Help with Teens and Texting

Updated on February 16, 2010
S.S. asks from Haslett, MI
19 answers

My son is almost 14. He is constantly texting. We have always felt we could trust him, but not sure we can "trust" the girls who are texting him! I recently read both ingoing and outgoing messages on his phone. The messages the girls were sending him are bordering on R ratings. He answered their sexy questions by basically changing the subject. I think that the things they are saying to him are surprising him also. He is probably not as mature as they are. We've had the sex talk and have always been honest with him about sex. We have also answered ANY questions he's had. What do I do about these forward girls?! When my son found out that we read his messages he was very upset. He feels like we totally invaded his privacy. What's the fine line? Should I be letting these girl's parents in on what's going on? I am very confused and am having a very hard time with my little boy growing up! Help?

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answers from Detroit on

I got my daughter a phone when she was 16 because I felt it was needed because she was going more places and participating more at school. I personally (my opinion) do not feel texting is necessary. I have it turned off on all of our phones. It can be turned off on just one if that is what is wanted. Also at one point she made over 57 phone calls in one day and I had a block put on her phone so no outgoing calls. My husband, daughter and I share 700 minutes per month. Would you belive she had gone over our minutes with just incoming messages a week before my month was up? THere are many different things that can be done. I have Verizon and have been checking out their stuff online. I know you trust your son but you never know what the other kids are doing with their phones. Good Luck.


answers from Norfolk on

Texting, blogging, email, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, My Space, and all those other places are not private. Even when you grow up and get a job, your work place can and has viewed employees email and blogger pages and sometimes fired them for making company info public. Teens really need to get used to the idea that anything they communicate electronically can be viewed by anyone - their parents, predators, law enforcement, etc.



answers from Salinas on

I think that when it comes to computers and cell phones with kids under 16 or so there should just be an open door policy. When you give the phone or allow computer prilvedges it should all be laid out. My daughter (11 yrs.) knows her Dad and I may check her email if we feel we should. I even check the history on the computer sometimes just to see where she and her friends have been. Even with blocks for x rated stuff you'd be surprised what's out there. She doesn't feel it's snooping or not trusting her as it was established a long time ago when she first wanted and email account and in order to get that access she agreed. She knows I really do trust her but the internet is a portal to the world and she is just a child. We've managed to hold off on the cell so far but the same rules will apply then. Kids need to know that nothing you text or write via email is really private anyway. There are thousands of teens who post things online that you just can't believe. It's like they don't understand the huge audience out there and the permanence of doing that. That image of yourself you show the world just doesn't go away. They need to be aware that whatever they put out there is then free of their control. No matter how personal or who it was originally meant for it is now in the public realm. Texts can be used to in so many negative ways too, getting sent around and used against people. A rule in our house is if it's typed or written and sent out there, it's forever. As a comment to the the Mom of a five year old thinking trust is the only issue I do agree to a certain extent. I would never go through her room or personal stuff unless I thought she was truly in danger. I just think technology is different, it's as much about the outside world as trusting your son. Trusting a five year old is easy. Teaching a 14 year old to navigate social circles, girls and technology while he's juggling everything else in his life is less about him and more about the big wide world!



answers from Detroit on

Here's how it works in my house (I have a 13 year old). First of all, I make them watch every Dr. Phil or Oprah or whatever about kids who got in big trouble over texting or emailing bad stuff. I also look at everything coming in and going out. When she is at least 16 and paying for her own phone, then she can have privacy. Also, if I notice that there are not enough texts in her phone based on usage, then I know she is deleting and I take the phone away. Just this week, she told me about a boy in her class that sent pics of his privates and everyone saw it and now he's in big trouble. Kids are not mature enough for unsupervised phones or computers. They make decisions that will cost them the rest of their lives. So, I'm looking! Did you read recently about the boy in Wisconsin and what he did on FB? It's appalling! In case you haven' is the article (

I'm off my soapbox now :)



answers from Detroit on

I disagree with Ann as well. I think it is very important that children learn that this information is not private. It can come back to haunt them many years later. I would not go searching for evidence against my children however if I was to suspect something, I feel it is my right to protect my children and guide them to make the correct choices. I do think children need some space and privacy to figure that out however lets keep in mind they are still children. Sexting is unacceptable on any level when it comes to minors. As a parent of an almost tween, I would want to know if my children were sending inappropriate texting. I do believe in limits and boundaries on phone use and it is up to the parents to set those boundaries. We can't stop technology and because of that there are many people out there who will try to take advantage of our children thru the use of this technology. This is not the same generation we grew up in and because of that I think we all feel the need to be a little more protective of our children. I don't think it's impossible to have an open relationship with your children while still monitoring their safety. That's my job as a parent.



answers from Detroit on

I actually laughed out loud when I read this. I am going through the exact same thing. My son actually asked his girlfriend to send him pictures of her in her bra and panties and she DID!!! I couldn't believe it. These are 12-year olds! I know they get pissed off when you read their text messages, but too bad! If they don't want us reading them, then they don't need to have the cell phone. I say continue to monitor and talk to him. These teenage girls are scary out there! LOL



answers from Detroit on

Technology can be overwhelming to parents - I didn't grow up with it, so I had no frame of reference in raising my now-college-age kids with instant messaging, Facebook, and cell phones.

