Is it OK for me to read my kids' text messages on their phones?

Parents: there's no absolute right answer as to whether it's OK to read your kid's text messages. It depends on your kid's age, personality, and behavior. The most important thing is that you discuss responsible texting behavior. Remind them that any text can be forwarded to an unintended audience -- and texts that involve drugs, sexting, or other illegal things can get kids into real trouble.

The ideal time to establish rules around how the phone will be monitored is at the very beginning, when you give it to your kid. It's easier to relax your rules as you go along, rather than suddenly introduce new ones.

You can always simply ask to see their messages. If your kids recoil in horror, ask why they don't want you to see them -- it's very likely that there's nothing bad.

If you have reason to suspect that your kid is going through something dodgy that he or she won't discuss -- and you notice changes in his or her behavior, appearance, and actions -- then you might have probable cause. You also can consider purchasing a text-monitoring service through your wireless carrier.

Bottom line? Discuss appropriate cell phone behavior, set consequences for infractions, and monitor your kid's behavior. Every parent faces this dilemma at one time or another, whether it's regarding text messages or Instagram posts. If you do decide to sneak a peek, be prepared to see things you won't like -- and to have to choose whether or not to confront your child about what you've discovered.

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Teen, 17 years old written by Sylviaax

While I understand the other side of the argument, I disagree. Unless you have cause for concern (e.g sneaking out or talking about friends they've never met in real life) then you should leave it be. This whole issue is the reason I live with my friend now. My parents found out I was gay through my texts to my then girlfriend and kicked me out. 9 times out of 10 you won't find anything suspicious or dangerous and have you ever thought that they would tell you these things if you trusted them? You can't expect them to trust you if you don't trust them. Untrusting relationships don't make good kids- It makes good liars.
Teen, 16 years old written by ydotheylookatmyphone

I don't think they should. I got a messaging app so my parents wouldn't read my text messages. then one day they wanted to talk and I found out they went through my messages. I was mad. they took up my phone for the 2000000000th time bc they didn't didn't like what they saw. what I do on my phone is my personal problem, u don't have to like it. they've been doing it for a few years and I think they should stop, I think all parents should stop looking through their phones. I can't tell them how I feel about this bc I'm afraid of what they'll do
Adult written by Farrell

I have a 15 year old daughter. She received her 1st cell phone in 3rd grade. We set rules & guidelines for use back then. As a kid, I as her parent am legally responsible for her A) I always know the password to everything B) At any moment I can request to see her phone & look at it as I want; no attitude from her C) She is not to block me on any of her Social Media platforms D) If she betrays my trust, I will pay for a monitoring service, and will charge her for that service Yes, I understand that kids want their privacy, but until they are adults and can pay their own way, they shouldn’t expect it 24/7. I am a pretty chill parent (her & her friends words), but it’s also my job to protect her and make sure she is growing up to be a responsible human being. While I hope that she would come to me and that we always have open lines of communication, that isn’t always the case. So I need to do whatever it takes to make sure she is safe
Adult written by spikkke

So you know, I made a whole account just to say I feel bad for your daughter. I feel bad because she is being suffocated by you. Granted, I am not a parent. Regardless, giving your daughter zero room to breathe will only make you lose her trust. Trust is a two-way street, you have to give to get. She should trust that her parents respect her. Your ambition of protecting is isolating her, to think you can protect her from everything. I beat she have dummy accounts and deletes text message frequently. Oh and children (human beings) deserve their privacy, it isn't something that needs to be earned. Respect your child and their boundaries. Yes, they are allowed to have them even if they live in your home, eat your food, pay zero rent, and are minors. Do better Farrell.
Teen, 13 years old written by IcyDragon629

ok my little sister is 12 and my parents ALWAYS reads her text messages and she is rly mad about it and she said that she has met everyone she texts in real life before and that our parents why the need to check?? Our mom knows them and she is only 12 and still thinks boys have my only question is WHY!!!!!!! WHY do my parents read her text messages?!
Teen, 14 years old written by Chloe04

