What should you do when you read your teen's text messages and are shocked with what you find?

If you are shocked by a text message your teenager has written or received, would you confront them about it? How else could you handle the situation?

40  Answers

8 40

I would without a doubt confront her with it. My kids know that as long as they're living in my house, they are entitled to no real privacy. If they need to hide what they're saying and doing with their friends, than you can safely assume it's wrong and they know it or they wouldn't be hiding it. I bought the electronic device they're using to text/call on, as well as everything else in their life, therefore, they need to show respect for my rules and wishes. I'm not unreasonable with my requests, just simply - if they want me to trust them...don't give me a reason not to. And if they happen to make a mistake, which all kids do, they expect to receive a consequence. Clear, honest communication + reasonable consequences = a happy, well-rounded teenager/family.

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0 10

Couldn't agree MORE!!!!!!!

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3 0

Well, I can see I'm going to be the odd mom out here. Yes, I am old fashioned so to speak. First of all I have a 13 yr old boy and 11 yr old daughter. They all the time give me grief that they want a cell phone and that I'm unfair for not letting them have one "like everyone else."

What did kids do years ago before there were cell phones? They got along just fine and there was not all this danger of them coming in contact with dangerous people and engaging in sexual txting. So therefore my children will not be allowed to have a cell phone until if/when they are in a sport or are doing something after school that they need to call me to come pick them up. I see no need for them to have phones, it is not a necessity!

My oldest boy who is now 23, did have a pre-paid cell phone when he was a teen, only because he was in sports and needed to get a hold of me to pick him up. But back then there was no txting and he knew that he was to use it for certain purposes only. If he wanted to call friends, he used our landline phone.

Now to topic at hand, would I check my children's messages and monitor what they were doing? You bet I would!! If I thought there was something inappropriate going on or their behavior changed I would not hesitate to check their phone and to take it away if need be! I am a very protective mom and I feel in the world in which we live now, you can never be cautious enough when it concerns your children.

My children are not allowed to be on any social sites online, they are monitored as to what they are doing on the net. Some will say that I'm not letting them grow and be independent, but I disagree. I am protective with them, but I always show them examples as to why I try to protect them and what can happen if they fall into the wrong hands or make a bad decision. I feel I'm not smothering them, I'm loving them and showing them that the world in which we live can be dangerous and cruel. And most of the time they agree with me and thank me for being protective of them and loving them like I do. I always talk to my children and am always aware of what they are doing, our lines of communication between all my children are very open and they are not afraid to tell and share things with me. My oldest son has always confided and shared what he was doing and I have always appreciated that very much, that he was comfortable to talk to his mom about anything. Sometimes things I really would rather not want to know, but am thankful that he feels he can talk to me!

But that's my perspective and the way I raise my children and I understand not all parents agree with this method, and that's fine! But I was raised in very much the same way and I feel I turned out to be a very responsible, compassionate, loving person. :)

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8 40

Bravo! Bravo! Bravo! I couldn't agree more. My kids as well do not have cell phones. My 14 yr old daughter has an ipod that she can text on if she is around wifi, but that's it! My rule is when they are responsible enough to hold a job, they can purchase their own phone. I supply what is neccessary and deserved, not what is desired...otherwise I'd be broke and they'd be spoiled brats. Too many parents today try too hard to be their kids' friends and not their parents. My motto is that it's my job to keep them safe, not make them happy. It's their job to work with what they're given to make themselves happy. Nothing in life is free and my kids are taught that if they want something they have to earn it and that includes respecting my husband and I, our rules and being responsible with their choices.

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2 4

Part of growing up is making mistakes. It is difficult to shelter your children from everything harmful all the time, and if they don't learn it from you they will learn it from somewhere. I want my children to be armed with all sides of the knowledge spectrum. I want them to have all the tools necessary to make good choices, or a backup to get out of the bad ones. As much as I would love to protect them and keep them in a glass box, I know it wouldn't be right, and they wouldn't have a chance to grow up. I will ALWAYS be there to help them, though. No matter what.

