Do/Would you read your child's texts?

I recently had a huge to-do with my family about reading our kids' texts. They have flip phone only so no instagram, etc. They text, of course. I have always maintained that children have no right to expect privacy and that parents have a responsibility to know what is going on in their lives whether kids decide to talk or not. My daughter (13) still shares all, but my son (15) is silent about anything but what's on UTube today. He usually deletes his texts anyway, but once in a while he leaves his phone unattended by accident. They are both good kids with OK grades and no serious drama. They and my husband feel strongly that reading texts breaks trust and makes them less likely to open up. They think texts should only be read if there are "warning signs" that something is going on that needs adult intervention. I think that is often too late.

What do you think?

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As a parent of 2 in middle school and high school, I absolutely believe it is necessary for parents to check their kids things. There are so many things that they are probably not saying  that they are experiencing in their lives and at school. I don't think being a good kid has anything to do with knowing and understanding and possibly needing to address some issues or concerns that may arise. When we gave our kids their phones and anything that we give them for that matter it is with the expected belief that your things could be gone through. There are so many things being presented to our kids that to them may seem harmless and no big deal and yet it is. I don't advocate going thorough their items constantly but as a parent I believe sometimes it's necessary. I'm curious as to why your son is deleteing his texts if he is just communicating with his friends innocently .. Anyhow.. my two cents

I think that maintaining good communications with your child requires that they trust you. 15 year olds are often taciturn; that is not a reason to snoop. Neither I nor my spouse ever, nor would we ever, read our child's texts, diary, etc. I felt she was entitled to privacy, and I she has often told us that our trust was a major factor in her willingness to talk to us as an adolescent (she just turned 21). I also felt that if I read her texts I was invading the privacy of the people with whom she was texting. One may feel that their child does not have an expectation of privacy, but does that extend to anyone they know, whether or not those persons are minors? (And before responding that you have the right to know with whom your child is communicating, I note that this does not address the question of the privacy of others.)

Teens (including 13s) are entitled to privacy, unless there is a real reason to believe something life threatening is going on. I understand the impulse to want to know everything (especially with taciturn boys), but your job as a parent of teens is to support them becoming independent, self sufficient adults. I believe you will have a closer relationship with those adults if you don't pry so much now and invade their space that they are dying to make the break. Spend time with your kids doing things they want to do with you. You might find your son shares more spontaneously when you don't try to force it. Especially, in the car where he's sitting next to you rather than facing you - try it.

Behind all privacy discussions are the question of whether the person had an expectation of privacy. My position on reading kids' text is that it reinforces the idea that no one should ever text anything that they wouldn't want their parents, teachers, or ??? to read. Filtering their on-line engagement through this prism will protect them. So, while I rarely read my kids' social media accounts (several adults are friends on Instagram and would inform me if they saw anything troubling) or phones, it is my official position that I can. If I gave them any reason to believe that their accounts or phones were personal, then they would have a reason to object. There is too much potentially harmful on-line and on phones for me to be completely hands-off. If they want absolute privacy, I'll get them a journal. I mention stories or news articles about adults having problems with things that they shared digitally with an expectation of privacy as well as those about young people having problems arising from social media, screenshots of private communications, etc. I grant you, this is a lower standard than believing I have a right/responsibility to know what's going on in their lives -- I'm sure there's plenty I don't know -- and most of what I know is because they tell me or I figure it out the way parents have for generations, because kids aren't as discrete as they think they are. 

Wow. Expecting to read all their texts to friends? I've always been a pretty tuff mom, but that seems to go way too far in my opinion. That is their private space. But...I they leave their phone unattended and you happen to see a text now and then......that's fine in my opinion.

I worked as a teacher with a male teacher who was caught in an FBI sting luring teenage girls to motels for sex. Parents need to always know what’s going on. You have to be aware. 

No, I would not read my child's texts because I believe as they're approaching adulthood, they deserve to have some control over their lives. When I was in high school oh so long ago, before the internet, my boyfriend at the time would write me snail mail letters and my Dad would open them up and read them. It was a huge invasion of privacy and he used a similar excuse you are using, that as the adult he can do as he pleased. I had to tell my bf at the time to let me know ahead of time if he wrote me something and then for the next couple of days I would be vigilant and keep an eye out for the mailman so I can snag my letter first. By reading his texts without permission, you cultivate resentment and distrust. 

In our family we tell our kids that we will periodically review texts, etc. and we do, although I plan to taper this off as they get older.  We want our kids to develop a sense of the non-private character of texts/emails/posts.  All it takes is a forward and everyone will see it, so it's really not private.  We encourage them to use phone calls/facetime/face-to-face conversations and journaling for true privacy and we don't invade their privacy in those spaces.  The bottom line is, nothing on the internet is really private, and they might as well learn that as early as possible.  Just read the news if you want proof.