Parental Surveillance

Most discussions of surveillance focus on state officials’ monitoring of individuals. But, with respect to children’s privacy, parents are far more powerful than the state officials, who generally need to apply to a judge for a warrant before they can listen to someone’s phone calls or read their emails. In contrast to the states, parents are free to surveille their children as much and as often as they like. As developments in technology, society, and the market make parental surveillance easier and more pervasive, evidence suggests that parents are taking advantage of their freedom more than ever before. This entry provides an overview of the current practices around parental surveillance, the motivations driving parents and companies, and the potential costs and benefits of it.

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