How Important is Privacy?

Today was a hallmark event. Today my 11 year old left her new diary downstairs in the living room. I picked it up (not realizing what it was) and skimmed through it. Afterwards I flipped to the front page where I read, “This is Haley’s diary. Do not read!” Just as I closed it, Haley came downstairs and saw me holding it and with a shy smile, rushed over to take it from me and tell me I shouldn’t read it. This is the first time she has ever been secretive.

The strange part about what happened was that I had already read it. There wasn’t anything in the diary other than her daily activities, who she talked to, what they said, what games she played that day and things of that nature. Everything I read in the dairy were things she had already told me. When I pick the girls up from school, they always tell me about their day and anything interesting that happened. At home they play their computer games in the room while I’m there next to them. When they play with their stuffed animals in the house, it’s right there near me. I know the boy my daughter likes. I know the boys that like her. I know the boys her friends like. I know what they say to each other.

The lack of any ‘secret’ information in her diary made me wonder why she wouldn’t want anyone to read it. Is it just the idea of privacy that she feels she needs?

I had to wonder what it is about privacy that is so important to us all. Why do we all feel the need to keep some things to ourselves? I’m not talking about identity or identity theft or government monitoring of our actions – I mean the more intimate sense of what we keep to ourselves. Is it inherent in our nature to want to have a sense of something that is ours and ours alone? Does it add to our view of ourselves as individuals or is it merely a need to separate ourselves from others to prevent being hurt?

At what point does privacy become a part of our lives? I know at a certain age, kids decide they want privacy when changing clothes or bathing – this is expected and encouraged anywhere from age 3 and up. Privacy concerning our thoughts and feelings, however, is a different matter. Is the need to keep thoughts and feelings a natural development – or is it something we encourage and expect?

What about everyone else? At what age did you start keeping a diary? Or stop telling your parents/siblings everything?

Is some degree of privacy necessary to participate in polite society?


16 thoughts on “How Important is Privacy?

  1. I think I was 10 or 11 when I stopped telling my parents about my life, I had a journal but my mom was snoopy and would read it thinking I’d never know, so I stopped writing in it and started drawing pictures of demons and scenes from the book Dante’s Inferno …. yeah that went well, freaked my Mother out and earned me a couple trips to the shrink lol , but it worked, she pretty much left me alone after that, she was convinced that I was seeing actual demons, so I played right into her worst fears, she betrayed my trust and violated my personal space, so I brought her closer to her God as a reward lol

    • Honestly, I wouldn’t have read the diary had I known what it was when I opened it. Once I had opened it and read a page or two, I did keep reading but I’m not sure why.
      In my experience with my now 18 year old, I never pried into his privacy and I was always surprised that he never had a problem confiding in me about everything although in some instances he confided in my brother instead – which didn’t bother me at all.

      • ah but my Mom wasn’t a good Mom like you, mine was after any incriminating evidence so she could whup my ass lol ah well it’s all history now , I don’t think accidently reading parts or skimming is bad or a breach of trust, it happens, my son uses a note book as a journal, he often puts it in with his other notebooks for school, I’ve accidently read parts thinking it was his home work lol hell the dipstick accidentally handed it in to his english teacher and had to beg to to get it back lol

        • I will admit that when my son first got a facebook account, we did make him give us the password and we would randomly get on his account and look through his messages to see what he was saying to people, what they were saying to him and how he was behaving on social media. Other than the occasional curse word or somewhat insinuating conversation with a girl or two – it wasn’t anything worrisome and he never knew we had checked. But like I said, even on his fb page, there wasn’t anything I didn’t already know. Even when it came to sex and alcohol – we told him we were aware of what goes on at parties and we cared about his safety so if he needed a ride home or condoms or whatever – that it would not be a problem. He even came to me after he had become sexual active and asked me to take him to the doctor to be checked out. He knows that I won’t judge him for the things he does. I would rather he feel comfortable talking to me about things he does and feel comfortable enough to come to me with any problems that arise. I feel that helping him work through his problems and pointing out how things could have been handled differently along the way works much better than sticking my head in the sand and pretending he is perfect and never makes mistakes – or worse yet – putting a ton of restrictions and demands on him and not allowing him to do anything. I think we all know, that kind of tight control leads only to rebellion

        • you are the kind of parent I strive to be, I trust my son, but keep tabs every now and then on his social media, mostly to make sure he is not being bullied, I don’t put a lot of restrictions or demands on him, I want him to just be a kid, to have fun and build good memories, I strive to keep his trust as I know it’s so easy to lose it, I do have to thank my Mom though for all her rules and always snooping through my life when I was a kid, she did teach me how not to parent 🙂

        • My parents didn’t really have any strict rules on me but then I grew up in a small town where anything you did got back to everyone in town.

