Why Snooping on Your Teen is a Bad Idea

From mSpy to MamaBear, there are more than a handful of apps to assist you in spying on your teen and their personal activities, upping the temptation quotient ten-fold. While the creations of these technologies are mainly a result of concerned, well-intending parents, they aren’t always necessary. This is why it’s important you don’t get caught up in feeling like you need to use them.

Whether born out of necessity or not, the fact is that technology is not only changing our children’s lifestyles, but our parenting techniques as well. Many of us need help with parenting teenagers. Obviously, a proactive attitude is helpful, but how you approach the subject remains up to you. Here are some options beyond spying:

The Fragility of Trust

They say trust takes years to build and seconds to break. Teens are especially susceptible to feeling personally wronged and violated when a trusting relationship is breached. A good relationship with your teen, full of opportunities for open communication, is the best way to build up trust and prevent your teen from feeling they need to keep secrets from you. Sit down to family dinner nightly and give everyone the chance to talk about their day. Stay in tune with your teen and actively listen when they speak, without being too overbearing. This way, you’ll have a better pulse on their behavior and may be able to notice any problematic or risky changes. When you make it a priority to maintain trust with your teen, they’re likely to do the same with you.

Respecting Privacy

Where you draw the line of respecting your teen’s privacy and keeping them protected is up to you, but it is important you are clear with your teen about what you require access to (social media passwords, for example) and what you will do with them. Keeping a business-like agreement with your teen can also help ensure everyone’s on the same page. Consider adding positive things you will do—always knocking before entering their private space—and things you won’t do—listening in on their phone conversations or reading their diary.

Problems in Young Adulthood

According to a 2014 AVG Technologies report, one-third of 16-year-olds have regrets about something they shared on social. Statistics like these shock parents into fearing letting their teens make their own decisions.

“One common concern of parents these days is that children grow up too fast. But sometimes it seems as if children don’t get the space to grow up at all; they just become adept at mimicking the habits of adulthood,” says Atlantic correspondent Hanna Rosin in her expose “The Overprotected Kid.”

Helping your teen build their own knowledge library of appropriate behaviors, with both digital and in-person interactions, will benefit them as they grow older and have to face similar situations alone. Encourage your teen to exercise independence and show them you’re there when they reach out for help.

The Flip Side: Help with Parenting Teenagers

While we reiterate that snooping is rarely a good idea, it’s important to note that too little monitoring may leave your teen feeling lost and unsupported. Moderate privacy and open communication is crucial in creating a healthy relationship with your teen, but if you feel your teen is still keeping secrets, hanging out with the wrong crowd, participating in unacceptable behaviors or directly lying to you, it may be time to seek professional help. Pacific Quest is here to answer your questions and help you and your teen get back on the right track to trust and respect. We provide help with parenting teenagers that may be life changing. Call one of our admissions counselors today.
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