Well, this one was a doozie. We sent out a poll among parents and got back a resounding “yes” when asking whether or not reading a child’s text messages was “ok” in their eyes.
To set the stage, we didn’t state any age frames, as we all know maturity can vary greatly between two different children in the same peer group. But, of course, it was implied that these are children who have phones and are not yet 18 years of age. They are likely living at home and under the roof – and rules – of the parents/guardians responding to the our Facebook question.
Here is just a little feedback from some of our parenting panel:
Tamika B. wrote in from Jacksonville, Florida: “Absolutely it's ok to read their text. Unfortunately In the world we live in where there are all kinds of people that are out to harm our children it's a must to read them.”
Veronica T. chimed in from Florence, AZ: “Not only do you pay for your child's phone, you are in charge of their safety and security.” When asked if her perspective would change if the child was paying for the phone themselves but still living under their roof, she stayed firm in her response, “My first response is, I pay so I look. Then, when they are out of my house, they get freedom. Until then, I am doing my job as mom.”
Shortly after, a newlywed and young adult, without kids herself, shared, “I think it depends on how old your kids are. At some point, it's just a breach of independence and trust. I would think it would vary per kid, their responsibility, but would be interested in hearing what others think! I'm not a parent, so I think my perception is probably from the opposite perspective.”
Naomi Y. from San Tan, Arizona gave her two cents, “They are your children. Of course it’s ok to read their texts. Keep them safe because you love them. They may not appreciate it but they are children and have no rights. You are their conscience until they can make the right decisions on their own. It’s a technological era. Reading their texts and emails is the right of a parent.”
This sort of dialogue begged the next question, “How do you go about managing such? Do you tell them or complete random and spontaneous checks?
The results rolled in…
Mary M. shared openly a lesson learned from their stealth approach, “with my daughter we used a tracking app and didn’t let her know what all we had access to seeing. That was a HUGE mistake. If I had it to do over again I’d have sat down with her while installing it and tell her all of the reasons we felt it was necessary. We were in a situation where her phone was a gift from her stepmom’s relative and the phone plan was paid for by her dad. He didn’t want us to tell her about it so our hands were tied. 4+ years later she’s still angry with her dad for this. With our 12yo we are very clear that he is being monitored and will continue to be until for a long time.”
Jessica A offered, “Random, unannounced for sure... they will find ways around just text messages as in messaging thru apps etc... things they think you won’t find (and trust me, you probably won’t find them) If they know you check their regular texts.”
Another reader wrote, “You can tell them when they get the phone that you will be periodically checking. And make sure you can find a way to see if they deleted any texts. That way you can make sure they are not hiding something from you. But only do this if you feel you have a reason not to trust. A phone is not a right, it is a privilege.”
With all these seemingly pro-peeking opinions, we wonder, what are your thoughts and practices when it comes to monitoring messaging in your family dynamic? Comment below!