Watching out for your children online

Watching out for your children online

The latest headache for politicians with kids is having every indiscretion by the kid being posted online. We’ve had a rash of those in Massachusetts lately, involving the daughter of a candidate for governor and the daughter of the state treasurer. Both posted questionable photos on either MySpace or Facebook that got into general circulation.

The daughter of Treasurer Tim Cahill, who’s facing re-election, made the arguably more egregious breach since she is underage and posted photos of herself holding an alcoholic drink and wrote about her partying and other juvenile antics. But what really set me back was her father’s attitude about her web site.

Cahill, 47, said neither he nor his wife, Tina, parents of four daughters, “condone underage drinking for (Nicole) or anyone else.

“You can talk to them until you’re blue in the face about the dangers of alcohol,” he said. “You hope they make the right choices. They don’t. I didn’t.”

Cahill, a Democratic candidate for re-election, said he suspected his daughter, a 2005 Quincy High graduate, had a personal Web page but he chose not to snoop because, “I would never read my daughter’s diary.

Never mind that as a politician what your family does in public becomes a reflection on you and fodder for an opponent’s campaign. What kind of clueless parent in this day and age, after all the warnings and object lessons, doesn’t monitor what their kids are doing online?  A web site, especially a MySpace profile, is not like a diary since it can be read by anyone in the world, including every sexual predator with a computer, then at the very least her parents should be reading it too.

Cavalier about drinking

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  • Mr Cahill is naive at best, clueless at worst.  If her webpage on MySpace is public, he needs to at least see what everyone else sees.  A teen can set it up, however so that their page is viewable by friends only.

  • Snooping is standard operating procedure in my house. Finding out what I need to know to keep my kids safe is absolutely necessary, and I have done plenty of it.

    When are these mindless parents going to get a clue ? It’s all about a double standard for the dim-wits in my town, and even my 15 year old figured can see it. Parents drink, kids see them, think it’s ok, and drink. Parents start a “concerned parents” group, hold meetings, continue to drink themselves, and wonder why their kids won’t stop drinking.

    As my kids would say – “DUUUHHH”

  • I’ve been looking into this…

    New Software Lets Parents Track Kids Online

    Not everyone thinks this is a good idea, though.

    You would expect kids to be miffed at the idea of “Big Mother” watching their every keystroke. But the sneaky approach is raising eyebrows among some adults as well.

    “It really destroys a lot of trust”, explains Suzin Bartley, the executive director of the Children’s Trust Fund.

    Suzin has spent years as a teen psychologist and she says parents are better off talking to their kids about online dangers.

    “You can spy on them until the cows come home, but it’s not going to train them, it’s not going to teach them anything,” Bartley warned.

    If you can’t get through to your kids, Suzin and other experts suggest installing software that tracks their online activity, but lets them know they are being watched.

    Suzin Bartley is not on the side parents, however…

  • Mary, have you raised teenagers ? Even if you moniter their activities at home, it’s a big, bad world out there. I have seen it get bigger and badder and scarier in the 23 years I have been parenting, especially now with the internet.

    I use a filter called “Content Protect” and it works very well. I have tried others which send info via e-mail but I would prefer to block inappropriate sites before they get a chance to get into trouble.

  • Not impossible, Mary, but very difficult. Peers in my town have little to no supervision and parents are clueless as to what their kids are doing.

    I do my best to stay informed but once my kids go out the door, who knows what they are exposed to ? I have instructed them as to what is right and wrong but in the end they have to make the choice.

  • So Mary, what do you do with your teenagers on the Internet?  Do you have just one computer in a common area?  That strategy relies on the fact that someone else (a parent) is in the same room at all times…

    I’d like specifics if at all possible.


  • Dear Mary,

    I apologize if I came across as combative. That was not my intention.

    One thing I have come to realize as the mother of 4, ages 12 to 24, is that times have certainly changed.  When my oldest were teens, the internet was in its infancy and we had no interent access in my house. Now we have access 24-7. In addition, I have gone to work and am not at home to supervise them 24-7.

    NOTE: Please don’t anyone accuse me of sacrificing my children at the altar of materialism – it is a financial necessity that I work.

    My husband and I have done the best we can to educate and train them in virtue. Unfortunately, we have had a close call with the internet and learned some valuable lessons from that.

    I do allow them more freedom as they get older, but with that freedom comes responsibility. I believe that is how trust is grown.

    Also, I have had interaction with teens who were so sheltered they had no social skills and were unable to deal with the real world. I believe there has to be a balance, and that is what we are trying to achieve here at our house.

  • Eileen – could you plpease post the name of the computer program you are using that you mentioned ? i would like to get more info on it and perhaps check it out.

    You may also e-mail me privately if you wish. I believe clicking on my name will send e-mail ?