Parents Universal Resource Experts – Sue Scheff: Reading Your Teens Emails – Should you?

Recently we read about whether parents should read their child’s diary or journal.  With the advances of technology, we need to take this a step further:  Should you read their emails or text messages?

Again we can go back to “when safety trumps privacy.”

Our teens deserve to be trusted unless they give us reason to suspect something is wrong.  Is their behavior changing?  Here is a review of some warning signs (many are the same to determine if you should read their diaries).

  • Is your teen becoming very secretive? Sure, teens do like their privacy, however if you have a “gut feeling” something is deeper than a secret, you may have to cross that line.
  • Is your teen becoming withdrawn? Again, teens will develop some attitudes of not wanting to be with adults, however when it becomes extreme, it may be time to cross that line.
  • Is your teen changing peer groups? And this is not into a better one, however to one that is less than desirable? You will again attempt to talk to your teen and find out why and what happened to the other friends.
  • Is your teens eating habits changing?
  • Is your teen sleeping a lot? Bloodshot eyes? Do you suspect drug use?
  • Is your teen sneaking out? Becoming extremely defiant? Not respecting your boundaries?
  • Are they overly protective of their cell phones or computer?
  • Do they hide their cell phones
  • Are they anxious when at their computer, seem fearful, attempt to hide their incoming emails?
  • Overall, is your teen slowly becoming a child you don’t recognize?

Like with determining if you should invade their privacy with their journals or diary, unless your teen or tween gives you good reason to read their private text and emails, as parents, we should respect their privacy.

When it comes to younger children, under 10 years old, parents should always be allowed to see what they are doing.  Most younger children are usually not as protective as teens or tweens.  As a responsible parent, you will know when there are red flags or warning signs and you need to step in.

Keeping an open dialog with your tweens and teens is critical.  Letting them know you are there for them as well as talking to them about the issues of sexting, cyberbullying, predators and other areas of concern.

Should you read your child’s emails or text messages?  Only you can answer that.

Be an educated parent, you will have safer children.

Also on Examiner.

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