My mum reads all my messages and logs into my social media account to look at my online activity and my friends. I never really had the courage to ask her to stop after being shot down. I was 11 years old, and she said that most if not all parents did the same, and remained bitter for the rest of the day. I had phrased it as politely as I could but it wasn't great being reprimanded. I really hate it when she's upset because I'd get criticised and cry (sensitive whoops) and she'd get more upset it return. So I dare not ask again? But now I've gotten used to it, though I feel sad when I see my friends posting things of their own free will. For instance I'm technically not allowed to go online during exam periods but I do and I can't text of anything of the sort. So if I see my friends' pictures of them going out together etc. while I'm stuck at home and not supposed to go online, I feel sad.
Teen, 13 years old written by Coltsman180

My parents check my phone out of the blue and sometimes I’m pretty sure they just skim the phone just to see if any girls are on my phone because they don’t like me to talk to girls.
Teen, 16 years old written by maggiekarp

I didn't have a phone until I was 15. It wasn't technically my phone; it was shared between my parents and I (I'm an only child). We mostly bought it for emergencies only, so it barely had any texts on it, but I wasn't allowed to text my friends anyway. I did have a Twitter account that I had made a couple years earlier, so I downloaded the Twitter app and texted my friends through that. I didn't think it would be a problem, but it ended up creating a couple of them. I was talking to one of my friends about me being lesbian, and I hadn't come out to my parents because I didn't think they would accept it. One day I came home from school and my parents said they wanted to talk to me, and then proceeded to tell me that they had read my messages and found out I was lesbian. They ended up being supportive of me, so it wasn't a problem, and I couldn't ask for more understanding parents. I asked them nicely not to read my messages, because I think I'm a fairly good kid who knows how to stay safe online. My mom agreed, and told me she thought I had a right to privacy, and she told me she would stop reading my messages. Fast forward a couple years. I was talking to my best friend about them being LGBT. I was on my laptop at the time, and what I didn't know was that my mom was in the other room, reading every single one of our messages, and thus finding out my friend was LGBT. Neither of us had a chance to come out ourselves. Yes, my mom is accepting and supportive of both of us, but what if she wasn't? This is why you should not read your kids' messages, and you should absolutely not tell them you aren't going to and then do it anyway. The only time you should ever read your kids' texts is when you have a very, very good reason to believe they're doing something illegal or dangerous.
Teen, 15 years old written by b1a

I do understand the whole safety and protection thing, but little do you parents know that over protecting and over controlling your child is the reason they begin to do things they aren't suppose to. I am 15 and I've grown exhausted with the whole story of i'm doing this to protect you. I am the best I can possibly be, I was actually offered a scholarship just yesterday and my father couldn't even say a congratulations, also just found out today that I have spy cameras in my house, i don't know where but i found the boxes in which they came in. After all I have no energy to do good things and be good in school if I won't be congratulated for it, my parents always find something to complain about but never really tell me how proud they are. That is what your kid wants fom you, your recognistion, respect and trust. We are your children yes, but we also are humans. We aren't your property, so no snooping through your kids phone isn't ok. You will eventually push them away.
Teen, 15 years old written by trashjackal

i think it's an intrusion on your child's privacy to snoop through their phone. just as you wouldn't barge in on your kid's bedroom if their door was closed, i don't see it as appropriate to read through all their messages without valid reasoning (ie you heard your kid is involved in inappropriate behavior such as drug use). i get parents want to make sure their kids are staying out of trouble but being a helicopter parent has been proven to contribute to the development of anxiety disorders in teens as well as the perceived need to hide things, even when they aren't doing anything wrong. i would say the best thing you can do for your kid is educate them on issues that often come up pertaining technology and the internet and how to avoid them and let your kid do their thing, as long as you don't have any evidence that they're doing something illegal. believe it or not, teens do learn from their mistakes and i've had friends call me out on social media for saying something i shouldn't. just educating your kid and keeping the door open for conversation about stuff like this is the most appropriate thing you can do. it nurtures trust between you and your child and allows them to grow on their own, becoming more mature and sensible with internet use. additionally, i feel like a lot of parents have a sense of entitlement over their kids and the things they do. when you buy them a phone, you are acknowledging that it is THEIR phone. your children are NOT your property, they are human beings who learn, grow, reason, mature etc etc. it's belittling to see all these adults who believe they somehow own or control their children's lives. you are a parent, not a dictator. your job is to guide and educate, not have complete authority over your kids.
Teen, 16 years old written by GraceGS

