Do you ‘spy’ on your kids?

What lengths will you go to, to check on your kid’s online activities?

Almost half of all parents around the world access their teenagers’ Facebook account without permission. They are doing this to gain insights into their teens’ activities. In other words, they are spying on their kids.

Internet security company AVG Technologies has released the results of its recent study which found that 44 per cent of parents are keeping tabs on their teens by accessing their Facebook accounts without their consent.

Michael McKinnon, Security Advisor at AVG said, “AVG’s latest research encourages us to consider whether Facebook and other social networking sites are creating a new kind of parental relationship, or whether we are in effect spying on our teens? These sites are providing parents with new methods to monitor what their kids are doing without necessarily having to be ‘heavy handed’ or to quiz their child directly.”

Parents discussing this issue on The Kids Are All Right forum are divided over the issue.

“I would [access Facebook] and I have, and I’m glad I did. It was at a time I had suspicions of things going on, and I was able to confirm these suspicions and learn a lot in the process. It was actually very good for me because I think I was quite naive about a lot of stuff and this totally brought me up to speed.” Sydney Mum

“A quick glance at the home page and profile wouldn’t hurt. I think it’s important to see what your kids are being exposed to (ie the content on their home page) but perhaps reading their private messages in their inbox is betraying your trust in them.” angelsdelight

“ABSOLUTELY! If he is to live in your house, he plays by your rules and the first one should be ‘I can do whatever it takes me to assure your safety and to assist you to grow up a balanced, well-mannered person’.” JBMarigold

“Yes I look, yes I have, and yes I routinely make them sign in and let me wander through their posts.. why? Because I am their mother! Because until they are 18 it is my job to keep them safe from harm even if that means themselves. Because the internet and Facebook is a privilege not a right, and because anything they don’t want me to see is something I NEED to see! I have at times been shocked and disappointed, I have been angry and irate. I make them remove posts and ‘likes’.” Lisa

“Personally I would be against looking. Respect their privacy and let them grow up themselves. By all means sit them down and tell them what you expect them to do, and teach them to be safe online, but kids like to keep to Facebook themselves and their friends – let’s face it, they do act differently around friends compared to family, let them!”  Daniel

“I have a neighbour who is a teacher and she said the Principal at her school said there should always be a rule ‘no privacy with screens’ so we need passwords/access to all computer/phones etc. If they write things in a diary, [we don’t] access. I was on my daughter’s Facebook last year and that’s how I found out about a year 10 boy on her bus sending her sexual messages, which were abusive.” webbmeg

Have your say on The Kids Are All Right forum

The Digital Coming of Age survey questioned 4,400 parents with 14-17 year olds in 11 countries. Of the Australian parents surveyed, it also found that:

  • 42% were concerned that their teen’s interaction with social media sites could affect their future job prospects
  • just over half felt that schools were effective in teaching their teens to use the internet responsibly
  • 22% suspect their teens of ‘sexting’
  • 27% were suspicious that their teens are illegally downloading music
  • 17% suspect their teens of accessing pornography on their computer
  • a quarter have seen explicit or abusive messages on their child’s social networks
  • 57% were ‘friends’ with their child on Facebook (US parents were highest with 72%)

Read the full results of the survey here



  1. I actually don’t think I spy on my daughter half as much as I should. I am trying to find a nice supportive way to do it without seeming too judgmental and un-trusting.

    • Thekids says:

      Well, then, I think the approach you are looking for is… spying. 🙂 I totally relate. If you don’t want to give the impression you don’t trust them, you really just have to check it out without them knowing. The tricky things is – if you find something you don’t like that really needs addressing, how do you bring it up. (You will find yourself letting go of lots of things you’d quite like to talk about, but that’s probably a good thing.)

  2. Yeah. You’re right. My daughter is 12 and doesn’t have Facebook yet, but her friends do and they are Facebook friends with me (their choice as I was their sports coach) so I get to “sniff around the edges” as to what is going on. I get to see her good friends and their online personas, and her fringe friends. I am very relieved that her good friends conduct themselves beautifully … in the open forum at least. I’m afraid her fringe friends are not so appealing. When it comes time for Facebook I’ll definitely be monitoring it … as for Hotmail and Messenger etc, I haven’t checked into that for a while .. it’s been on my mind though … tricky. Very tricky! The bottom line is that it’s my job as a parent to keep her safe. So if keeping her safe requires a bit of back alley snooping about, then that’s what I’ll have to do I guess. It used to be easier with the rule that computers must be used in family areas. But it is getting harder to have a “peering over the shoulder” approach with iPods, smart phones and school laptops.
    Leanne@Deep Fried Fruit recently posted..Day 948My Profile

    • I think it’s hard to maintain the not in your bedroom rule, especially because of smartphones etc as you say. They are online in their room for homework etc, and then you expect them to come out to the loungeroom to go on Facebook. It just seems a bit silly, even though I get the reasoning behind it.

  3. I’m a high school teacher and I think each teenager is different. Many need privacy and to feel trusted. Meanwhile, others put themselves in danger and need help. It is up to each parent to decide what the right actions are, what is most beneficial for their child. I do think parents should have their own Facebook accounts and be ‘friends’ with their teens.

    • I always love getting comments from teachers. Parents usually have only an understanding of their own kids and maybe some friends’, but teachers see the whole range, plus our own kids in a different environment 🙂 I agree wholeheartedly with you – it depends on the child. Some teens are more curious, explore more, or push boundaries more, so I think monitoring kids like that is definitely justified, to help keep them safe. And some other kids have more fear and don’t go where they’re not supposed to.

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