To Spy or Not to Spy · 25 September 2011

My wife, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi, recently told me about a dilemma facing modern day parents. She was reading the newspaper and said that the dilemma was whether parents should spy on their kids or not. We said together, “That is no dilemma. Spy on them.”

Our response was scary really. Not that we agreed – we do that often. Or that we said it in unison – we often read each others’ minds. It was scary that we both thought we should spy on our kids.

Okay. It was not really scary. At least not for us. It was really only scary for our kids. Or at least it would have been if they had been paying attention to our conversation instead of playing video games.

My wife’s and my desire for the ability to know what our kids were doing all the time would have been terrifying for our oldest, Thing 1, except that he is out of the house and living on his own now. Except for that distance factor, he would probably be wondering what devices we might put in his room or vehicle. Miniature cameras and microphones are readily available now, but he would not need to worry about them. He would just need to keep his phone close and keep his password secure. After all, I am sure if we really wanted to spy on our kids, we could find something for his phone to track his movements, listen in on his conversations, and keylog his texts. After all, there are apps for everything. But if those apps are not out there yet, I am sure they will be by the time Thing 2 and Thing 3 are ready to have phones.

In all honesty though, The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and I do not really need to have spy apps to keep track of our kids. We do not need GPS tracking devices for them all because we know where they are all the time. We do not need hidden microphones or phone taps because we know who their friends are and at least the younger two do not talk on the phone much. And we do not need keyloggers on phones or computers because they do not have phones and we know what they (at least Thing 2 and Thing 3) are doing when granted access to either – playing games.

The other reason we do not need high tech devices or specialty apps to spy on our kids is because we know what our kids are doing. We live in a fairly small town so we already have a pretty good spy network. We can ask friends at church or talk to the teachers at school to find out what the kids are doing while they are away. We know the parents of our kids’ friends so we can get news of happenings from them as well. But the main reason we do not need to spy on our kids is because we talk to them. Or at least we try to.

A friend of mine told me that his wife used to make their kids talk during dinner about three things that happened during their day. He said it was amazing that they did so even as they got older and were not prompted to do so. Of course, it is also amazing that they still had dinner together. (Apparently, most people do not do that anymore.)

We have a little different method of getting our kids to talk. Yes, we still bring out the single light bulb and uncushioned chair in a dark room for intense interrogation, but most of the time, we just play silly games. “If you could be a rhino or a hippo, which would you be and why?” “If you were on a desert island and could only have one food, what would it be?” “If you could…” And we talk. Yes, whenever we can, we have dinner together and we just talk.

While in some ways, I would love to have a bunch of spy equipment to keep track of our kids. The Mindboggling Mrs. Miyoshi and I have no qualms checking up on our kids through whatever means necessary. But besides the fact that our kids are good kids, I am sure we will not need any spy apps for the phones when the kids get them. After all, the best way to keep track of the kids is to keep them locked up in their rooms until they are fully grown. And if that is not feasible, we can use the old fashioned method. We can let the kids spy on themselves by just talking to them.

© 2011 Michael T. Miyoshi

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