Sure, the government has been spying on us all, from plebes to prime ministers. But National Security Agency agents look like pikers compared with plain old American parents, who are being encouraged to treat their kids as enemy agents whose every move must be observed, tracked, tapped or taped.
It's all to "Keep our kids safe!", of course, the greatest slogan since — well, there is no greater slogan once you're a parent. (Before you're a parent, it's, "This will get you a date!")
Here's an ad for just one of the many new surveillance products being peddled to parents. Mind you, this is for a "basic" package. I guess that means it doesn't paw through your child's drawers.
No cavity searches, either.
If you have asked yourself just one of these questions, the (device whose name I am deleting because I hate it) is for you!
Do you fear for your child's safety?
Do you live in a dangerous neighborhood?
Does your child have to enter any unsafe environments?
Are they traveling somewhere without you?
Do you suspect that your child is lying to you about where they are or who they are with?
Is your child not picking up their phone when you call them?
Is your child being bullied or bullying someone else?
Is your child receiving nude photos from anyone?
Is your child sexting?
We all know it's impossible to be with your child 24/7. That's why (this hideous intrusion on your child's privacy and sense of self) is an ideal product to keep your child safe in a growing digital world. (This particular trust destroyer) provides innovative software that assists in keeping your child safer, whether it's through the captured call log, messages and chats, or GPS location component. Upon downloading, choose to leave the software detected or undetected, arm your child with the Panic Button for a quick and easy way to get help in an emergency, or even turn the mic on your child's device to listen in real time. Ultimately, (this Orwellian invention) facilitates another line of defense between a child's mobile device and an anonymous online environment.
Got that? So if you are a parent whose child has ever had the temerity to travel "somewhere without you," that's reason enough to take up espionage. And dear me, "is your child not picking up their phone when you call them?"
Of course he's not! No child picks up the phone every time Mom calls, just as no adult picks up the phone every time Mom calls! Is it time for your mother to spy on you?
It's not time to spy on anybody, but this obsessive snooping is being presented as if it were just a normal thing good parents do. This particular system not only locates your kid's whereabouts via GPS but also scans all emails and reads all texts. What's more, its website suggests you "activate the microphone to listen in on calls without being detected to get firsthand insights."
Isn't that illegal? There must be some parental loophole. And don't forget: The device also serves as an ambient microphone, so you can hear whatever your child is saying even when he or she is not on the phone. "Find out what's really going on with your child before it's too late!"
Ah, but by the time you are spying on everything your child says, does, looks at or listens to, it already is too late. You aren't really a parent, any more than an undercover agent is really who he's pretending to be.
You are just a spy. You cannot be trusted. And I just hope I'm not around when you get discovered.
Lenore Skenazy is the author of "Free-Range Kids: How to Raise Safe, Self-Reliant Children (Without Going Nuts with Worry)" and "Who's the Blonde That Married What's-His-Name? The Ultimate Tip-of-the-Tongue Test of Everything You Know You Know — But Can't Remember Right Now." To find out more about Lenore Skenazy ([email protected]) and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at www.creators.com.