Should We Read Our Kids’ Texts?

Last night my 16-year-old daughter Alyssa was sitting in my Parenting the Texting Generation workshop in Southern California (we used the weekend as an opportunity to look at some colleges for her). After the workshop she was talking openly with a handful of us about the guidelines Lori and I set for her and her sister, and she shared, “I agree with all my parents’ guidelines except the one about them being able to read my texts at any time. I’m not gonna do that one with my kids when I’m a parent.”

I had never heard this objection from Alyssa before. Surprised, I asked her, “Oh really? Why wouldn’t you read your own kids texts?

She said, “Because that’s just wrong.”

Alyssa has never been one to mince words.

I chuckled and filed the conversation for later, but I was intrigued. This was one of those rules that we rarely enforced. Well, maybe that’s not entirely true. The rule states that we have the right to look at texts at any time, and that right was definitely enforced—we did exercise the ability to do that at any time. We just haven’t done it very often. I’ve probably looked at Alyssa’s texts once this entire year (and it actually resulted in a pretty good conversation).

So why did this particular rule irk Alyssa?

This was just one of the guidelines that we had come up with as a family. In the workshop I had encouraged parents to not only build relationships with their kids, but also build lasting values. After talking a little about setting some fair boundaries, I gave the group some examples of some guidelines that we have in our house. I told them, “These aren’t necessarily guidelines that every parent needs to set, but these are some guidelines that have really helped our kids.” Guidelines like, we talk about every song we buy.

Reflecting on my list, Alyssa didn’t mind the music guidelines, just this texting one: Parents can read their kids texts at any time. Kids need to ask permission to delete their texts.

This morning I revisited the conversation. “Alyssa, I’d like to hear more about your objecting to the ‘I can look at your texts at any time’ rule. Why do you not like that rule?”

Without hesitation she responded, “Because if you trust your kids, then why do you need to look at their texts?”

Alyssa has a point. I look at parenting as a giant segue from a high degree of control when our kids are young, to a complete release of control when they are 18 and out on their own, free to make decisions for themselves. This requires parents to continually extend more trust to their kids, especially as they are 16 and 17. After all, in just a year or two they can do whatever they want, right? Might as well let them start to make some of these decisions under your shadow, stumbling while you are still there to pick them up? No, I’m not saying let your daughter drink alcohol and allow your son’s girlfriend to spend the night. But we probably should lighten up on media guidelines, for example, as they grow closer to 18. Keep talking about these choices, but then let our kids make the final choice.

And that’s where I’m at with Alyssa. At 16-and-a-half, Alyssa is really starting to earn trust with us. So I have to ask myself, is she right? Should I back off on this texting rule now?

What about her sister? Does a 14-year-old still need this rule?

When I asked Alyssa that question, she said, “It depends on if your kid has been trustworthy in other areas. If they’re trustworthy, then don’t check their texts.”

I finally asked her. “You don’t object to our other rules… why this one? Why does this one bug you so much?”

“Because texting is really personal.” Alyssa explained. “Sometimes my friend Ali and I will start sharing deep stuff from our hearts and then one of us will finally type, let’s talk about this later, my parents read my texts.

I laughed. “Wow. Ya wouldn’t want those terrible ogres reading your texts!”

“It’s not that,” Alyssa clarified, “It’s just that sometimes we like to share some deep stuff with each other, and we don’t want each other’s parents reading that stuff.”

I told her that I thought that was a really good point, something I’d have to think about.

She gave me permission to blog about the conversation and dialogue with all of you about it. I’ll wait to hear what you think about the subject and then I’ll comment below in a day or so and tell you where I fall on this rule for both Alyssa and Ashley.

So what about you? Do you think parents should check their kids’ texts? At what age do you stop? Is Alyssa right—does this all depend on the level of trust that individual kid has earned?

