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Do you/Would you periodically check texts to and from your 13 yo child?


Hyacinth
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Not unless I felt there was some reason I had to.

 

I might tell them I reserve the right to do so or claim that I do so.

 

I dunno.  I guess my basic reasoning is what is the point?  I would need to have some sort of reason.  Like if I thought they were in danger, acting depressed, I heard something from someone about some trouble they were getting into, etc. 

 

 

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My 13 year old did not have a cell phone, but I gave on to my 14 year old when he started high school.

 

And yes, I did on occasion check his texts if only to see how he was using it. It was spectacularly boring, lol.

 

If you want to know what your teen is really saying to his or her friends you have to check their social media.  They can dm on instagram etc and that is where the real conversation is happening. There are also other texting type apps a teen can put on his or her phone and those can be hidden. My kids can't download any apps etc unless I put in the itunes password.

 

Now that my son is 16 I feel like I have to give him a lot more privacy and control over his private life. He's a junior in high school. In two years he won't even live here any more. I need to let him figure this out while he still has us around to help him out if he gets into trouble.

 

But when he was younger I kept a much closer eye on things. So when he was 14 I checked his phone every couple weeks, then less regularly over time. Now I would only do it if I was worried he was in trouble or using drugs or something like that. Fortunately, he's a fairly boring kid, lol. 

 

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Mine doesn't have his own phone and I don't encourage him to text his friends' personal phones.

 

I don't think I'd make a habit out of reading everything, but I would be clear that I reserve the right to. Generally I think 13 a bit young to have their own phone, email, etc; I just don't see the need, but I definitely see the downfalls. Thankfully it's a non issue for us right now.

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At 13?  Heck yes.

 

Over 16, it would be pretty rare and only with a significant concern.   And yes, you need to see the social media accounts.  I knew of several whose parents thought they were little angels, but they weren't putting out the little angel vibe on instagram.

 

I currently know of a case of a 15 year old who met a guy on tinder and went alone to his apartment.  One of my kids told me everyone told her how dangerous this was and that she should not do it.  But at 15, you are thinking that if older guys like you, it must be because you are so mature and fascinating.  You don't reason this out properly. That is why mom and dad need to be in on your life, and why you aren't completely self- directed at age 15.  The maturity is lacking, for many. 

Edited by TranquilMind
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DD15 was about 12yo when she got her first phone.  Which was a smart phone because I work for the phone company and she got my hand-me-down when I upgraded.  I was needing to drop her off at sports and homeschool events and wanted her to be able to reach me.

 

Before she got the phone I explained that I WOULD be reading her text messages for a while to make sure she *got* the hang of what is and is not OK.  She was fine with that and I would read them periodically to see how it was going.

 

DD is 15 now and I hardly ever read her texts unless she asks me to.  She got a *dumb* text from a guy recently (wildly inappropriate sexual references) and wanted help in how to block him forever on her phone.  I explained how the block works and now she is happily idiot-free on her phone again.

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Why or why not?

I did. He wasn't allowed to have his phone in his room at night.....so I often checked it in the mornings when I got up. I didn't tell him when I did it...although he knew that was my right.

 

He is 16 1/2 now and recently successful negotiated for privacy. He still doesn't get his phone in his room...but his conversations with his friends are now private.

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My 11 yr old shares my Apple ID, so all of her iMessages automatically also go to my iPad (I have a windows phone that I use for texting, so iMessage is just her). So, yeah. She's aware that I do monitor everything, and shared accounts make that easy and open. I will say it may be harder after age 13-right now, federal law backs me up :).

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yes, because 13 yo's are naive and can easily and quickly get in over  their heads.

 

dudeling periodically complains about the rules for electronics ... what frustrates him even more than his most favorite person in the whole world (yeah, I'm #2)  - 1ds - was the one to come down hardest.  (because he's been a naive 13 yo in the electronic age.)

 

 

eta: dudeling doesn't have a phone (he uses an old one for games and kindle)- and he doesn't text.  the only people he's allowed to communicate/play games with online are people we know irl.  it's all verified. 

 

the only way he'd get a phone before heading to college/paying for it himself, is if he's frequently places  he needs to have a phone that is more than some prepaid. 

Edited by gardenmom5
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My eldest is 10, so this is just a guess, but I would probably take a glance now and then.  Right now I do look, as she has only had a phone for a couple weeks and I am not sure how responsible she is going to be.  So far so good, but things change as they get older.  13 can be a really difficult age with bullying and other social complexities.

