As a therapist working with children, teens and their parents the issue of how to deal with a teen's privacy in this technology filled world comes up on a regular basis. I recently came across an interesting study by Cranor, et al, about parents' and teens' perspectives on privacy. It was interesting that most of the parents interviewed thought it was important for their teens to have privacy, that it was an essential element in their growth towards becoming independent adults. It was interesting to see that the researchers found that the parents in general transgressed this right when it came to monitoring their children's use of technology. They did not act in accordance with their believe in the importance of privacy at all. The reason for this was a lack of understanding by the parents on which role social media played in the role of their children's social life. The fact that popular media focus on those new technologies from a 'worst-case scenario' point of view also contributed to this effect. The reporting might give parents the impression that Snapchat is use mostly for sending sexually explicit messages, while it is only a small fraction of teens who use it that way.
The negative effect of this is that teens feel that their space is being invaded, and they feel they are not trusted by their parents. All this can lead to a negative spiral of growing misunderstanding between parents and teens.
The study finds that it is important that parents get better educated about these technologies, on the other hand, they agree that parents have an important role of guidance to play. They advocate for software that is less restrictive but tends to nudge the teens more in the right direction. The current digital monitoring software is not in tune with the goals of parents. Parents want to guide, but not necessarily block certain sites.
Digital parenting software that would be more in tune with parents' objectives would detect actions that a parent might not approve of and take the opportunity to remind the teenager of the parent’s expectations and the teen’s responsibilities, yet not block the action. In a field trial of privacy nudges for Facebook, Wang et al. found that visual reminders of a family member being able to view content was effective in encouraging privacy-protective behaviors The nudging approach to digital parenting software might alleviate parent-teen tensions because teens would still be free to make their own decisions, albeit with guidance and reminders.
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For the study, see: Cranor, Lorrie Faith, et al. "Parents' and Teens' Perspectives on Privacy In a Technology-Filled World." SOUPS. 2014.