 

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About Jonathan McKee

president of The Source for Youth Ministry, is the author of over a dozen books including the new Get Your Teenager Talking, The Guy's Guide to God, Girls and the Phone in Your Pocket, The Zombie Apocalypse Survival Guide for Teenager, and youth ministry books like Ministry By Teenagers, Connect: Real Relationships in a World of Isolation, and the 10-Minute Talks series. Jonathan speaks and trains at conferences, churches and events across North America, all while providing free resources for youth workers and parents on his websites, TheSource4YM.com and TheSource4Parents.com. You can follow Jonathan on his blog, getting a regular dose of youth culture and parenting help. Jonathan and his wife Lori, and their three teenagers Alec, Alyssa and Ashley live in California.
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48 Responses to Should We Read Our Kids’ Texts?

  1. Fantastic discussion. My kids are both under the age of 2, but since I work in youth ministry I will definitely be passing this on. I don’t feel qualified to pitch in an answer, but wanted to say thanks for sharing.

  2. Jay Crouch says:

    Yes.

  3. Emily says:

    You need to reserve the right to check out her text messages. The age your daughter is right now is just getting to be the scary age. I was raised by parents that are die hard Christians before everyone had a cell phone, and the enemy swept me away through ‘harmless’ house phone conversations with a boy. I could write a book about what all happened and how long it took me to recover. You are your daughter’s covering. There IS a target on your daughter, trust me, God has a Jer.29:11 plan for her life, but satan has a plan for her life as well. I was a teenager once, they cannot be trusted. Not because they are ‘bad’ they are just really emotional , especially girls. It is not getting in her business, it is simply protection from things she may think are harmless. She WILL check her daughter’s text messages when she is a mom : ) she just doesn’t understand right now. Maybe tell her, I trust YOU, I just do NOT trust the enemy (satan). . . .

    • Lauren from CO says:

      1. Do you know Alyssa personally?
      2. Were you able to text when you were a kid?

      If you awnsered ‘no’ to both of the above questions, then you have no idea what Alysaa will or won’t do, and you couldn’t relate to being a teen with texting cababilities anyways.
      And maybe you shouldn’t let your kids go to school. You trust YOUR kids to not bring a gun and force everyone to relive Columbine, but you do NOT trust the enemey (satan) to prevent another kid from killing your own.
      Anyways, you can’t ‘trust your kid’ but not temptations. Satan lives in everyone of us, and therefore you have a contradiction and invalid arguement.

  4. Deb says:

    I think you should keep the rule – and just go under the understanding that you won’t read your children’s texts unless they have proven in other areas that you have something to be worried about. Which is exactly what you are doing.
    HOWEVER – I think the conversation with your 16 1/2 year old really needs to be – does she understand that once she puts something in writing it can be passed around, read by anyone else, and could even get into the hands of someone who would hurt her with it? She may be BFF’s today, but what happens if her BFF gets mad at her about something, or they both like the same boy, or some other silliness that is so bound to happen to 16 year olds? Texting is no different that any other internet-based info – you’ve got to be careful, and in the old days we would have even included writing it in a note on a piece of paper. Once it’s in writing – it’s there for anyone to see!
    Thanks for listening!

    • Thanks Deb. Good reminder about the “whatever you put in writing could be passed around.”

      • Sandy says:

        I agree that the rule should stand, like Deb said. I don’t have kids but am the oldest of 5girls, and have worked with kids for many years. Maybe you could come to an agreement about why you feel the need to check in. Especially when dating starts. There are too many teens in abusive relationships who are unable to tell adults what is happening. Also would be good to t/a texting, sexting and the sharing of personal information in general, same with Facebook. You can’t take it back. I agree that it is also a safety issue. Doesn’t mean you check their texts just because you can., but maybe when you have some concerns or see changes in behavior,etc.

