I read somewhere on the Internet,read story here that the US busybody government had bugged the German Chancellor’s mobile phone for over ten years without being detected. As usual, this set me off, I marveled at how easy it was for them to have been able to do that and get away with it for that long without being detected, who did they think they were to have done it and also wondered if as a parent I would and if I should, spy on my child or better still if my concern over my children and watching over them could be regarded as spying or just carrying out my God given responsibility towards them.
Growing up in the early 70s in Nigeria, life was far less complicated than what obtains now. The use of Internet in homes was almost non existent. Communication was physical and face to face or via letter writing (what we had then was “pen pals” )and not via some sophisticated gadgets like telephone or through social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Tagged, Pinterest, Yahoomail, Gmail, Hotmail etc.
Never the less, some parents including mine, would still spy on their children despite the fact that there was almost “nothing” to spy on. Apart from the fact that there was no privacy for children at that time as we have it now, the tools of communication we had then was diary keeping for our own use, letter writing, local and international (remember airmail, per avion ?) and some of us had telephone or rather our parents had telephone, land line powered by almighty NITEL.
If we got a letter, usually our parents would get the first access to them and we would be called to come and read it to them and even sometimes to the whole family. This makes me remember my very first love letter that I got at the age of 11 or thereabouts, after it had been “intercepted” and digested by my parents, I was told to read it which I did, red faced from embarrassment, I had to do a lot of convincing to the effect that the letter was unsolicited and that I did not see it coming. We also later found out that it was from one of my male cousins. Apparently there had been a bet among all the male cousins that they would see who I would “fall for” first among about five of them. Anyway, I was finally vindicated.
Our telephone had an extension in my Dad’s room and the main line was in the living room. Anytime any of us children had a call, we had to pick it in the living room and we would usually reply in monosyllables like “yes”, “no”, chuckle or giggle and “bye-bye”. We were allowed to pick calls depending on Dad’s mood. If he was in a good enough mood you were lucky because you would be able to pick your call, if he was in one of those moods or you where not in his good books at that particular time ( which was very often), he would either slam the phone after putting the caller through a serious interview session or he would tell the caller never to call that line ever again and slam the phone that is, even if the caller himself had not dropped the phone in fright after hearing my Dad’s voice.Now if he was in a benevolent mood, or if you had been making some suspicious moves and he felt he had enough grounds to suspect that you were up to something untoward at that particular moment he would pretend to be in a good mood and allow you pick the call in the living room and go to his room on the pretext of getting some stuff or the other, then he would pick the extension. If this happens, what would I do? I would simply tell the caller that there was something wrong with the connection and that I was going to check if the extension was properly placed, at which he would quickly drop it and come out, this could happen up to two or three times during one telephone conversation. In Dad’s bid to perfect his surveillance act, he bought a padlock which he would use to lock the phone
so that no calls were made while he was out so as not to miss any action but he could not stop us from receiving calls while he was out. We children, also perfected the skill of “tapping” and although tedious and time consuming, we would tap all the numbers that made up the telephone number one by one till the last number and the call would scale through at last and we would talk as much as we wanted. After some time however Dad started locking the phone, padlock and all in his room before going out. And there was nothing we could do except force the door open and nobody, not even the bravest amongst us could dare that or maybe we thought a telephone call was not worth the wahala that would ensue.
Back to the subject under discussion, would you spy on your child? My thirteen and eleven year old have laptops because they are in secondary school, they use the Internet on almost a daily basis for their school assignments, the thirteen year old has an iPad and a phone as well. The phone is however used the way a ” social drinker” takes alcohol, occasionally, during mid term breaks and longer holidays to keep in touch with her friends from School or anytime we have a separate outing. The novice that I am, I do not know how I did I’d but I was able to synch her iPad to mine so that whatever she writes on her ipad, I get a copy on my own iPad. I also set up their email accounts on my own iPad, have them put in their passwords and so get a copy of each new mail they get.
I am sure you are wondering if they don’t resent this, so far no, and this is because I did not go behind their back to do it, I carried them along by informing them and and letting them know it was for their own good and I also worked at the impression that we both did it “together”. I also let them know that they can read my emails as well if they so wish (as if they would want to read my boring emails), and they have my iPad password. In continuation of my parenting duty and responsibility I passworded safari browser on my 13 year old’s iPad and downloaded a safer browser from the Apps store. The 11 year old’s laptop was also made safer by downloading google “safe search kids” browser for her use instead of the regular browsers. From time to time I also go through their browsing history, if your child’s browsing history is erased, it is a danger signal and enough reason for further actions from you.
You might want to share, do you “spy”? if so how have you been able to “spy” without “spying” or without getting caught?
In the next post, we will examine ways we can “spy” on our children without “spying”
image 1 source:http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-24690055