Reading your teens text messages

A few nights ago, I woke up in the middle of the night and prowled around my daughter’s bedroom trying to find her cell phone. The plan was to read her text messages. I suspected a relationship was brewing with a boy and I wanted to get past the vague answers she was giving me. After 1o minutes of stumbling around and nearly waking her up, I gave up.

Not a proud moment. Days later, I asked to borrow her phone to make a call. She was on to me….waiting next to me to return the phone. All I could think of was how much my mom must have enjoyed the juicy notes she found in my pockets from friends, filled with details about our latest crushes.

I remember about a decade ago, a mother at work told me that she read a note she found in her teenaged daughter’s pocket. A young single woman in the office overheard and was outraged. She called it a huge invasion of privacy. At the time, I just listened to the argument, not really having an opinion.

Flash forward and I totally understand where my friend was coming from. I don’t care how close you are with your kids, they say things to their friends they just aren’t going to reveal to you. Some of the stuff, I really believe parents should know. The best part is, we parents now have an electronic record of those conversations.

Readers, do you think it’s wrong to secretly read your kids’ text messages? Do you think you should make it known to them that you are doing it?

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7 Comments

  1. Marie June 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I think it is wrong to read your kid’s emails or text messages unless you suspect they are doing something wrong, which happened to me. My son has never been a troublemaker (having survived middle school without any detentions), but he has gotten in your typical teenage trouble at home for staying out too late or not telling us where he is going and just finished his first year at high school. I was recently talking to his best friend’s father, who told me that he was informed by his daughter, who is a senior in high school, that a lot of the freshman kids were smoking weed. That concerned me a lot because I know my son is also very impressionable and would do something because his friends do it. I have tried to give him his freedom to go and hang out with friends at their houses and sleep over there without asking to talk to a parent first to make sure someone responsible is home. He had already betrayed my trust when he went to a large nightclub which was having a teen night without telling us and said he was sleeping over a friends house. I went in his room and looked in his backpack and in one of the outside pockets ( one that I typically put his lunch money in) I found a note from a female friend and there was references to smoking in it. I also noticed that he seemed to be spending his lawn cutting money and could not figure out what he was buying. I found no other evidence in his room and his phone was in there so I finally decided to read his text messages. I found no direct reference to smoking weed, but to my dismay found that he was instead drinking at parties or when hanging out with friends, saw one text about his smoking a cigarette, and found some dialogue about going to this same club again. Now my son is also very athletic and knows (at least he told us so) that smoking and binge drinking, regardless of what it is, is very bad for you. If your kids are doing stuff like this and you ask them about it, I highly doubt they are going to fess up and tell you. Just about any kid will try it once if given a chance, and hopefully will not do it again until they are of age. I have now learned I have to keep a much tighter leash on him. I think it comes down to who they hang out with and what their crowd is doing. If their friends are drinking, unless you keep them in the house 24/7 you will not be able to keep you kid from doing it too. Remember, if you get pulled over in your car by the police, they have the right to search your vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion. As a parent, you should have the same right if you have suspicion. In then end it is for their own safety. It does not matter what you teach them growing up, their mind is their own and they can make bad decisions. That is why they are still living with you. Be glad that we have such tools as cell phones to give us this information. Our parents did not have it so easy. Will I tell him that I read his texts? If I have to I will, although I am going to try to get something out of him by asking him where all his money went. Since he had broken my trust once, that will be my reasoning to him. But please, don’t read their stuff just for the sake of it. When it comes to teenagers, if they are doing something wrong it will start to leak out eventually and then do your job as a parent and make sure your kids don’t get themselves hurt.

    Reply
  2. Marie June 29, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    I think it is wrong to read your kid’s emails or text messages unless you suspect they are doing something wrong, which happened to me. My son has never been a troublemaker (having survived middle school without any detentions), but he has gotten in your typical teenage trouble at home for staying out too late or not telling us where he is going and just finished his first year at high school. I was recently talking to his best friend’s father, who told me that he was informed by his daughter, who is a senior in high school, that a lot of the freshman kids were smoking weed. That concerned me a lot because I know my son is also very impressionable and would do something because his friends do it. I have tried to give him his freedom to go and hang out with friends at their houses and sleep over there without asking to talk to a parent first to make sure someone responsible is home. He had already betrayed my trust when he went to a large nightclub which was having a teen night without telling us and said he was sleeping over a friends house. I went in his room and looked in his backpack and in one of the outside pockets ( one that I typically put his lunch money in) I found a note from a female friend and there was references to smoking in it. I also noticed that he seemed to be spending his lawn cutting money and could not figure out what he was buying. I found no other evidence in his room and his phone was in there so I finally decided to read his text messages. I found no direct reference to smoking weed, but to my dismay found that he was instead drinking at parties or when hanging out with friends, saw one text about his smoking a cigarette, and found some dialogue about going to this same club again. Now my son is also very athletic and knows (at least he told us so) that smoking and binge drinking, regardless of what it is, is very bad for you. If your kids are doing stuff like this and you ask them about it, I highly doubt they are going to fess up and tell you. Just about any kid will try it once if given a chance, and hopefully will not do it again until they are of age. I have now learned I have to keep a much tighter leash on him. I think it comes down to who they hang out with and what their crowd is doing. If their friends are drinking, unless you keep them in the house 24/7 you will not be able to keep you kid from doing it too. Remember, if you get pulled over in your car by the police, they have the right to search your vehicle if they have reasonable suspicion. As a parent, you should have the same right if you have suspicion. In then end it is for their own safety. It does not matter what you teach them growing up, their mind is their own and they can make bad decisions. That is why they are still living with you. Be glad that we have such tools as cell phones to give us this information. Our parents did not have it so easy. Will I tell him that I read his texts? If I have to I will, although I am going to try to get something out of him by asking him where all his money went. Since he had broken my trust once, that will be my reasoning to him. But please, don’t read their stuff just for the sake of it. When it comes to teenagers, if they are doing something wrong it will start to leak out eventually and then do your job as a parent and make sure your kids don’t get themselves hurt.

