It is a known fact that kids today are constantly texting and messaging their friends, family, and even strangers. When it comes to their kid’s technology use, parents tend to have this fear of imposing too many restrictions that they end up suffocating their kids, or imposing too little restrictions putting their safety in jeopardy.
Where Parents’ Concerns Root From
Parents are held responsible for their kids the moment they gave birth to them, and this is probably one of the main reasons why. The need for parents to protect their children is simply an innate instinct.
Parents are pretty much aware that the virtual world is as dangerous as the real world. It’s scarier for most parents considering that they can’t always oversee what their kids are doing online. Cyberbullying, for instance, is a cyber threat that is constantly being battled with. According to the Pew Research Center, 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online.
Along with cyberbullying, children are exposed to an endless list of cybercrimes from sexual offenders to scammers. These dangers are what push parents to monitor their children’s technology use. Some establish curfews and strict school-home schedules, while others opt for cell phone monitoring apps.
Parents’ Guide Overseeing Your Child’s Texts
Whatever your reasons may be for remotely monitoring your child’s texts, you have to bear in mind that you’re meant to guide them into living their own lives and not living their lives for them. If you’re one of the parents who believe tracking SMS messages and other texts is necessary, be sure to do it right.
First, you have to be privy to the messaging apps your child might be using. Kids nowadays no longer stick to the built-in text messaging feature on their phones. They tend to prefer chatting on third-party messaging apps than sending an SMS. Learn which of these your kids use such as Kik or WhatsApp. If needed, download and use the apps firsthand so you’ll know for sure what it’s like. By doing so, you can objectively assess if it’s safe for your kids to use them.
When buying your child’s cell phone, opt for one with built-in parental controls. Also, before handing the gadgets to them, ensure that you’ve enabled basic security and safety settings. You could also install a reliable text message spy app so you can remotely monitor their phone activities and messages. Such software can not only feed you the messages your kid sends and receives, but it could also extract the phone’s call log, browser history, and social media activities.
Lay down some ground rules when it comes to your child texting. Do not just mindlessly enforce restrictions, talk with your kids. Educate them on the basic texting etiquette and rules they should follow. Sit with them and explain to them your reasons for monitoring their texts and phone use. Assure them that you do not mean to intrude on their privacy or be overbearing, that this is just for their safety. The most important thing here is that you both are on the same page.
Walk the talk; be a great role model. If possible, follow some of the same rules or screen time restrictions you’ve imposed on your child. By doing so, you’re showing them that there’s a bigger and more fun world outside of their cell phones. To show your good faith, give them some space, and give them some privacy. They are more likely to follow your rules if they see you doing them, and if they feel that you trust them.
Kids may be craving electronic freedom, but they need their parents’ guidance more than they admit. It may be challenging, but you have to find the perfect balance in providing your kids’ freedom and ensuring their safety. After all, you won’t always be there to protect them in-person and online.