Should I read my teen’s texts?
My 14-year-old daughter just got a cellphone.
I feel like I should be reading her texts to see what she is sharing with others. While she may think it’s private, we all know kids can take screenshots and share on social media, etc. I feel like it’s my job to guide her when it comes to texting and what she shares with others. Or is this a breach of privacy? It’s not like it’s her diary… what should I do?
WOW! WHAT A GREAT QUESTION! You’re completely right that social media and sharing information through text CAN present true dangers!
It’s crucial that your child is at a high enough level of emotional maturity to actually be trusted with a cellphone in the first place. If your teen doesn’t have the ability to make safe decisions, in my opinion, they shouldn’t have a cellphone. Although this may sound harsh, your role as a parent is to protect them and to prepare them to become responsible adults. If you didn’t believe your teen could make safe decisions while driving a vehicle, would you let them drive a car?
Some parents choose to monitor their kids’ texts, but this does infringe on their privacy. (Can you imagine how you would feel if someone checked your cellphone?) This can also prevent them from freely expressing themselves with their friends on normal and embarrassing teen issues that they need peer support on. Monitoring your child’s texts is also ineffective in many cases—if a teen really wants to find a way around the rules, they will!
When you think your teen may be ready for a phone, try giving them a “pop quiz.” Think of this as the driver’s test of getting to have a cellphone in your household! You can structure the test however you like and even use references to modern day apps and situations as questions. Be creative! The idea is to determine if they properly understand the dangers of social media and texting and are ready to use it in a responsible way.
The excitement and reward of being trusted with their own device is such a positive experience. Enjoy!