Some - not all - kids will say things online and through texts that they would not say to a person's face - insults, sexual things, etc. And some kids will "sext" - I'm sure you know about that. I managed to avoid such problems with my children, but even really good kids can get involved in bad situations that can become public very quickly.

I think parents of school-age children should have cell-phone restrictions - no conversations between 11:00pm and 6:00am, let's say. You can control this on your cell-phone provider's web site. You should also check to see who your child is talking to - again, on the web site (you think if you ask that he's going to tell you the TRUTH?). As for checking his messages, well, he'll just erase them if he knows you'll check.

The biggest problem with technology is the secrecy associated with it. Kids can keep really dangerous secrets from their parents because they know their parents can't or don't know how to check up on them. All kids don't do that, of course. But, how would you know?

On the other hand, I'm sure you are raising your child with good values, and talking with him about all these issues. One very important issue is to establish the understanding that technology is NOT PRIVATE. Everything that is typed on a computer or cell phone is stored forever (remember Detroit's Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick?). That's a really sobering thought that our kids - and WE - should understand. It might help to prevent your son from texting something he might regret.

So, with that dialogue, AND some of the restrictions, he will probably be fine. Phew. It's not easy being a parent of a teenager. Best wishes!



answers from Detroit on

I have noticed that girls are way more forward also. I guess as long as you are having the talk with him and you keep the lines of communication open then that is all you can do. My nephew told my son just to erase all the texts he gets so I can't read them. (sneaky) but I don't know if they realize that I can get copies of them through the cell phone company. Which I would do if I was worried enough. My son is 12 and just started JR high, I remember what it was like at that age and how they joke around but if I suspected that the jokes were becoming too serious I would have to step in. The kids are totally surrounded by sexuality now, even the local stations like 2, 4, and 7 have mature sitcoms on at prime time. I can't believe some of the things I see on T.V. even down to the commercials! Good luck.



answers from Detroit on

If you don't know, this is called sexting. It is common an not okay with me. I do read my sons texts, but not often. You only have to do it once to get the point across, what was worse for my son, was that once I read something that I didn't like, I discussed it with him, and used it to open a complete sex dialogue, I haven't seen anything like that since.

About his privacy, the point is to raise a safe secure stable individual, not to be his friend. This is your job. He may secretly be happy about it, because he may be very uncomfortalbe with it but not know how to deal with it. Now he can say, "my mom reads my texts, so dont' send me that stuff".

I think you have a couple of options:
1) Bare minimum is to have a talk with your son about why he thinks that these girls are doing this. Maybe they are insecure and feel that this will get them attention and get the boys to like them. Ask him how the sext's make him feel and what his ideas are to deal with it, because if they don't stop then you will cancel the texting on his phone.
1) text back to the girls, let them know who you are, and start a sex discussion with them about respecting their bodies, etc... they will get the point.
2) call the girls from your sons phone, let them know who you are, and ask them if they understand why this is not okay, etc, and offer to meet with them with their parents for an open discussion, with them, their parents, your son, and you.
3) call the parents and let them know what is going on... or better yet forward the text messages to the parents cell phones, without any comments from you, the parents will get the point, and you won't be the one they blame. because there is always that chance, when you "criticize" someone elses child then you are "criticizing" the parent, even if you are trying to. These are their kids remember.

Bottom line, figure out your objectives, to get them to stop or to help your son, or to help the girls, and then do what is necessary to meet the objectives, nothing more, nothing less.



answers from Kalamazoo on

Here's the deal. Your son is a MINOR. I'm assuming these girls are too, and if not its an even worse situation. TALK TO THEIR PARENTS immediately!!! They are most likely unaware of the situation and need to deal with their daughters. These conversations are totally inappropriate and you are protecting your son by checking in on him. GOOD FOR YOU!

See if you can get a copy of the text messages for these girl's parents to read, it will go over better if they can just see it for themselves. Let them know you're concerned about a recent conversation their child had with your son and then show it to them and let them react. If they don't seem to think its a big deal and don't want to pursue working with their daughters, then you need to step in and not allow your son to receive texts from them. You need to do your best to guard his little heart and mind.

