The Surveillance State Starts At Home

As a man in his early 30s I like I’m too young to start with the, “Back in my day,” business. But back in my day kids had some semblance of privacy.

Many of my friends are at a point in life where they’re running into undiscovered territory as parents. When this happens they often post on Facebook to crowd source ideas from parents who have already blazed the path. Reading the recommendations posted by these parents, frankly, scares the shit out of me.

One of my friends has decided to get iPhones for his children. Because he’s not terribly familiar with electronics he asked Facebook for advice on what to do. I told him to ensure his kids put a password on it to protect the device contents (serious) and explain to them that cell phones are voluntary tracking devices so leave them at home when they’re doing something illegal (tongue in cheek).

What some parents posted was frightening. One parent advised my friend to enable Find My iPhone but not tell his kids about it (then explained how this helped her catch her kid lying about sleeping over somewhere one night). Another parent told my friend to prohibit his kids from setting a password and to periodically read through their messages. In fact reading through messages was advice posted by several parents. Yet another parent advised that he require his kids to hand over their phone every night so he can “charge” it (I used quotation marks here because charge is merely an excuse to perform a thorough nightly snooping mission).

If these parents’ Big Brother tendency stopped at personal electronics that might be one thing. But I’ve also seen parents comment in other threads about how they took the door off of their kids’ bedrooms.

Admittedly I’m not a parent but I was a kid and had parents. My parents were and continue to be cool. One thing I greatly appreciate is that they’ve always trusted me. I not only had a door on my bedroom but the door had a lock. They never required me to give them the passwords to my computers or online accounts. The only time they became snoopy is when I did something that justifiably betrayed their trust.

But its seems a lot of parents don’t trust their children. They treat their children like suspects under an investigation. Why you snoop through your kids’ communications, prohibit them from securing devices in a manner you cannot access, or take the door off of their bedroom you’re saying you don’t trust them. That’s an environment that’s bound to breed unhealthy paranoia and distrust in the very people they’re supposed to trust. I believe the mantra of “Innocent until proven guilty,” applies in all aspects of life. If your child has done something to betray your trust then there are grounds to perform an investigation. But I can’t imagine how treating your child like a suspect even when you have no reason to be suspicious is helpful to them.

2 thoughts on “The Surveillance State Starts At Home”

  1. probably because parental non-supervision today is more less illegal and viewed as a serious moral failing, to boot.

    as an aging gen Xer, today’s moral climate is a 180 from when i grew up, one that had limited supervision, free-range as the default.

    Unfortunately, appears to be one of the downsides of technology, particularly to a species prone to a “race to the higher moral ground” public morality

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