  5. Christine Hultman says:

    I just had this discussion with my 15 year old son. He feels the same way as your daughter Alyssa. I reminded him that we do have the right as his parents to check his texts, as that was our original rule 3 years ago when he got his phone. He agreed with me that he knew this to be the case. I could see by the look on his face he was calculating what exactly to say. I simply reminded him that whatever he texts, he’d better remember that it be words he wouldn’t mind his mom or dad reading. Or what if Jesus was reading his texts?
    While we used to check the texts, we haven’t really done it since his first year with a phone. I honestly felt horrible (!) checking them when I did. I truly felt like I was invading his privacy and there wasn’t anything of any substance there but the crazy one words “waste of a text”, as I call them. And he knew he could delete the conversations (or they cleared out at capacity), sometime thereafter. We trust our son, especially because he “opens up to us” about many things. Perhaps we are being naive/making a mistake by not checking the texts. And perhaps some day we’ll be saying we wished we would’ve checked them more often. But at this point in time, my husband and I both feel confident about trusting him to make wise and godly decisions in all areas of his life. For now, that’s where we are.
    This blog opens it up to many more subjects…what are our kids posting on Facebook? What are they searching on their computers? Do you have firewalls up? Do parents check their kid’s personal computers or whichever computer is being used by their kids in the house? And if your child buys his/her own phone or computer, what are the rules associated with the usage then? Depending on your kids, the computers are extremely important if not more important to monitor than the cell phone.

    • Christine, you are right, this goes beyond just the cell phone. Teenagers can get into trouble using all kinds of technology today. We do have firewalls, we check Facebook, etc. Funny… Alyssa doesn’t mind any of that. She just doesn’t like the text thang!

  6. dan manns says:

    my 13 yr old daughter & 15 ye old son have cell phones and the same rule applies in our house: we the parents have the right to read texts at anytime, go on their facebook profile page at any time and enter their bedroom at any time. but – my kids know that the more trustworthy they are the less these rules need to be enforced.

  7. gaz [UK] says:

    Interesting discussion.
    We have 3 boys – 2 of whom are old enough for phones [E is 10 and has one simply for when he's out with his chums, and J is 12 and has one of his own].
    We agreed they could have them as long as they were clear that part of our job of keeping them safe includes being able to occasionally check their texts to make sure their is nothing we need to be concerned about. Something that they may not necessarily pick up on themselves.

  8. Jon forrest says:

    This is an apples to bagels comparison and I’ll tell you why in a minute but what if a cop stops me for no reason and says, “hey buddy, I would like to check your car for drugs.” I’m a law abiding citizen and have nothing to hide, and I can even see that the next guy he stops may be a cartel but for some reason that ticks me off. I’M INNOCENT! Go stop a criminal. I’m not sure if it’s just my American independence that does that or the embarrassment from the 437 empty Krystal boxes in my back seat. If I’m truly innocent, should I mind being checked?
    This is apples to bagels because that cop is not responsible to God for my upbringing. I think those things she doesn’t want you to see are the only things worth seeing. Check this out though and see if I’m a hypocrite. My phone is open to my wife to check. I don’t think she ever has but she can. She knows if someone texts me something sensitive (my job requires me to counsel folks) and she happens to see it, to vault it (btw I would delete things that have to remain confidential). Maybe Ashley sees this stuff as confidential. Well, she’s not a counselor. She’s your responsibility. Good kids earn more room but checks and balances are good for us all. Sorry Ashley, you seem awesome. I’d let you check my phone too if that’s any consolation.

    • Wife checking the phone is also a good thing, I think. My phone rings or receives a text often and my wife will pick it up because I’m across the room. It’s nice to never worry when she picks it up… because I got nothing to hide from her.