As a teenager, I’ve seen so many of my peers get in trouble for things that involve technology. Most kids know what they’re doing is wrong, but they don’t think they’ll get caught. If they knew that their parents would be looking through their phone, they probably would’ve thought twice before sending/posting inappropriate content. Especially if your parents are paying for your phone, they have the right to look at it. They are responsible for you and they do it to keep you safe - not to ruin your life deliberately.
Teen, 13 years old written by Caitlin2525

I'm not a really a bad kid. But when my parents searched my phone the first few times, it made me break down into tears. I've lived a few places over the years, and I don't really like talking over the phone, so text messaging is the only way I talk to a lot of my friends. I use foul language, I admit, so that was in a lot of my messages. But I also told my friends I was bisexual. When my mother informed me of them reading my messages, it went like this,"Caitlin, your father read your messages. You mentioned something about your sexuality...", and that's when I broke down in tears. I tell my friends everything, and it is private. I understand that since they are paying for it, it's technically theirs. But this really messed up my relashionship with my parents. I've been drifting away from them for about a year now. Reading your child's messages multiple times, especially if they've never done anything in the past, ruins the bond. But as many people will tell you, stict parents create sneaky children. I'm not telling you not to read their messages, but please don't go indepth. Maybe do a once over. You still need to consider you child's feelings, even if they only are, just a child.
Parent written by Kim M.

I have read my kids text messages when they were younger - until they got wise to the fact and password protected everything on their phones. Not a huge deal - because they knew that anytime I asked for the phone for inspection, they had to unlock it and hand it over. When they were younger - preteen ages - not an issue. Since we didn't find anything out of the ordinary, they gained a level of trust and the inspections were less frequent as time went on. Hindsight being 20/20 and all - we should have continued the inspections semi-weekly because my eldest son (who had been subjected to a bully in middle school and his freshman year) was receiving text messages from said bully. He attempted to ignore them, but one day he'd just had enough of it and didn't want to deal with it anymore and said that this bully should be lucky he didn't have a means to get his hands on a weapon because otherwise he'd *****. I won't go into details but you get the jist of it. Long story short - my son was the one charged with felony assault via text message - and not a danged thing happened to the bully who had been harassing him for 2 years. The moral of the story is that parents need to be aware of (a) what is and is not acceptable to send via text message. I've drilled into my kids heads that if it isn't something they could say to their grandparents face-to-face, don't say it all and (b) know what your state laws are concerning threats, stalking, bullying, cyber-related or not to protect your children. Have a frank discussion with them about what the consequences could be if they do x, y, or z so that they know and understand that even something said flippantly in the heat of the moment can have serious consequences and long-reaching effects to their future down the line.
Adult written by Heather D.

A lot of the comments written below were submitted by children, who have a lot less life experience than their parents. With technology constantly changing, parenting also must change. Due to the constant access kids have to each other, parents need to be vigilant in their monitoring of texts and social media. I'm sure no parent has ever regretted acting on something they found that concerned them on their child's phone. As user Everett C. pointed out, it really isn't "their" phone until they have a job and can pay for it themselves. Most of the children responding think this is an issue of "trust" with their parents. Trusting a pre-teen or teenager to know what's right for themselves is like saying a car can diagnose and fix itself when it breaks down. They may THINK they have all the answers but as parents we KNEW we had the right answers as teenagers too, thinking our parents were crazy. Well, my parents weren't crazy and now that I am a parent of teenagers I realize how wrong I was. If trust is the issue for the children responding maybe they don't trust their parents enough to understand that monitoring texts and social media is something that very good parents do. As long as I'm paying the bill I will check my children's phones and I don't care if they like it or not. Either I check the phone or they don't have one.
Adult written by Daniel K

