Feb. 14, 2011 at 12:37 PM ET
While some parents are "friends" with their children on Facebook as a way to keep an eye on things that way, for many kids — from young teens on up — friending their parents is anathema, about the last thing they want. That's why a New Jersey police chief thinks parents should have no hesitation about hacking, stealing or doing whatever it takes to get their kids' Facebook passwords.
Mahwah Police Chief James Batelli says such advice is freely offered at department seminars, where detectives show parents how to install keystroke-recording software on home computers. The software lets parents hack Facebook passwords from their children's accounts.
"When it comes down to safety and welfare of your child," there's nothing a parent wouldn't sacrifice to "make sure nothing hapens to their children," Batelli told NBC New York recently. "If it means buying an $80 package of software and putting it on and seeing some inappropriate words you don’t want your child to say. Then that’s part of society."
But family psychologist Jeffrey Kassinove told the news station that such actions "sort of sets up a situation of distrust ... First of all, you’re encouraging your child that it’s ok to lie because you’re lying yourself and you’re conducting some secret action and they’re not aware of it."
There are other ways to find out what your kids are up to on the world's largest social networking site.
As msnbc.com's Athima Chansanchai wrote recently, "Parents who are worried about what is going on with their kids can find more information on Facebook's Safety Center, where the company has resources for parents, teens, educators and law enforcement. On Facebook, anyone over 13 is considered an 'authorized account holder,' so the company is forbidden to give access to others, including parents. The site encourages open communication in the family, and gives suggestions on passwords, blocking users, removing friends, reporting harassment and attacks, as well as exercising prudence on information posted on the site."
One parent commented on that posting, saying, "Sorry, but if my kids were under age and/or still living in my home, and they 'ignored' my request to be 'friends'on Facebook, I would promptly 'ignore'their request as to where their computer had disappeared to," wrote Patricia Paulson. "I would also 'ignore' their request to pay for their clothing, to clean up after them and feed them on a regular basis. Sorry, but if you allow your children to 'ignore' you at any point prior to them leaving the nest, for good, you're a lousy excuse for a parent."
Another parent wrote that his son, a college freshman, "did not un-friend me but has blocked me from his wall as he felt I commented (too) much on some of his posts." Furthermore, the dad, identified as "oldmanbytheC" said:
... I am still able to see any posts he makes on the News Feed, so I learned my lesson and just hang back and observe. Very hard to do when you are so involved with their personal and academic life before they all go off to college. I joined Facebook as another way to communicate with him.
Now my high school sophomore daughter could care less what I see on her Facebook page and several of her friends have friended me as well. Just have to learn to bite my tongue! Better to know whats going on and only intercede if absolutely needed than know nothing.
And that sounds like a sane approach by a reasonable parent.
— Via Switched
More about Facebook on msnbc.com: