Audience Favored: Yes (82%)
The question is: How much?
As I contemplated writing my closing argument for this debate, I considered Charlie's position about establishing trust and respect as a parent, and also from her point of view as a former educator and also as a British citizen who arguably has grown up in a culture of surveillance ever since the widespread installation of CCTV equipment was needed in major UK cities due to many incidents of domestic terrorism during the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s.
So I understand where she is coming from, and why the idea of living under surveillance of any kind resonates with her so strongly.
I was going to reality check my arguments, until I came across this late-breaking news from from our own CBS News 48 Hours Crimesider site on October 15, 2013.
Two young girls, in Lakeland, FL, ages 12 and 14, have been brought up on 3rd-degree felony charges of aggravated stalking after it was determined that their year long in-person and cyber-bullying spree on Facebook, the Kik Messenger service and Last.fm contributed to the suicide of 7th-grader Rebecca Ann Sedwick.
I have to ask myself if Sedwick's suicide could have been prevented had her mobile devices and those of the cyber-bullies and her classmates were enrolled with the mobile device management technology I describe had been in place.
It is certainly possible Sedwick may have been so terrified of her tormentors that she may never have reported them to her school and her parents, and it is still possible that her own activities of viewing the harassment which eventually sent her over the edge may have escaped detection.
We are not likely to know the full details of what happened for some time, and I expect this to be a landmark case in establishing anti-cyber bullying efforts at many school systems.
But had this enabling technology been monitoring her harassers, their parents and potentially their educators and the authorities would have been made aware of these things and they could have intervened, and stopped the bullying earlier and saved their children from having their own lives marred from making very stupid, destructive mistakes that they will have to spend their entire lives regretting. The shame that these parents will bear will be unfathomable.
In my opinion this is no longer an argument over ethics and parental trust and slippery slopes. The family mobile device management technology is going to come because parents are going to demand that it exists, period. Our prime concern and areas of discussion should now focus on how exactly the technology should be applied in individual households and in schools.
In short, it's not a "Should we" spy on our children but a "How much."
Mutual trust matters
While monitoring a child's activity as they grow is necessary, spying is not.
Yes, trust needs to be earned, but if you believe your child is mature and responsible enough to be able to own a mobile device or use the Internet without supervision, you shouldn't feel the need to spy on them or access their accounts. I believe -- perhaps due to my generation -- that spying will only result in any inappropriate conversations or communication being deleted far before a parent can access them, and this may result in a teen failing to ask their parents for help when they need it.
Innocent until proven guilty, or guilty until proven otherwise? As you grow up, you make mistakes. But it is the relationship between parent and child that determines how the situation is handled afterwards. If you -- albeit unintentionally -- reflect distrust in your child, you cannot expect them to confide in you if things go awry.
- Your children are slaves to their smartphones
- Smartphone use to access the Internet by US teens rises sharply
- Kids without their smartphones are zombies. And that's a good thing!
- Why Generation Y needs a smartphone intervention
Too close to call
I think this debate boiled down to a few things: Education, a two-way street between the child and the parent, and -- almost above all -- trust. But also, the inability to have it both ways.
Education is a major factor here. Kids today are not educated to the extent where they can automatically protect themselves from harm. The school system is failing us. Many parents are not geared up to deal with many of the technological and cultural differences that children face. Indeed, most kids today are more in-tune with technology than their parents are.
As a result, there has to be a level of trust between a parent and their child. Where education has failed us, we need parents to educate their children in those social challenges -- such as bullying and dealing with sexual expression and development -- that have faced generations long before the internet.
Of course, we've moved along with the times a little -- we call it "cyberbullying" and "sexting" nowadays -- but it's vastly the same thing. Children should be taught not only the ways of the world, but also develop a trusting relationship with their parents in order to express these problems as they arise. It shouldn't be a one-way street from parent discovering their child is being bullied. The child should be able to go to their parents on their own volition.
Every parent will know best — or at least think they know best. Whether they're right or wrong is not up to us to decide. Yes, to a greater or lesser extent, parents know what's best for their kids. But kids, despite their age and development process, aren't stupid either. We should give them credit, and so should parents.
Mr. Perlow has the audience vote; and, and in judgment, Ms. Osborne delivered the ever-so-slightly better argument on a question-by-question basis. That said, I wasn't convinced enough by either side overall.
Nice effort on the part of the bloggers, but I'm calling this one a dead-heat.