Like most school districts, the Southeast Polk School District in Pleasant Hill, Iowa monitors the Web usage of its pupils on district-provided computers for inappropriate activity. And like some school districts, Southeast Polk also uses a monitoring service that sends weekly mails to parents representing their students’ Internet search history.  This raises some difficult issues because we all know that young men and women need space away in the thumb of the growth of self and adults to get identity formation. 

Image credit: Big Brother is watching you, Photon

We can think of reasons why students might search the web that they don’t need their parents to learn about, like they talk about things they don’t need their parents to know about. For example there is a boy who’s fighting to make sense of things but is not ready to come out to his family. Or a teenaged girl in an family with politics. Or a young couple that is pregnant until they tell their parents, and looking for information and options. Or a teenager who is at a spat with a peer but doesn’t desire clueless adults stepping in and creating drama. Or tween or any teen with concerns that are adolescent who needs nonlocal empathy and connection, resources, or some advice. Do these pupils deserve some distance? Do they deserve a presumption of solitude? Or should college software automatically and instantly outs them?

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