Mama Madison: Surveillance, family-style

Watching the country is one thing; teenagers are something else

Last week the American Civil Liberties Union filed suit against James Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, arguing that its recently disclosed surveillance programs which track the phone and Internet use of citizens violate the United States constitutional rights of free speech, association, and privacy.

Here's hoping the ACLU doesn't make a stop at my house any time soon. Because I am pretty sure the surveillance programs utilized by this mother would not pass muster.

Based on my experience, there are two types of parents in the world. There are those who claim to trust their kids 100% and would never even dream of voyeuristically reading their offspring's emails or "accidentally" listen to one of their kid's cell phone messages. And I wholeheartedly admire their will power.

But for better or for worse, there a whole lot of parents out there like me who don't see the occasional (ok, regular) delve into text message threads or browse through social media accounts as an invasion of anything. Free speech is fine in theory -- until you find out your oldest has made some pretty poor choices regarding the use of vulgar language on Facebook. And no, kids, you can't just "associate" with anyone you darn well please, especially unsupervised in a friend's basement as your latest text messages have lead me to believe you might be doing.

Your right to privacy (except in the bathroom) will come at 18, perhaps even 21. Until then I have a right, while not constitutional, to know where you are, what you are doing, and who you are doing it with.

I don't feel what I do is extreme. I have not installed GPS devices on my teens cell phones (yet) or hidden cameras in the house. But it's a brave new world out there of suggestive "selfies" and cyber bullying. And this mom just isn't feeling that brave.

I know my kids are probably dabbling in on-line worlds I haven't even ventured onto like Viddy and Instagram. Trust me, parents of young children, Club Penguin can become "Club" Pinterest before you know it.

I know it's a really hard thing to say you don't completely trust your child. Especially when he or she hasn't screwed anything up (that you know of) too terribly yet. But I remember when I was a kid. And I was a good kid. And I did a whole lot of unwise things that weren't completely trustworthy.

So for as long as they live in a house where my name is on the mortgage, I will monitor search histories, Skype conversations and on-line gaming worlds.

In other words, I will continue to act as a maternal Matahari. At least until another ACLU is formed-the Adolescent Civil Liberties Union.

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