Can I Invade My Child’s Electronic Privacy?

Can I Invade My Child’s Electronic Privacy? February 27, 2018

“So, are the kids okay?” I sat across from a fellow mom at lunch. My junior-high son is pretty sweet on her daughter, a girl with the good taste to return the sentiments. Girl-mom and boy-mom have since begun talking on a regular basis. Not quite daily, but close.

“Everything’s good. I noticed in their emails that he congratulated her on her recent award. And last week when we had them and their friends over for pizza and games, I heard them talking . . . ”

“We had that same group over a few weeks ago, and I noticed another ‘couple’ in the mix. They were a lot more affectionate than our kids are. Wonder how those parents are handling it. . .”

And so goes our conversation. She and I actively report to one another, far more than our kids realize (until they read this article). We read their emails, with their full knowledge. I say “emails” because my son doesn’t have a phone yet. He’s 14 and manages without one. So when they aren’t at school together, they “talk” via emails, which resemble text messages in length.

Also, notice I didn’t say with their consent, merely their knowledge. I’ll go ahead and answer the question asked in the headline, “Can I invade my child’s electronic privacy?” with an obvious, and resounding, YES.

The answer isn’t just “Yes, we can,” but rather “Yes, we must.” Our children and teens need us to know what’s going on in their texting, emailing, chatting, and googling.

In the words of Aladdin, it’s a whole new world . . . for parents. What foundational principles can help us safely navigate the digital age with our teens and children?

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