Is it okay to read my teen's e-mail?
Real Mom Problem
“With the statistics out there for underage sex, alcohol, and drug use -- not to mention predators -- is it really snooping to go through their computer?”
- 1. Talk to your kids about appropriate e-mail content, online behavior, and internet safety
- 2. Be aware of what your kids are up to, know their friends and their friends' parents
- 3. Set rules and follow through on consequences if rules are broken
Real Mom Solutions
Is checking your teen's e-mail an invasion of privacy? Do teens really have a right to "privacy" in the first place? See what these moms had to say.
Yes, I Have a Right to Check
I don't require passwords, but I do a random check with them present. I don't like the idea of checking on them behind their back. So far, so good.
There is no such thing as privacy in my house. My kids barged in on me in the shower, on the pot, eavesdropped on my phone conversations and made comments unsolicited, etc. Now if they expect to close a door, talk on the phone without me eavesdropping and looking at call logs, go online -- any site -- and not give me a password, they have lost their minds. I have the password to their college dashboards. If they want privacy, they can get a job and move out and pay for their own phone, internet, and insurance. I have kids between the ages of nine and 22. I still pay some of the bills for my kids not at home. I am privy to all that I have to pay for.
I have my kids' passwords. No password, no computer. Our district has held parent meetings on cyber bullying, internet safety, and the like with the assistant district attorney, police chief, lawyers, and tech people, and they all agree that parents need to be parents and be able to check up on their kids regardless of the fact that they may be good kids. They're still kids and that in and of itself can mean they are capable of making stupid mistakes.
My daughter is 13 years old. I still check all my children's things that connect them to the outside world. They know I do it because I care and it allows them to receive more privileges if they don't break the rules. This goes for my 17-year-old son, 16-year-old daughter, 15-year-old son, 13-year-old son, and 11-year-old son. Eight out of my nine get checked up on. Only my 20-year-old daughter has full privacy on her computer unless the younger children get on it.
When my daughter got her Facebook account, I told her ahead of time, I would be checking it randomly, reading her messages, etc. Same with her e-mail. I told her it was for her safety and my peace of mind. We had a good conversation over it. I always check it right in front of her, so I'm not sneaking behind her back. It IS invading their privacy, but if they were old enough to know better they wouldn't still need us. I think she has the right to bitch about me if she feels like it and shouldn't feel uncomfortable doing so, so certain friends I do not read the emails from. However, she is well aware I can and will if I deem it necessary. She is also well aware that nothing is TRULY deleted from her computer and both myself and her father have the ability to find ANYTHING.
I have my daughter's passwords to everything. I also have the ability to reset her Yahoo password if she ever changes it. When she set up her e-mail I put my e-mail address as the backup e-mail. If your teen doesn't want to give you her passwords then take away privileges until she does. I did that with my daughter.
My teens are 15 and 13. I have their e-mail and Facebook passwords. Their father bought them cell phones and pays for them. If they bring them to my house, I will look through them. I have never found anything too bad until yesterday on my daughter's Facebook page. I deleted the comment and will have a talk with them both.
The computer is a privilege, not a right. If your daughter won't give you passwords, take away her computer access.
I do read their texts and e-mails and anything else like that. But, my kids have never voiced a concern over this or cared. I also go through their room regularly and read anything I find. My house, my money, my rules. When they're grown and out of here, they can have privacy.
I Won't Check Unless I Have a Reason
I require that I have all my kids' passwords. Doesn't mean I look. Mostly I don't look unless there's something specific I'm looking for.
I had my son's online passwords until age 18. In truth, I never looked at anything past the age of 16. I had no reason to look, but I liked knowing I could.
I have my daughter's passwords for Facebook and e-mail. I trust her and don't invade her privacy. If she gives me a reason to worry, then maybe I will.
I trusted my now college-age son and had no need to have his online passwords. Granted, had he given me a reason not to trust him, he would've been required to give me his passwords. My younger kids will start out with me trusting them, but if they give me any reason to not trust them, then they'll be required to give me their passwords, just like their brother.
If I am suspicious of something, I check. Other than that, I don't check my teen's e-mail, texts, or Facebook.
I can see checking-up if you have suspicions that they are behaving dangerously, and definitely think parents should monitor what their kids put out there on the internet. HOWEVER, If you're one of those moms that reads every message and checks every corner of their rooms looking for notes, then freaks out because they talk about sex or about YOU, then it's time to get a grip and back off.