Family Signal is a monitoring program that helps parents keep tabs on their child’s social media use. For $4.99 per month for unlimited kids, you can get an instant alert if anything comes up you should be concerned about. This includes content that could be related to cyberbullying, alcohol, drugs, or sex.
“As soon as we detect anything suspicous, we immedialy send you an alert in two convienent formats – a text message and email – so you have the information you need to make crucial parenting decisions.”
I understand the concept behind this program, and I am fully in support of parents being involved in their child’s social media lives, but I’m not sure that this is the answer.
Perceived parent trust has been proven to protect against many high risk behaviors in adolescents. With this kind of constant monitoring, we’re not really giving them a chance to come to us with concerns and establish trust on their own.
Seems to be a rather reactionary approach.
Granted, this is a huge issue, and some kids need this type of constant monitoring. Maybe all it would take is one or two alerts for them to finally understand that what goes on the Internet isn’t as private as they think.
More than likely though, I fear this kind of constant scrutiny will lead them to further shield their online lives from us… closing down communication or even creating secret languages.
If we don’t at least give them a little bit of a chance to monitor these things on their own, they’ll be far less likely to come to us with their concerns… and we have to remember that all kids are different, and trust should be based on developmental cues and the personality of the individual child.