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64 0

I have been there, done that with my then 15yo old daughter who became involved in a very dangerous sexting situation. I found out when I noticed all of the messages on the phone bill. This person(out of state, never met) would not leave my DD alone, and my DD enjoyed it too much to stop. You bet we confronted her, like was said before there is no expectation of privacy in our house. She is very, very smart, but sometimes lacks common sense. Although the messages were disturbing, the problem was the danger of the situation. DD's behavior started going downhill, and after months of this problem we contacted the police about this person, and DD has been without a phone since last October 22. That day she got caught sneaking her phone and had over 1000 messages in a DAY. Be careful of respecting privacy, kids are kids, and what you may feel is innocent and normal may spiral totally out of control. I shudder to think where my DD could be if we hadn't intervened.

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27 0

That depends on what you see. Is it something dangerous? Inappropriate? Embarrassing? I have always taught my kids never to write, text, take pictures of anything they would not want the whole world (me and their father included) to see. I have shown them real life examples of peoples lives being ruined by things they have thought would be private (ahem....Anthony Weiner). I also try very hard to remember that I said and did a lot of things that I would not want my mom to know and I turned out pretty ok. Doesn't make it right but it is a part of being a kid. Keep the lines of communication open without immediate condemnation and your kids will find you a trusted ally on their journey!

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Confront your child. Your entire job as a parent is to monitor and shape behavior. Turning a blind eye because your child is "mature" or because you think they should have "privacy" is abdicating your role as a parent. I really do not understand the thought process behind parents that say to ignore it. I am not advocating that you "blow your stack" as others have indicated, but certainly a conversation is appropriate and needed.

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I for one check my 15 almost 16yr old daughters phone often and take it away a far bit too. I have even had to go to the point of calling the boys who have been texting her and told them if i see anymore of the sort that I would get their parents involved also. In this day and age you cant trust alot of what other people out there are doing. How much about people do you really know? This is a different world than I grew up in. With cell phones, computers and internet you never know what or who is out there. I will make sure my childeren including my boys grow up to be respectful, caring, honest people with morals. Which you do not see alot of these days.

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4 0

So, ... how would you recommend going forward with your suggestion to "get their parents involved also." ? I am in the position of needing (I believe) to contact my son's "girlfriend". They've both been sharing some pretty racy texts, and my husband and I believe it's reasonable for us to contact the girl's mother. Anybody have any actual experience with this?

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0 20

My 15 yr old son broke our "circle of trust" so I in return had to invade his so-called "privacy" by searching through his text messages for answers. My son has always been very bright, charismatic, upfront, honest and open with our family. So as you can imagine, it came to quite a surprise to receive an alarming call from one of my son's screaming parents that their child was fighting for their life in the ER after indulging in drugs with my son. We had just dropped our kids off at a school dance not even 20 minutes prior! I searched through his phone and found all that I needed to know about what was going on in his life at the time since he was "too high" and too accustomed to lying at this point to give straight answers. The family wanted to press charges but it took the Grace of God to save the life of their son and to help his mom remember what a decent human being my son was - she had always called him a "good kid" and his good reputation had preceded him. We found out that the weed my son purchased was laced with several types of harmful known and unknown street drugs. My son was not aware of this and later regretted this decision. The only reason why my son did not "flip out" the way his friend did was because of his body weight and athletic build in comparison to his friends small build and low body weight- but my son was still "high as a kite" that night and if I would have periodically performed a cell phone check that entire incident could have been avoided. Both boys are really great kids- it’s the world we live in today and teenagers are susceptible to the pressure of their peers and culture to NOT go against the grain. It is OUR DUTY as good parents to try our best in making sure they do and to shape them into becoming well balanced, productive adults who are capable of making appropriate decisions. I periodically check both of my boy’s cell phones- especially when their behavior changes and they become a little bit more “sneaky” or their attitude increases and they are more defensive. Some things I let go but others, I act upon and help to avoid what could be another potentially life altering situation.