Yes? How about the girl who jumped to her death after being bullied over text and social media? How about the parents who find out their kid is using because of an overdose and a trip to the hospital? What about the 20% of teens smoking pot (and 19% who have admitted to driving while high) What about the teen girls dating a guy in his 20s who plot to kill her parents on ID? What about the kids planning to shoot up their school? All examples of BAD PARENTS. Check the phone. Check their book bags. Be parents. No teen on here is going to like it. Too bad.
Teen, 13 years old written by Kiddo-neechan

Okay. I feel this is something I need to cover. My parents are the sweetest parents one could come across BUT they are the kind who feel that they need to know what's going on in my life. I understand completely. You, as an adult or a child, probably came across the same kind of question: Are they spying on me?/Should I check on them? Just as you adults can practice self-control, we can too. Unless you're my cousin or a rare few. Recently, she was found watching a K drama at night. It's ok, it's fine, it isn't too severe. However, it caused my parents to be reaaalllyyy CREEPY. They've suddenly gotten interested in my habits, favourite shows and friends. It's wrong to PRY on them, but it isn't to ask and be a little creepy once in a while. As a matter of a fact, we're closer than before! I found our few similar interests and introduced them to my life. They found nothing wrong with my interests and were back to normal. Maybe that's what you should do. If they are being suspicious with their phone, just ask. They'll come and tell you eventually. The truth always comes out in the end anyways.
Adult written by Everett C.

The question is incorrect. It is not "THEIR" phone. Think about this: If you pay the phone bill with your name on it and they eat your food, live in your house, drive your vehicles, sleep in your bed, use your electricity, drink or use your water, use your money to go places or buy things, watch your tv with your service provider, play in your yard, participate in the extracurricular activities at school you pay for, you get the idea. All of this with the full-time job you or maybe even both parents work to provide all these things and so much more. You as a parent if this is your situation should not even be asking such a question. Kids at school know that the text book or tablets they use are school property and are subject to review for content. We know that our employer other than in the bathroom has every right to anything he/she wants to know about at work. Yes, even your lunch break can be subject to review. Doing this is being a concerned parent especially with how the world is today. It has nothing to do with trust or treating anyone with disrespect. It is a privilege, not a right. I know most of the comments on this post are from young people. Read this and think about what your parents sacrifice to give you all the "PRIVILEGES" you have. If you think it is unfair, move out, get a job, completely sever your financial ties with your parents and join the real adult world and suddenly a few read text messages don't seem so bad do they.
Adult written by Heather D.

You are absolutely right! I love every word you wrote, if only those children responding could understand...Too many parents don't monitor or even set expectations for phones, it will eventually backfire when they are expected to comply in the adult world.
Teen, 17 years old written by MarilynManson17

No, unless your child is particularly defiant and known for participating in illegal activities or sneaking out, do them a favor and do not read their texts. Please, we are begging you to show some trust in us and we are begging you to treat us like we are human and not some inferior species. My parents not only read my messages, but go through my social media, photos, and search history. I am 17 years old and, while I am expected to act like an adult and forced to care for my five siblings whenever they need me to, I am treated like a toddler and constantly subjected to them going through my phone and personal belongings. So parents, please remember that you were a young person once and consider how you would feel if your parents had no trust in you for no good reason. Thank you.
Teen, 15 years old written by rrrrr6

My patience actually bought something and they can legit read my texts and look at my calls through their phone. it’s hurt my relationships with friends very much.
Teen, 16 years old written by imaginaryfeelings

No, going through a child's messages is a complete invasion of privacy. My mother has just read snapchat conversations between me and my bestfriend, where we both joke around, send each other photos and videos we find funny. We also swear during our conversations, something I never do anywhere else. Obviously, the way I talk to my friends, and the way I talk to my parents or my teachers is completely different. I was also talking to my best friend about how I lied to my parents about going to her house, when instead I was going to see my psychologist. I have just been diagnosed with depression, anxiety and an eating disorder. I have previously tried to talk to my parents about my mental health, but neither of them cared, blaming my unhappiness on just 'being a spoilt teenager,' so I thought seeking professional help was the only way to solve anything. My mum is really mad at me right now, and has confiscated my phone and blocked my friend on snapchat. So going through your children's phone, is a huge no! Maybe if the adult population actually listened to us, they'd realise we aren't just rebellious, or spoilt, or bratty. We don't do things to annoy or upset our parents for the sake of it. Sometimes, we are simply having a conversation with a friend, that is meant to stay between friends.
Teen, 13 years old written by evibear_11

