I monitor Daughter’s Google activity. She’s 11, and it’s not hard to do. She has been told. It’s not creepy.
It’s mostly YouTube searches and views, but those provide a valuable insider view into the things she’s curious about. Sure, there’s plenty of pre-teen stuff like clips from “Dance Moms” and purely practical searches for “how to take better iPhone photos” and “how to cook spinach” (!).
But there is also the odd search for “How to make friends,” “How to win an argument with your mom,” and “How to make your bff jealous.”
Google knows that this 11 year-old is curious about these things, and that’s all the reason you need to monitor and regulate kids’ use of technology platforms. They’re going to be fed content and advertising to exploit that curiosity, and they won’t even be aware of it.
I know about this curiosity now too, though, but I most certainly wouldn’t know about it if Google didn’t keep this record and allow users to review it. And what do I do with it? I ponder it. I add it to my very thin collection of things I know my kid is thinking about. I allow it to inform my sense of the person she is becoming.