English Final

Directions: Author’s point of view, main point and sub points; give both sides of argument and your point of view. Your body paragraphs, topic sentences, and conclusion must be clear and carefully organized. Use quotation in body paragraphs from the database articles and from the Coben text. Use all of the conventions we have learned throughout this semester, like third person only. Check your use of grammar and punctuation. Do not post late. Do not post in google docs. Be on time and be prepared. This is the last paper of the semester.

 

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By Harlan Coben (2008)

“The Undercover Parent”

 

Not long ago, friends of mine confessed over dinner that they had put spyware on their fifteen-year-old son’s computer so they could monitor all he did online. At first I was repelled at this invasion of privacy. How, after doing a fair amount of research I get it.

Make no mistake: If you put spyware on your computer, you have the ability to log every keystroke your child makes and thus a good portion of his or her private world. That’s what spyware is—at least the parental monitoring kind. You don’t have to be an expert to put it on your computer. You just download the software from a vendor and you will receive reports—weekly, daily, whatever—showing you everything your child is doing on the machine.

Scary. But a good idea. Most parents won’t even consider it.

Maybe it’s the word: spyware. It brings up associations of Dick Cheney sitting in a dark room rubbing his hands together and reading your most private thoughts. But this isn’t the government we are talking about—this is your family. It’s a mistake to confuse the two. Loving parents are doing the surveillance here, not faceless bureaucrats. And most parents already monitor their children, watching over their home environment, their school.

Today’s overprotective parents fight their kids’ battles on the playground, berate coaches about playing time and fill out college applications—yet when it comes to chatting with pedophiles or watching beheadings or gambling away their entire life savings, then. . .then their children deserve independence?

Some will say that you should simply trust your child, that if he is old enough to go on their Internet he is old enough to know the dangers. Trust is one thing, but surrendering parental responsibility to a machine that allows the entire world access to your home borders on negligence.

Some will say that it’s better just to use parental blocks that deny access to risky sites. I have found that they don’t work. Children know how to get around them. But more than that—and this is where it gets tough—I want to know what’s being said in email and instant messages and in chat rooms

. . .

Am I suggesting eavesdropping on every conversation? No. With new technology comes new responsibility. That works both ways. There is a fine line between being responsibly protective and irresponsibly nosy. You shouldn’t monitor to find out if your daughter’s friend has a crush on Kevin next door or that Mrs. Peterson gives too much homework or what schoolmate snubbed your son. You are there to start conversations and to be a safety net. To borrow from the national intelligence lexicon—and yes, that’s uncomfortable—you’re listening for dangerous chatter.

Will your teenagers find other ways of communicating to their friends when they realize you may be watching? Yes. But text messages and cellphones don’t offer the anonymity and danger of the Internet. They are usually one-on-one with someone you know. It is far easier for a predator to troll chat rooms and MySpace and Facebook.

. . .

Our knee-jerk reaction as freedom-loving Americans is to be suspicious of anything that hints at invasion of privacy. That’s a good and noble thing. But it’s not an absolute, particularly in the face of the new and evolving challenges presented by the Internet. And particularly when it comes to our children.

Do you tell your children that the spyware is on the computer? I side with yes, but it might be enough to show them this article, have a discussion about your concerns and let them know the possibility is there.

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