Is it okay for parents to check their kid's texts and WhatsApp messages?

Whosoever said parenting gets easier as the kids grow older didn’t have kids, to begin with. Just when you think that your days of staying up all night, soothing your little one are long gone, enters the teenage years. Sorry to break it you, but parenting is one job which certainly doesn’t get easier with time. Infact, when your child hits the teen mark, parents are often looking for the best ways to establish new ground rules for effective parenting.

A lot of parents are in favour of giving the smartphone to their children solely for their safety. This ensures that they are able to get in touch with their kids whenever they want to. However, giving your child a smartphone also opens doors for them to access any part of the internet, get in touch with strangers and easily give away their location (thanks to social media platforms.)

The water gets murkier when the topic of checking your child’s phone approaches. Should you respect their privacy and trust them enough or should you check their phones in the name of ensuring their safety? If we are being honest, there is no right or wrong answer to this question. There is no guidebook about whether or not you should violate someone’s privacy and invading their personal space. However, there are certain things you can do for your own peace of mind and ensure that your kids know that they are being trusted with something very important. Some of them are

Set ground rules

This should be one of the first things that should be done when you handover a phone to your teen. Explain to them the concept of not interacting with strangers (and keeping parents in the loop, if they do so) and safe internet usage. You can also teach them cellphone etiquettes to prevent developing unhealthy attachments with their phones.

Have heart-to-heart conversations

For parents and guardians, it is important to know your child’s friends (and their parents), where he goes after classes and tuitions, his extended friend circle and who does he make his weekend plans with. If you feel that your teen is struggling with something, one of the simplest ways of getting to the root of a problem is to sit and talk it through. Pay attention to their body language, their overall behaviour and the usage of internet and cellphone.

Monitor your child’s behaviour

As a parent, you do get to know when your child’s behaviour is a little off. If you think something is wrong, out of the ordinary or unusual about your child, you’re probably right. If you suspect that something is amiss with your teen or he/she has turned reclusive, it might be time to have a word about what is happening in their life. It is important to note that you are the best judge of what might be going inside your kid’s brain. If your parenting gut-feeling says that your child’s cellphone needs monitoring, you may go ahead with the same.

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