A new study from the University of Texas Galveston indicates that sexting is now “normal,” “common” behavior for teenagers — a finding that is sure to cause anxiety for most parents.
In the age of the iPhone, it can be difficult to protect your kids from the sharing of questionable data that regularly happens via teens’ smartphones. There has been a lot of buzz lately over celebrity phones being hacked, allowing nude pictures of them to be released online, but teens face similar ethical and social dilemmas (if sometimes on a smaller scale) surrounding their use of mobile technology on a near-daily basis. Here are some questions you may have about keeping track of your child’s phone activity:
- Is iPhone Text Monitoring Cumbersome?
Many parents resort to simply scrolling through all their child’s texts on a regular basis. But considering how many texts today’s teenagers send, as well as the fact that they may delete texts if they know you might see them and disapprove, monitoring software is a far better choice. Some software even creates a dashboard for you that combines phone data with social media monitoring services so that it only takes you a few minutes to check up on your kids.
- Is iPhone Text Monitoring Effective?
The best iPhone monitoring software allows you to set up alerts for various high-risk factors so that you don’t need to comb through every bit of data for your peace of mind. This may also help your teen feel that he or she is retaining some privacy. And monitoring software doesn’t just look out for violent or sexually explicit material; it can also help you identify when dangerous social interaction like bullying is occurring or alert you if your teen is displaying risk factors for depression and suicide.
- Is iPhone Text Monitoring Ethical?
If you are interested in monitoring your teen’s texts, the first thing you should do is talk to them about it. While you can take a “if I’m paying for it, I get to monitor it” approach, this is probably unnecessarily confrontational. Explain that you are simply concerned for their safety. Perhaps institute a trial period after which you will allow them greater autonomy if no dangerous situations come up.
And above all, never use any phone or Internet monitoring software without your child’s knowledge. It may seem strange to you — since your teen may have no qualms about spreading intimate details all across their social media profiles — but installing tracking systems without their knowledge can feel like an extreme violation of privacy to young people in the important phase of life where they’re trying to build an identity separate from their parents.
Do you have any tips for how to protect kids online and on their smartphones? Join in the discussion in the comments.