Your mom, girlf, boyf: Spying on your phone and email
If you don't call them that you're probably safe
Three in five parents snoop on their teenager's email and calling habits, but teenagers themselves are almost as guilty of checking out the communications history of their partners.
The survey was conducted by online store Retrevo, which reports that almost half of those under 25 admit to examining their partner's devices when the partner is out of the room. Older couples aren't quite so intrusive, with only about 30 per cent admitting to illicit snooping, but that's probably 'cos they can't work out how to use their own phones, let alone someone else's.
This isn't the kind of high-tech snooping in which Google and Facebook engage, this is just glancing at the recently called list while fiddling with the handset, or opening up the email client on a partner's laptop – perhaps the modern equivalent of checking for lipstick on the collar. But if Retrevo is to be believed, then it is pretty commonplace and increasing annually.
In 2011, 37 per cent of parents admitted checking out their children's communications (for their own good, of course), and more than half of parents surveyed would happily plant GPS tracking kit on their child without telling them. Mothers are slightly more eager to see their sprogs' every move than fathers, 64 per cent compared to 53 per cent.
The sample was only 1,000 (self-selected) people, and the company is American, so no immediate panic. But it is worrying that 14 per cent of those parents reckon their illicit interception has discovered something about their teenage offspring "that they were concerned about".
Teenagers who do nothing to concern their parents are hardly teenagers at all, and blissful ignorance has a lot going for it, but it seems that with the tools at our disposal we can't resist knowing everything about those closest to us. ®
Intrusive parents? No, *Responsible* Parents!
There is a difference between state monitoring of someone's personal data and the actions of a parent who wishes to ensure that their child is safe!
Ok, I think it would be better to be done *with* the consent of the child rather than snooping behind their backs, but how many times have comments been posted in articles in El Reg saying that it's the job of the *parents* to take care of what their children do on the web and who they talk to via e-mail etc?
So why does this article seemingly portray sensible, responsible concerns of parents as a bad thing?
Actually I think you'll find that the world in general (at least the developed world) is a vastly safer place for children (& everybody else) than it used to be. The fears have become big & scary but by almost any measure the actual incidence of incidents has declined. Smile, things are much better than you think.
@Paul Rogers et all
I call BS!
I have my daughter's (13) email account login and she knows it. I also pretty much never look at it, though I don't tell her that. She's due to get a cellphone, but doesn't have one yet. It should make it easier for her to contact me when she needs to.
We used to walk home from school when I was a kid. Now I feel adventurous sending her to the supermarket a block away when she was 10. Why? Because so many parents are so paranoid that you come off as a bad parent for letting your child breathe.
I have lectured her repeatedly about not talking to strangers, screaming if she is grabbed, not taking anyone's "let's keep this as our secret" bullshit. I have told her that if _I_ came out with a "our secret", she should tell her mother. Just to get her to understand that adults can't do that. I have inquired from the police whether there was some kind of watered-down RPG-type training about avoiding abuse (no, there isn't, but a suitably done one would be great).
But I refuse to spy on her communications without good reasons. I have no moral right to invade her privacy unless she gives me cause. At which point I have the obligation to do so.
We are raising a generation of not-self-sufficient, scared, and it now seems, nosy kids. All because the media, and some parents want to pretend that "now is worse than it ever was". 50 yrs ago, would you have dared question the relationship of an authority figure with your child? Would the police have helped? Do you think no children got abused?