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The Benefits of Spyware for Parents in Undercover Parent

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In Harlan Coben’s article, “The Undercover Parent” he argues that parents putting spyware on their children’s devices is a good idea in order to keep their child safe. Many parents are unaware of what could really happen on the internet; things like cyberbullying, drugs, and sex can take place. Parents want to protect their child from everything and anything from the hidden dangers of the internet to allow the child to have privacy. To back up his claims Coben uses his friends’ personal experiences with their own children to support his argument without leaving room for any type of rebuttal. Although Coben supports some of his claims through examples, he is unsuccessful in realizing and mentioning some key points in these arguments, like lack of persuasion, the usage of emotional appeals, and sugar coating his words. 

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To begin with, many parents look for a connection between the author when an author is talking about subjects dealing with children and their privacy. Coben’s targeted audiences are parents of adolescents. Coben states that “Loving Parents are doing surveillance here, not faceless bureaucrats” to slowly detach anyone that aren’t already on board with using spyware on children. Bringing up some dangers such as pedophiles, porn, and teenage drug use are a type of emotional appeal that will reach out to parents and make them more alert of what can happen on the web. Coben fails to establish any type of authority and makes parents question rather than trust his words. In one of his examples, Coben was being unrealistic, when he brought up a “straight A” teenage girl sleeping with her dealer and using drugs are going to get parents attention but the reaction of her father may make others question his approach. Very few parents would calmly go to their daughter and just talk about the situation, there would be more yelling and consequences involved. 

Additionally, Coben states that ‘With new technology comes new responsibility.’ He is basically comparing the risks of the Internet with the risks of text messages and cell phones and which is less dangerous when teens find other ways to communicate with each other. In today’s society, there has been a huge leap in technological advancements, especially in cell phone use, that now there are a lot more ways to communicate other than calling and texting, there are face time and social media apps like snapchat, Facebook, Instagram, and more. It has allowed us much broader access to the social world and is just as ‘dangerous’ as the Internet, if not worse. Which brings up the question, does spyware fully eliminate all ‘dangerous’ possibilities to begin with? Kids these days are a lot smarter with technology and will find ways other ways to communicate and hide things. Although I do not fully agree with Coben’s arguments, and some of the questionable and broad examples, the topic of his essay should be kept in mind with all these technological advancements which make the internet a lot more “risky”, and is worth taking into deliberation. 

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