Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

It's called parenting, not snooping

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The Canadian Press has reported that more than half of Canadian parents admit that they have snooped -- even cyberstalked -- on their kids' Facebook page.

The 11-country survey, which was done for a study on online safety, found the overall average of snooper parents was 44 per cent, lower than in Canada.

The majority of those who spied on their kids were moms, though dads weren't far behind.

It turns out that Spanish parents were the most strict in this area -- 61 per cent of them admitting secretly monitoring their children's Facebook page.

American parents also spy on their teens' web activities more than Canadians.

But one must question whether "snooping" or "spying" or "cyberstalking" are the right words.

Perhaps we should call it parenting. (And forgive us for using "parent" as a verb, which it isn't yet.)

In fact, more Canadian parents should be diligent about keeping up with their kids' and teens' web activities all the time.

And while they are probably wise to keep their monitoring under wraps around the kids -- no point in letting that cat out of the bag prematurely -- they should feel no shame about keeping a sharp eye on their children's activities.

There's no reason they should be embarrassed by it. And admitting it is not a "confession." Rather, they can take pride in being responsible parents with the very best intentions for their children's welfare.

When did it become the norm for children to expect "privacy" at home, anyway? It's fine to accord children some space and independence as they earn it, but they should never be free to demand that their parents butt out and stay out of any area of their lives.

They can have their freedom when they become adults, move out and establish their own independence.

As part of the survey, only about 38 per cent of Canadian parents said they had concerns that their teens' social networking might negatively influence careers and other prospects later in life.

That's two per cent less than parents in the U.S., and four per cent less than the average of the 11 countries.

Many may disagree, but we think 38 per cent isn't nearly good enough; it would be preferable if 98 per cent of parents worried about their teens' social networking and how it might affect their futures.

That would be good parenting.

-- The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition April 30, 2012 A11

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