Parental Monitoring: How Much Is Too Much?


“Privacy ends where safety begins,” said Marje Monroe, a clinical social worker, educator and co-founder of She consults with schools across the country to help students and parents cope with the dizzying world of social networking, cyberbullying and smartphones.

Based on countless surveys and the news, there’s plenty for parents to be concerned about. The National Crime Prevention Council reports that 43 percent of teens have been the victims of cyberbullying in the last year, but only 11 percent ever report the incidents to their parents.

Meanwhile, children are increasingly using cellphones and smartphones to text and surf the Web. According to a 2012 Pew Research survey, approximately 23 percent of kids ages 12 to 17 say they have a smartphone, and virtually all of those surveyed use their phones to text, with 18 percent admitting that they send 200 or more texts a day. Numbers like that are leading parents to consider the consequences even before they hand their child a cellphone.

Parents Get Proactive

One New Jersey mom of two interviewed for this story is already being pressured by her 7-year-old for a phone and email account, and he “constantly asks to make videos to upload to YouTube,” she said. She said that she plans to have all their passwords and check all of their accounts when the boys are older, in addition to keeping cellphones and laptops out of the kids’ bedrooms at night.

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