Sat, Aug 08, 2009 - Page 2 News List

Computer-savvy fathers ‘cyber-stalk’ children

SNEAKY PEEKING Several fathers admitted that they covertly read their children’s blogs and look at their online pictures, but say they are only trying to help them

By Yang Chiu-ying  /  STAFF REPORTER

The digital age is changing the role of fathers, many of whom are taking advantage of new technology to keep an eye on their children.

Some fathers “cyber-stalk” their children, reading their children’s blogs or checking their online photo albums, with some even building Web sites for their children to keep online diaries they can check to better understand what they are going through.

A father surnamed Lin, a company manager who has adolescent children, said that since his children discovered their mother reading their blogs at home, the job has been handed over to him.

Lin said that he reads the blogs in his office, and he makes sure to visit the photos section to check what new friends his children make.

BLOCKED

Lin said that when he was young, he was always afraid that his family would read his diary, but that in the digital world, his children are able to choose which entries are open to the public and which are restricted.

He said his children kept certain entries open in order to show off something but that they probably edited out the “exciting parts,” leaving the real meat locked away behind passwords

Even though he has been cyber-stalking his children for a long time, Lin said, it is hard for him to see everything his children are posting online. He said he only wanted to use the information to help his children should they really need him.

SECRET SEARCHER

Another father, surnamed Chen, also cyber-stalks his son. Chen said that after he accidentally let his son know what he was doing, his son quickly changed the address of his online journal.

Chen said that it was unfair that his son’s blog was open to his friends but not his father, and that he secretly used search engines and keywords to find his son’s new online address.

Now that he has found it, no matter how funny the entries are, Chen said he could only keep the information to himself and not talk about it with his son.

Even though many teenagers value their privacy, younger children are very curious about the blogosphere, said Lee Yuan-pang (李元邦), noting that it was the motive behind him constructing a blog for his daughter — an avid fan of the Brother Elephants professional baseball team.

His daughter, who happily named the blog “Little elephants’ home,” said she used the blog to write her diary and make new friends, adding that she was also planning to write a song for her father as a Father’s Day present.

SUPPORT COMMUNITY

Meanwhile, full-time fathers like Tsai Chao-wei (蔡昭偉) use the digital forum to keep a blog for his autistic son.

He writes about teaching his son to swim, roller-skate and do somersaults, as well as including letters he wrote to his son’s teachers and other touching aspects of life with his son.

The blog has attracted many other parents of autistic children. Tsai’s online followers often leave messages of encouragement and have formed a support community.

One reader described Tsai’s blog as a shovel that “clears rocks from the road so one can keep on going.”

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