OP-ED CONTRIBUTOR The Undercover Parent
By HARLAN COBEN March 16, 2008
NOT long ago, friends of mine confessed over dinner that they had put spyware on their 15-year-old son's computer so they could monitor all he did online. At first I was repelled at this invasion of privacy. Now, after doing a fair amount of research, I get it.
Make no mistake: If you put spyware on your computer, you have the ability to log every keystroke your child makes and thus a good portion of his or her private world. That's what spyware is - at least the parental monitoring kind. You don't have to be an expert to put it on your computer. You just download the software from a vendor and you will receive reports - weekly, daily, whatever - showing you everything your child is doing on the machine.
Scary. But a good idea. Most parents won't even consider it.
Maybe it's the word: spyware. It brings up associations of Dick Cheney sitting in a dark room, rubbing his hands together and reading your most private thoughts. But this isn't the government we are talking about - this is your family. It's a mistake to confuse the two. Loving parents are doing the surveillance here, not faceless bureaucrats. And most parents already monitor their children, watching over their home environment, their school.
Today's overprotective parents fight their kids' battles on the playground, berate coaches about playing time and fill out college applications - yet when it comes to chatting with pedophiles or watching beheadings or gambling away their entire life savings, then...then their children deserve independence?
...***** Moderator's Note *****
I once had the good and/or bad luck to pick up a phone while my son was telling one of his friends "My parents will believe anything". A few minutes later, he asked to visit , but I took the time to check and found out he actually wanted to go and hang out with