  9. Tim says:

    Trust is one thing, guardrails are another. We read the texts, not because of trust, but because of teenage vulnerability, lack of wisdom, and the general messages in our culture. Teens don’t automatically know how to text responsibly, or how to handle inappropraite texts that come to them. Texting removes barriers that talking in perosn naturally provide. We read them, and use them for conversation purposes also. However, your daughter is older than mine, and I do think she gave a great answer, and you will know when it is time to go without the guard rails…

  10. Mike Shaw says:

    I agree with all of the comments posted but I also wanted to throw out there that most kids today feel that it is a right to have a cell phone. And this could lead off on a whole other topic, but I will keep it as relevant as possible. I feel that if my child has a cell phone and is living under my roof (ooo, I used the “under my roof” line) then I absolutely have the right to view her texts at any time. As mentioned above, the better their behavior in other areas, the less their texts will need to be checked. But I think it is important for them to realize that a cell phone is a privilege and not a right.
    I am a youth leader and I have experienced alot of incidents involving cell phones and the attitudes that teens develop about having them. They don’t realize that they will not die if they do not have their cell phone, it isn’t a vital organ necessary for life. Sorry I will stop now, just a pet peeve of mine. But Jonathan, I would say, you always have the right to view your daughter’s cell phone as long as she is your responsibility aka: under your roof. And that is whether she is paying the bill or if you are paying the bill.

  11. Faani says:

    Wow, you really made me think there. From what I hear your daughter has earned the trust. She is growing up man, face it. I don’t think you can set One Rule (Say “From your 16th birthday on I won’t read your texts anymore”) but it’s about a relationship and it’s about trust. I do admire and envy you your relationship with your kids.

  12. Amber says:

    Girls talk a lot about their feelings with each other, and I can understand not wanting anyone to read such texts. But I would also say that if it’s too private for the parents to read, it probably shouldn’t be in a text. Along the same line that Deb was saying… texting is not always as private as we think. Maybe texting is not the best medium for the personal, private kind of conversations.

    I would also say that part of being trustworthy is allowing yourself to be held accountable. No one likes it, but it’s the best way for us to stay faithful.

  13. Kathleen Fitzpatrick says:

    I have three teenage daughters 13, 14, 17 and we have the same rules (which I rarely need to enforce). We are candid with them that it is our job as parents to try to the best of our ability to keep them safe. Monitoring texts, email, facebook and any other method of communication is included. I agree that they earn trust and if we have done our job properly sharing love and wisdom of good decision making … less monitoring is needed. Personally I believe the more reasons we have to keep the lines of communication open between the adults and the children the better!! Blessings to you and your daughter!

  14. Amber says:

    Hi, First I would like to say that this is a very good conversation and I respect each side. I personally would like to say that being a kid (even without a phone) I do not think it is right to read a kids messages. I understand that parents are caring and worry about their kids, but just as your daughter says you need to trust your children. If you have raised your children in a good loving christian home (as i am) you can count on your kids to make the right decision. Now I know that everyone makes mistakes but everyone deserves some privacy. Now if I had to think like an adult I would bet they wouldn’t like it if someone read their messages with their husbands-wives it would embarrass them or make them upset. Children text their boyfriends-girlfriends and they deserve some privacy is all I’m saying.! Thanks for this story it really is interesting!

    -Amber

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  16. Laura says:

    Full access to to our kids’ cellphones, pc’s and facebook pages is a standard rule in our house, as well as no cellphones in the room after bedtime, but Alyssa made a good point which hadn’t occured to me before, about her friends’ parents also reading their texts! This means they are also reading our children’s conversations and I know its probably a double standard but that makes me feel a little uneasy. Definitely something to think about a bit more!

  17. Jillian says:

    I’m a sixteen year old and Í find it interesting reading all your views. For me I agree with Allyssa, I don’t want my parents reading my texts. Granted I don’t have the greatest relatioship with them, but some of it I would just feel uncomfertable with, not because they’re wrong, but just cos it’s not the type of stuff I share with them. Like a guy I always text, our conversations are often very spiritual, but my parents would assume much more.
    Also just recently I encounted a few problems within my household, not the petty ‘my parents are so _____!’ but some serious stuff that I really didn’t know how to deal with, so I text one of my youth group leaders for their adivce. If my parents had read that conversation it just woul’dn’t have been right.
    I have a friend whose parents are very strict about all this, they would read her messages, make her hand in her phone at 8pm each night etc. And granted that ‘rules without relatioship lead to rebellion’, but my friend did become very secretive. She ended up getting a phone that she could put a password one and deletes all her messages.
    So for me, I would prefer my parents ask who/what I’m texting allowing me to explain, or if I don’t want to explain, give reasions ie. What my friend is telling me is something she has trusted me with and asked that I don’t share it with anyone for the time being.

