Can Your Parents Legally Spy On You?

Parents Spying on kidsOne of my favorite threads to follow on GrownUpGeek.com is "How To Get Your Child's MySpace or Facebook Password." I enjoy reading the comments that show how misinformed the children are and how stubborn, if not irrational, the parents are. Sometimes the parents are as bad as the children, and sometimes the kids are just flat out delusional.

First, let's be clear that right now I'm talking about what's legal. Not what's moral, ethical, or fair.

Now, let's clear up the misconception that a lot of the underage people have. It is NOT illegal for your parents to monitor your online activity, and that includes using a keylogger and reading your messages. Quite the contrary, the Supreme Court has decided that a parent's right to decisions about upbringing and education of their children free from the State's interference is protected under the 14th Amendment.

The only right to privacy minor's may have, is in regards to reproductive health (contraceptives, abortion, STD testing and/or treatment) and I suggest if that's something you want to know, you check your state's laws on those. But, that's a whole other topic altogether.

Essentially, your parents get to decide how to raise you, and what they allow you to do, and as long as they aren't doing something that could have you removed by Child Protective Services, it's not illegal. Obviously, this doesn't mean they can abuse or neglect you; if that's a situation, you need to contact the authorities. But, it does cover digging through your drawers, taking your bedroom door of its hinges, and monitoring your computer activity.

Okay, so I can hear you guys, through my screen, crying about how unfair the law is, and how it favors parents and that you shouldn't have to wait until you're 18, that 18 is just a number, and so on and so forth. As per my opinion: Get over it. But I'm trying to enlighten, so let's leave my opinion out of it, just for a second.

18 is the Age of Majority in most states (it can range from 15-21 depending where you live). That is when parental duty over you ceases. That's when you are free to move out, get a job, and pay your rent, gas, water, trash, electricity, cable, internet, phone, car payment, insurance, fuel, food, clothing, entertainment, and then some. Then you can be free from your parents snooping and incessant care. I know you think that your generation is the only one to deal with parents that snoop and want to know what you're doing and who with, but I'm going to burst your bubble. Parents have been going through closets and drawers for ages. They used to forbid their children to go out with friends that they didn't know on top of requiring knowing that friend's parents. They wanted phone numbers of the houses you would be at, and they'd call and check up. Even your parents were once children that had to abide by their parents' rules.

A lot of factors go in to determining the Age of Majority. You can argue it if you want, but it is what it is. It has a lot to do with brain development and ability to make rational decisions. If age didn't mean anything, and everyone, no matter their age, had the same legal rights, that would  mean that you believe a 2-year-old should be able to do and be held responsible for the same things a 30 year old is. As an example, a 5-year-old can't vote, because they are not capable of making an informed decision regarding political candidacy. They can't understand the issues. Well, even teenagers, although I know that you think you know it all, have limitations on their mental capability. I'm not saying that all of them are unintelligent, but until you have the capacity to make decisions based on how the outcome affects more than just yourself, you aren't ready to make those decisions. Teenagers are inherently selfish. They tend to want what benefits them, no matter the consequences to others. This is a perfect example, because your parents are responsible for you until you're legally emancipated from them. They get to be legally accountable for YOUR actions. You want to be allowed to hide things from them and do whatever you want, while they have to take responsibility for all these things you hide from them.

A 14-year-old girl meets up with some 35 year old man from the internet that rapes and kills her, and everyone wants to know, where were the parents? Why didn't they stop this? It's their fault for not knowing. They should have been better parents.

But you're not doing anything wrong, you say? Well that's great. Keep not doing anything wrong. If you're not doing anything wrong, as per your parents rules, then you really have nothing to worry about. If you want some feeling of privacy, then do what we did when we were children. Have private conversations, in private. Pass paper notes and throw them away. If my parents read my emails, then I'd be smart enough to know if I wanted to say something I didn't want my parents to read, I wouldn't freakin email it. Have some common sense. You don't have a RIGHT to Facebook. You have a right to be fed, cared for, and protected by your parents. You live by their rules until either they say so, or you move out.

But this ruins all feelings of trust between you and your parents! No it doesn't. It ruins some idea of privacy you had in your head. You can TRUST your parents to worry about what you do. You can TRUST your parents to get involved and try and raise you to be the best person they can imagine. You can TRUST your parents to love you and want to keep you safe, even from yourself.

But fine. Tell me, what would you have them do? How should your parents raise you? They should give you everything you want for free? They have privacy, so should you? They pay bills, so... should you? They buy their own possessions... so, should you? They have to work, so... should you?

Let me reiterate, I'm trying to explain to you that you don't have a legal right to privacy. That you're stuck abiding by your parents' rules. I'm not saying that they SHOULD monitor your every move and keystroke, just that they can. I'm not saying that this is what I would do to my child, but that it's my right to choose. You show me a parent that gets told how they should or shouldn't raise their child, and I'll show you a parent about to rip you a new one.  So all of you bellyaching is for not. Your parents are going to do what they think is best, no matter your opinion. You'll do the same for your children.  So stick it out until you're 18, or whatever the Age of Majority is where you live, and then you can get as far away from your horrible parents as you please.

But right now, you're the child, they're the parent. When you have kids, you can raise them how you see fit. You can let them raise themselves and make their own decisions and rule the house. You can let them walk all over you. But until you move out, you're under your parents' rule. This is in order to protect you and hopefully make you a functioning member of society. It's not like when you move out you suddenly join a party of doing whatever you want. You'll have responsibilities to yourself, your employer, and anyone you owe money to. Right now you have responsibilities to your parents. Your parents decide for you, because you can't.

Don't like it? Get emancipated.

   

   

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