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Parental dilemma: Whether to spy on their kids
The software “gives you complete control over your child’s cell phone,” says MobiStealth.
Dr. Henry Gault, who practices child and adolescent psychiatry in Deerfield, Ill., says parents who spy on their children “are walking down a slippery slope” and may end up causing worse problems than the ones that prompted the surveillance.
“That should be the course of last resort,” he said. “Essentially you’re throwing in the towel and saying there’s no trust anymore.”
He suggested it’s normal for children try to keep some secrets from their family.
“Parents shouldn’t feel guilty not knowing 100 percent of what’s going on,” he said. “It’s our job as parents to reduce risk, but you can never reduce the risk to zero.”
Home drug tests:
Compared to tracking and spyware gadgets, home drug testing kits are relatively low-tech and inexpensive. But they raise tricky issues for parents, who may be torn between alienating their child on the one hand and living with unresolved doubts about possible drug abuse on the other.
David Walsh directed an adolescent treatment program earlier in his career and says the at-home tests can be appropriate when parents have solid reason for suspicion.
“When a son or daughter is getting seriously into drugs, one dynamic of that is denial,” he said. “The stakes are so high. Parents can say, `We need to make sure you’re not doing serious damage to yourself. We might occasionally test you.’”
In Colorado Springs, Colo., single mother Amanda Beihl was among the first to carve out a business from Internet sales of test kits, starting in 1999.
Beihl created homedrugtestingkit.com, selling kits to test for illicit drugs and alcohol use. Individual kits testing for a single drug cost as little as $3; a 10-substance kit sells for $19.95.
It’s an ever-evolving field, Beihl says, as teens experiment with new hallucinogens or abuse a range of prescription drugs.
“A lot of parents say they’re afraid of ruining their relationship with their kid _ they don’t want to be seen as the bad guy,” Beihl said. “I tell them, if you’re already worried about it, the relationship is probably not that great.”
Kim Hildreth, 52, of Dallas, tested both her daughters during their teens. They’re now in their 20s, and provide occasional assistance as she runs a company, drugtestyourteen.com, that sells testing kits online.
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