Should You Read Your Child’s Texts?

I do not read my daughters’ texts, but I know plenty of parents who do, routinely or on a case by case basis. Like any question that addresses parenting style, this is a loaded one. There is little we are more defensive about than the way we raise our kids. Instead of taking a hard stance one way or the other, here is a pro and con list to reading your child’s texts. It is more food for thought than a judgement.

Arguments FOR┬áreading your child’s texts:

— You pay the phone plan, so it is your right.

— If they are getting into something dangerous, you will know sooner.

— They are leaving a digital footprint, and it is your role as a parent, to make sure that footprint doesn’t come back to haunt them.

— If they know you are reading their texts, they will be much less likely to text something inappropriate.

Arguments AGAINST reading your child’s texts:

— It is an invasion of privacy, and everyone, even teenagers, deserve some privacy.

— This is the way kids communicate now, so checking texts is akin to picking up the extension on a phone call, reading their diary or holding a glass up to the door.

— People tend to behave more responsibly when they feel independent and trusted.

— It is O.K., normal and natural for a kid to have one persona with his or her friends, and another in their home, which should be a safe space. When texts are read, the buffers protecting that safe space are blurred and even broken.

— When reading the texts of teens, it is far more likely you will be disappointed in your child and their friends for language or content, than it is you will see something that needs your serious intervention. More likely, you will just end up being worried about them in normal social drama … all of which is a learning experience and 99% of the time does not need your intervention or concern.

— Who has the time? I can’t even keep up with my own texts.

Disclaimer: If you have a strong suspicion your child is engaging in risky behavior, read away!



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Author: Karen Latimer

Dr. Latimer is a Family Physician and Wellness & Parenting Coach. She works with parents who want to feel more confident when helping their children and coaches young adults to help them better navigate college life and transitions. Contact her at to learn more. She is the author of two Audible Originals, Take Back the House -- Raising Happy Parents and Worry Less, Parent Better. She is also the co-founder of the app that makes your life easier and puts social in a healthier place -- List'm.


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