Should parents check their child's emails and text messages?

I think that parents should check their child's emails and text messages.  For those of you who think that this is too much work, parenting is hard work.  I know that we should all trust our kids, but even the best kids will test the boundaries.  Children need guidance from their parents until they become adults.  Even the best kids will make mistakes in life but we as parents have to help them through the times when they make mistakes.

In the age of electronics, a simple comment or snapshot can go viral worldwide in a matter of seconds.  There can be major consequences as a result of a simple email or text message.  The one thing that needs to be emphasized with children is that whenever you put something in an email or text, you no longer have any control over what happens to that information.  Parents also need to address the seriousness of sexting with their children.  If your child forwards an inappropriate photo, he/she can be considered  just as guilty as the person who took the photo.

This new age of electronics allows people to become bullies who wouldn't otherwise have the guts to be mean.  There have been several stories of teenagers committing suicide because of cyber bullying.  If parents would periodically check their child's emails and text messages, most children would be less likely to behave inappropriately.  I know that there is such a thing as "Delete".  Young people tend to have short term memory, so odds are that if you don't check emails/texts everyday, they will forget to delete the inappropriate items.

Unfortunately, emails and text messages as well as internet searches are all new things that we have to deal with as parents, that our parents did not encounter.  I think I liked my simple life as a kid.  Seven or eight television channels, playing hide-n-go-seek, jumping rope and playing sports with your neighborhood friends(not on a traveling team).





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  • As with most parenting issues, this one cannot be answer with a definitive yes or no. If the kids have never given you a reason to be concerned, I would consider reading their texts an invasion of their privacy. If there are concerns, perhaps it's justified. There are a LOT of nice kids out there who do not sext and do not bully and text simply to talk to their friends. Unfortunately, it's the ones who do stupid things who usually get the attention and make adults think that sort of activity is commonplace for teens.

  • In reply to annekip63:

    You are correct that this is not an easy issue. It was a tough decision that my husband and I discussed but in the end we are happy with our choice. While looking through my child's text messages, I discovered that a friend of a friend was cutting himself. I contacted the friend's parents and they didn't seem too interested. I contacted the counselor via email at the school that both children attended. I received a very gracious follow up email from the counselor. This is a very unusual scenario but this was a case where my snooping helped someone's child.

  • I dont think i will ever be a parent,but,in this age of cyber-bulling, child predators, you are not a bad parent if you check your teen child's cell phone.

  • In reply to According To Jeff:

    Jeff you would be a good Dad!

  • In respone to Anne above: Yes we should!! One thousand times. It's not invading their privacy. It's going through their technology to see what they have posted publicly on Facebook, to see what they have sent and received, and to find out how they are using the resources you, as the parent, paid for.

    If we wait until there's a reason to check, we've let it go too far. They have hurt someone or someone has hurt them.

    It's all about how we present it. "Give me your phone now. You better not be sending or receiving inappropriate texts," will not go over well. Instead, "I want to know that you are being responsible and I want to make sure no one is making you feel uncomfortable," will go over better. My kids are little but I plan to review their posts and text messages.

    If they're nice kids, then they have nothing to worry about.

    There's to much to risk if we don't. Reading their journal or diary, on the other hand, IS debatable.

  • Tracy, I forgot. The very first blog post I ever wrote was exactly about this issue. Check it out if you have a chance and thank you for continuing to bring this up.

  • In reply to Ray Salazar:

    Ray I read your link and my neck hurts from shaking my head in agreement.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    Thanks, Tracy.

  • Agree - Occasionally I'll check my kid's phone - sometimes they know and sometimes they don't. And to be honest, I don't really care if I'm invading their privacy. If they're not doing anything wrong, they don't have anything to worry about. But I also only sweat the major stuff. I say nothing about the foul language, or ripping on teachers, etc.

  • In reply to kirby:

    You are right! It's not necessary to complain about the normal kid stuff they post. I found evidence that a child was hurting himself by looking at text messages. I hope that child is getting the help that he needs.

  • In reply to kirby:

    I like this approach.

  • Okay, looks like I'm in the minority on this one. I stand by my position that it depends on the kid and situation and don't believe you can answer the question with a simple yes or no. Tracy, sounds like your experience had a positive outcome- I hadn't considered that it could potentially be helpful. There are a million ways to parent. If a kid gets in trouble or has friends that you aren't crazy about, it might be irresponsible to NOT check up on them. On the other hand, if you've got a kid who has never given you trouble and has nice friends, reading their texts and emails could hurt an otherwise open and trusting parent-child relationship. Others may disagree- I can only tell you what works for me.

  • In reply to annekip63:

    I am here to ask questions and give my opinions about parenting issues. I'm interested in hearing different points of view and I appreciate your views even if they differ from my views.

  • In reply to Tracy A. Stanciel:

    Definitely thought provoking, whatever stance you take. I would not have predicted that I'd be in the minority when I initially commented. Interesting.

  • I think that parents certainly have the right to, but only if they're paying for the phone. A lot of the things parents worry about are non-issues. My mom was blocking texts and everything. So I shut her out and bought my own prepaid evo that I can remotely wipe

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