First, yes the title for this post is lifted from the Robbie Williams song “Go gentle” that he wrote to his daughter
My own daughter is now rapidly closing thirteen, the magic age limit where the gates to social media hell or heaven is opened. For at thirteen she meets the age restriction set for most social media sites. She will then be allowed to create accounts, but she does not necessary have the right to (at least not if you ask me). The world of Snapchat and Instagram will lay at her feet. Btw I asked her about Facebook, but apparently only old farts like me still use Facebook.
So, because I have chosen a career within the field of information security, I’m unfortunately all too aware of all the dangers that lures behind almost every connected device out there. And the infosec guy in me keeps whispering in my ear that I need to monitor everything she does and be friend with, and follow her on any social media platform out there that she might think of joing, So she is safe from “bad hombres” with bad intentions, or see if she is visiting websites that I don’t want her to visit.
Well first of all, the “friend with your own kids on social media” does not really work, does it? I have had several parents telling me that “They have full control of what their kids are doing on different social media platforms, because they follow them.” and my answer often is, so you don’t think your kid is smart enough to create multiple accounts..? I know that I would have done that, too escape thy prying eyes of my parents. And if you have full control, why have we been discussing cyberbullying since the kids were 9?
And when it comes to doing 1984 style full monitoring, that kind of goes against all privacy principles I have. And to be honest I don’t want to know every little detail about what she is doing online, and I don’t want her to feel like her parents are doing 24/7 monitoring of her life.
The trust option.
So, we are trying to go for the trust option. For some of you this might sound a little blue eyed and “Norwegian” and yes, I know that she will do things she is not allowed to, honestly, I will be very surprised if she doesn’t. The trust approach includes setting up a contract between us (the parents) on her, outlining how she is to behave online, do’s and don’ts and consequences if guidelines are not followed. But what it is also equally important is that it puts requirements on us as her parents. That we are not to take sneak peaks on the content of her phone or computer, and that we will not use functions like “find my phone” to figure out where she is. My hope and wish is that this setup will make sure that if something bad happens online, she will come to us and talk about it, or any other adult she trusts, so she don’t need to fight online trolls alone
However, stepping onto the scene of social media will include sharing her passwords, with her parents. Not because we wish to log on and read her messages, but because if something happens, e.g. if she is running hours late from coming home at the agreed time, we as parents will need to look at social media accounts to be able to know where she is. But sharing of passwords also goes back to trust. We as parents are only allowed to use the passwords under certain conditions and the passwords are kept in an online vault (I use the Lastpass family plan for this) so she will be notified if we open her password vault. Of course this will only work if she trust us enough to put all her passwords into that password database. Even for accounts she don’t want her parents to know exists.
As I stated earlier, this might be a bit too naïve and blue eyed, and a couple of years down the line I might think “how stupid was I? I should have listen to my inner infosec guy and installed monitoring software and used “find my phone” to have full control.