Today, there are some ways in which I can watch over my daughter. She's a year and a half old, so it's pretty easy-just watch her ALL THE TIME (or make sure that someone else can do the same when I'm either asleep or away), so that she doesn't eat a cockroach, wander out of the door, stick her finger in an electric socket, or jump off the back of the sofa.
As she grows, though, it's going to get tougher to keep an eye out for her.
Now, what I'm not going to do is write about how to monitor kids, technologies to use, and tips/tricks to get information about what they're doing. That would be way too much to cover in a single article (or book, movie, TV series, or an entire library), and would probably go out of date in a month!
Instead, I thought of sharing the approach I'm taking-it's mostly a bunch of ideas and long-term goals that can adapt to whatever new tech that comes along.
What is privacy?
Everyone needs some time on their own to do what they want without supervision, so they can explore their own limits. But every time one explores an edge-of anything-there's always the risk of falling off, and getting caught in something that might lead to a dangerous place.
If she ever tells me she plans to do something that I personally find irritating, wasteful or pointless, I'm going to tell myself-and her-it's okay. She needs to be able to trust me with this, so one day she'll trust me with something that could be a lot worse.
It's easy to spy, to look at browser histories, chat logs, credit card bills and phone records, access email or social media accounts, and be a helicopter parent watching everything and ready to swoop in and stop anything objectionable. But what you're really doing is teaching her the art of lying to you, and she's going to just get better and better at it until you will have no clue what she's doing-and neither you nor she will be able to trust each other. Ever.
Instead, just tell her why. Some things can look very tempting, but can have unintended consequences, or maybe used deliberately as bait, to entice her into something bad. Tell her that you're there to look out for her, and help her to learn about life from you, so that others can't take advantage of her innocence.
And this may be the hardest thing to teach-telling her that the world out there isn't like the one in here. At home, it's safe, warm, and has people who look out for her. Out there it can be cold, harsh, dangerous, and once in a while she will meet people who want to hurt her. Somehow, I'm going to have to teach her to draw that line... and then cross it, making it possible for new people, places, and experiences to come in, safely.
I'm still to figure out how to teach her this, but I do know that it's something she needs to learn.