Explain to your son that you are proud of the fact that he is not responding to these forward sexual gestures, but that it is inappropriate behavior and for his safety you need to check up on what's going on. All parents should have access to their teenager's phones, email, social networking sites etc... Be glad that these girls haven't started sending naked pictures, because that is very common as well. You don't have to read every word of his conversations, a quick scan at the content will let you know the direction of the conversation. He will probably not value your parental protection at this age, but it will pay off in the end.

Lastly encourage open conversation with him. Keep up on who his friends are and what they like to do when hanging out. Being involved in his life and showing interest in what he's interested in is the best strategy for getting through the teen years.

Best wishes!



answers from Detroit on

I think I would be upset too, if you did this to me and I was the child. It seems to me, your son is handling himself correctly. You cannot control others in your child's life - let alone anyone that comes into contact with you and says something inappropriate.

What you did was show him you do not trust him, and yes - you did invade his privacy.

I feel you should give your son an apology and applaud him for changing the subject with the girls. Not many boys would do this unless they did have a good relationship and were brought up the right way. Do not do something like invading his privacy to damage that.

If you have an open relationship as you say... then ask him to keep you in the loop about this type of thing. He may just surprise you and you will not have to snoop.

(not trying to be mean... but that is how I would react, even now.)

EDIT: I came back to this as I was curious and saw someone didn't agree with me (shocker~ LOL!)... Here's my question for you parents that invade your child's privacy vs. having the open relationship and encouraging them to be open with you.... How do you expect them to grow up to make the right choices if you teach them it is okay to invade privacy? Parents are to lead by example, and our children follow that - including our negative behavior. I firmly believe this. Of course, I have a five year old currently, so I have some time to worry over this issue. However, at this time I am teaching him that I will not judge him nor will I ridicule him over decisions he makes. I see him mimicking my husband and I in our daily life, so you can bet your behinds I am making the right choices to squash what negative actions I can, now. But what example am I setting when I show him I am not allowing him his own space to just "be"?

To me, trust is indeed a two way street and if it starts early, then that foundation is strong.



answers from Salt Lake City on

I read my boys texts too...and feel even more "weird" about the whole situation because they are host kids that I have during the school year but am not their "parent" parent. I have told them that I pay for the phone and it is my responsibility to know what is going on.
We check computer caches etc. all the time as well and they aren't allowed to have internet access except in the main room of the house. They hate it but I don't care. I feel responsible to keep them and my home environment safe.
I guess I ask myself this question, if I were the mom of the girl doing the R rated texting, would I want to know?
yeah...I would.
Do you know the parents personally? it will make it easier I think if you do.
I'd have your son tell his friends, you know my parents read my texts.
it might be all it takes to stop the sexting. he might be upset but I would guess relieved as well about the sexting being stopped. continue to be open with him let him know why it bothers you ask him how it makes him feel and maybe you can come up with a plan that makes both of you happy. let him know you are willing to be the "bad guy" to his friends if that is what he needs. he can say you check his texts and to knock it off or you will tell their parent, that you might already tell them. and it will be you being the cop parent his friends dislike but he can respect that you will protect him and be there for him. I think that even with all the technology etc. the kids that are happiest are the ones whose parents give clear boundaries. you wouldn't let a girl talk to him like that in front of your face...just saying.
I had a girl my boys are no longer talking to "friend" request me on facebook trying to get a wedge back in their lives. stalker weird. anyway--I'm proud of you for setting boundaries for your son and checking up on the texts. I think you are being a good parent and that you are wise to be looking out for him.
if you alienate him from girls like that, well he might be mad, but really I don't think it would be a bad thing. :)



answers from Lansing on

My rule of my two texting teens is that until they pay the bill (which they can't right now), I can and will read text, review phone calls made, and email, FB, etc. Once thier friends know that you monitor it, it does help. I've heard several times that kids WANT parents. Let you son use the "I have a mean Mom" excuse. My kids do and other kids know it. I don't have a problem with that since I'm the parent. Ask them if they think adults send messages like that.. Are you kidding? Let them read your text messages. The next step is to discuss it with the girls parents. THey may not know and they may not care, but if it were my daughter and I didn't know I would want the call. I have had to have a difficult conversation with one of my sons friends and in the end they were grateful. Also have him turn off his phone at night and when they don't get responses, they slow down quite a bit. We need more people to be parents and just don't let it go.



