Do teenagers deserve privacy online? A former cybercrimes detective shares his view.
At Family Zone, we often hear feedback from parents saying that they’re apprehensive to monitor what their teenager is doing online as they fear it’s a breach of their child's right to privacy. After discussing this feedback with Cyber Expert and ex QLD police officer Brett Lee from Internet Safe Education, he has a much different opinion.
‘Knowing who your kids are speaking to online is your right as a parent’ Brett says. ‘You don’t let them go out without knowing where they’re going and who they’re hanging out with, so why is the online world any different to the real world?’. Brett’s expertise on the protection of children online, comes from his experience working in the cybercrimes division of QLD police for over 20 years. Brett has been directly involved in the investigation and prosecution of hundreds of online predators nationally and some in the US during his time working for both the FBI and Homeland Security. His experience also extends to 5 years spent as an undercover police officer, under the guise of fictitious teenage boys and girls and also adults to catch and prosecute both predators and creators/distributors of child exploitation material.
He has directly witnessed the depth of harm our children are at risk of when using the internet, which is why he believes that protecting your children in the online world is equally important as protecting them in the real world. ‘Teens will say they deserve privacy online, that who they’re talking to or what they’re doing is their business’ he explains, ‘This is rubbish. You as their parent have every right to know who they’re talking to and what they’re doing. It’s not about not trusting your kids, it’s about not trusting everyone else on the internet’. ‘From my experience, it’s not the kids we cannot trust, because most kids trust their gut and make good choices – but these criminals are incredibly manipulative and many are extremely tech savvy, which means they’re even better at tricking our kids’.
Brett recommends taking an active approach to cyber safety in your home. ‘Set clear rules and boundaries. Starting these when they’re young helps, but it’s never too late to start’ he says. ‘We know kids thrive on boundaries in the real world and the same applies to the online world’. ‘Parental controls are also a must, particularly in turning the internet off on their devices at bed time. By turning off the internet, you are dramatically reducing their risk of being contacted or groomed by a predator’.
Brett’s advice for protecting your kids online …
1. Set clear rules and boundaries
2. Block the internet at bed time
3. Install parental controls
We understand that parenting in the digital age can be difficult, and that’s why we’re here to help. Our team of Cyber Experts including Brett, are here to support parents with advice and tailored control settings to use with Family Zone. Family Zone can control when your kids are able to use the internet and what apps and websites they can view.