Mom Wants Son's Phone Password, He Says No — Who's Right?

How much privacy should kids and teens get when it comes to their cell phones? That’s the big question currently being discussed over on the parenting subreddit. A mom took to the platform to share her own personal situation with her son and his phone, and now users are weighing in.

The mom began by explaining that her 17-year-old wouldn’t give her his password for his old phone, after she asked to reset it and send it back. “He claims he has nothing to hide but I have gone through his phone before and found swear words and texts between his friends he didn’t want me to see,” she wrote. “Before he left for school, I asked him for the passcode, he told me no, and then he shut the phone off so it locked.”

After that interaction, her son sent her a text message. He explained that he doesn’t have secrets on his phone but would rather not give her access to his whole digital life. He also noted that she had betrayed his trust in the past.

“Just because I don’t want you reading my personal texts and invading my privacy (like you used to) doesn’t mean I’m hiding something,” he explained. “It’s called boundaries and in case you’re wondering why I don’t trust you because you’ve invaded my personal messages and pictures before, and not to make sure I wasn’t getting into trouble, you weren’t worrying about me, you just wanted to snoop.”

His mom was still concerned. “He gets very secretive when I go on his phone, and then tries to take it back from me,” she wrote to the Reddit community. “Should I be worried?”

The general consensus? Her son is old enough to have all the privacy he wants.

“Kid is only a few months shy of being an adult,” one person commented. “…If he were 9 or even 13 I’d be on your side. But at 17? Hell, in my state they aren’t even required to stay home with parents. They can ‘run away’ to anywhere in the state legally.”

Another added that they’re more concerned about the mom’s relationship with her son than his relationship with his phone. “You’re very much worried about the wrong things here,” the user wrote. “Trust and respect in a relationship is very difficult to build and it sounds like you’ve done a very thorough job of destroying it by denying your son any privacy and overreacting to very minor faults like swear words. If you want to have a relationship with your son I encourage you to actually listen to him and try treating him like the young adult that he is.”

In this particular case, the son is 17, almost an adult and — unless there’s some tangible, genuinely serious reason for concern — entitled to his digital privacy. Younger kids, on the other hand, may need closer monitoring for their own safety. So, here’s the big question: how do you handle phone privacy when it comes to your kids?


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