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To read my daughter's WhatsApp messages

416 replies

JoelyJoe · 06/11/2023 15:41

So. This is a genuine question, and I'm prepared for strong opinions either way, but I would really like to know what people think.
My daughter has just turned 13, she is in year 8 at school and has had a mobile phone since year 6. When she got the phone I told her the deal was that I would read her WhatsApps from time to time.
My reasons are to protect her / her friends, and to ensure that there is not bullying or situations / content that I think are inappropriate at her age. Social Media did not exist when I was young, and while I know that it can't be put back in the box, I think think there are inherent dangers... as many people do.
As I said, I have always been upfront with her that I will sometimes look at her messages, I don't do it very often, and obviously at some point in the near future (not sure exactly when though!!) I will stop doing it.
Any thoughts? Am I invading her privacy or is this a necessity to protect our young people... And for those of you who also do / did the same, at what age did you stop??

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?

1565 votes. Final results.

You are being unreasonable
You are NOT being unreasonable
Vistada · 06/11/2023 15:43

This is a gross invasion of privacy.

At 13 I'd have rather honestly not had a fucking phone than had it snooped regularly.

No child will ever be 100% honest with their parents, you cannot know 100% of what goes on. Please do not snoop.

MrsWimpy · 06/11/2023 15:45

At 10 maybe. At 13 no.

YetMoreNewBeginnings · 06/11/2023 15:46

Checking messages has always been a part of getting a phone in this house.

How often and when depended on the child, their friendship group and personality.

Privacy should be age appropriate and personality appropriate - access to the internet and apps should not be complete and unchecked until a child is old enough and sensible enough to deal with it safely

With my two elder daughters one I stopped checking at 13, the other was older due to her circumstances. Elder DS was 13. DS2 who is 13 at the moment still has spot checks as there are some horrific bullying problems in his school.

Tamziin · 06/11/2023 15:48

I disagree with the first two replies. The fact you’ve told her it’ll be happening makes a difference in my opinion. I check my DCs phones (age 12 and 14) - it’s for their safety. I will be stopping checking the 14 year old’s phone asap unless something is worrying me.

LadyOfTheCanyon · 06/11/2023 15:48

Meh. They'll just delete anything they don't want you to see.

YoungBizMan · 06/11/2023 15:48

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Sanch1 · 06/11/2023 15:49

I check my 10 year olds. Not sure when I'll stop, it's a difficult one OP, cant say I have the perfect answer. I'd like to think at 13 I'd only check if I felt there was a reason to, not as a matter of course but at what point between 10 and 13 that happens I dont know!

Alargeoneplease89 · 06/11/2023 15:50

13 is my cut off point unless their attitude had changed dramatically I.e. withdrawn or just rude and they know that's the rule

GwenGhost · 06/11/2023 15:50

What you are doing is entirely sensible. She knows you look through her messages sometimes. That’s not snooping, it’s monitoring. Don’t comment on anything that isn’t a massive issue though, especially if it’s her friends using language/talking in a way you find objectionable rather than her.
Consider that doing this gives her protection from other kids’ who might otherwise send/ask things like nudes.
Imagine your 13 year old gets her first 13 yr old boyfriend. If he asks her for a nude she can say No! My mum checks my phone! You can’t send me any either OMG majorly embarrassing.
I’d probably tell her I’ll stop when she turns 16. Age of consent seems a reasonable stopping point.

Rjahdhdvd · 06/11/2023 15:52

Personally no; in the same way I don’t listen at the door to what DD and her friends talk about in private.
It doesn’t hurt to check who she is talking to and check with her that these are people she knows and what is looking at on TikTok and who she is talking to on Snapchat.
My theory is that I try to know who DD is seeing when out of the house but I don’t need to know what they talk about so on her phone I like to know who but not what. Quick look at photos is also a good idea

littleripper · 06/11/2023 15:52

I checked all devices every day until they finished GSCEs, then we had a daily 'chat' where we discussed the day and any issues where she would show me messages etc and we would discuss how to reply, what to do and how to handle things. She is very glad and grateful she did not get exposed to the horrific nonsense and bullying her close friends did.

beetr00 · 06/11/2023 15:53

How would you have felt, as your 13 year old self, knowing your parents were doing this?

JustWhatWeDontNeed · 06/11/2023 15:55

Our 15 year old was sending and receiving extremely graphic home made porn. Illegal and disturbing. I am comfortable with our choice to invade that privacy. Wish it wasn't necessary, but there you go.

