When should you give your teen privacy? And when is it wise to interfere? Sometimes this can seem like a fine line….and one many parents worry about overstepping.

Of course, you expect your teens to respect your privacy. It’s your right as an adult to have some alone time and private matters. No matter how open and upfront you are with your kids, there’s still a needs-to-know element and they certainly don’t need to know the detailed ins-and-outs of all your business. You’ve earned that right as an adult though but they aren’t quite there yet.

I bet too, you’d probably feel like your privacy had been violated if someone logged onto your computer and trawled through your online browsing history. Even when you have absolutely nothing to hide…. how dare they!

As we know, part of the teen’s developmental journey is to seek greater privacy for themselves and as a parent you’ll be wanting to respect this. Sometimes though, it’s hard to know when to give them that space and privacy and when to interfere. And when so much of their time is spent online, it’s not always obvious what’s going on in their world.

But at what point should you check in on your teen’s digital activity?

My rule of thumb is – and will always be – safety first. Your parental responsibility is to make decisions and take actions to keep your child safe… and if your teen has been acting unusually lately and you have concerns for their well being then you may have grounds to do a little bit of investigating.

I believe a teen’s right to access technology comes with them understanding their responsibility to use it safely and within the guidelines you set. And for tweens and younger teens in particular, this includes allowing you access to their devices upon request and I recommend regular monitoring of their images, contacts and conversations. Please note though there’s a huge difference between snooping and monitoring.

For older teens, there’s may not be much of a need for random device inspections BUT if their behaviours are worrying then certainly step in to see what’s going on.

If their behaviours have you at all concerned for their well being and you’ve decided to look into their devices, what sorts of things might you want check out?

  • what apps they’ve installed
  • who their social media contacts are (are they connected with a great number of people you don’t know or who are older? You’d be amazed at how many 14 years olds I see with 1000s of Facebook ‘friends’)
  • what images are on their camera roll
  • what interactions they’ve had on social media – posts, messages and comments
  • phone contacts and text messages

At the end of the day, if they complain about you breaching their privacy, let them know their actions have given you reason and cause to look into what’s going on. While living with you, their safety is your priority and responsibility and if that means ‘invading’ their privacy… then so be it. Job done.

Obviously you’d prefer to trust your teen and their judgment but should they give you reason not to, you’ve got every right (and responsibility) to find out what’s going on. Explain that you love them, are concerned for their safety and, whether they’re happy about it or not you are well within your rights to step in if you feel it’s necessary.

Have you experienced this yet with your teen? Come join the discussion in our closed Facebook group and chat about how it went for you!

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