do things we are not proud of as teens. But a parent can’t stop this as too much pushing just makes it worse on later in life.
  • I do share things with my parents as they are friendly with me and I share with them all the time. So there’s no need for them to check for me separately right?
  • The Internet is NOT a scary place. It’s just like any other environment, with potentially positive or negative experiences. The news makes it seem like there is a monster lurking around every corner, but that’s not true. Part of being a parent to teens is gradually letting go. And there is a balance between being supportive and providing guidance, mutual trust and respect; part of that is knowing what they’re up to, both in real life and online.
  • No I try to stay out of their personal lives, if I need something I leave them a message!

 

The majority of responses indicate that it is alright to check up on teen’s Facebook profiles, and that it is common practice for many parents.

However, the methods vary widely, with some parents believing a level of trust is involved and let their children know they are being monitored for their own safety, while others prefer to do it in secret without the teen’s knowledge or consent.

Those against checking teen’s accounts cite the importance of trusting their children. Some believe that  no matter how much you check, you won’t see everything and teens will still make mistakes and there is little parents can do to prevent this. Rather than trying to monitor them, teach them well and trust your teachings.

So there’s two strongly opposed viewpoints — what do you think? Come and talk to us on Facebook or Twitter.