POV: Parents vs. Privacy

Different viewpoints on how a parent should track their children’s cell phone usage

7 hours and 22 minutes. This is the average screen time of teens ages 13-18 in the United States, according to ABC news. Of those 7 hours and 22 minutes, every single second is accounted for and traceable to your own device. With such precise data tracking, how much privacy does any one person really have? 

No matter what you do, you always leave a digital footprint. So is it a parents’ responsibility to guide and support their kids? As technology is ever-evolving, people find themselves in a position where every picture, every text, and every post becomes public, whether you intentionally share it or not. 

 It’s parents who introduce technology and often purchase devices for their children. Therefore, it’s their responsibility to guide their children to make good decisions with their phones. When guiding kids through the potential dangers of phones, overseeing is often the preferred method.

English teacher Monica Kauffman says she starts with open communication with her family when it comes to the conversation of privacy online.

“I can see the dangers. In my Media Analysis class, we actually [study a] whole unit on social media. So there are a lot of dangers with it, and I see the dangers. But as a parent, I try to talk to [my kids] about the dos and don’ts. And I hope that they’re responsible for it. We talk about what you could post and what not to ever post, different things like that,” Kauffman said.

Kuaffman’s son, junior Sebastion Kauffman, says he has social media apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter, YouTube, and Facebook. Social media safety is often a big concern for parents.

“But I don’t really use any social media except for Facebook. Sometimes I post, and sometimes I don’t. It might just be me looking at stuff,” S. Kauffman said.

Sebastian understands the guidelines set by his parents. It’s clear to him that he could lose phone privileges if he doesn’t keep a good balance between schoolwork and technology. To avoid losing privileges, Kauffman not only utilizes clear communication to open up the conversation of internet safety, but she also has clear, set rules when it comes to social media. 

 “They can’t talk to people they don’t know; high school people [are] okay, but if somebody contacts them from another city, they know that’s a no. I have set some limits, and I just hope that they follow them. I’m trying to build that trust. But you never know if what you’re doing is the right thing when it comes to social media,”  M. Kauffman said.

Mrs. Kauffman and Sebastian have a mutual agreement when it comes to internet safety rules. They both make good compromises and have similar ideas when it comes to technology.  Although Kauffman has expressed not feeling the need to check Sebastian’s phone, Sebastian expresses understanding toward it. 

“I mean, there are certain things that a parent should be able to look at, like if they are worried about the kid and they want to know what’s going on, and the kid won’t tell them, then the only choice they have left is to go through their phone,” S. Kauffman said. 

While the Kauffman family focuses on communication, others, like junior Emma Rhode, think teaching before giving kids phones is important.

“I think they can [check their phones] to a certain extent, but I think they need to educate their kids on the importance of social media and trust them more instead of just invading their privacy all the time,” Rhode said. 

Fellow junior Morgan Beckley, however, has a different opinion. She believes parents should trust their kids. 

“I don’t think parents should check their kids’ phones because it’s a violation of privacy, and we don’t check their phones, so I think that they should give us this privacy as high schoolers because we’re going to be going to college in a couple of years anyways,” Beckley said. 

While Sebastian tends to be considerate towards parents checking one’s phone, he does have a little less appreciation for the screen time rules his family has in place, stating that if he does poorly on a quiz or gets in trouble, his apps will be restricted. 

“I will set screen time limits, which means they don’t get it at all. I turn everything off, except for the ability to communicate with me and then school apps they can have, but nothing else,” Kauffman said. 

By using tools like screen time, Kauffman is able to help balance technology use and other aspects such as school work. In this way, she offers guidance.  

Although opinions may vary, one thing is clear, the relationship between parents, privacy, and you is a complicated one.