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9 20

We made it clear the day our two boys got their phones (beginning of middle school) that the phone was a privilege that we owned & paid for. They knew they had no expectation of privacy & that passwords could not be changed without consequences. The same holds true for e-mail & social networking. We make NO APOLOGIES for it either. We were not put here to be their friends - I prefer friends closer to my own age. They know that when they can pay for their own computers, cellphones & internet access ( not just for their 1/4 of the monthly bill, but their own accounts!) they can have the "privacy" they claim to need. They have both been saved from stupid choices because of this policy & were grateful to have been saved = in one instance, when another participant's parents were called, I got a lecture about violating my son's & her son's privacy & was told that it was none of my business what her son was texting mine. Oh Yeah??? Wanna Bet? Her son paid a high price for his privacy; both physically & legally, while my son got to sigh a HUGE sigh of relief and thank us profusely. Nuff said!!!!!!!

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Absolutely!, you should confront your child. It is your job as a parent to TEACH your child appropriate, and inappropriate. If you don't confront them, how are they supposed to learn! We as adults made a conscious decision to procreate, therefore it is our job to raise these babies up to be outstanding, upstanding members of society. It is our job to train them in the way they should go, what they should say, and how they should act. It isn't anybody else's job, just OURS! If you don't raise, and train your child when there children, then you will be one of those parents later in life that says " I had no idea my child was capable of that", after they've shot up a public place. We have to step up, be nosey, be inquisitive, ask questions, answer all the hard questions, free up your time and spend it with them, know their friends, know their friends friends, know where they work, know their teachers, ask their teachers what you can do to assist them in teaching your child, check homework, you know BE IN THEIR LIFE! Their counting on us!

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0 21

I have two children one is 9 and she doesn't have a cell phone. My son is 14 and he does have a cell phone. He is very active at school and has lots of activities where he needs to call me to pick him up. I check his phone on a regular basis. He is a very mature and honest 14 year old. We have never had any trouble out of him. However the fact that he is a 14 year old male teenager and my job is to be his parent not his close friend at this age. If I were to ever find anything shocking. He would lose his phone asap and there would be other consequences. These parents that say well thats what teenagers do. That is nothing, but a huge cop out. He would have to earn his phone back and also my trust depending on what was found. So yes I would absolutely confront them about it.

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0 9

I would confront them and ask them what is the meaning of the text. Ask questions depending on the answer. Also, find out what are the intentions behind the texts.

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0 9

My daughter is 15 and I do not agree for her to have a cell phone. She wants to be like all the other teens but I will not allow it.

1 22

We just went through a huge custody battle over my husband's children from a previous marriage. They are ages 15 (almost) and 11. The Guardian Ad Litem said no parent is allowed to check text messages or Facebook so good luck addressing these issues with your children. Of course we think it is ludicrous. Basically, they want us to the give kids the same rights as you would another adult. They wonder why kids get pregnant and hooked on drugs earlier and earlier. DUH!

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1 22

What are your thoughts?

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0 4

I was shocked by a text my daughter wrote and she lost her phone for a couple months, now she has to turn her phone in to me each night and I read everything. If anything has been deleted I tell her I will assume it is something she is ashamed of and she will lose her phone again. she is 13, by the way.

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2 16

I have a 13 year old , he just became a teenager this year and I read his text messages and he was texting his so called girlfriend and I was checking them as I do. I found a message with him telling her he loved her at 13, not so much that it was inappropriate but just that it was way too soon to be talking about he loved her..lol I was definitely shocked, but we talked and I explained it to him that his female family members are the only females he can love right now and he has plenty of time for all that. So yes I would absolutely, confront him and my kids are still kids so there is no privacy, no closing doors unless you're dressing or bathing and I will and do check their phones, text messages etc.

