Monitoring Mania

I got this challenge by Leo (on my page ‘Challenge Accepted‘) way back in November, but due to many reasons I am only able to write it today.

Challenge Nine : Is too much monitoring by parents needed?

So what do I mean by monitoring here? I mean the right of the parents of teenagers (or in some cases even younger kids) to know the passwords, user-names, message conversations et all. Just how much knowledge is the limit when it comes to knowing enough of the personal lives of their wards.

Here are situations to think about (both the situations are the nicer way of asking, the ways can be much more aggressive too):


A teenager logged on face-book. The conversation between her mom and her goes something like this.

Mom : Face-book again? Do you not have to study?

Teenager: Mom, not again! The homework is complete and I am right now chatting with friends.

Mom : Why do you not make me an account too? Wouldn’t that be nice?

Teenager : (is this a trick? Is she going to ask me to add her so that she can see all I post?) Aah… but why do you need an account? You hardly ever come online!

Mom : True. Why don’t you share your password with me, that way I can contact some people through your account and plus I will not need to ask you what you are doing, I can see for myself.

Teenager : No way mom!


Father : Son, show me your phone, I need to see a number I asked you to save for me.

Son : I’ll give you the number after I’ve sent this message.

Father : Just give me the phone itself, and you continue with your video games.

Son : (What the heck!) Ok, here.

Father : It’s password protected, give me the password.

Son : Wait, I’ll enter it. (I am not giving him my password, nothing doing!)

One valid question that may strike the parents is, “What are they hiding from us”? An answer that would invalidate it, though, is “I am not hiding anything but I have a right to not tell you every thing I and my friends talk of or share”.

A valid question that the children may ask is, “Do they not trust me? I am doing nothing wrong”. An answer invalidating this would be “I am just wanting to know if he or she is safe online. This is an age where things can start to go wrong.”

In such cases, I see no harm with the child sharing the passwords but only as long as the parents are ensuring the safety. If the parents get snoopy, the child has every right to stop them and tell them to go no further. However, this is only about children who are doing no wrong and parents who are just concerned.

What happens when the children are indeed doing something wrong? How far does the right of the parents go in this case. Well, logically they have all right to know everything so that they can stop the wrong. On the other hand are extra snoopy parents who want to know anything and everything even when their child is, metaphorically speaking, flawless. In such a case the parents have no right whatsoever to snoop and ask for passwords.

The main problem faced here is to decide to which category do you and your child belong? The parents will always thing they are only doing it in best interest of the child, even if they actually are snoopy. And the kids will always feel that they should never have to share passwords with their parents, even if their journey on the wrong path has begun. So, at the cost of sounding diplomatic, the only answer to this question is for the parents to explain to their kids what all not to do or get involved in and then just trust them to it. After all, it is indeed impossible to keep a check on everything they do in today’s day and age.

Coming to the next part of the challenge, the mentoring along the monitoring. Mentoring is no crime, but when mixed withΒ monitoring, it becomes tricky. The decision of the extent to which these have to go hand in hand and when the monitoring has to be removed is often confusing and may lead to many World Wars at home. To this, I have a ‘simple’ answer : Mentor well enough so that there is no need of monitoring.

21 thoughts on “Monitoring Mania

  1. By definition “too much” is too much and not needed. Asking if too much is needed implies that there is really some level that is over the limit/ Perhaps the question should be restated as “how much” is needed. Replacing the word “monitoring” with “mentoring” is a good choice of topic direction to illustrate that mentoring is a vital aspect of parenting.

    It is my belief that there can be no effective mentoring without monitoring. To be an effective mentor one needs to keep track of the growth of the mentee. “Keeping track” is but another way of saying “monitoring.” Do we attach pejorative connotations to the word “monitor?” I think it is implied when we frame the question in terms of “too much.” Monitoring is vital in the task of mentoring and in is a value neutral word in this context.

    As far as how much is truly too much, I think that occurs when the mentoring itself is faulty. Part of mentoring is instilling individuality and feelings of trust which has to be earned. Monitoring becomes too much when it becomes repressive and invasive to the point of tyrannical. When that happens the mentoring process has either broken down into uselessness or never existed in the first place.

