How Much Privacy Should You Give Your Teen?

How much privacy should you give your children, and how does this vary by age?

As your child gets older, you should increase the amount of privacy they have, while still monitoring what's going on. We need to teach our teenagers increased independence, and part of this involves increased responsibility and less checking in. However, if your teen is breaking agreed upon family rules about curfew or location, I do think it's ok for parents to supply a logical consequence: increased monitoring.

Should you let your children know about the tracking devices you put on their phones?

The fact of the matter is, kids and teens can be pretty good at hiding things if they don't trust you to handle the information the way they want you to. So rather than sneaking around, I encourage parents to be very upfront about privacy policies in their house.

This can involve rules like, "We'll put a tracker on your phone, and we'll monitor it once on the weekends." Or "We're allowed to check your texts each night at a set time."

Talk about it.

Another option is to have a family conversation and let your kids make suggestions about the rules. Often, kids and teens will propose stricter rules than you may have thought of on your own. Trust and attachment are crucial parts of health child/parent relationships, so being upfront is key.

Why are these privacy devices important (or why aren't they necessary)?

I absolutely understand concerns about safety, and making sure your child or teen is staying safe. It's a tricky balance between allowing for independence and room to fail while still providing a safety net. But it's also important to remember, you can start out with one privacy plan and modify it as needed, whenever you choose. 

Earlier in 2018, I collaborated with Danielle Braff, a freelance journalist, on an article about social media tracking for parents of teens. You can find her great article right here, and my full answers are above!. If you’d like to know more about counseling for teens in St. Louis, you can reach out through my contact page!

I work with kids, teens, and college students, specializing in anxiety and anger management while assessing for underlying trauma and PTSD.