The 3 Times You MUST Read Your Child’s Text Messages
You’ve already decided your child is ready for a cellphone. Now you have to determine whether or not read your child’s text messages.
You’ll find plenty of arguments for and against prying into your child’s personal lives. On the one hand, your child is a minor, and you are the adult who is responsible for his or her behavior. In fact, in most states, parents are legally liable for their children’s conduct.
Knowing when to look
Have you caught yourself saying that you want your kids to learn to think for themselves? That you trust them implicitly to do the right thing? If you then contradict yourself and read their text messages, your children may complain that you’re establishing a double standard they can do without.
It can be challenging to balance trusting your child with wanting to make sure he or she is hanging out with the right friends. No one wants their child to be the cyber-bully. You want to make sure that your child consistently makes good choices about communicating with their smartphone.
Now you have to see them
Only half the parents in America have taken a look at their child’s text messages. That’s surprising since in most cases, the parents are paying for the smartphone and the monthly cell service to go with it. Some parents feel as though they should read their child’s text messages only if there’s a problem.
The challenge with this plan is that you won’t know there’s a problem until you do read the messages. There are, however, instances that you absolutely MUST read your child’s text messages. These include:
· Suspicion of sexting – Sexting, which is the transmittal of sexually explicit images and messages through a phone, is illegal for minors. In some states, possession of sexted photos of minors is considered child pornography. Even minors can face serious charges and possible confinement.
· Texting while driving – Parents are liable for any damages their underage child causes, including damage and injury with a vehicle. If you think your child is texting while driving, it’s your responsibility to stop the behavior immediately.
· Meeting up with strangers – Your children should never arrange to meet strangers who have communicated with them online. At some point, teens might share their phone numbers with someone they’ve met. If you think your child is meeting with a stranger they met online, contact local law enforcement.
Making a plan for independence
Your children are becoming more independent every day; that’s part of their growing up. To help them achieve the independence they want, have them prove to you that they are ready for it.
Parents should randomly check their child’s text messages (and other social activity online). As your child proves that he or she can communicate responsibly with their smartphones, lessen the frequency of the random checks.
Your other option is to monitor cell phone use with any of the parental control apps on the market. You’ll receive reports if there are internet predators, use of violent games, browser histories, shared pictures, and activity usage.
Regardless of how you choose to approach the issue, tell your child what you’re doing and why.