Looking through text messages?? No thank you!! Growing up and becoming a teen wasn’t perfect. At least for me. I had the type of childhood where you watch through your window all the other kids playing on the front yard, wishing that you could have fun too. (But your not allowed). Now as a teenager I am expecting freedom from my overprotective parents. WRONG! I’m not allowed to go to fun places with my friends or join any social media. #FOMO is real for me. Now my parents are considering reading my texts! That’s one line they crossed to far. I’m a good kid! I have to keep things bottled inside for my own privacy’s sake. So parents, if you really want your child to loose trust in you, go ahead and read the texts.
Teen, 14 years old written by JH2004

I think that parents need to respect your privacy. My parents are now reading through my texts, which in my view is completely disregarding my privacy. I talk to people on my phone and I don't need my parents to read through what I have been saying. Maybe little kids, but as a 14 year old teenager I feel that I should have some freedom with what I do, and I feel that my parents don't respect that. I can't have instagram or snapchat or any social media on my phone, and they're thinking of removing Skype which is the main thing I use on it, which is totally unfair. Kids have their own lives that don't need to be monitored 24/7, parents need to accept the fact that they can't keep their kids to themselves forever and stop them from doing their own things.
Teen, 16 years old written by gkf813

Obviously, everyone in the wide category of children are going to have the answer of no, so I can understand how it might be difficult to make a decision with such a biased group. However, I hope that my response better explains why I feel the same way as the majority. Here’s a little background to begin. I would like to think that I am a fairly good kid. I think about what I do and my parents know me and what i’m viewing and sharing online. Even without monitoring me, I know that they would be able to trust me. Sure, everyone makes mistakes, but I have never done anything to make it necessary for my parents to monitor me in the way that that they have. That’s why I am still confused as to why I am monitored. When I first began texting I was around twelve. And to be perfectly honest with you, I don’t think it’s wrong to monitor texts when kids are first beginning to text, which is what my parents did. I think that parents should be able to help kids navigate what is appropriate to look at and share when they are first texting. However, when you know your child, and you trust them, I think that it is important to give them that space. Of course, I was annoyed at age 12, but I feel like even then I knew I would never have to worry because I’d eventually be able to text freely. However, it continued up until now. Again, I understand the care and concern put into this, but I think that it can become a bit intrusive. I do not text my friends anything that I wouldn’t show my parents, and if I ever do it’ll just be me telling a friend about a crush or something silly like that- things that are just personal to my friends. Maybe it isn’t that important, but these “little things” are still personal and I do not think that it is ok to intrude on things like that. It intrudes on conversations that I am having with friends, and I feel as if i do not have any privacy sometimes. If anything this has made me more possessive of my phone. I am always asked why it is constantly on me, and it is because I just don’t want to have my personal life exposed then and there. I feel as if there would be more trust between my parents and I if there was no phone-checking. If it was not done in the way it is, I think I would be more open to them. If they had not been checking my phone, I think that there would be better chances that I’d be able to let them know something important knowing that I would be able to tell them on my own rather than through my phone screen. Parents, again, I understand where these thoughts are coming from. I can’t lie when I say that I would consider doing the same for my child. However, I think that there is a point where everyone deserves privacy. If you have a good child that you know that you can trust, I think it is important to build that trust by proving it to them. By doing so, your kid will be more open with you when it matters most. It will decrease your kids attachment to their phone and provide for a better relationship between you both.
Kid, 12 years old

I don't think that parents should do this unless they apsolutely have to. With my devices, my parents don't read my messages they told me that they have the right to.
Teen, 13 years old written by potato2

