Parenting is not spying

A new mobile phone service launched today demonstrates vividly the debate currently raging about protecting children using mobile phones.

Big Brother Watch has long supported the need for services to give parents more granular control about how devices can be used, but ultimately technology is not a substitute for parenting.

The new service from Bemilo gives parents the ability to read every text message sent or received, as well as control who the child can call from their phone and see what pictures have been taken.

You can’t substitute parenting for technology and if there are problems with what young people are using their phones for the way to fix them is not to have parents spying on their children.

Technology like this creates a serious tension between children and their parents – one can only imagine the reaction of a 15 year old when they find out their mum has been reading their texts. It also de-humanises family relationships, with parents relying on the contents of a webpage to determine the emotional state of their children. If children don’t feel parents respect their privacy, it undermines trust and fosters a cynical view of authority figures that doesn’t help anyone.

Equally, the likelyhood is kids who are bothered will simply get a cheap SIM card and switch it with the parent-enabled one.

Giving parents the tools to control what their kids can do with smart phones is a good thing, but this is a step too far.


  1. Sean Fleming
    21st May 2012

    This is a really bad idea. Really bad. 

    My oldest son is 13, so I’m experiencing many of the normal challenges of adapting to life with a teenager as well as the role technology plays in his life. 

    This is a difficult phase of life for most teenagers – everything is changing for them and adapting to that can be very stressful. Parents too can feel all at sea, as I’m finding out regularly.

    If there’s one thing I am trying to persist with it’s making sure my son knows he can always talk to me, about anything without being judged or criticised. I can’t think of a course of action more like to send him running in the opposite direction of me and everything I stand for as a parent, were I to start spying on him.

    Anyone resorting to spying on their children probably has bigger things in their life that they ought to be worrying about than what their children might be up to.

  2. Anon
    21st May 2012

    How will children learn about trust and respect if they are spied on by their parents? Yes parents want to keep their children safe but spying on them is likely to cause more problems and what do parents do when they find out things about their kids (not illegal) that they find difficult to cope with? Teenagers rebel as part of preparing to separate and become an adult – spying on them will not support them in this challenging period of their life.

  3. Probably a good idea but a bit much that you have to pay for it every month #scaretactics « simplesimon8
    21st May 2012

    […] Parenting is not spying ( Share this:TwitterFacebookStumbleUponLike this:LikeOne blogger likes this post. […]

  4. How to spy on Samsung Galaxy S3 smart phone |
    14th June 2012

    […] Parenting is not spying […]

  5. polar cs500
    15th June 2012

    Interesting idea. Teens some times start doing unusual patterns in their life. They can be involved in sexting or over speedy driving. This application is perfect for parents who find difficulty in handling the situation. Between, nice idea.. LOL

  6. Cartoon: Should you spy on your kids? |
    30th June 2014

    […] Parenting is not spying […]