Should You Monitor Your Child’s Phone?
The internet has created an unclear line in terms of the boundaries around our kids’ privacy and parenting. Adolescents see their phone as the link to their social life. It is the extension that connects them to their friends and romantic partners. Accordingly, having their parents monitor their activity is often interpreted as a serious invasion of privacy. But this is a huge misconception about monitoring and is an important reason we need to start conversations about digital safety with our children.
The form of privacy kids these days expect does come with more independence, where kids are now freer to indulge in inappropriate behavior because of the vast pool of content and accessibility the internet has brought with it. According to PEW Research Centre, “among parents of 13- to 17-year-olds, 94% own a desktop or laptop computer; 76% own a smartphone; 72% use Facebook; and 84% go online at least occasionally using a smartphone, tablet or other mobile handheld device,” proving the luxury most kids have in being able to dabble in whatever the internet can offer.
This is why more parents are asking themselves whether they should start going through their kids’ online activity. This question is nothing new. Even before the internet, there were parents looking around their child’s room. While the boundaries and the levels of monitoring differ according to each parent, PEW shows that “61% of parents say they have checked which websites their teen has visited, while 60% report checking their teen’s social media profile.”
So how do you decide whether you should start monitoring your kids’ online activity and to what extent will you monitor? The following are some questions to ask yourself before you make the decision.
Questions to help you decide if you need to monitor your kid’s phone
Is it better to monitor constantly or to teach my kids how to behave online?
Your kid has to be taught the appropriate ways to behave online, even if you decide to monitor. Your kid must know what not to share or do and the consequences of not doing so. Once the educational part is imparted, then you have to ask yourself whether you can do away with monitoring or if your kid still needs to be supervised and the next two questions will help you decide better.
Can I trust my kid?
Internet access or not, having a solid relationship with your kid is essential to stay in the loop and be aware of what is going on in your kid’s life. Ask yourself whether your kid has shown consistently good behavior and can own up to mistakes and misbehavior when asked.
Is my kid mature enough?
The internet can be amazing for so many things but it has a very dark side that can grasp those who are not mature enough to handle it. Ask yourself if your kid knows how to behave online by avoiding sharing certain content, not trusting strangers and being aware of the content he or she is accessing.
Where should I draw the line when monitoring?
There are levels to monitoring that you have to consider if you decide to do this. Think where you will draw the line. Will you only check the web pages visited or will you check emails and texts as well? Will you only monitor your kid on social media through your social media profile or will you ask for access to his or her account to check private messages?
Should I use digital monitoring or ask for the phone?
Parental control apps are now more sophisticated than ever and give parents the ability to control their kids’ browsing time, social media activity, text messaging, emails and more. Ask yourself whether it is better to use one of these parental control apps or if you prefer to ask for your kid’s phone. The advantage of the app is that your kid does not experience the physical deprivation of privacy and you can monitor in your own time and as much as you want.
Why should I monitor my kid’s phone?
The world always feels and looks more dangerous in our eyes when we become parents and while our parents have thought the same thing, the internet has brought dangers closer and made them more accessible to our kids, including the following things.
Online predators – It is easier to protect your kid from predators when you are the one driving them to and from school and checking their whereabouts but with studies showing teens spending up to nine hours online, an online predator can easily build a relationship with your kid without you knowing.
Over sharing – From passwords to home address, inappropriate photos and videos, your kid can send out any media into the world and potentially leading to serious consequences.
Sexting – Talking to someone from behind a screen can make anyone bolder, including a shy and awkward kid, thus making it far easier for he or she to start sexting.
Exposure to inappropriate content – The internet bestows on kids the same independence as that of adults but you will want to keep your kid away from adult content until they are mature enough to handle it.
Dangerous apps – You might have heard of Snapchat but there are other dangerous apps, ones that help your kid to hide texts, inappropriate photos and even hide other dangerous apps. Certain parental locks can help in alerting you in the latter case.
To learn more about monitoring software, visit TeenSafe.