Skype, FaceTime, Privacy and Our Kids
Do you own an IPhone?
Do you own an Ipod?
Do you own an Ipod Touch?
Do you own an Ipad?
Do you own a computer?
Would you allow a boy in your 14-year old daughter’s bedroom at night alone with the door closed?
My guess is, you answered “NO” to the last one.
While sitting in a meeting last week, a girlfriend of mine had a pressing issue she wanted to discuss. No, it had nothing to do with our school meeting, it was more 5 women sitting in a kitchen with our ‘mommy hats’ on.
She proceeded to tell us, that her son in Grade 5, has been having quite the time video chatting with his friends. Sounds fun! But that means, if your kids have an Ipod Touch, an old deactivated Iphone, a computer in their room, or are borrowing your Ipad, they have the ability to literally be “hanging” with their friends until all hours of the night unsupervised. And that means, “hanging” in possibly inappropriate ways.
She talked about her son on FaceTime recently with two girls who were together at a sleepover. The girls were in little tees and pj’s, playfully talking into the camera to him. Now granted, the kid is in Grade 5, and I’m sure it’s all pretty harmless at this stage. But, jump ahead a couple of grades, and this can become a real serious issue.
Now unless you are a happy helicopter parent, I am sure you will admit that your children need breathing room, privacy, and the chance to grow. That often means allowing kids the room to falter, make mistakes, and then troubleshoot their way to a solution on their own. In this instance, that could mean laying down the rules, and then allowing your children to handle this new technology on their own, and hope they do it responsibility. I really believe this to be true to a certain extent. I will NOT be the mom completing my kids’ science project so they can win first place. I am fully aware that this takes place, and I am also fully aware that these are the kids who win… the ones whose parents are doing it for them. But that is not how I want my child to grow up and learn. He will do his own science project, and will not come in first place, but at least it will be HIS OWN.
But back to Skype, FaceTime, technology, your kids and respecting their privacy without exposing them to harm. This new craze brings with it new concerns. Video chatting truly brings new elements to privacy issues. No longer is it just WHO your kids are communicating with, but video chatting lets people into your home in a very real way. According to this mom in my meeting, it is no different than inviting someone into your home or in many cases your into kid’s bedroom. Many parents who don’t allow their kids to have computers in their bedrooms for security reasons don’t realize that kids who have an iPod touch or iPad (which many do), have the capability to video chat from this device. That means that while this is a cool music and game playing device, it is also like having a computer in their rooms.
Having said that, she went on to ask us the same question I asked above, “Would you let your daughter (or son) have a person of the opposite sex in their room with the door closed? What is to stop them from video chatting at 1 or 2 am with their girl or boy friends?” Sexting is a concern that has received much attention of late. Video chatting brings this concern to a whole new level.
What troubled my friend even more, is that when she brought up this topic and asked these questions to parents, most said they never thought of it that way and were horrified by the implications. In some cases, parents didn’t even realize that Ipods had that capability.
With our kids’ busy schedules, video chatting is a great way for them to keep in touch with camp friends, get help for homework, do group projects and just have fun with friends. But as my girlfriend put it, “When my 11 year old son video chats with his friends (which he is only allowed to do at our family computer in the KITCHEN and doesn’t have this feature on his Ipod touch thankfully), we need to set up a whole new set of rules that keep up with our ever evolving technological world.”
What do you think? What are your thoughts or suggestions in setting up these guidelines? Please share with our community…