Should I read my teen’s text messages or emails? Is it an invasion of privacy?
Generations earlier the question would be, should you read your teen’s diary or journal?
In today’s digital lifestyle, some may not even know what a diary looks like. This is sad since a diary has many benefits for youth. There was recently an article about why all children should keep a journal, and most importantly, it does take them offline and keep their information private.
Either way, the question is the same, when is it appropriate to invade your child’s private space?
It always comes back to when safety trumps privacy.
Our teens deserve to be trusted unless they give us reason to suspect something is wrong.
Here is a review of some warning signs.
- Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a gut feeling something is deeper than a secret and you are not satisfied with the answers they are giving you, trust your gut. A parent’s intuition is usually pretty good.
- Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however if it becomes extreme, it might be time to dig deeper if they are not opening up to you.
- Is your teen changing peer groups? Is your once goal oriented good kid now gravitating to a negative peer group? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
- Is your teens eating habits changing? Not eating with the family or barely eating?
- Is your teen sleeping a lot? Or rarely sleeping? Spending a lot of time – connected digitally? Bloodshot eyes?
- Do you suspect drug use? Maybe drinking? Is there an odor on their clothes or them?
- Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
- Are they overly protective of their cell phones or computer? Always covering their screens when you are around, or clicking out?
- Do they hide their cell phones? Or completely attached to them?
- Are they anxious when at their computer, seem fearful, attempt to hide their incoming emails?
- Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?
Like with determining if you should invade their privacy with their journals or diary, unless your teen or tween gives you good reason to read their text messages and emails, as parents, you should respect their privacy.
When it comes to younger children, especially under 10 years old, parents should always be allowed to see what they are doing. Most younger children are usually not as protective as teens or tweens. As a responsible parent, you will know when there are red flags or warning signs and you need to step in.
Keeping an open dialog with your tweens and teens is critical. Letting them know you are there for them as well as talking to them about the issues of sexting, cyberbullying, predators and other areas of concern.
Be sure you are updated with the secret language of texting!
Should you read your child’s emails or text messages? Only you can answer that.
Be an educated parent, you will have safer children.
Read: How Short Talks Build Strong Relationships.
If you have exhausted your local resources with your struggling teenager, contact us today to learn more about how residential treatment may benefit your troubled teen through emotional growth and learning a healthy relationship with technology.