Ways You Should Spy on Your Kids

spy on your kids

I went downstairs to surprise my daughters after arriving home earlier than planned. As I got close to the door where they share a room, I heard the words “are you going to tell Mommy?” My ears instantly perked up, and I unashamedly continued to listen.

While their little secret turned out to be nothing of importance, that’s not always the case. I am a teen mental health therapist and let me tell you, I have heard the heartbreak that results from parents not protecting their children. That protection is enabled by being aware of your kid’s behaviors and decisions. Here are ways you should spy on your kids.

Looking through their text and social media.

Regardless of who bought the phone, if that child, under the age of 18, still lives in your house you are legally and morally responsible for the choices they make. From cyber bullying to sexting, we have to monitor the content our kids are exposed to. Being aware helps us intervene when necessary. For example, I had one family learn after the fact that their daughter was being pressured by her boyfriend and his friends to send inappropriate pictures of herself, which then spread around the school. When the school found out, the daughter and boyfriend were suspended, and a police detective was assigned their case to pursue child pornography charges. The parents who were completely oblivious and trusted their daughter were exposed to the numerous poor choices when confronted with the school’s suspension and detective’s interviews.

We need to allow our kids choices that strengthen responsibility, this is part of our equipping them for adulthood. However, that does not mean we allow ourselves to be hands-off and oblivious to their choices. We need to allow our kids to make choices that fail, so they can learn; with failure comes the opportunity for education. {Tweet This} But without awareness of their failings, we are blind to this opportunity, and more importantly, unable to prevent potential life long consequences.

Listening to their conversations with siblings and peers

Our kids act differently with their friends and siblings than they do around us. Listening in during carpooling, cooking dinner, getting ready in the morning, and shopping, are a few examples of opportunities to pay attention to the types of conversations your child is having with others. You can learn about who is in a relationship with who now, who is having sex or doing drugs, all from just listening!

Asking other parents, teachers, and coaches

Checking in with other adults who see your child and see them interact with their peers, could give you another angle to learn more about your child’s behavior outside the home. Other adults, like teachers, coaches, and youth leaders, could also be a great resource for discovering latest trends and information that could assist in your own parenting. Use this time to assess if there are other adults who are good influences in your child’s life.

Our kids will soon be out in this world on their own. Walking with them, even from the outside of a bedroom door, ensures they will be equipped to be a healthy adult!

How much privacy should we give our children?


  • Jennifer Barnard Canada

    I’ve learned from raising my kids that privacy is earned and varies by age. There will always be things that they have to understand that aren’t going to be “private” and that I can ask about or look at or through, including their phone, until their choices are no longer my responsibility and they are out of my house supporting themselves. Of course as they get older their room, at times, is private…like when they are changing clothes or want to be alone or away from a sibling, but that room is part of my house and I’m allowed in it. There is respect that goes both ways…It doesn’t kill me to knock on my 14 yr old son’s door instead of barging in, but I also know he likes his door closed because of our dog. When I said that privacy is earned, I was specifically speaking of a time my teenage daughter was sneaking out of the house at night so her “privacy” was taken away because her door being shut apparently became a problem and she was doing things she shouldn’t. We took the door off the hinges and she had to change in the bathroom until we could trust her again. You might not agree with our method, but she and every other kid in the house learned a valuable lesson. We are know to do “random spot checks” on phones and we have the passwords…of course it was normally when we thought they were up to no good and needed to be caught before things escalated. I think it’s just a good reminder and also gives them a good excuse to peers when they have to need an excuse not to look something up on their phone or “sext”. Anyway those are my views…I’d like to hear yours!