    Reply
  3. Suburban Kamikaze July 1, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    I wouldn’t do it. If something is in plain sight on the other hand, like messages left open on the computer, it’s fair game. Teenagers are entitled to some privacy. Respecting this helps to build trust, I believe, which in turn makes it more likely that they will be willing to confide in you about the important stuff. But of course, I could be completely wrong. Teenagers do not exactly build up your confidence in parenting skills.

    SK

    Reply
  4. Stefanie August 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I have a 17 year old son who likes to get into trouble every now and then since he turned 15. Smoking, including some weed, running around in the woods after midnight with a friend to shoot airsoft guns, ect…
    All things I only know because I suspected he is lying to us. The dilemma is big, do you confront your Teen? Yes, you have a lot to say to your Teen about what you read, but you only know because electronics these days make it so easy to snoop. Text messages, Facebook, e-mails, we didn’t have all that growing up and our parents were none the wiser as to what we were up to.
    I can tell you we tried addressing the bigger things we found, which first requires a confession about you snooping ( not feeling that great saying it out loud to your kid who’s not supposed to invade your privacy) and then we noticed it doesn’t make a difference what we say. At 17 they are already so set in their ways, thinking they know best ,that they just get better at lying to you because now they know you are looking for something. Snooping can backfire ! Yes, it is hard to know your kid is up to no good, but how far will you go to stop them once you know? A question you may want to ask yourself before you look for something incriminating.
    I know my son always tells me where he goes and who he’s with, but in the end I will never know if that is the truth…unless I start snooping again. A vicious cycle!

    Reply
  5. Stefanie August 11, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    I have a 17 year old son who likes to get into trouble every now and then since he turned 15. Smoking, including some weed, running around in the woods after midnight with a friend to shoot airsoft guns, ect…
    All things I only know because I suspected he is lying to us. The dilemma is big, do you confront your Teen? Yes, you have a lot to say to your Teen about what you read, but you only know because electronics these days make it so easy to snoop. Text messages, Facebook, e-mails, we didn’t have all that growing up and our parents were none the wiser as to what we were up to.
    I can tell you we tried addressing the bigger things we found, which first requires a confession about you snooping ( not feeling that great saying it out loud to your kid who’s not supposed to invade your privacy) and then we noticed it doesn’t make a difference what we say. At 17 they are already so set in their ways, thinking they know best ,that they just get better at lying to you because now they know you are looking for something. Snooping can backfire ! Yes, it is hard to know your kid is up to no good, but how far will you go to stop them once you know? A question you may want to ask yourself before you look for something incriminating.
    I know my son always tells me where he goes and who he’s with, but in the end I will never know if that is the truth…unless I start snooping again. A vicious cycle!

    Reply
  6. TeeGirl August 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I believe as parents we have the right to read their cell phone messages whenever we feel like it, whenever we feel the need to do so. We are paying the bill for the phone and for almost everything else our children “own”. Many of our teens have not matured enough to make the best decisions and they need our guidance even when they don’t want it. There have been times when I have stumbled upon some information in my teens texts or emails (yes, I read her email too) that have opened the door to some very meaningful and important conversations. I don’t read them everyday, must every now and then. I am also a “friend” on her Facebook. I hide her and only read it on occassion but whenever I do, I find a post or two that warrants a conversation with her to steer her back in the right direction. Only a few times have I found things that I would consider urgent, things which had to be dealt with with a stern punishment. Think of the things you tried and got away with during your teen years and then consider whether or not your teens deserves total privacy.

    Reply
  7. TeeGirl August 11, 2011 at 5:24 pm

    I believe as parents we have the right to read their cell phone messages whenever we feel like it, whenever we feel the need to do so. We are paying the bill for the phone and for almost everything else our children “own”. Many of our teens have not matured enough to make the best decisions and they need our guidance even when they don’t want it. There have been times when I have stumbled upon some information in my teens texts or emails (yes, I read her email too) that have opened the door to some very meaningful and important conversations. I don’t read them everyday, must every now and then. I am also a “friend” on her Facebook. I hide her and only read it on occassion but whenever I do, I find a post or two that warrants a conversation with her to steer her back in the right direction. Only a few times have I found things that I would consider urgent, things which had to be dealt with with a stern punishment. Think of the things you tried and got away with during your teen years and then consider whether or not your teens deserves total privacy.

    Reply

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