Let's just say I have mega strict parents, and I kinda get that seeing as they obviously didn't grow up where I am now, and yeah they're just.. yeah. I'm not gonna put all the blame on them since like I did make a lot of mistakes, but it's gotten to the point where my photos, apps, browsing history and calls are all checked. I don't even know what to do. Even my games, if there's even like an ad about idk, romance, I'm grounded for like a month. I used to have WhatsApp, they deleted that. I even have a restrictive password put on my app store (I mean I guessed it though so..) Idk how to make them understand that I have rights, and they shouldn't constantly be so paranoid. They really don't get the fact that I'm a teenager, and yeah I may be having a few crushes here and there, and it's such a pain to not be able to actually talk to my friends freely about all that sort of stuff. It has led to me and my parents just not trusting eachother, and because of the lack of privacy and freedom I have, I simply cannot wait till I can move out (for other reasons as well).
Teen, 13 years old written by RyTG

I have completely lost trust in my mom with this. She will go over every detail and then bother me about it next opportunity. It gets to the point where I can't talk to girls WHO ARE JUST FRIENDS without being interrogated about my feelings. I can't have any privacy and my relationship with my mother is pretty much past the point of no return with this and other issues. My mom doesn't understand that I am actually very mature and I can deal with my own issues, in my own privacy, without becoming unhealthily anxious.
Kid, 12 years old

Okay. Here we go. I have almost always been a non-problematic kid, but at the end of each year, I start making mistakes. My mother went through my phone for this reason because she wanted to see if I had any apps or things that I wasn't allowed to have. That is okay, especially if you have a child like me. But text messages and notes are on a whole other level. My mum went through my phone and looked at my texts with a friend, so now she knows that I am LGBT. She hasn't confronted me about it (because it only happened last night) but she did read them, because when I double-tapped the home button, the messages with me and my friend popped up and I didn't check them within the past 7 days. If children are hiding something, they will tell you eventually. If they don't tell you, you don't need to know. Knowing that my mum went through my texts has freaked me out and I've spent the past hour looking for a solution and texting my friends in panic. I'm considering suicide, which a 12-year-old should not be considering. IT IS NOT OKAY TO GO THROUGH A KID'S MESSAGES. YOUR CHILDREN ARE NOT YOUR POSSESSIONS.
Teen, 15 years old written by Rosalover28

No it's not right reading your kids text yes I know your worried but sometimes you haft to respect there stuff and privacy trust me I don't think you would want your kids reading your text would you? Yes kids are going to bad stuff on there phone but you can't always protect them sometimes they haft to learn them selves and get hurt then learn from there mistake!! So please parents out there give ur kids space and privacy!!!
Kid, 11 years old

No. Just NO. This is way way way too intrusive. Ive had my phone a while now, and my tablet even before that, and my parents are constantly enabling monitoring and installing spyware. THIS IS AN INVASION OF PRIVACY. We've chatted about e-safety, I know the risks, and Im not stupid either. Im not gonna sext, Im not gonna send rude messages or anything like that. My friends are nice kids who mean no harm. YOU KNOW THAT (Im talking to you, parents) , AND IF YOU KNOW THAT, WHY DO YOU WANT TO CHECK MY HISTORY EVERY WEEK AND READ ALL MY MESSAGES! Here's the scenario. Im texting my bff about who i secretly fancy. Suddenly Mum checks the spyware app and BOOM all my secrets are found out. EVERY KID HAS SECRETS, EVERY KID WILL FANCY SOMEONE AT ONE POINT, and they might not want you to know about it. THATS GONNA HAPPEN, SO KEEP IT THAT WAY
Teen, 13 years old written by Reader Girl

I understand that parents want to keep kids safe but reading all of their text messages is a little invasive. If you can’t trust your child enough to have appropriate text messages with their friends, don’t get them a phone. And not all text messages they want to keep private are bad. I make straight A’s and have never gotten a detention but there are still conversations a don’t want my mom to read. My feelings are my feelings and some things are just not problems moms can help with. For example, I don’t need my mom involved in my discussion with my friend about how I like a boy. She doesn’t need to know that. Keep in mind that even though they are “your” child, they are not your property and they still have rights.
Teen, 14 years old written by Adom21

