Starshine Roshell

Starshine Roshell
Location
Santa Barbara, California, USA
Birthday
August 10
Title
journalist / professor
Bio
Starshine Roshell is a syndicated columnist, and the author of "Keep Your Skirt On" and "Wife on the Edge."

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JANUARY 4, 2013 1:13AM

Tracking Your Teen

Rate: 4 Flag

I was a pretty good teenager. Straight-A student. Didn’t smoke pot. Never had a tussle with the fuzz. But I was a dirty little liar. I lied as all teens lie, and for the same reasons: I wanted to be somewhere, and do something, and see someone, that my parents wanted me not to. I wanted those things more than I wanted to be good or trustworthy or deserving of respect.

And so I said I was sleeping at Michelle’s house when I was really at my boyfriend’s. And I zoomed home at 89 miles per hour to avoid breaking my curfew. And I once drank vodka out of a paper bag in a park in the dark with a very-bad-influence friend and a McDonald’s strawberry-shake chaser.

Most of the things I lied about were merely stupid (duh, pour the vodka into the shake, rookie), but some were outright dangerous. And my parents never knew about them until right this second (Hi, Mom!), because they had to take me at my worthless adolescent word.

But today’s parents don’t have to do that. Technology now lets parents track nearly every move their teenagers make. Even beyond lurking on their kids’ Facebook pages and peeking at their text messages, parents can buy devices and subscribe to services that do the following:

• Track a teen’s location on a map at any given moment and alert parents when said teen crosses an agreed-upon “geo-fence.”

• Notify mom or dad when a teen posts something online that “you wouldn’t want your kids’ college recruiter finding.”

• Monitor seatbelt usage, speeding, and “harsh braking” by teen drivers, and block calls and texts when the car is in motion.

SafetyWeb, for example, will scan your teen’s phone and Internet activity for keywords related to drugs, bullying, and even eating disorders, and for online “friends” who are significantly older. “We report it all to you using timely alerts,” reads the company’s website, “so you can see accounts, photos, friends, tweets, posts, texting/calling frequency and more, all in one place.”

Having once been judgment-impaired teens ourselves, we parents can’t help but see the appeal of this stuff. But having also been teens who pined for privacy and yearned for independence, I think we have to ask: Is all this really necessary? Technology has changed to allow such surveillance — but has the world changed so much that we need it?

“I don’t remember hearing about child abductions when we were growing up,” said Dan Rudich, the founder of FamZee, an app and website that lets parents track their kids’ locations and lock their cell phone usage at any time of day. “Kids certainly weren’t texting and driving.”

But it wasn’t safety concerns that inspired Rudich, 42, to create FamZee. It was his daughter’s after-hours texting. “Every night I’d see her still typing away on it way past her bedtime. It was a daily battle, and I figured there had to be an easier way.”

With FamZee, he can lock her phone at bedtime and also when she’s in class, end of discussion. He recommends that parents start off with minimal monitoring and stay that way as long as their kids behave responsibly — a parenting philosophy that’s not so new, really.

“My sister had a diary growing up,” Rudich said. “My parents knew where it was, and they chose not to read it. She was a good kid. If you’re a good kid and you’re not getting into any trouble, your diary is safe.”

To be clear, though, if you come home stinking of Smirnoff and McStrawberry, all bets are off.

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This will lead to much tougher criminal subculture. Why were you smuggling drugs across the border? To pay back Suzy who held my phone for me while I went to McDonalds.
This will lead to much tougher criminal subculture. Why were you smuggling drugs across the border? To pay back Suzy who held my phone for me while I went to McDonalds.
This will lead to much tougher criminal subculture. Why were you smuggling drugs across the border? To pay back Suzy who held my phone for me while I went to McDonalds.
I had no idea this was possible (tracking your child's every move) but it doesn't surprise me. I have some issues with it though; I can see the temptation of parents telling themselves they're got a right to do this but there's something almost creepy about it. I wouldn't have wanted my parents doing this to me. I think if I was that concerned about my kid I'd take away the phone.
Did I really live in such a cleancut era before the drugs prevailed that even though I had no limits from my parents, I told my boyfriend that I wasn't allowed out on weekends so I could do my homework? Now, I think teenagers may need more involvement with their parents than younger kids, so they know they're being watched and cared about and don't want to let you down.
Vodka and Kahlua in a chocolate shake isn't bad
How appalling, and pointless. Give a kid a reason, and they are probably clever enough to slip the leash. If your kids are messing up, and you and the home life are not the reason, then you need to look at the kid's own difficulties, such as depression, ADD, or social issues.

This type of thinking is a byproduct of our penal-industrial culture, in a country that incarcerates more of its citizens than any other. We believe in all these exaggerated dangers because it's more profitable for those who sell those products to stoke our fears of each other than to encourage us to act like a community and look out for each other.

The best thing you can do to keep your kid safe is to nurture your kid's self-respect. Be realistic. Accept that there are some dangers, as there have always been, and realize that the more repressive and punitive you are, the less safe your kid is because they will not turn to you if they have a problem. Instead, tell your kid to call you if they ever need to get out of a situation or something is going on that makes them uncomfortable. While you might insist on discussing the situation, promise that they will not be punished for their curiosity or restlessness. Teach your kids to call for help when they see someone else being hurt, too. Make sure they know the difference between snitching and reporting a crime.
Any parent who would do that is the nut and I feel sorry for the kid. Did you hear about the mother who taught her child with aspergers how to use a sub machine gun? He fixed her alright, the only problem was all the other people he killed. Maybe the NRA will introduce legislation so kids can get weapons at any age if their parents track them on line.
I liked this post. I believe as a parent, I set a good example for my two daughters. Things worked out well . Maybe, I was just lucky.

I think parental monitoring of their children would cause the children to share little with their parents.
I don't depend on technology for parenting. Being a teenager who was into incorrigible acts of delinquency, I've decided that addictions are worse when we depend on them to make our decisions not to interact with other addicts with similar behavioral patterns and problems.

Do I come off as a nosey parent? Hell yes! Do my teens hate that I'm constantly asking them questions? You betcha. But this is what parenting is all about. Which is why my teens' phones, computers, and daily activities are supervised or monitored by me and others. I trust them to do what most teens do. This includes some of the same crap I tried pulling when I was one.
I don't depend on technology for parenting. Being a teenager who was into incorrigible acts of delinquency, I've decided that addictions are worse when we depend on them to make our decisions not to interact with other addicts with similar behavioral patterns and problems.

Do I come off as a nosey parent? Hell yes! Do my teens hate that I'm constantly asking them questions? You betcha. But this is what parenting is all about. Which is why my teens' phones, computers, and daily activities are supervised or monitored by me and others. I trust them to do what most teens do. This includes some of the same crap I tried pulling when I was one.