Parents who read their children’s text messages are not breaching privacy laws, a Spanish court has found. Mothers and fathers not only have the legal right to monitor their kids’ activities. They have a legal responsibility to do so.
The ruling came after a mother sued her ex-husband for reading their 9-year-old's WhatsApp messages.
The Provincial Court of Pontevedra rejected the mother's claim, ruling that parents not only have the right to monitor their kids’ online conversations, they have an obligation to do so under civil law.
Magistrate Maria del Rosario Cimadevila Cea ruled that WhatsApp and other social media used by minors “requires attention and vigilance on the part of the parents or carers.”
The mother who brought the suit was ordered to cover all legal costs.
That said, many Australian parents remain uncomfortable about surveilling their kids’ online activities. Reading text messages may feel especially intrusive - like reading a child’s secret diary.
Brisbane-based Brett Lee, a former undercover cyber-crimes detective and father-of-four, understands that concern. But he is adamant that social media messaging is a completely different universe of discourse.
“Most of us are aware what the definition of a diary is,” Lee explains. “It is a book where we record our most private, special and intimate feeling, thoughts and secrets. It is for our eyes only.” Back in the day, kids would hide their diaries under their mattress, where nobody could ever see, especially their parents.
Lee points out that posting on the internet is the exact opposite of keeping a secret diary - although this is something our children don’t necessarily understand. “Whenever our children log onto the internet they have access to their closest 3 billion friends. That means they are actually in the most public place they will ever be in their lives.
“A parent has a right, and indeed a responsibility to know where their kids are going online and who they are connected to,” Lee insists. “If a parent is not the barrier between our kids and every potential online issue, nobody is.”
A staunch advocate for parental controls, Lee recommends Family Zone.
Family Zone is a powerful solution for managing family screen-time, and allows parents to set effective boundaries to keep kids safe and happy online, across every device, everywhere. More than 200,000 families use Family Zone to control access to games and apps, set bedtimes, restrict social media, block adult content, and more. You can too.