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Parental Controls

Is It a Matter of Trust?

Graphic+by+Taylor+Rohleen.
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Parental Controls

Graphic by Taylor Rohleen.

Graphic by Taylor Rohleen.

Photo Credit Graphic by Taylor Rohleen.

Graphic by Taylor Rohleen.

Photo Credit Graphic by Taylor Rohleen.

Photo Credit Graphic by Taylor Rohleen.

Graphic by Taylor Rohleen.

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In a world where technology is at the forefront of society, adolescents are exposed to everything. The internet, in its entirety, is accessible with the touch of a fingertip. This means that adolescents can see it all, whether their parents would like them to or not.

 

One of a parent’s key roles is to protect their child(ren) from harm’s way, whether being malevolent strangers, inappropriate information, or lurking variables in daily affairs. But, at what point should parents draw the line between safety and trust?

 

This is heavily debated among parents, children, and society as a whole. Technology companies have made it possible for parents to monitor their child’s location, driving speed, browsing history, text messages, application downloads and usage, screen time, and several more controls. With these inventions come the question of the hour: Are these controls considered micromanaging and even an invasion of privacy?

 

Sophomore Julia Lavrador believes that “it is not an invasion of privacy to have parental controls on a child’s phone—there is a lot of weird stuff out there—but, it IS an invasion of privacy to have them on a high schooler’s phone. At around that age, they have the judgement to foresee what would harm them (or give them a virus) and what would not.” In her eyes, parents have taught their children how to handle themselves over the years, and, at this point, they ought to know how to keep themselves safe. Regarding internet browsing, Lavrador explains that “a high schooler has questions that they don’t feel comfortable asking their parents, or their parents don’t allow asking about (such as sexuality or religious differences),” so they rely on the internet as a safe haven for inquiries.

 

But, is the internet truly safe? Or, rather, is the world less safe than it used to be? Korrin Madsen, Satellite parent of two, believes that there’s “different kinds of safety” and that each type has changed over the years. “Cyber stuff wasn’t an issue. You can stalk people more easily now,” she states. However, she also affirms that we’re safer in other ways, all while admitting that “maybe ignorance is bliss. When [she] was in high school, [she] didn’t know that there was all this unsafety out there.”

 

Now that parents are becoming more aware of this looming unsafety, many restrict and/or track their child’s internet browsing history and text messages. Lavrador equates this to “[barging] through their sort of ‘diary’.” Satellite Parent A agrees: “I don’t search my kids’ rooms, so why would I search through that.” There is a difference when it comes to the child’s age, though: “I would want to read my 10 year old’s texts to make sure they’re not texting a bully,” opines Parent A. They express that the controls are not for reading through their child’s texts. Instead, the controls are to “shut it off,” for it is not a matter of trust but a matter of time management. “I trust my kids. I just don’t trust that they’re getting things done in a timely manner,” communicates Parent A.

 

For others, however, it is a matter of trust. As a child earns their driver’s license, they are often granted a later curfew and more leeway on where they are allowed to go. From a legislative perspective, the Satellite Beach curfew changes when one turns 17. Both of these reflect the rise in freedom that corresponds with young adulthood. In a poll of 136 Scorps, 42.6% report that their parents track their location, so tracking is a relatively common occurrence. Granted that it may be considered customary nowadays, 65.9% of 132 polled Scorps believe that it is an invasion of privacy, for parents to track their child’s location.

 

Most parents likely do not have the intention of invading privacy: “It just came with the phone and I liked it,” explains Satellite Parent B: “It became convenient. Yay, I can see where everyone is.” When her child first started driving, she enjoyed the location-tracking feature, because she knew that as long as the blue dot was moving, her child wasn’t crashing.

 

While location tracking is a popular option among parents, several install parental controls, such as screen time limits. Satellite Parent C decided to download parental controls on her child’s device, because “it [seemed] like the only thing that gets across to her is something that has to do with her phone.” She attests that her husband and she “don’t want to take away the device, but [they] needed her to focus on her priorities.” Placing these controls and removing them once she finishes a certain task seemed like apt incentive toward their goal of “[getting her] back to a healthy balance.” In her eyes, it’s in the best interest of her child to have these controls.

 

So, is it up to the parents discretion, or is it a mutual decision?

 

“I think that kids know that there are boundaries, and there are limits, and we pay for the phone. It’s a privilege and not a right,” reveals Parent C. Although, when asked if it is ethical for parents to install parental controls (e.g. screen time limits, browsing settings etc.), 77 out of 127 Scorps said no. If there is anything to be learned from this, it is that perhaps the rift between communication is condoning the need for children to be tracked and the desire for parents to do so.

About the Writer
Taylor Rohleen, Editor-in-Chief

Student Body President. Captain of the Swim Team. FJCL Vice President. Dancing Queen.

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Parental Controls