What age should your parents stop checking your phone?

How do you respect your child’s privacy while also protecting their safety? We asked parents and teenagers about issues related to mobile privacy and security to get their point of view.

Teen Perspective


I came across this website while preparing to write this post and there are some very candid responses from kids whose parents control their their phones. These are worth reading to see how teenagers feel about it!

Now I’m not saying that if something came to my attention that I thought was harmful or upsetting that my children were doing, I wouldn’t take action. If the trust was broken, we would definitely deal with it.

Should parents check their children’s phones?

The answer is… complicated. “It depends,” Megan Moreno, MD, MSEd, MPH, adolescent medicine physician and researcher at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, tells Motherly. “You need to consider several factors, including age, whether going through their phone is part of your family arrangement when they got the phone, and whether they’ll be there while you check it.”

she Adds: “I’ve heard many times that going through your child’s phone without permission is comparable to your parents reading your diary without your knowledge.” As someone who kept my middle school journal under lock and key, this sounds mortifying to the kids and damaging to your parent-child relationship. However, it’s still important to be aware of what your children are up to.

Take away the phone at night.

The answer to this question – should parents take off cell phones at night? – is much more definitive, experts say. Yes, unless you are absolutely sure that your child is able to put the phone away (and not pick it up) before bedtime.

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This is because screens and sleep don’t mix. The light emitted by the typical screen inhibits the production of melatonin in our brain. Melatonin is the chemical substance that allows us to fall asleep and stay asleep. In other words, a screen is like an alarm bell for our brain. In fact, research shows that teens (and adults) who use screens at night get up to an hour less sleep each night.

So, should you check your child’s phone?

Yes. However, you need to talk to your child first and work out a set of rules together before you start taking their phone away from them to snoop around.

It really depends on you and your child. Having an open and honest conversation about the dangers they may face online and what steps you want to take with them to prevent them from falling victim to something bad is the most important thing to do. Kids are smart and once they know what to avoid and what not to do, they will stop misbehaving before it starts. Remember: keep your end of the bargain and they will keep theirs. It’s about trust.

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