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Should Parents Go Through Their Child’s Phone: Where’s The Limit?

Agnes W Linn

Being online 24/7, having smartphones glued to their hands, and using social media apps with abandon are among a host of alarming and commonplace features of kid and teenage life not only in the U.S. but also around the globe.

According to a 2018 Pew Research Center survey, more than nine in ten U.S. teens report having daily access to a smartphone and using social media for hours. Half of them confess to using their devices and staying online “almost constantly.” But should parents monitor cell phones of their children, though?

Table Of Contents

Why Should Parents Monitor Their Children’s Phones?

Sure, there are numerous benefits that such increased connectivity brings to parents and teens. First and foremost, it brings parents relief unthinkable even several generations ago.

These days, you can quickly check whether your teen is on their way home or harboring other plans in secret. Whenever there’s an emergency, your kid can contact you instantly.

On the flip side, it comes with a range of challenges for parents—as well as their teens, with questions like, “Should parents go through their child’s phone?” popping into the heads of more and more parents. And rightly so. Most parents are deeply concerned about precisely what kind of experiences their teen might encounter online.

58% of parents check which websites their teen visits or look through their child’s cellphone call logs or messages. They could be doing something relatively benign in the short term, like whiling away precious time watching TikTok.

Or not so much—they could be coming across online bullies (37% have been actively threatened), getting in touch with a drug dealer, or being groomed by a predator. Chris Hadnagy, an expert on cybersecurity issues, says that “online grooming can be successful in less than an hour.”

Inevitably, the issue of monitoring teenager cell phone becomes so burning that it must be addressed headlong and thoroughly analyzed. Enter ‘cyber-snooping’ or monitor your child’s internet and cell phone use. What are the pros and cons? Is it ethical? Is it even legal? We’ve got all the answers you might be seeking.

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So, should parents check their child’s phone, and is it ethical? Some experts, such as Shoshanna Zuboff, rightly say that although “we want them to be safe, and fear is a great motivator, but we should give our kids the opportunity to make promises and keep them.”

That sounds right, as building trust and not keeping our children under constant surveillance is crucial if we want our children and our relationship with them to be healthy.

Others, like Athena Chavarria, an executive assistant to the CFO at the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, told the New York Times just a couple of years ago: “I am convinced the devil lives in our phones and is wreaking havoc on our children.”

So, it’s equally important to keep in mind that children are easy prey for all sorts of dangerous actors online. They lack both the experience and the wisdom needed to make sound decisions when it comes to acting responsibly on the Internet.

Finally, you should remember as well that as a parent, it’s you who’s ultimately responsible for your child’s well-being, be it physical or mental.

Just explain to your kid why their phones need to be monitored and what dangers are there, and you both will indeed find some common ground. Don’t do it completely in secret, and avoid using it as some form of punishment.

Is it illegal to go through your child’s phone? As long as your children are considered minors, you’re their sole legal guardian. Add their explicit consent to be monitored for their safety, and no laws are broken.

The bottom line is, your child will undoubtedly be safer. But if not used with caution, it can backfire spectacularly. Is there a way to prevent such a scenario?

Should Parents Have Access to Their Child’s Phone?

Ok, with all these ethical, legal, and other things discussed and settled, it’s time to get down to the real business. If you’ve ever wondered how to check your child’s phone, then parental control apps are your best bet.

You’ll agree that constantly taking your child’s to go over the latest texts and photos they took, even with their explicit consent, can be pretty daunting, if not impossible at all.

Luckily, there are loads of apps that come to the rescue. From the most primitive solutions, which offer a very narrow set of capabilities and can, sometimes, be entirely free, to those that do cost some money but can give parents precisely the amount of control they need.

What’s more, these technical crutches do allow you to decide how far you want to go. Do you wish to receive a notification each time your child gets a new message? Or will a quick glance at the dashboard with all the latest developments once a week be enough?

This flexibility will help you reach some compromise with your child, establish boundaries, and protect both your child and your relationship with them.

How mSpy Can Help You Protect Your Kid

It sure isn’t easy to pick the right parental control app on the first try. That’s why we would advise you to take a look at mSpy, one of the best monitoring solutions on the market with a proven track record of making the lives of numerous parents easier and saving quite a few kids’ lives as well.

mSpy, a top parental control app, will help you:

  • monitor your child’s outgoing & incoming calls and see who they talk with and for how long;
  • track their text messages;
  • look into their messaging apps activity, from WhatsApp to Instagram;
  • track the location of their device 24/7 and set geofencing;
  • get access to their contact list and calendar.

Is it all there is to the app? Surely not! Apart from the functions we’ve just covered, you’ll be able to control all the apps and programs they have installed on the phone with this app. Log all the keystrokes they make and get alerted whenever they type in anything controversial and so much more.

A Parental Control App Is Only One Part of the Solution, Though Important

Why is mSpy such a good option for most parents? Because although it might seem filled to the brim with all sorts of controls and tools, it allows you and your child great flexibility when it comes to setting the exact limits neither you nor your child will ever cross. And it’s enormously easy to use as well.

Hopefully, you’ve already made up your mind and are better equipped to handle the issue of monitoring your child’s device use with sensitivity, respect, and care. One of the best parental control apps will certainly help you succeed in that task. But do bear in mind that no amount of spying on our kids will make them completely safe.

Go overboard, and you can have that mutual trust you’ve been building for years broken in a matter of seconds. Never forget why should parents monitor their children’s phones in the first place. Know your limits, let your child know theirs, and you all should be just fine.

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Agnes Linn was born into the family of an eloquent preacher (parish priest), with the inevitable passion for writing. She received classic education in Philosophy, as well as Modern Mass Media Management; married, mother of one kid.

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