No, I believe it is wrong to check your child's messages. First, you should trust your child. If you do not trust him, even then you should still not check there messages. If you do check there phones, it will most likely piss them off and make them resent you. If you don't trust him/ her, and check everything, they will find ways around you doing this, which will probably hurt your relationship since both of you won't trust each other. Second, You should respect your child enough to not check there phone. There phone is important to them as your journal would of been when you were a kid/ teen. Respect your child's privacy, which should build up trust between you two. Both ways, don't check there messages or social media or whatever. Stay out of you child's buisness, which will build trust and let both of you have respect for each other. Remeber, this is coming from a 14 year old.
Teen, 15 years old written by EvanL115

No, this is not a good idea. My parents never moniter any of my devices, because in our relationship there's something called trust. I'm a teenager now and I'm capable of making my own decisions whether they're good or bad. Once in a while my parents will walk into my room and take a glance at my pc moniter, which is completely understandable. Why is it that your kids are "young adults" when it comes to doing the laundry or cleaning the kitchen. But when it comes to their own choices, they have to be tracked down? Why is it bad that we want to listen to explicit rap or hip hop videos? Cursing is everywhere. My parents only allowed me to play minecraft when I was a little kid. As soon as I joined a server, a 20 year old guy was talking about drugs. Eventually your kid is going to find out that the world we live in isn't so sweet. We are exposed to almost everything, everywhere. But that doesn't mean we're going to get ourselves involved. Give us some privacy. We're human too you know.
Teen, 15 years old written by mkv2326

I would definitely say it's not a good idea unless you suspect the child is engaging in criminal activity. Personally, that policy has made me constantly paranoid, as my parents would become upset over minor things. Maybe if the child is young and doesn't have common sense when it comes to Internet safety, it's okay to look through your child's phone, but a teen is familiar with the Internet and can deal with situations on their own. If you show that you trust them, your child will come to you to sort out problems if they really need to.
Teen, 14 years old written by tanyapop

Hi there. I have two parents who are quite obsessive, especially with me since I'm the oldest and I've been the "perfect kid" in the past. When I was younger it wasn't a problem to me because my life often revolved around school and home life so I had nothing to hide. I was also innocent and my friends were exactly the same. As I grew up and experimented and learnt my own lessons my parents interpreted this as me not wanting to share because I was doing something horrible which was never the case. I stopped being a Christian and I discovered I was gay which was mainly what I was worried about my parents discovering. That's my personal business which really has nothing to do with behavioural issues. They checked my phone constantly and there was always an air of "I want to see what you're doing and if I can't see it, I will look". I was always a sensitive child who was never doing anything too bad. I'm like the normal teen, yes I swear, I'm not religious in any sense, if I have a sleepover with friends we might take a naughty sip of our parents' alcohol , not enough to get drunk but just as a game like I'm sure kids have done in the past. I don't engage in sexting or underage sex, I don't buy or sell drugs and I don't binge drink. I have friends from across the world who I know are real people because they are constantly posting their face and I've had facetime calls with them where they physically talk to me. They also always have updates about what's going on in their life and it's not all centered around me. This isn't a sign of a teenager doing anything bad. My parents however, are very conservative and this leaves little space for a teenager to grow and develop as an adult and also less ability for me to be honest with them over my feelings and new things happening in my life for fear of them judging me which built a rift. The constant checking also had a negative impact on my mental health and it actually got to the point of me attempting suicide. This was a sobering event for my parents who realised I needed a little space but the damage was already done. I recently attempted suicide again and this was through no fault of any bullying at all but rather just the mental illnesses i developed from constant checking. My parents then decided it was time to become obsessive again and I'm now getting a tracking app on my iPhone alongside a spyware app I'm guessing. I don't agree with this because the feeling of having an eye on me all the time is so discomforting and I don't feel like I'm able to be honest with my parents again because of this.. About almost Anything. I am mature and I don't sext people, even if I get sexts, I don't plan on taking any drugs in the time being and with those naughty sips of a drink like say Brandy, the experience was horrible, loads of sweating and a burning throat and I don't think I'm likely to try it ever again. Parents dont realise that this is how teenagers actually learn and checking and restrictions don't amount to anything in the real world. I am also not suicidal anymore but I think my mental health is definitely resting on how much privacy I get. I feel like I need privacy because I want to develop as a person and feel comfortable doing it. I also want to be able to talk to my parents easily without feeling like I was going to be judged or told off because that's how the accidents stop happening. All these stories of grooming and cyberbullying, the kids often feel like they cant show or talk to their parents about this "new friend they made" or the "girl at school who said this on Instagram". Spying doesn't really work because teens always find their way around rules. Its good old conversations that sort stuff out. That being said, it can't happen if you make your child feels like you're telling them off for the smallest thing eg, swear words or having a secret instagram account that they use like a diary that they dont want to share with you
Kid, 12 years old