  18. Trevor says:

    I would have to agree with your daughter I believe Jonathan. I’m not exactly the “agree with the teen against the parent” type but I think that she raises an excellent point about trust. And when you put that together with your excellent point about her being so very close to that “on her own” stage it starts seeming like maybe she either can or already has earned the right and got to the point of private texting. We may not care if our kids see any text we ever send but lets be honest we work with teenagers and we don’t embarass easily. Probably not the same for our teen daughters.

  19. Sara Rogers says:

    My son and I just had this conversation this weekend. I told him the reason we read his texts is because we are “keeping him accountable”.

  20. MY FINAL THOUGHTS….

    Okay, some really great comments above. Thank you all for chiming in. Some great feedback and some good stuff to think about. Alyssa and I read them all and have had some great discussion.

    So where do I fall? Here’s my two cents. Personally, I think that boundaries, or as Tim said above, “guardrails,” are very important as our teenagers are growing and testing the waters. Teenagers like Alyssa might be growing very mature and making some very good decisions, but that doesn’t mean that they’re ready to be on their own at 14 (Ashley) and 16 (Alyssa). So I think I’ll keep the “guardrail” of having the right to check her texts right now. But, as she continues to show really good decision-making, I’ll make a big effort to be proactive about telling her that I’m trusting her more and have less need to check texts. In addition, when I do check, I’ll approach it more like, “Hey, let’s look at some of your texts together, okay?” Trying to show her the respect that she’s earned.

    But one more thing… when Alyssa turns 17, I’m probably not going to check texts anymore. At that point she’s one year from being on her own and I think it would be cool for her to start experiencing some of those freedoms while she is still under my shadow. I’d rather she stumble while I’m here, then for the first time when she’s on her own.

    That’s my two cents… probably not worth much more!

  21. Diana Kennedy says:

    We like you have this rule for our daughter, who is 13. And like you, we don’t do it very often. But, in my mind, it’s not just about how much you can trust your kids, it also has alot to do with who is texting them. They could be texting with someone who may send them things that we would consider inappropriate. and, we all know that even trustworthy kids can be influenced by their friends. And, often we don’t really know their friends, sometimes the friend from youth group that we think is a really good kid can turn out to be really good at pretending when they are around parents. For example, one of my daughter’s friends recently lost her phone when she was caught texting with a 21 year old man (she’s 13). She didn’t really see the harm in it since they were just texting, not meeting in person. But, we all know that one thing often leads to another, and this wasn’t just an error in judgement, but also a potentially very dangerous situation. Our teens, especially young teens, need us to help protect them, and if that means reading their texts, then that’s what I’m prepared to do.

  22. Tyler says:

    I figure it goes both ways and parents need to be consistent. I’ll allow my wife to see all my e-mails and files and texts, and I hope modelling this for our kids will open the doors to have the same kind of open communication with my children.

  23. Nathan says:

    As a boy, I remember locking a shed door with a flimsy lock and asking my grandfather, “What good will that do? Anybody could break into that!” He replied, “That’s just to keep the honest people honest.” His point was that normally good people will do some really bad things when they see the easy opportunity. Texting is like that. Teens and adults alike will make contacts with people and say things that they never would if done in a public setting. Sometimes simply knowing that others are watching will keep us from making some poor choices and doing sinful things. This is not only a good rule for teens – it should be the rule for every married couple. What or who would I text that I wouldn’t want my spouse to see? This household rule helps “keep honest people honest”.

