It Happened to Me: Internet Surveillance and the Family

“Family is just another word for censorship!” (Guins, xii).

Technology and the Culture of Control tackles the complicated relationship between users/consumers and the content that they access. In his first chapter, Raiford Guins unpacks the argument that one of the goals of censorship is to maintain “family values” in public spaces. Parents can purchase “clean” versions of explicit CDs, control what their children watch on TV, and as fellow blogger, Tyler Vendetti mentions, receive reports about what their children do online. In her blog post, Vendetti discusses the possible damage that this type of surveillance could cause if children felt that they no longer could trust their parents or feel as if they had a sense of privacy in their homes. I intend to address this problem below.

“Going online carries a potentially guilty verdict before anything is even accessed because a child’s online activities are constantly under suspicion.” (Guins, 78)

As a member of Generation Y, I grew up with the Internet and had an innate sense of how to interact with technology. My parents, on the other hand, feared this new technology and decided, unbeknownst to me, to censor my online activity. I didn’t realize that my parents were secretly monitoring my instant messages until the last day before winter break in middle school, when I came home to a pile of my messages printed out and highlighted sitting on my bed. In this particular instance I was guilty of ranting to my friend about wanting to run away after my parents and I got into an argument. I went on to say a lot of stupid things that most middle schoolers do, including “I hate them”, “they suck”, “I can’t wait to grow up and move away”, etc. In hindsight this material isn’t anything more than a pathetic, hormonal middle schooler venting to a friend without having to say everything on the phone. It was my one avenue of privacy and it went away. As Vendetti and fellow blogger Lanie Honda mention, I did feel the rug ripped out from under me and a rift form in my relationship with my parents. While I recognize that this isn’t my personal blog to flesh out my relationship with my parents, I think that it is valuable to hear firsthand the effects of censorship and miscommunication around the subject of technology. As the above quote proposes, perhaps I was guilty from the start because of the tendency to monitor children’s movements on what was, and perhaps still is, a very dangerous platform. Though many may agree with my parents’ decision, I think it is more so important to discuss safe and appropriate ways of using the Internet before arriving on the scene with guns drawn. But maybe that’s just me.


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