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60 38

Oh yes! My kids know that I have access to their email accounts FB, phone etc. I do trust my teen daughter but if I found something inappropriate, she would lose her phone for a while...that is for sure! If she misuses the computer/FB, then she loses access to the computer. My youngest was up watching TV in her room during the night and I took her TV for quite some time. She hasn't crossed that line again. They know "Momma doesn't make idol threats!" LOL Because the rules are clear in our home, we don't have to worry about this often....thankfully!

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0 17

Take it away - and don't give it back. Obviously the child isn't ready to communicate in a responsible manner. Ours don't have them to start with. If their friends want to call them, they can call the house line - and if we aren't home, they can wait, because nothing is that urgent when you are 16. Emails are Bcc's to both of us, mom and dad, and they knew that what the rule when they asked for an email account. Our kids know that if you can't say it to your parents, you shouldn't say it to your friends.

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3 46

why would you be reading your childs text messages. control freak much??? Id prefer my kid to be sexting rather than having actual sex. at least that way she cant catch a disease or get pregnant. stop being a prude. its inevitable that teens in puberty are going to be interested in sex.

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0 12

And just where do you think 'sexting' is going to lead too???? Just curious do you have any children, and did you not read all the above posts?? Prevention or cure.......

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2 0

At 11 my daughter began her begging for a cell phone, we didn't get her one until her 13th birthday. She began extra activities, staying after school, sports, etc. She can call and text, nothing more. I do not feel that she needs to be connected to everything at 13, too much of the internet can be a problem. She has chores to do in order to "make the money for the bill", it is not given to her, she must EARN it. The text messages are a battle that I now fight. I do use her phone as leverage and she loses it quite a bit, due to grades, homework, the 13 yr old attitude. It is a privilege that can be taken away. She was informed from the start that is not a private device. She began deleting them to "hide" them, this lead me to believe there was a reason she was hiding them. This prompted new policy "if I am paying for the service, I have the right to read them". With this said I don't go snooping unless she gives me a reason to do so. I was shocked and appalled at the messages she was getting, I mean WOW. The language used by some of the kids included things that even I try not to say. If there are truly inappropriate texts then I will call parents (haven't had to yet). I try to give her room to grow and learn, yet protect her from the many things in life she truly does not understand, as some of the best lessons learned are the hardest and most painful. I do confront her about the things that are texted, we have candid open discussions about the consequences of her actions or the actions of her friends.

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4 0

At the time you posted this you had not yet had to call the other kid's parents, but have you now? Hubby and I believe we should contact our son's girlfriend about the texts they've been sharing. Anyone have any experience with this?

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3 4

I would confront my child, I made the mistake already of getting mad and responding to the person , and the school well we know the schools are not great at listening to the wole story, So the person that really was not that involved but was my daughters best friend took the brunt of i, and it ruined their friendship. I am sorry for that to this day. I should of just tlked to my daughter then her friends parents.. the scholls go overboard on too much.

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0 0

For anyone saying that sexting always leads to sex. It didn't for me or any of my close friends. I lost my virginity at a young age and was very sexually active without ever sending 1 sext-message. My friends on the other hand sent nudes to guys they dated, but never had sex till they went to college. Sexting is not a definite gateway to sex. Every child is different and should be dealt with as so. You get to know your child by having open conversations that let them know they are supported. My parents were very strict, and I lied about anything I knew I would get in trouble for. One of my other friends had a mother who was much more lax and willing to try and understand her daughter. Their relationship greatly benefited from her mothers understanding. I myself would never check my child's text messages. Its the same as opening their mail or reading their diary. It takes trust to gain trust. If you can't trust your child you've obviously already messed up somewhere.

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30 0

Depends on what kind of text it is. If its about drug use, yeah there is cause for alarm since drugs can cause permenant damage to your brain. If its about sex probably the biggest concern is you embarrasing your teenager. Teenagers are supposed to be having sex. Every living organism on the planet begin having sex once they reach sexual maturity. In humans this does not occur at age 18 it occurs with pubescence starting at 9-12. Humans are in their peak of sexual firtility as teens and its against nature and against their DNA to try to keep them in chastity belts. Just make sure no one gets pregnant or gets an STD.