YetMoreNewBeginnings · 06/11/2023 15:55

No! My mum checks my phone!

All three of my older kids have said this was mega valuable to them. Gave them a great out.

one of my Uni age DDs, until she really build confidence recently, used the “my mum insists all phoned are downstairs at night 🙄“ to deal with the late night constant messaging.

im more than happy for my kids to use me to protect themselves

VenusClapTrap · 06/11/2023 15:55

I have the same agreement with my dc (13 and 11). I haven’t actually looked at 13yo’s messages for quite some time, but I retain the right to.

11yo was initially appalled but then when I questioned something I’d read, he got really into explaining all the WhatsApp in-jokes he had with his friends. An hour later he still hadn’t shut up and I wished I’d never asked…

JustWhatWeDontNeed · 06/11/2023 15:56

And you'd be surprised at how much they don't delete, even when they know they might be checked.

Yourebeingtooloud · 06/11/2023 15:56

I think if more parents did this, a lot of children would be a lot safer on social media (& in real life).

We check our 11 yos phone. Not sure when we will stop but it definitely feels appropriate at the moment. It’s not an invasion of her privacy because she knows we do it and that’s the deal with having a phone. It would be if we did it in secret.

Nineteendays · 06/11/2023 15:57

I check my 11 yo DS’ phone too, he knows i do it and why

MangoAF · 06/11/2023 15:57

Yes I check messages.
DSs phone is not a safe space and I don’t want him to think that it is. The things he writes and shares on there are visible, to me right now and going forwards to anyone who sends them on. It’s conducting yourself in public and therefore it’s my job as a parent to make sure that conduct is acceptable.

Tbh the kids who didn’t/don’t get their phone checked at all I can absolutely tell
when I read the WhatsApp chats, and they aren’t the nice kids with responsible parents.

Yourebeingtooloud · 06/11/2023 15:59

beetr00 · 06/11/2023 15:53

How would you have felt, as your 13 year old self, knowing your parents were doing this?

Probably more secure knowing they were maintaining the firm boundaries and support that existed throughout my childhood. And relieved that I could discuss anything that came up with them.

I would have been upset if they did it in secret.

But social media is a very scary & dangerous place. We give dc phones and then lots of parents give no guidance or oversight whatsoever. It’s a bit like sending a newly walking toddler off to the shops to buy a pint of milk on their own. Which of course would be negligent.

Foxesandsquirrels · 06/11/2023 15:59

Depends tbh. How much restrictions does she have on her phone anyway? Is it pretty filtered? Does she have Snapchat? If she does, WhatsApp is not going to be your problem.

I am not against checking phones, but it does need to be balanced and with the right intentions. I do think some parents are just nosey and abuse their power, whilst other are far too lax.

Coyoacan · 06/11/2023 16:00

13 is still too young to have private WhatsApp and social media, IMHO

ForTheLoveOfSleep · 06/11/2023 16:00

My 14 and 13 year olds know it's part of the deal of having a phone. At any point I can put my hand out and they will give me their phone.

Both of their WhatsApp chats backup to a cloud only I have access to so they know there would be no point in lying. Not checking your teens phone when under the age of 16 is honestly negligent. Random people can contact them. We've all had scam messages from number generators. One of my daughters had her number given to teen boys she didn't know by lads at her school. She immediately showed me the messages. They been added to conversations with racist names by boys at school using the N word. These are things that they might not tell you are happening.

missnevermind · 06/11/2023 16:02

We have this agreement with the phones.
The phones are mine. I pay the bill. I should be able to pick any of them up att any time and check / use them. They have to be passworded so I need to know the password. If at any time I take the phone and cannot unlock it the phone belongs to me again. I very rarely check them but am able to at any time.
We also do not have phones in bedrooms overnight for the children / teenagers. This is more of a pain for me though as the alarms on them are more reliable and swill wake them.

VenusClapTrap · 06/11/2023 16:02

I saw a comment my ds had written to a boy in his class. I know his intention wasn’t to be rude, but I could see how it could be taken as quite unfriendly. I’m glad I saw it because I was able to explain to him how what he writes can be taken the wrong way, and to be mindful of other people’s feelings. He was surprised to hear that I would have been hurt by his comment, if I’d been on the receiving end, and definitely took it on board.

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