Why You Should Track Your Kid’s Cell Phone
Suspecting a teen of wrongdoing is almost as easy as breathing – after all, parents remember what they were like as teens, and the truth is that any given teen is likely to be hiding something.
It could be something as minor as the grade on their last homework assignment or as serious as a drug problem. Teenagers habitually hide things out of a desire for privacy – and one of the major arguments against tracking cell phones is that teens deserve to have that privacy.
But when you track kids’ cell phones, that doesn’t necessarily mean you’re violating that privacy. You’re doing your job as a parent and giving yourself the information you need to approach your child when they’re doing something that’s actually a problem.
Dealing With Suspicions
There aren’t too many options when you’re suspicious about a child’s behavior. In fact, there are only three choices that are even vaguely reasonable.
Confrontation means bringing the issue up and essentially requiring the child to defend themselves. This will immediately make them upset and undermine the trust you have… especially if they believe (correctly or incorrectly) that you’re wrong about the issue and they’re being attacked unfairly. This is especially damaging to a relationship if it happens over and over – imagine a married couple where one member constantly accuses the other of cheating and you can see how bad things might get.
Ignoring often involves putting a level of trust in the child. Every parent wants to believe that their child is mature and worthy of the trust, any many children are. But even the most level-headed teen is constantly dealing with the emotional and physical strains of growing up, and that means their judgement will be compromised, at some points. Do you really want to leave your child’s safety to chance?
Monitoring is a sensible attempt to get more information before making your final decision. One of the worst things you can do is confront a child when you have no evidence. That bag of brown dust might look like drugs, but if it was actually a special sugar blend they were going to use when baking a surprise dessert for you, then you’re going to feel very awkward about yelling at your teen when the truth comes out.
Put simply, jumping to conclusions is always a bad plan for dealing with teens. Monitoring puts a stop to this, allowing you to put the helpful maxim “trust, but verify” into practice.
The Value of Information
Kids use their phones for almost everything these days, so let’s look at what happens when you track kids cell phones to get more information on what they’re doing.
In the best scenario, monitoring the phone could prove you were worried about nothing. All that happened was you discreetly checking on on their story just to be sure – and that’s a very responsible thing to do.
In this scenario, you’ll have avoided making your teen upset with a false accusation and obtained some reassurance that they’re not getting themselves into trouble. It’s really no different from occasionally checking your child’s bag to be sure there’s nothing in it that shouldn’t be.
However, it’s also true that you could find something incriminating on their phone. If you do, you’ll be able to confront your teen with solid evidence about their wrongdoing, linking any objections and punishments to proof instead of supposition.
Either scenario will allow you to have a more productive conversation with a teen, talking to them about their actions and helping them to improve themselves. Remember, this applies even for teens who haven’t done anything wrong – you can simply explain to them that you noticed certain behaviors, but decided to trust in your teen this time. However, they might want to think about how they’re acting and how it could make other people suspicious of them….
Remember, most teens are extremely ashamed of being caught while doing something wrong. They’re often willing to accept the punishments you give, and probably won’t hold it against you, but the shame will bother them for quite a long time.
A responsible parent is one who comes to a discussion with facts, avoids jumping to conclusions, and will at least listen to a teen’s explanation of their behavior. Monitoring a teen’s phone is one of the best ways to avoid jumping the gun and falsely accusing them of wrongdoing when they didn’t actually mess up. It can also help any parent avoid overreacting to smaller issues – there’s no need to confront a teen about every small lie or attempt to hide things, since in the long run, they’ll just get more creative about hiding things.
Rather, the ability to track kids cell phones can actually be more conducive to building a positive relationship with a teen and ensuring they’re ready to face the challenges ahead of them. The truly responsible parent is focused on raising their child the best way they can, even if that child would disapprove of some of the methods used. We’re the first to admit that it’s not easy to be a great parent, since sometimes you do have to play the part of a villain… but in the end, responsible parenting can make a real, positive difference in a child’s life. If nothing else, you’ll be able to do away with false suspicion and focus your efforts on building a relationship up instead of tearing it down.
It’s not always easy to find the right balance when checking in on a teen, so here are some tips for using phone monitoring responsibly:
- When you do tell the teen about it, emphasize the software as a way to demonstrate that they deserve your trust. Focus on the location monitoring aspect of the software – if the phone proves they’re going only where they said they were, then they’re great! Don’t forget to remind them of their ability to call you if their plans change – and be generous when approving of schedule changes.
- Look at the child’s behavior over time. Many teens have areas where they lie the most frequently – understanding why they’re lying about any given topic can help you decide whether or not it’s worth confronting them about. Sure, they may have a secret girlfriend – but maybe they just haven’t told you because they aren’t sure how serious it is and don’t want to be made fun of if they split up a few days later.
- Regularly check the reports on your child’s activity. Today’s teens often use their phones for many hours a day, so you’ll need to be vigilant if you want to spot issues as they arise.