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Well considering Eldest who is 12 1/2 only talks via a chat function on his laptop to his one friend who lives down the street - I don't have much to worry about. As for his wanting privacy once he typed to friend a bunch and asked me to read them to see how much he typed so he could get out of writing for the day. 

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If I thought there was a problem, then yes - how serious a problem depends on the age of the kid. And I did tell the girls that their texts aren't actually private because we pay for the phone line, and we can check them even if it's deleted from the phone. (This is all to reiterate the rule everybody should have memorized: If it would embarrass you to have this published on the front page of the NYTimes, you shouldn't put it in writing.)

 

However, I followed up by pointing out that I'm not likely to do this. I once accidentally read my kid's texts (our phones are the same model) and it was sooooooo boring. It was more exciting the time I snooped in my mom's phone! (She asked me to clear out her texts for her. Long story short, I'm never doing that again. Her inbox can just stay full.) So long as I don't think they're using their phone to score hardcore drugs or sending underage sexts or plan bank robberies, I'm not going to check.

 

(And if you're using your phone to do any of those things, you really need to stop. The police will get a warrant, and then they'll know all. Seriously, do this sort of thing face to face.)

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At 13? Yes, absolutely.

 

By 16 (or possibly 15, depending on maturity), I'd let them have their privacy.

 

Edited to add the why factor: Because 13 year olds have no brains.

Edited by Kinsa
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Yes, and he knew about it.  At some point he was deleting things, so I kept track of the minutes balance (which wouldn't tell me who he was contacting, but would at least let me know whether he used the phone).  Now, we have different phones - technically smart phones, but none of us uses them for anything but calls and the rare text.  I still retain the right to check, but rarely do.

 

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I've told my kids that we will check their phones/email/browser history at will. We're Christians and as such we're called to encourage one another toward godliness and be accountable to one another. Sin loves to try and hide and we're much less likely to behave inappropriately if we're being watched.

 

I have also let my kids know that they're welcome to (other than birthday or gift surprises) look at my stuff anytime also. I should have nothing to hide. I shouldn't be doing anything that I wouldn't want them to see. My kids are teens and while they aren't my peers by any stretch we do try to be respectful with rules here.

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No, because if there was a text he didn't want you to see he'd just delete it, surely? On the other hand, I'm in the '13 year olds don't need phones' camp, so if I knew of a way to see deleted texts, yes I would look. Dd got a phone at 15. She's nearly 16 and has a password on it now. Still thinking about how I feel about that!

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Absolutely.  BUT, I would also tell him from the beginning that his messages show up *somewhere*. If you decide to have a conversation / confront him about something he said, there is a good chance he will feel like his trust/privacy was violated and sometimes it can be very hard to 'recover' from that.

 

---

 

Oh, and I might also add.... I would never give a 13 year old a phone.

Edited by HomeMum
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I have also let my kids know that they're welcome to (other than birthday or gift surprises) look at my stuff anytime also. I should have nothing to hide. I shouldn't be doing anything that I wouldn't want them to see.

 

I am very puzzled by this point of view. So if you had very private issues, like health, sexual, relationship related, you would think it appropriate for your children to know about everything? Because you are Christian?

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Never checked anything. I don't recall when DS got his phone with texting capability. I also don't check their social media - because teens are smart. If they want to hide something, they will find a way to do so even if mom inspects the phone or checks the social media. Delete history, get a second cheap prepaid phone, get another fb or twitter account of which parents know nothing - checking just pushes them to be inventive.

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I am very puzzled by this point of view. So if you had very private issues, like health, sexual, relationship related, you would think it appropriate for your children to know about everything? Because you are Christian?

No, obviously not. I also think there are "in person" conversations and online/email/text issues and I think there is a difference between private and secret. Private- changing in your room. Secret- sneaking a phone in to text at 2 am. We try to be transparent to avoid "secret". Ihope that makes sense. I'm sure as they get older they'll have sensitive things they want to keep private and I'm happy to honor that. I can see where it wasn't clear. No, we're not freaky but yes, I try to live on my phone/Internet in a way that I wouldn't be embarrassed if it were put on the front page of the news (an ethics guideline we were encouraged to consider in the military).

 

ETA- I also want them not to think accountability is adults watching kids. It's all of us trying to honor God with every decision, and asking others to help us along the way.

Edited by FriedClams
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Yeah, It's OK for parents to have some privacy, same with kids. We don't need to be 100% open with each other all the time - as a matter of fact, that sounds pretty unhealthy.

 

A desire for privacy is normal in both adults and teens, not a sign that someone is hiding a great sin or doing anything wrong.

