You’re Being Watched

A common thing that I hear from teens is that they hate being watched–when they enter a store at the mall, or by a parent trying to sneak-a-peek when they are on the computer.

The truth is no one likes a micro-manager; everyone would prefer to be trusted to work efficiently in an independent manner.   While traveling in London (many years ago) I was struck with the number of clearly visible security cameras in public places. On any given busy street corner in London, it seems almost every visible angle is covered by a camera mounted on the exterior of a building, the utility pole, a street sign, traffic light pole, etc. I wasn’t sure if I should feel safe or feel so violated that my image was being transmitted and saved to a server somewhere far away. Additionally, no one was asking me whether I cared, and there was no way I could avoid being “watched.”


This summer people of the world learned that their government or specifically a US government agency had copies of our emails and recordings of our phone conversations, and perhaps other personal information that was being stored in a secure server. People were outraged, and continue to feel a sense of intrusion into private forms of communication that we were all led to believe were for intended eyes and ears, not a stranger with a security clearance.   Unbeknownst to me or you, there’s been “others” watching and listening too!

Despite the sense of solipsism or paranoia that this monitoring might cause, this is actually nothing new. In fact, for those of you who live with children, or work with children, guess what? They’re watching you all the time, too!

“But that’s different John Lee, those little minds can’t comprehend what’s going on.”

“But that’s not even possible! My teen is only capable of communicating via txt msgs, and some sort of screen.”


Your kids, those children that you’re always around are always watching, and learning. Think of all the messages about family or safety or even gender that a child absorbs from day 1. Think about all the inconsistencies that we as adults project to young ones. It’s okay for me to drive distracted but not you. It’s okay for me to always be in front of my computer, but not you. It’s okay if I don’t clean, but you need to do your chores . Do you see where I’m going? How much credibility can adults have if we’re not demonstrating good conduct?

Currently the largest commercial computer hard drive capacity one can buy is  4 terabytes (TB). Did you know that the human brain is estimated to have a capacity of 10-100TB. It is estimated that all of the US Library of Congress’ printed material would be about 10TB. So you can see that those young eyes, ears, and brains are capable of retaining so much more than we ever thought. Privacy and spying is definitely a serious matter, but the implications of those sponge like minds is certainly something for parents/adults to consider.

Whether we like it or not, children are and will continue to watch us, are you ready?


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