Let’s tackle the discussion of teen cell phone monitoring.
To monitor or not to monitor your teens cell phone, it’s such an interesting, divided dilemma.
First, let’s be clear on one thing: if you’re having this dilemma of deciding whether you should monitor your teens cell phone, you’re a good parent.
Those who are pro monitoring, for the most part are doing so to protect their children because they love them.
Those who decide not to monitor after thoroughly thinking through it are choosing not to monitor because they also love their child.
I wanted to point this out, because there was an interesting post made by Deputy Gomez, a popular school resource officer online that many parents follow.
As you’ll see in this post, there was massive division with a lot of finger pointing in the comments. Both sides of this conversation love their child, so let’s be clear on that.
Deputy Gomez is also a school resource officer and strictly sharing his observations and opinion. He’s not a psychologist who’s studied the negative impact of monitoring or what it does to the parent/child relationship when it comes to trust. His job is around ‘safety’ and thus brings up discussions like this based on what he observes with students.
Cell Phone Monitoring for Parents Dilemma
First let’s be clear that you know your child the best, so no one is more qualified than you when it comes to deciding if your child is responsible enough to have a cell phone.
Just like your parents made the choice as to when you could go on your first date or go to the mall alone with your friends, you know when your child is ready.
Monitoring our kids is nothing new. And the question of how far it should go has been going on for generations. But modern technology has made the dilemma far more complicated.
An interest in keeping kids safe and keeping an eye out for people who might have ill intent is certainly a justifiable reason for monitoring. Parents are really faced with three options:
- To monitor and keep it a secret
- To monitor but tell kids
- To not monitor at all
If you choose to monitor and keep a secret, you need to be prepared for the possibility of your children finding out. Apps are becoming more and more savvy, so every time a new one is created that monitors the phone, another one is created that’s specifically designed to FIND the monitoring apps.
It’s a vicious cycle.
And unfortunately, if your kids DO discover you’re monitoring them, there will be fall out. Your kids will no longer trust you or may feel you don’t trust them (or all of the above).
I’m going to go out on a limb here and say it won’t end well.
Let’s say you decide to monitor but be transparent.
This is definitely a better choice since you won’t be breaking their trust and you’ll be removing the risk associated with going behind their back. That said… kids want at least a certain amount of privacy. (Imagine mom and dad telling you that you could – and should – write in your diary, but that they’re going to read it.)
Your child may decide to use a whole other phone that they hook up to wifi, only. You can access free wifi almost anywhere no, so it wouldn’t be that much of an inconvenience.
Or they could just leave their phone behind when they go places, so they couldn’t be tracked. (Definitely not good if they get into trouble and need to call you.)
The third solution is not to monitor at all.
While this may be hard to swallow, not knowing what your kids are up to (especially if you were a wild child yourself), but your parents managed to survive it and you turned out okay.
The best thing you can do in this situation is engage your kids in open, honest conversation regularly. Be really transparent with them and make them feel like they can come to you freely. Make them feel like they don’t NEED to hide anything.
Talk to them about internet safety, what is and is not okay to post on social media (and why), and talk to them about privacy settings. You can go a long way towards keeping children safe through conversation, alone.
Alternative to Monitoring Your Teens Cell Phone
Frequent conversations about our concerns builds trust with our children. Just like our parents didn’t strap ankle monitoring bracelets to us, we need to build a relationship with our children where they act responsible and trust us.
Is the above video any different than putting a tracking device on your child’s phone?
Conclusion: Teen Cell Phone Monitoring
We know that this is a hard conversation and, let’s be real, none of us knows the perfect way to parent. We’re all just doing the best we can. And while cell phones and social media and relatively new, the dilemma over how far we go monitoring our children is nothing new.
Your parents may have listened in on your calls as a kid (on the other end of the line) or dropped you off and then drove around the corner to keep an eye out.
Parents have always wanted to go the extra mile to keep kids and teens safe.
Whether you decide to monitor secretly, monitor openly, or abstain from monitoring completely, you need to be prepared to have the hard conversations with your kids. Because even if you monitor them and do find something, you’ll have to have a conversation with them about it in order to address it.
- How are you going to bring up the sensitive topic of sexting?
- How are you going to bring up talking to strangers on the internet?
- How are you going to bring up online pornography?
And the more we engage in open conversation with our kids on everyday life stuff, the easier these conversations will become.
What do you think? Would you monitor your kids phones (or do you already)? Would you tell them (or have you told them)? Leave us a comment below or jump over into the Facebook Group and join the discussion there.