answers from Detroit on

shauna; its funny what technology does to our children, yet we buy it for our child thinking it will be good for them, or we buy it cause they want it, think what was the reason i bought this and why did i give him texting ? you can always take texting off the plan, why do kids now a days feel they have to be connected to things ALL day long, and maybe even through the night, when we grew up we saw our freinds at school and the next time we talked to them was the next day and we did not suffer from not talking to them again, now our children cant live without texting every 2 mintues, why ? well us humans are social people and we enjoy social interaction, and we strive to get it any way we can , even if we have to lock out the people we live with its not really a good thing, texting can get out of control and be used at times that are inappropriate, you can make rules like when its dinner time no texting done at the tables, no phones during family time, or no phones for a certain amount of time, when you come home from school your phone goes in here, a jar, or something, and when homework and things are done you can have it back and have a phone time, kinda like computer time, or set up chores they have to do to get it back each day, youd be surprised how fast a teen will clean something if you really mean it just to have it back, any way , enjoy life, and keep being the good person you are, D. s



answers from Detroit on

Part of me wants to say "Mother's Unite!" and stop the behavior; but, the reality of the situation is that we can't stop our kids from growing up. It sounds like you have and are teaching him right from wrong. That is all that we can do. If you make it a big deal for him to be texting, it will drive him even farther away from you.

I also have a tween texter. (There should be a t-shirt.) I monitor his phone when I can (but he doesn't know). I think it is my responsibility to do so. Besides, I pay for the phone, so it is technically mine, right?

Hang in there. Love him and continue to have honest conversations about the topics he needs support on.

Mother's Unite! :)



answers from Detroit on

Is there a way you could contact the phone company and tell them that you are discontinuing his texting feature? I mean who pays the bills?

I think you, as parents, need to sit down and have a talk with him. If you've always been honest, etc, then do so again. Show that you are human, and caring parents, and yes you did invade his privacy. But also that you pay the phone bills and this racy texting is not something you want to cover. If you didn't care, you wouldn't have said/done anything. If he is changing the subject, he must feel uncomfortable about the girls' texting. He's obviously trying to maintain control and feel grown up enough to decide for himself.
So tell him,yes it was an invasion of privacy, but that parents need to have some 'red flags' about things. You can't control everything in his life, face it. But challenge him to ask these girls to tone it down or he'll discontinue communicating with them. A certain amount of trust has to be used. How will you know, right? I can't answer how you're supposed to know if he's conforming or not. That's the problem with cell phones and texting.
Maybe at the next PTO or parents night you'll meet the parents of these girls and then can mention it to them. Once they're found out, they might get ticked off with your son and not text him anymore.



answers from Saginaw on

Do you remember being 14? I am not being facetious... just wondering if you remember the kinds of conversations that were going on around you at that age...

I do remember 14, quite vividly. In fact, for nearly 5 years before that, jokes and insults and conversations almost always ended up in the gutter. The comedy albums that kids shared were all obscene, the jokes we liked the most were gross, sexual, body parts and I think driven almost entirely by our bodies' newfound interest in hormones and all the things hormones make people think about.

Texting (or Facebook, mySpace, Twitter) is just our children's generation's hangout. The comments and jokes and teasing and random, bored conversation will end up being very much like it is when it's happening live. Very much like it's always been, I mean.

Some kids have a lot of parental supervision --that would mean that the texting conversations would be known to the children *and* their friends to be 'public' in terms of who is reading them. Unless you've demonstrated that you're one of the 'cool' parents who doesn't get all riled up about off-colour jokes or swearing, the boy and his acquaintences will stop wanting to talk to you about the content of the texts immediately.

Personally, I trusted my children and their ability to handle whatever came their way --or ask for assitance in doing so. I never read my kids' texts (or diaries) unless they invited me to (and they did from time to time.) They don't read my email or my journals. It's a good trade.



answers from Detroit on

wow, this question is on a lot of parents minds. I have a 13 year old son who is begging for a phone right now so this caught my attention. I have to say I really disagree with Ann. I do not feel like you invaded your sons privacy at all. I think it is great for kids to realize that anything typed is for public consumption. My sons will tell you that there is no place in this house that is not mine for the searching. I always remind them that if they feel like they must hide it, then something is wrong. That is the time when it is most important for mom to see.

The whole issue of telling other parents is hard. I would really appreciate it if another parent let me know my son was doing something wrong. That being said, i know a lot of parents do not see things that way. It is hard to know what is right if you do not know the parents that well.

Maybe it would not hurt if your son blamed not wanting those types of texts on you. You know when the text makes him uncomfortable he can text back, my mom is a bit of a drag and reads my texts... I tell my sons to blame me for everything, I can take it.



answers from Detroit on

First, my friend's son was getting messages and some sexy messages - at all hours - from girls. Girls seem to be very forward these days. (I am shaking in my boots since my oldest is a 11 yo girl and getting interested in boys). I, too, am having privacy issues with her. But the bottom line is safety and if you are paying for the phone it is also yours. My daughter deletes everything on the computer and she has no phone. I need help also!

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