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0 0

i would confront her or him right then and take their phone or ipod probably for about a month to teach them a lesson.

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0 0

M son is 14 and i checked his phone and my heart is broken - the sexting , trash talk , and the weird girls. How did this happen , i tried to be an vailable good mom, trusted my son , had curfews picked and dropped -acted like friend. I dont know how this happened and am dying inside.this happened with a new group of friends....he was fine until last year. What do I do - how do I handle this

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0 0

All yall some whit redneck havin moms yall need to get up off ya ass & stop relying on a damn website to help with your kids childhood, what would you do if the internet didnt exist ? Masterbate all day?

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180 21

Confront and probaly take the phone. Norton Parnent Minder has a package that you can put on a cell phone so you can monitor activity. They have a great free app for computers too! I used it for my son and LOVED it!

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1,816 16

My personal opinion (& yes I have a teen) is do not confront them don't let them know you even thought of breaching their privacy... And not because they are deserving of privacy but you don't want to push the behaviour to be more hidden, now you know you can covertly address the issues without breaking trust, you know signs to keep an eye on and behaviours to watch... You can't unknow what you have found out and you should not ignor it but let your child believe you trust them and respect their privacy, it will pay dividend in the long run...
I used to discretely monitor my sons phone and Facebook.. But never openly questioned him on anything private, but I would address issues I found in a non direct fashion, like mentioning a news story or magazine article discuss problems friends kids wère having... Sometimes knowledge is a good tool to help ..

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3 0

I would confront them, but be prepared for the "WHY THE F*** DID YOU SNOOP THROUGH MY STUFF?!" it happened with my teenage son. I had some suspicions and I was sad to find out I was right and there were more. I trust my daughter, her father is a living and breathing version of what happens when you do drugs and alcohol, so I don't have as many worries for her, and she's surprisingly mature for a 13 year old. My son on the other hand has had times where I took away his phone and only my daughter use the desktop they used to share. I do wish I didn't have to snoop sometimes, but I was glad I was able to help my son before it was too late. He's almost sixteen by the way.

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Why are you reading his or her messages??? BAD MOM!

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before i start let me tell you that i am 19 years old no kids & i disagree with all of you let me tell you why. i want to share how my mother raised me a kid who has done many drugs drinks, sexually active and probably should not be alive today because of the situations i get into and i think my mom handled my life perfectly. My mother could not have raised me any better yes she was my best friend but she is also my mother. she gave me a phone at 14 and she never once read any of my texts or emails. she let me have myspace as long as she was on my friends list and the same went for Facebook in fact it is a family rule (extended family) that they all be on my friends list and they all frequently monitor my page and ask me questions about the friends i have on there. if there is anyone that seems out of the ordinary she asks me to tell her about them and i am truthful. she has no issue as long as if anything sexual, illegal, or slightly odd happened, i tell her. whenever i would get a text she would ask me who i was texting, to see a picture and what their last name was. if i ever went to hang out with them she needed their number, parents names, and their address. to this day nothing has changed we always talked about drugs and alcohol just to be open.when i actually was using drugs she never said she knew but she gave hints and threats until i got clean all she said was I'm proud of you and left it at that. when i became sexually active she gave me rules that i be on birthcontrol &use condoms as for drinking, she has known since i started at 16 all she asks is that i tell her who I'm with where i am& that i do not get into any car no matter what &text her every hour and when i go to sleep&when i wake up. i owe my life to her and many of my friends do as well because somehow she found the balance between parenting and friendship. I'm telling you from your children's point of view. they will find a way around you the tighter you hold on the worse it is. best of luck

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good

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I haven't read the everyone comments. I have one question, if your kids know that you will be checking their text messages one would think they would delete any potentially "parent offensive" message prior to you having access to it?? Just because they know you will be checking doesn't mean they will not engage in that behavior it just means they may have to get sneakier with it.