  24. Missy says:

    We have the same rule in our house and have since the day both of our teens were allowed to have a cell phone. At any given time, we can (and have) viewed their texts. But not because we don’t fully trust our teens, but to help hold them accountable. For us it’s more about monitoring what their friends are texting them and how they do or do not respond back to them. And our promise to our kids is this: we will never share the context of what is in their text messages with anyone else, unless we see it to be harmful to them or their friends. There have been times that some real good “teachable moments” have come out of our readings.

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  26. Emily says:

    What about having a rule for Alyssa (and Ashley – depending on what she’s like) that you can read the text messages; but if it is something like ‘girl stuff’ or stuff she wouldn’t want Dad knowing about her friends (like that moment when _____ had an ‘accident’ in front of the cute new football player) that Mom will check out those ones instead. That way you’re keeping her safe, but her and her friends still have some dignity….and not to mention it is rather awkward seeing said friend and knowing all this deep information about them without their knowledge :) :P

  27. Pdog says:

    My parents check my phone and I hate it. Cause whenever my friends txt me they might cuss and guess who get in trouble for it. That’s right ME. And I hate it. Like alyssa we talk about personal private stuff. Like realtionships and drama. We font want our parents reading it. I don’t know about y’all but when something happens like that my parents ask me questions about it. And it’s not question answr move on. No it’s like question answer and then question about that answer. And its so annoying. I’m 14 and in high school. I’m resbpmssiable and very mature for moscpeople in my grade that are around that around the same age. And sometimes I feel pike when my parents do read my txt it’s either becaUse they don’t trust me it because they want to know about all the drama.
    So basiclly no I don’t think parents should read their kids texts.

  28. Fanny J. says:

    If a teen were to become worried by the actions of their parent–let’s say, for example, the parent joins a weird cult and starts blaming societal ills on an evil man who lurks under the earth in a molten lair–would it be right for them to read their parents’ texts? Example aside, if it was your era of teenhood and you wrote a back-and-forth letter to a friend, or wrote in your diary, would it have the same effect if your parent read the private letter or diary entry? I think so. Unless you already had an understanding when you got the cell in the first place, or unless you suspect an abusive situation that the teen won’t TALK to you about, I think it’s an invasion of privacy.

  29. WICK says:

    I realize I’m commenting waaay late. Your daughter is probably 17 now, and you’ve stopped checking her texts. But just in case another parent checks this article out, and for some reason reads alllll the way to the bottom comments (hey, I did?). I’ve 3 daughters, none of them yet teenagers or cell owners. But as a youth pastor, I would very much agree with the need for accountability, even in areas of private communication. One side of the topic that hasn’t been discussed much here is: When a conversation heads into topics that are intensely personal/raw/emotional – is texting really the most loving way to proceed?

    Our young people need to be encouraged to have actual one-on-one conversations beyond text language, Facebook messages, and tweets. Especially when it’s a conversation that might get deep. In a world that values expediency over relationship, a lover of Jesus can communicate so much simply by saying – “You’re the only one I’m talking to right now…(you’re worth my full attention)..what’s up?”

  30. Tracy says:

    Thank you for this conversation. I have a 13 year old daughter who is GLUED to her phone. I make her plug in her phone downstairs in the kitchen at bedtime on school nights. That is usually when I try to skim through texts. Sometimes I miss the weekend days b/c she gets to keep it with her at night. After the long Labor Day weekend I was able to take a look at her texts and saw that she was being kind of bullied by her supposedly best friends. I would have never known this if I had not read her texts. I want to give her the tools to be able to handle it the right way and it opens up conversations for us. The bottom line to my point is that after reading what many people have said about invasion of privacy and all of that I think it’s fine. Invasion of privacy would be me standing in the bathroom while she’s trying to take a shower! These kids are OUR responsibility and like it or not they doing things behind our back that should be guided or corrected – even the best kids. This is not like reading your daughter’s diary. I would say write away in there all you want and I will not look b/c a diary can not talk back and have multiple commenting, sending pictures etc. We live in a different era now. It’s important to remember that these are children still that do not know how to handle some of this. These scenario’s about getting pulled over and letting a cop look through your car is ridiculous. You are an adult. It’s the parent responsibility to monitor their children’s media out put. If they are writing something that they do not want anyone to read, then they Definitely should not be writing it!!! Save it for when they are face to face with the person like we had to do. Raising teenagers is very hard these days and trying to figure out the balance is even harder.

