Tory MP Claire Perry has got it wrong... I’d never want to read my teenage daughter’s texts

Tuesday, January 29, 2013
2:00 AM

I often wonder what life as a teenager would have been like with today’s technology – when I was young we didn’t send texts, we wrote letters.

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In order to infiltrate my secret social life, my mother would have had to steam open envelopes, press her ear to the door while I was on the phone or hang around outside Top Shop in the vain hope I’d stop trying to look moody and tortured for long enough to let something salacious slip.

This week, Conservative MP Claire Perry suggested that parents have a duty to hack into our children’s emails and monitor their texts in order to ensure they’re not enjoying inappropriate contact with “strangers at all hours of the day and night.”

She claims that children have no right to keep their messages private and that parents should feel empowered enough to demand access to them.

I regularly feel empowered enough to demand my teenager does what I tell her to and she regularly feels empowered enough to ignore me entirely and carry on doing what she wants to do.

I am no match for a teenager: she is mentally and physically stronger than me and taller by at least two inches – the Force is strong in this one, and my power is ebbing. To be fair, I have no wish whatsoever to read my nearly-15-year-old’s text messages or Facebook conversations – one of the sole joys of being a teenager is lying to your mother and I for one don’t want to take that away from her.

I’m convinced that if I did dip into the murky world of teen messaging I would practically pass out from the horror of it all, just as my mother would had she heard what I was talking about to my friends aged 15. I am suspicious of teenagers who tell their mother everything – if mine did, I’d be worried why she had nothing to hide, and you should have something to hide at her age, although it’d be nice to think that it wouldn’t be a tattoo or a 17-year-old boyfriend with a hot hatchback and a collection of magazines about serial killers.

The only thing I do agree with Claire Perry about is unplugging the internet router late at night to curtail online activity – this is mainly, however, because I got somewhat bored with being woken by riotous Skyping in the early hours. I checked, and Claire Perry’s eldest child is 13, meaning she might not have ‘turned’ yet and might still be the rosy-cheeked princess who does what she’s told, answers to her name with something other than “WHAT?” and is still an innocent flower unsullied by the internet.

It won’t last. And by the time Claire realises this fact, her teen will have thrown up more firewalls to stop her online prying than the Pentagon: as I said, we are no match for them, Claire. No match at all.

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