Tuesday, August 29, 2006

An invasion of privacy

If the American government did this to its citizens, most of us would call it an invasion of privacy. So why is it okay for parents to do it to their children?

Of course, parents are constantly being manipulated by news reports and "experts" who instigate paranoia. They talk about how kids aren't being raised right these days, how they're getting into more trouble than ever, how it's not safe to let them play unattended. And now technology has allowed parents to delay children's independence even further.

The reason why I think technology like this won't work in the long run is because it doesn't teach kids the real reasons for obeying their parents rules and society's laws. Lawrence Kohlberg's theory of moral development holds that obeying out of fear of being caught is one of the lowest levels of moral reasoning - yet this line of thinking is exactly what this type of constant monitoring will do.

Children need to be taught about right and wrong, not just given rules and expected to follow them. And if you are teaching your child about right and wrong, they will immediately recognize that using a black box to spy on them is wrong.

Moreover, spying on your kids is just wrong. Our country was founded on certain ideas, such as an individual's right to privacy and the theme "innocent until proven guilty." This black box goes against all that. It violates a teen's right to privacy and freedom of choice. (Personally, I think if you haven't instilled good values in your child by now, then there's little else you can do besides letting them learn from their own mistakes.) It also assumes that they are already guilty of a crime, even if they haven't committed it yet.

Unless we want each and every teen fighting their own revolution for independence, I strongly urge parents to resist the temptation to spy on their children. No matter how easy modern technology makes it, it still isn't right - any more than the government spying on us or holding prisoners without trial is right.

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