Fatwa: # 45517
Category: Jurisprudence and Rulings...
Country: African Country
Date: 22nd June 2020

Title

Do parents have a right in Islam to check their child's email, phone, etc.?

Question

Aslamualaikum WRBR,

Before I ask, I know this question may seem a little weird or awkward, but I just wanted to know. So basically, I wanted to ask if parents have a right in Islam to check their child's email, phone, etc., anything regarding contact with another person. THIS IS REGARDING MINORS-AGES 18 AND DOWN~ I don't know how to further explain, but just generally asking if A) parents do or don't have a right, and b) if a child has rights of privacy. JZK.    

Answer

In the Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

As-salāmu ‘alaykum wa-rahmatullāhi wa-barakātuh.

Sister in Islam,

We are living in a world of technological advancements that has made the world a global village. It is possible for one to communicate with others across the globe even within the confinements of one’s home.

The different types of media platforms have created a surge in the youth to utilize such platforms to create an image of themselves and become popular. As a matter of fact, the older generation are moving towards that direction as well.

The common trend amongst the youth is to while away their time on social media platforms like Whatsapp, Twitter, Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Snapchat etc.

Social media is a double-edged sword. The good of it is good and the evil of it is evil. The evils of social media could overweigh the good of social media. Experts have warned that social media becomes an addiction. It prevents kids from getting outside and having real life interactions. They also increase anxiety and depression. It exposes kids to sexual content.

A New York City psychotherapist says: “I always encourage parents to put off children’s use of social media for as long as possible. If you do allow your child to have social media early on, I recommend having all the passwords and access to the accounts in order to monitor their behaviour while they learn how to properly use and navigate the internet. [i] 

2015 U.K. Office for National Statistics finds that children who spend more than 3 hours each school day on social media sites are more than twice as likely to suffer poor mental health. Their immersion in a virtual world may cause these children to experience delay in their emotional and social development. According to the report, social media are potentially “a source of social comparison, cyber bullying and isolation”, which could lead to mental health problems.

Another 2015 study by the British Psychological Society finds that teenagers being obligated to be responsive to social media (liking posts, answering texts and direct messages) throughout the day affect their mental health. [ii]

A 2019 study from the University of Montreal has found that among various types of screen time including playing video games, social media is more linked to depressive symptoms in teenagers. This is because in platforms popular to teens, especially Instagram, teens are likely to compare their lives to idealized images in their feed, and promote upward social comparison. Oftentimes, this makes them feel inadequate and bad about themselves.

A study by Larry Rosen, a professor of psychology at California State University concludes that extended use of social networks like Facebook can result in a decrease in empathy among teens, and thus an increase in narcissism.[iii]

One other serious harm of social media is that offensive, explicit and violent content is easily accessible, which impacts young minds. This content can shape their minds in the wrong manner, or cause them to become mentally disturbed later affecting other avenues of their lives, from education to personal relationships and more.

It is the duty of parents to nurture and bring up their children in the most correct and in the best way possible. If children are involved in something which is harmful, either to their worldly life or eternal life, it is the duty of the parents to correct them.

The harms of such platforms far outweigh the benefits, especially for the youth. Our youth are the leaders of tomorrow. Whilst we just celebrated youth day in the country, we need to look closer in our homes and ask the question, “Are our youth probable leaders come tomorrow? Do the youth possess qualities of leaders?”

The answer to that question lies completely in the upbringing and nurturing of our children. Based on what seed is grown, a plant will sprout. If we plant the seeds of Iman in the hearts of our children, great leaders will emerge tomorrow carrying the flag of our Deen.

It is the responsibility of the parents to monitor the children’s behaviour on social media. They have a right to safeguard and protect their children from the evils of social media. The child does not have a right of privacy against their parents in such issues.

And Allah Ta’āla Knows Best

Mahmood Suliman

Student Darul Iftaa
Gaborone, Botswana

Checked and Approved by,
Mufti Ebrahim Desai.

 

 

 

 

 


[i] https://www.care.com/c/stories/4275/5-dangers-of-social-media-to-discuss-with-you/

 

 

[ii] https://www.raisesmartkid.com/10-to-16-years-old/6-articles/43-facebook-myspace-twitter-good-or-bad-for-kids-brain

 

 

[iii] https://www.raisesmartkid.com/10-to-16-years-old/6-articles/43-facebook-myspace-twitter-good-or-bad-for-kids-brain

 

https://parenting.firstcry.com/articles/impact-of-social-media-on-children/

 

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