  2. Everyone needs privacy. To free the mind. To think the unthinkable. To explore who we are, free from criticism or manipulation. To develop our thoughts and personality without interference and coercion. To write things down, even if noone else is meant to read it, liberates the mind and is essential for growth. We should give people, and especially our kids, the space to make their own decisions. They will have to live in a time we will never know and cannot predict. It is important they find the strength to cope.

    • Yes we should give them some privacy and I agree – today’s kids will be facing something none of us has ever faced. This culture of social media means that everything we do anywhere can and may be recorded by someone and put online for all to see. I have to wonder if this will create a fear of doing things for fear of mistakes being recorded forever or if growing up in this age will make kids more immune to such fear as they are more comfortable knowing their actions may have lasting consequences.

      • There certainly does not seem to be much fear in using social media; quite the opposite in fact, leading to many unintended consequences like “trolling”, “sexting”, and “revenge-porn”. You might have gathered from “Oodles” that I am no great fan of social media, mainly because it is not private and very insecure. Tweets seem to be trivial social phenomena and even emails, phone call and text messages can be hacked into by governments, companies, advertisers, newspapers, terrorists, and other criminals. People don’t seem to be aware or care about the dangers.

        • it is this lack of concern for the everywhere and everlasting effect of social media that I feel will be a major factor in the coming ages. I can see good developments occurring such as maybe people will be less likely to lie to their loved ones because the chance of getting caught in that lie is near 90% due to camera phones and phones everywhere. So perhaps the over sharing of info will force people to be less shady and be more upfront about their actions.. I see a more responsible generation growing up – yet this does not mean it will last – as history shows us, whenever any type of restriction is placed on actions of individuals – someone, somewhere will find a way around it.

        • You are right. Anything a man, or woman, can devise, a man, or a
          woman, can tear asunder! But I hope your positive thoughts will happen. What upsets me is that many innovations are foisted on us in the name of “progress”, though really to make money for the innovator, without thinking about the consequences or building in safeguards, then people have to suffer before it is sorted out, we hope successfully.

  3. I was bracing to hear that revelations in the diary shocked you. What a JOY you must feel to know that your daughter is so transparent with you. Sure, as time goes on she will have thoughts (and experiences) that might shock you, but you have raised a gem of a daughter as she approaches her teenage years.

  4. No diary but I was probably 13-14 when I stopped sharing with my mother. I think my parents would have been horrified if they’dkKnown some of the things I was up to, and I was pretty much a goody two shoes. That’s why it’s so important to keep the lines of communication open with your children – you need to know what they’re up to without breaking respect of their privacy.
    Great to know that there was nothing in your daughter’s diary that was a cause for worry!

  5. My daughter always told me everything sometimes almost too much information about her friends whose mums I had to look in the face at parents evening, her diary was allowed to be private as that was a place for her to write what was in her own mind but as she got her own computer, phone and started using social media it was on the condition I had all the passwords and she knew I could randomly access them at any time not that I actually had to often, laptops and phones were left down stairs to charge over night as bedtime is for sleeping not for going online, once at 15 she did complain that her friends parents were not as strict I pointed out that one I was not her friends parent and if I were they would have the same rules and two the phone and laptop were luxuries, not a right and if she did not like my rules she was more than welcome to do without until she left school, got a job and bought her own and paid for her own internet access. Needless to say she stopped complaining, I am not my daughters friend I am her mother it is my job to protect her even if she hates me for doing it at the time, she is now 21 has a degree, a full time job and is engaged and living in her own flat and was grateful I cared enough to be tougher than several of her ex friends parents

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