    • Meredith says:

      I have a 14 yr old daughter who is also glued to her phone. She is also not permitted to sleep with it in her room ( she claims she is the ONLY one of her friends who isn’t, I claim I don’t care). So I do browse not only the texts at night, but the websites she has visited on her phone, as well as the pictures she is taking. While she is not bullying or being bullied or engaging in inappropriate texting, I find her making bad choices sometimes, like Tracy’s daughter. How can we teach them to handle difficult friendship situations if they don’t tell us about them? A best friend who isn’t talking talking to them? A girl who posted pictures when your daughter asked her not to? I keep telling my daughter ( after the smoke clears from telling her I read her texts) that it is ok to ask for help and to not know how to handle these situations. You aren’t supposed to know at 14. I know they are growing pains but I just want to make them less painful and I feel like I am watching her pour salt in her wounds sometimes. I agree with Tracy, if she would tell me what is bothering her or getting her down, maybe I wouldn’t feel like I need to snoop. But then again, I know these are the trials and tribulations of teenage years.

  31. Sara says:

    Okay so Alyssa is 16.. what if she was 19, a legal adult, still under your phone contract. Is it okay to invade her privacy then as an adult? I am 19 and getting straight A’s in college. My mom has been reading my messages for months and I just found out. She now knows every single thing about my life and I am not sure how I will forgive her. Adults don’t realize that when we have things to say, we text them instead of call. I do not know how I am going to handle the situation but I am an adult and my mom has invaded my privacy.

  32. Jacob says:

    I’m a 15 year old guy and I totally agree with Alyssa. If my friends wanted my dad or mom to read my texts, they would send them to my parents’ phones’ directly. Really, while legally parents have the right to do whatever they want to us (and apparently that extends to phone-searches), I believe it’s morally incorrect, because it establishes the idea that we are all untrustworthy or up to no good. If my friend asks me to not repeat something he texts me, it should stay private. Another thing is that my parents, heck, a lot of parents, just do not understand how teenagers work. They were once teens themselves, yes, and they once faced similar struggles, yes, but yesterday’s teens are not today’s teens, we work in an entirely different way, and parents can say as much as they want to the contrary, but the fact is they don’t understand us or our situations. Another reason I object to my dad and mom reading my conversations: They look too deeply into what’s said. They don’t understand that what was customary in their day is weird today, and what was taboo in their day is open-field today. We want privacy, and honestly, that whole “if you text it, anyone can read it” is irrelevant. If I said it to the person’s face (instead of texting him), he could just tell everyone I said it. So if one makes that argument, one also says “if you say it, anyone can hear it.” When push comes to shove, it doesn’t make much difference. It’s illegal to open and read somebody else’s mail without their consent, and considering that text messages are a form of “electronic mail,” one could argue that my parents might be doing something illegal when they peruse text messages that weren’t sent to them.

  33. Stephanie says:

    I am a female, was an A+ student and was recently a teen myself so I can definitely understand why teens do NOT want you to look at their texts/phones. Teens want you to trust them enough to not look at their phones because if you did you’d probably be mortified and you’d humiliate your teen in the process. If want to avoid any embarrassing situations, I’d highly suggest not looking into your teens phone, and I am saying that from a time when there was no snapchat, and all these crazy apps. I’m sure it’s even worse now with these apps that encourage promiscuous behavior. My parents didn’t monitor my internet/phone usage because they trusted me, and though I did things that they wouldn’t approve of, I always took their trust in stride and never did anything major wrong, like sleep around or become a teen mom! :)

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