 

That's different to deciding that you will check in when a dc gets a phone for the first time. I don't do that, but I can see why it might work for other families, especially if the checking is an open thing.

I totally agree. Hopefully I explained myself better! I think the bottom line is respect and trust all around - because no accountability or checking will help anyone to make a good decision without personal integrity. Seriously, this teen to adult transition is tough to navigate!
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Absolutely-and not just text messages, but I would have a filter on the  phone and the ability to see what they were doing online. Most kids see porn at a pretty young age now since most of them have phones, and many get addicted to porn.

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Never checked anything. I don't recall when DS got his phone with texting capability. I also don't check their social media - because teens are smart. If they want to hide something, they will find a way to do so even if mom inspects the phone or checks the social media. Delete history, get a second cheap prepaid phone, get another fb or twitter account of which parents know nothing - checking just pushes them to be inventive.

 

Pretty much this, exactly. I think it is much more helpful to work on cultivating an open, respectful relationship. But, we all value our privacy very much around here. House full of introverts.

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because teens are smart. If they want to hide something, they will find a way to do so even if mom inspects the phone or checks the social media. Delete history, get a second cheap prepaid phone, get another fb or twitter account

This is why I can never understand it when parents say they "don't let" there teen have a Facebook account (for instance). If you're letting them have access to phone or Internet then you're letting them do pretty much what they want, barring filters which they may or may not know how to get around.

 

I mean, if I don't want my kids to see something, I use private browsing, or I delete the text (and no, not an individual text so that it's obvious a message is missing as one friend optimistically suggested, I delete the entire conversation). If I'm tech savvy enough, and I'm not actually working at hiding anything significant, I'm pretty sure a motivated teen can manage it.

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Yes , I have and will check my dds phones. They are 12 and 14.

I don't hide it from them either. I honestly don't want to read their texts, because I don't want to see all that teenage stuff, but if my dd starts acting weird, like happened once, I will check the accountableto you we have on their phones, and take care of issues.

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Agreeing.  My kids text via Skype and personal message in Pinterest.  I absolutely check my 13 yo's messages bc she did get in over head as mentioned above. She is very naive and doesn't have the same adult/mature perspective on situations.

 

I occasionally pull up and read my 15 (almost 16 )yo ds's account.  I believe that accountability is important for anyone and everyone. 

 

I particularly monitor any avenue my kids can speak with strangers over the internet. My dd's writing partner from England probably is a teen girl, but there are too many stories of deception for me to let them have completely private conversations.  Ds doesn't have the same amount of online/not irl friends, but I monitor his accounts for the same reason.

 

There is also a "friend" from childhood who has a tendency to viciously verbally attack when angry and I do feel that is an important interaction to monitor (this person is in skype groups with them still).

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If my dc had phones I would definitely check in regularly. They would know though. 13yos can say unintentionally careless or offensive things so easily and I see it as my job to help them learn how to navigate relationships well. Writing is a medium that allows for this so much easier then in their face to face relationships. I do this with in person relationships too though. When they're with their friends I'll ask them all abou their visit afterwards and give them feedback about how they handled things. This is all done peacefully and willingly. I don't think that they mind at all. It just seems really natural to me.

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Not just periodically, but I would read every single text.

You say "would" so I assume you don't actually have teens yet? They can send and receive hundreds of messages a day. It would be a full time job to read them all. They do know we will check which keeps them and their friends honest but we know we can't possibly read everything.

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No, because if there was a text he didn't want you to see he'd just delete it, surely? On the other hand, I'm in the '13 year olds don't need phones' camp, so if I knew of a way to see deleted texts, yes I would look. Dd got a phone at 15. She's nearly 16 and has a password on it now. Still thinking about how I feel about that!

Yes of course but they don't always. They also are not allowed to and they know if we catch them deleting texts they will lose it completely.

16 year old has a phone, 14 year old an iPod touch and a pre paid phone for needs not chatting. 11 year old girl wants something but we are waiting. We will likely wait until 15 or 16 for anything. She's not happy about that but what can we say we are more experienced now ;)

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Pretty much this, exactly. I think it is much more helpful to work on cultivating an open, respectful relationship. But, we all value our privacy very much around here. House full of introverts.

This is our theory, but I think it varies by kid. Mine is not very active on social media or texting. Most of his contact with friends is by FaceTime and still just talking to other guy friends. No girls yet. He has brought one text to me to ask how to respond. A girl asked him to "go out" which I had to ask other moms what that even meant to kids now.