    How much depends on the mentee’s development in line with fault-free mentoring. Greater levels (relatively) of monitoring is NOT an indication of the goodness or necessarily the willingness of the mentee to be mentored. It may be an expression of the mentee to outside forces such as Peer Pressure or even of the capability of the mentee to synthesize lessons of life given by the mentor into actual life activity.

    In both cases it is the responsibility of the mentor to actively monitor outside pressures and real life capabilities so that adjustments may be made to the process of mentoring.

    “Too much” is “too much.” A = A. “How much” is case dependent.

    1. Thanks a lot for dropping by and giving such a new perspective to this whole thought process. πŸ™‚ I really appreciate it.
      “Too much” is when “how much” is defined and greatly exceeded.

  2. you couldn’t have chosen a better topic to write on!:D
    parents never understand, do they?
    They need to know everything going on in your life..uggghhhhh!

    how about we follow each other? πŸ™‚

    1. I didn’t chose the topic, so to say, it was given to me as a challenge.
      Ya, we kids always feel that parents never understand and the parents feel that we kids never realize their thought process/

      And would love to follow your blog. Have just gone through it superficially yet. But will love to see it in detail.

  3. I used to say this to my mom — “β€œI am not hiding anything but I have a right to not tell you every thing I and my friends talk of or share”.”

  4. Trust me I have seen the kids going completely to the wrong path when parents were over protective……the kid doesn’t get a chance to explore the world till class 12th and he does everything what he was craving to do in grads first year itself…why!!!! the upbringing was limited to kitabi gyan and ghar ki chaar deewari….
    Trust on kids is needed and over protectiveness does not always end with fruitful results…
    A balanced post…good work Janhvi πŸ™‚

    1. “you have seen”…. your comment reeks more of personal Experience than personal Knowledge. :p
      Jokes apart, you are right. A balance needs to be maintained.
      Thank you.

  5. I have to disagree here Jojo. As a parent of a fast growing 7 year old who has access to my iPhone, iPad, laptop, i have to be vigilant about where she is in the world wide web. Who she talks to, how she interacts with them.
    Having my kid add me to his/her friend’s list on Facebook is not necessarily a violation of their privacy. I don’t need passwords but I need to know who your friends are. I promise not to embarrass you but I want to be the first to know if the creepy parent/step parent/sibling/boyfriend/girlfriend of kid X has access to you. Also social networks are extremely popular forums for bullying so yes, i get to have you access the internet only on the family computer, I get to spot check your room, I get to call you and ask you where you are, I need details of what party you are attending. I need all of that until you are 18. It doesn’t mean I will stop worrying and staying awake at nights for you once you’re past 18.All it means is I have protected you to the best possible extent and given you tools to deal with the creeps of this world. You can thank me when you’re not lying dead in a ditch or sexually assaulted.

    1. Meera, I completely agree with you. The importance of knowing and protecting can never ever be undermined, and that was never my intention. All I meant to bring forth was a situation in which a parent becomes obsessive with this idea and starts to becoming freaky and paranoid. Protection is one thing that is a must. Yes, every parent has a right to be on their child’s friend lists (mine are in my fb)… but not EVERY parent has a right to know ALL conversations the child is having……

      Thank you so much for sharing how you feel. Having said all that I have, I have to agree that I am not yet a parent so knowing that side of the tale is not exactly precise for me.

      P.S. I have a huge urge to call you aunty, don’t know why? :p

  6. I think parents need to trust the upbringing they have given their children. Children brought with the right parentage seldom would go wrong, and even if they do, they’d discuss I guess?

    Blasphemous Aesthete

  7. It is beautiful and well analyzed! forget kids, my own parents used to keep pestering me even when I was 19 or 20 πŸ˜› Some parents are extra snoopy I feel. So the question now, is how to find that right balance between snoopy and caring parents, and protective and trust-abusive kids πŸ™‚ Well, that’s one to ponder on for a while.. πŸ˜›

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