I do not check my kids phone messages, I try to monitor in other ways. I will on occasion (usually with some type of reason, not necessarily a trust issue but any kind of change in their life) check the phone bill and check those numbers with their contacts stored in icould to find out who they are talking to. I then will take that information and Google it and check whatever comes up, Facebook, tumblr, whatever. The kids do not know that I do this and I have yet to find anything bad but if I did I would find some way of confronting them without letting them know how I found out.

Kids are smarter these days, they aren't using Facebook as much, there are so many other apps out there that parents are not aware of or don't have such ease of access to like Facebook.

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7 17

If they receive one, not much I can do about it. But if it's one they happen to be sending, guess what? I paid for the phone, and the service, and you have now been temporarily disconnected until I feel fit to turn it back on.

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11 2

Apart from the first initial shock, I think you have to have a talk with them. Not confrontational because they are going to feel pretty bad in the first place that you have found them out. But if the content is particularly objectionable, I think it is your duty as a parent, to sit them down and have a chat. If you go on the offensive you run the risk of them clamming up, or them getting beligerent, neither of which is going to improve the situation or get the truth. Tread gently, but tread you must.

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4 36

I look at keeping our children safe online and in their digital world against bullies, sexting and predators. The way I do this is by monitoring my child. I use a free service that monitors facebook and it notifies me if my son is threatened, sexually solicited or harassed, or even offered drugs. It has been very useful. It provides me a peace of mind when he is on facebook. I upgraded my service and pay a small fee to monitor his cell phone activity as well. Especially since social media is out there and kids like to upload videos and inappropriate photos. There are many laws today that we parents dont realize that our children take inappropriate photos and post can be construed as manufacturing and distribution of child pornography in some states and we parents get charged with this because we pay for the phone. It is a fine line that is being walked when we do not know what our children are doing with their cell phones. There are free workshops about cyberbullying, sextexting, child predators every Wednesday night at 6:00pm PST at www.abeanstalk.info Please attend, it is great information. If you would like more info, please let me know.

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What service do you use to monitor their facebook and text? I have been looking in to it and would like an opinion from someone who actualy uses one.

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To all the people who believe that their kids don't deserve/need (don't know the correct way of phrasing this!) any privacy, can I ask, what happens when they grow up and move out? This is a genuine question as I am undecided on this issue. I suppose I'm just worried that the kids might go completely off the rails with their new found freedom, or they might grow into adults with trust issues.

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180 21

That is a real concern and some, in fact a lot, do go a bit off the rails. It is part of learning to be an adult. I can remember not doing housework in my first apartment because no one could make me. I got over it. tThe time for these "kids" to have their wild days is after they are legally responsible for their own actions. You can be legally hald responsible for your children's behavior when they are minors. Be careful if you allow them too much freedom.

13 0

I'd be thrilled I found them! It's better than not finding anything and knowing their up to something...but you don't know what.

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2 8

When I allowed my son to finally have a cell phone, he was told not to put any passwords on it and to know that nothing on there would be private. I meant what I said. When I found inappropriate texts, I called the girls' parents, and we all had a lil pow wow. You have to nip some things before it gets out of hand.

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16 0

Been there & done that.

I sat my son down, explained what I found and explained what I needed to do - Call the girl's mother. He pleaded, and begged. I told him I would think about it.

I stressed for quite awhile before I made the call. And, then another call & then another call. The mother wasn't returning my phone calls. Turns out the girl was deleting the phone messages. BUT - I finally left a msg that the mother found and she called me back.

We had a lengthy conversation. While her daughter was offering 'testicular pleasure' to my son, she was telling her mother how they had shared their first kiss just a few weeks prior. Her mother wasn't aware and was shocked at what she learned from me.

The next day, the girl was crying throughout school and wanted nothing to do with my son. Turns out her father beat the daylights out of her and it took her almost a week to recover from that experience.

A hard lesson.

Would I do it again? I would think twice - but I can't imagine not telling the other parent - because I would want to know.

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