He does have some friends whose parents are more interested in their social media and texting presence. Their kids' personalities determine the need for that and more oversight in general. Mine's kind of a late bloomer. We'll see what happens next.

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My 14yo and 12yo have phones, and their texting is unbelievably boring. Like others said, texting is not where their action occurs. Their action happens on apps like Snapchat that don't keep messages or pictures. No way of checking that. I believe our best defense against bad things happening is to keep the channels of communication open with our teens.

 

We do have Family Base with Verizon so we can see who they are calling and texting and when their activity happens. We can block contacts and stop their data. We receive notifications from Verizon when they are using their phones during night time hours, and we receive a weekly report of their top contacts.

 

I also follow them and their friends on their social media accounts - Instagram, Facebook, etc - but I don't check their texts. I see enough of what they are doing online and we talk enough that I am confident I know what my kids are doing. With different kids I may have a different approach.

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This all prompted me, by the way, to talk to the girls again about sensible media usage.

 

"Every single week, people commit crimes and get caught because they bragged on Facebook. You shouldn't commit any crimes, thank you, but if you do I don't ever want to hear you got caught because you're stupid. Every single day, people plan to commit crimes and they get convicted because they made their plans over email or text. It's a lot harder to prove it happened if you aren't dumb enough to leave a written record, so don't do that! And seriously, no naked pictures until you're an adult. If you feel you must share them, do yourself a favor, give your whoever an actual photo, and get one from them in exchange. If they want to upload it to the internet, they'll have to scan it in somewhere and that's a lot of work just to be a jerk. But, you know, be careful who you share those with and not until you're 18."

 

They don't really have to worry about me checking the texts. Again, I'd have to be seriously concerned to want to subject myself to that! But people get fired for carelessly thought out tweets. They get turned down for jobs because of stupid Facebook photos. And yeah, people get sent to prison because they were dumb enough to leave a record of their criminal activities. If I thought that having to deal with me snooping around would make them smarter about that sort of thing, I might actually consider it.

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My teen has a non-smart phone that has texting. It has limited minutes, so she really isn't supposed to text her friends with it because she needs the minutes for emergencies or to contact me when one of us isn't home. Little happens on her phone. Most of her friends don't have phones, so they tend to use Google more for communication. She knows that I do have the right to check her texts, emails, and anything else, logging in to her accounts as her. I glance at them periodically, but that's about it. Most of it is not really exciting to me, and I have talked with her about how if she wants to talk about something private with her BFF, that they shouldn't via tech anyway. Her tablet/computer usage is filtered, and while I can see what she looks for on Google and what sites she visits, with the help of the filter software, I generally don't look at that too closely. We also talk about strangers on the internet and how to handle that. I try to find a balance between giving her privacy and room to stretch her wings but also protecting her.

 

Also, DH and I don't have privacy from each other, but we do from the kids. We're adults, for one, not minors. They don't have free access to our phones or my tablet, and they don't have access to our internet usage either. When they are adults, I will not monitor their usage, although they will still not have access to mine and DH's usage. (However, if they, as adults, are using our family's devices, or our family's WiFi, they will have the same p*rn filters that DH and I use, because our family policy is that we will not make it easy for p*rn to enter our house.)

Edited by happypamama
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DS is younger than that. But probably until he's 16, it wouldn't be his phone at all--it'd be our phone that he's allowed to use at times--and we will make it very clear that there is no such thing as privacy on phones and computers. (DH is a software pro, and it's unlikely that DS will eclipse him before adulthood.)

 

I benefited from an introduction to law course in 9th grade, and plan to cover a number of topics with DS at a similar age in hopes of averting disaster; right now he has more creativity than judgment, even for his age.

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My husband is an attorney, and he says, "what you call Facebook, I call evidence." People do a lot of dumb stuff via Facebook and texting.

 

Yep, exactly.  Perfect phrase...might steal that!  ;) 

 

From my Facebook, one would only be able to determine my approximate age group from my interests and that I am married.  I don't even mention my children by name.  You won't be able to figure out my viewpoints on anything. 

 

I really don't understand putting all your private business out there.  But people do it. 

 

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We do so randomly.  Dd has had a phone since she was 10yo and we made it clear that we could and would be checking in on it (and her email, instagram, etc....) whenever we felt like it.  We also check her browser history on her laptop.  We know she can delete but she also knows a suspiciously empty inbox or history is also grounds for termination of her access.  We are close to most of her friends' parents and they also have the same policy so we all policing the kids as a group.  

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