The Spy Who Loves You

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No, it's not a savory idea, and when your children are little it's unfathomable. But sooner or later ... you will spy.

“Look, Suze, I can see where he is right now,” my brother says, pointing at his phone, referring to my nephew. “You can do this with your kids, see? He stopped at Game Stop, of course, but he’s on his way home now, six minute arrival time.” 

    Safety, 2018 … or stalker parenting? Parent as spy.
    My brother uses lots of apps to spy on his family. He was one of the first dads to do this several years ago and he’s always up on things. He tracks everybody’s comings and goings.
    At first I was appalled. I thought, surely that’s not right. What about trust? What about that sacred bond between parent and child? The “I know you and you know me and we will not deceive one another or anything awful like that and we’ll be OK?”
    Well, think about it. You were a kid once. Awful happens. Most of us were not goody two shoes. Most of us got away with some kind of crazy. My brother’s son was a particular handful, so he started setting up boundaries to save his sanity. Many kids won’t stray far from the values you instill in them, but others will shock you to the core by doing things you never imagined they would.
    This game called life is dicey right now (hopefully it will get better) with the rise in opiate use and school shootings and we musn’t fool ourselves. Good little kids will grow up and morph into kids who will get into stuff they shouldn’t. You will wonder what happened and you will have to be honest with your kids. Tell them that things happen as kids grow up and it gets harder to keep yourself safe. Tell them you trust them and that they can do it. Keep talking and try to find the balance between annoying and cool so they won’t tune you out.

Trust … and Then the Preteen Brain

   Parents with babies and toddlers, hear me out: you may think the subject of monitoring kids doesn’t pertain to you at this particular moment in time, but it does. The whole 0 – 12 thing goes by so fast. One day soon your kids will no longer be putty in your hands; they will be water running through them. You will become a hurdle for them to jump over if they can. Jump over with them. You will spy. 
    When a kid’s body starts changing, so does his brain. The preteen brain becomes the teen brain whispering, “Try it, do it, give it and BTW, the parents are home, so watch it.”
    Digitally monitoring kids, yes, literally spying on their social media accounts and even checking their locations is a must now. It doesn’t mean, “I don’t trust you,” it means, “I am your parent, it’s my job to keep you safe.”
    Just how one day you’ll give your kid the keys to the car while worrying about the OTHER drivers, today you have to worry about the other USERS in the world of devices. It’s not stalking. It is literally keeping kids safe.

Susan Swindell Day is editor in chief of this publication and the mom of four great kids.

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