Some parents are friends with their children on Facebook so they can keep an eye on things. Those that aren't, however, should hack, steal, or do whatever it takes to get their kids' Facebook passwords, and they should not feel guilty about it, according to a New Jersey cop.
Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli recently declared that all parents should use keystroke-logging tools to keep tabs on every site their children visit, and every status update or photo they post to Facebook. Batelli, who has his own teenage daughter to worry about, seems particularly concerned about sexual predators and drugs that the social network could be encouraging.
"Trust sounds good. It's a good cliché," Batelli told NBC New York. "[But] to stick your head in the sand and think that, in 9th, 10th, 8th grade, your child is not going to be exposed to alcohol, is not going to be exposed to drugs is kind of a naïve way to go about it. If you sugar-coat it, parents just don't get it. Read the paper any day of the week and you'll see an abduction [or] a sexual assault that's the result of an Internet interaction or a Facebook comment. When it comes down to safety and welfare of your child, I don't think any parent would sacrifice anything to make sure nothing happens to their children. If it means buying an $80 package of software and putting it on and seeing some inappropriate words you don't want your child to say. Then that's part of society."
Batelli is not the only one on the force that offers his extreme Internet-monitoring advice to parents. The Mahwah Police department has free seminars where detectives show parents how to install keystroke-recording software on home computers.
While I'm sure that all parents would at least consider using software to block certain sites from their children, spying on your loved ones is never the solution. At one point or another, the child will find out, and at that point it will be evident that the parent chose to lie and be secretive to their offspring. The Facebook "problem" can be solved without encouraging such practices.
In fact, Facebook has its own tool for parents who are worried about what is going on with their kids: the Safety Center. The webpage has general safety resources, as well as tips specifically for parents, teens, educators, and law enforcement. Palo Alto considers anyone over 13 an "authorized account holder," so the company is forbidden to give access to others, including parents. Instead, Facebook encourages open communication in the family, and gives suggestions on good practices on the social network.