Reading Your Teen’s Texts: Safety Measure or Invasion of Privacy?
For all its benefits, social media comes with a handful of dangers, and children are more prone to these threats than anyone else. Their curiosity and inexperience make them easy prey in the hands of online predators. As such, they could quickly become victims of cyberbullying, catfishing, and sexual predation.
Little wonder, then, that most parents continuously worry about the safety of their kids online. Because of this fear, some resort to going through their children’s smartphones to find out who they’re texting. But should parents check their child’s phone?
Many people argue that going through teenagers’ cell phones without their permission is an invasion of privacy, regardless of the situation. The idea is parents should give their children freedom, discuss safe use of the Internet with them, and trust them to do what’s right. Yet, some still argue that while parents can discuss the healthy use of social media with their children, teenagers have an innate desire to explore and try out new things.
This curiosity gets the better of them sometimes, and they may find themselves in trouble as a result. Generally, children cannot protect themselves from threats like sexual predation or cyberbullying. This duty lies with their parents, who are responsible for them until they reach adulthood, and the above scenarios may force them to go through their kids’ devices to safeguard them.
There are vital points to both arguments, in all honesty, and the severity of the situation may determine what parents should do to look after their child or ward.
My Child Doesn’t Show Me Their Texts: What Do I Do?
Parents who are suspicious of their child’s use of social media and have tried to read their texts know how frustrating it can be to gain access to someone’s smartphone. People don’t outrightly hand you their phones to read their messages. They don’t leave their mobile devices lying around for you to snoop through, either.
Furthermore, the complex security locks they have on their smartphones make it extremely difficult to see what they’ve been doing when you finally get your hands on their phone. If you’ve tried reading your child’s text, but they aren’t allowing you to, the best option would be to discuss your worries about their use of the Internet with them. Make them understand the dangers that lurk on the Internet and how they can stay safe.
This way, they can look after themselves in your absence. It also helps reaffirm your trust in them. But, if you sense they may be engaging in anything too dangerous and their well-being might be at risk, you could use a spy app to monitor their phones to see what’s wrong.
Spy apps are software packages that enable you to receive text messages from another phone. However, this step shouldn’t be your first course of action. Trusting in your kids should be the default move at all times.
Is It Legal to Read Your Kid’s Messages Without Their Permission?
As a rule, it’s wrong to spy on someone’s text messages without their permission, whether they’re adults or minors. And, while parents find it easy to snoop through their children’s phones in the guise of protecting them, teenagers also need their privacy as they grow up. Regardless of the situation, secretly monitoring your child’s phone shouldn’t be your first move.
It sets a wrong precedent and might damage the trust between the two of you. Other reasons why you shouldn’t spy on your kids include:
It Encourages Further Dishonesty
When your child finds out you’re snooping through their messages, they may begin to take more measures to hide things from you, even things you should know of that could harm them. They may go on the Internet and lookup search results like “Can my parents see my texts?” alongside ways to keep their chats away from you. This kind of behavior hinders your efforts to protect them even more.
It Gives Them a False Sense of Boundaries
When you spy on your kids at every given opportunity, it creates an impression that that kind of behavior is normal and acceptable. Because of this belief, they may grow up with a lack of respect for personal boundaries and privacy in their relationships.
It Hinders Their Independence
Always spying on your kids and invading their privacy may hinder their ability to navigate the world independently. Teenagers need to do some things on their own to mature into well-rounded adults. When you continuously invade their space, you’re preventing them from growing up and making the right decisions based on their rational reasoning.
If you’re worried about your child’s safety, talking to them first and finding out what’s wrong is a more reliable step to take. It builds trust and shows them that they have your love and support. It also ensures they can protect themselves in the future when you’re not around.
Teen phone monitoring should only come into the conversation when you sense that they might be in severe danger. Sexual predation, cyberbullying, and mental health challenges resulting from their attachment to the Internet are some of the reasons you could opt for gaining access to your child’s phone. Otherwise, it’s wrong to spy on your kids.
Psychological Features of Adolescence
As children pass through adolescence, there are specific psychological changes they may experience. When you understand the different phases they go through, you can help them navigate the world. Briefly, here are some psychological changes that are typical in adolescents:
Strong Emotional Reactions
Children and teenagers generally don’t have the maturity to express, manage, and control their emotions. As such, they may display extreme reactions and irrational changes in moods.
Self-Consciousness and Insecurities
As children grow, they become more conscious of their bodies and may even compare themselves with their peers. These comparisons can lead to feelings of insecurity. This self-consciousness may also result in anxiety regarding friendships and relationships.
Irrational Decision Making
Since children and teenagers are mostly emotional, they may make impulsive and selfish decisions based on current moods and feelings. This kind of behavior is primarily because their brains are still maturing, and, as such, they cannot accurately process and understand the consequences of their actions.
As your children grow, they may want their independence. They want to explore, try out new experiences, and do things on their own. This characteristic is due to an innate curiosity in teenagers to learn about the world.
There are several arguments surrounding parent text message monitoring. While there are scenarios that may warrant you to snoop through your child’s phone, it’s best to build a relationship with them and teach them about the dangers of the Internet. This way, they can protect themselves when you’re not around.