No, if you don't trust them enough to let them keep their messages private, don't give them a phone at all.
Kid, 12 years old

I know I'm a kid but no! If you trust your kid to have a phone then why not trust them on what they are saying or using! If you are going to check their phone instead say this so they don't lose your trust, "hey ________ can I see your phone for a second, I want to send a text to your father/aunt/uncle (any relative or friend) because my phone just died and I need to tell your ________ something!" While "doing that" just check the apps, if they have something suspicious the next day just sit with them and say "I know you have been using __________(name of social media) so I've been thinking, how about I make an account too; you have to follow me and I have to follow you, you have no rights to block me and or unfollow me. If they ask why think of a friend they have that has social media and say "well _______'s mom told me that you were acting strange online with some stuff that a child like you shouldn't do." this is the only way for your child to still trust you, I swear! I'm a child and has gone through this. When I turn 13 I will get the rest of social media including Facebook, twitter, Snapchat, and other apps like that. But any who, I don't encourage your idea, it seems awful and your child won't gain trust on you anymore often. It's the worst move a parent could do.
Kid, 10 years old

I think and I may just think this beacause I am a kid but if you trust your kid enough give them a phone then you have to trust them. I'm not saying you can't occasionally say " hey can I see your phone for mandatory checks every now or then"
Adult written by Greta B.

It seems to me that if I tell my daughter about my plan to spy her, I will lose her trust forever. I'm sure, it will make her lie to me about everything. To control or not – it is always a choice of parents. Like any other mother I worry about my child. I tried this app because they have a free demo version. But after using it for a few weeks, I realize that my daughter has the same rights as me. And I don't want anyone to read my messages. So why don't I care about my daughter’s privacy? And I stopped using that app.
Kid, 12 years old

yo brynnelizabeth that is really not cool give your kids some privacy in their lives
Teen, 13 years old written by Natalie_Grace_1112

I keep seeing these same questions.. XD TRUST. You have to trust your kids to make the right decisions. I can promise you I have never said or sent a pic of anything inappropriate on text or social media. My parents trust me. Knowing that they trust me is all the support I need to make the right decision. I know whats wrong and whats ok. I am glad that my parents love me enough to trust me with texting. I hope you trust your kid enough to not read their texts.
Teen, 13 years old written by JeffJr

Definitely, that's what my parents do to me, I fully support it. It keeps you on the track as well so you don't sway off course and get yourself into trouble. I say yes unless the messages are from the kid's boyfriend or girlfriend, that's private.
Parent of a 9, 10, 12, and 13 year old written by brynnelizabeth

We put our phones on the kitchen counter at night to charge. All of us. None of the kids are allowed to have passwords that we do not know, so at night when they are all asleep we do browse their histories and messages. If it's not anything that needs to be brought to their attention then we don't say anything, but there have been two instances where I am very glad that we monitor because it allowed us to correct the issue.
Kid, 11 years old

That is the most disgusting, horrible thing. Ever. Why would you do that? That's dirty, rude, intrusive, and downright unethical. STOP!!!!!!!!!
Teen, 13 years old written by qwertymcqwerts

OH MY GOD STOP THAT'S RIDICULOUS. The 9 & 10 year olds, sure, fine, but at the ages of twelve or thirteen then that's a complete invasion of privacy. And please, for the love of god, TELL THEM THAT YOU ARE LOOKING THROUGH THEIR FREAKING PHONES.
Adult written by Jsivaches

I agree. Just think how much the kid will hate you when (not if) they find out. Just talk to them and if something happens where they feel they need help they'll tell you.