The History and Mathematics of Codes and Code Breaking

Tag: parental surveillance

Teens, like adults, Make Their Own Choices Reguarding Privacy

In the section, Privacy as Process, boyd identifies a new argument that,  “In a world in which posting updates is common, purposeful, and performative, sharing often allows teens to control a social situation more than simply opting out. It also guarantees that others can’t define the social situation.” She introduces the idea of the choice that teens have regarding privacy and how to overcome issues regarding how much one should or should not share. A teen has the choice to share some, but not all, of their information on social media to avoid further invasions of their privacy in real life. This logic can be extended to all the ways that teens choose to incorporate social media in their lives. I agree with the view that monitoring of teens’ use of social media should be determined by the teens’ choice. Many parents and teachers often forget that teens are people as well and have greater abilities than they are given credit. With that I understand the choices that some teens make to encrypt or hide some of their messages on twitter; these teens are enacting their fundamental rights to decide how to communicate their ideas, conversations, and feelings. Any unwanted surveillance on this communication Is an attack on the trust adults have on these young adults and the decisions that they make.

Expecting Privacy When Posting Publicly

In chapter 2 of It’s Complicated, danah boyd discusses the propensity of youths to share information publicly, despite their insistence on maintaining their privacy. Youths post on public forums with the intention of communicating with their friends and peers, but don’t like it when their parents or teachers monitor them by creating their own accounts. Recounting an experience with a youth, boyd writes, “Although many adults believe that they have the right to consume any teen content that is functionally accessible, many teens disagree. [Chantelle] continued on to make it clear that she had nothing to hide while also reiterating the feeling that snooping teachers violated her sense of privacy.”

On one hand, Chantelle’s argument is completely reasonable. She’s arguing for the right to privacy, not because she wants to hide information but because she wants communications intended to be private to remain that way. In this case, the “snooping teacher” takes on a similar role to the federal government, where both surveil people who just want private matters to remain private.

On the other hand, all of the cases discussed in the chapter involve posting on public forums, with the operative word being “public”. With all the private mediums that youths could choose from, they chose to post publicly, which raises the question of whether people deserve privacy when posting publicly. I’m not sure what the options were in 2014 when boyd published It’s Complicated, but now there are plenty of apps and messaging services to choose from that don’t allow unwanted access. By choosing to post publicly, one essentially forfeits the expectation of privacy.

Protection, or Paranoia?

“Some teens see privacy as a right, but many more see privacy as a matter of trust. Thus, when their parents choose to snoop or lurk or read their online posts, these teens see it as a signal of distrust.” In this quote from her book It’s Complicated, danah boyd points out the potential effects of strict parental control of computers. She discusses specific examples of teenagers who have a variety of opinions on this parenting policy.

In my experience, strict parental restrictions on computers and media are often ineffective parenting methods. While my parents were entirely trusting and never even checked my grades, let alone my computer history, my best friend’s were not. Neither of us was ever doing anything we needed to hide, but it was clear to me the effect of our parents’ different styles. For example, I was perfectly willing to give my parents my passwords, and we had talked about how I should be willing, but they had never asked for them–my friend’s passwords were taped to the refrigerator. As we grew up, going through high school, I began to recognize the great disparity between our experiences. My parents trusted me to be responsible on my laptop, to come to them with problems or questions, and to monitor my own media. When I got a Twitter, for example, I let them know. My friend’s parents, however, generally trusted her as long as they could verify that their trust was well-placed. Their restrictions diminished as we got older, but they were still present–and still a topic of conversation for us.

While my friend’s parents meant well, they restricted their daughter’s freedom to explore. She never really rebelled, but we would have lengthy conversations about what tv shows she would watch when we went to college, and why we thought the rules were unfair. The idea of privacy was a well-covered topic in our discussions. Looking back, her parents’ rules caused my friend to wish she could hide at least something, while my parents’ made me to feel free to come to them with anything. From my perspective, my friend never developed the kind of trust I have in my parents, because hers never gave her the chance. boyd’s statement on this topic fits this observation. My friend never saw privacy as a right, but more as a signal of trust that she never received.

Taking a structuralist tactic, legal scholar Alan Westin argues that privacy is “the claim of individuals, groups, or institutions to determine for themselves when, how, and to what extent information about them is communicated to others,” (boyd, 59).

With all of the definitions and specifics of privacy that dana boyd gives in Chapter Two of her book It’s Complicated, I think Alan Westin’s is the most sound. Many argue that privacy is the right to be left alone or the right for someone to keep personal information to themselves, but I think a better definition is that privacy is the ability to control how and how much personal information is made public, which is exactly how Alan Westin defines it. This definition is the best one because when teens post personal information on social media websites, they are not depriving themselves of privacy as some parents think; they are still in control of when, how, and to what extent their personal information is posted on these sites.

The reason many teens dislike when their parents look at their texts without permission or go onto their Facebook accounts is because they have no control over what their parents might see, which is a complete invasion of privacy by the parents. On the other hand, teens should not be bothered by their parents viewing their social media pages from their own social media accounts. Teens should assume that whatever pictures get put on the Internet are there permanently and almost anyone can access them. Teens have the ability to control what they put on public social media sites, so they cannot be annoyed by their parents viewing and commenting on their Facebook picture if they choose to be friends with their parents on Facebook. Teens are in control of what information they post on public social media sites, so they have no one to blame but themselves if they are bothered by how much information their parents can see on their Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram page.

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