Archive How Much Privacy Should a Teenager Have on the Internet?

How Much Privacy Should a Teenager Have

Mohammad

Mohammad

Table of contents:

    Teenagers are “at that age.” What we mean by this statement is that they can act alien to us because they’re growing up. They’re picking up new skills and are seeing themselves as individuals in society. They’re growing wings and need space to fly from the nest. That space is the privacy parents can give a child. But privacy doesn’t mean not caring about your teenager or letting them call the shots. So, how much privacy should a teenager have to strike a balance? 

    Who Counts as a Teenager? 

    The definition of “adolescent” differs based on what factors we take into account; factors such as reaching puberty or a certain age. Like all things human, it’s complicated and hard to define. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), adolescence is a phase of life between childhood and adulthood, between the ages of 10 and 19. 

    Definitions also change across cultures since the social roles and responsibilities of a teenager, along with their rights change in most countries. Sometimes this is defined by the law, like when the minimum age for voting or driving is 18 in one country, and 16 in another. 

    In this article, we’re more concerned with the issue of autonomy; the idea that a teenager can care for themselves without needing to be monitored. Of course, it’s not easy to understand how autonomous a teenager is. This is especially true in cultures where a teenager’s autonomy isn’t respected until they’re a full-grown adult. According to the Encyclopedia of Adolescence in America, there are three types of autonomy: 

    • Behavioral autonomy: The capacity for self-governance and acting on personal decisions.
    • Emotional autonomy: Defined in terms of relationships with others, it includes relinquishing dependencies.
    • Cognitive autonomy: Ability to self-reason without the need for social validation.

    A healthy teenager grows in all three dimensions of autonomy until they reach adulthood. But we all know that we can’t just leave teenagers to their own devices (literally and figuratively). They need to be guided. But sometimes it’s hard for parents to answer questions like “how much privacy should a teenager have” because of their worries. It’s a tough world out there, and letting your kid venture alone is a tough decision to make. 

    Dangers of Not Monitoring Teenagers 

    We all know about the dangers of the outside world, but not everybody knows what’s going on in their children’s lives. A series like 13 Reasons Why depicts the idea of a troubled teenage girl who has problems that her parents have no idea about. The popularity of the series among adolescents and adults alike shows that a lot of people could sympathize with the main character. 

    Teenagers encounter experiences that might be banal for adults but they’re very fresh and very real for a teenager. Teenagers learn to tell the difference between rules made out of common sense —not jumping off a cliff— and rules made out of cultural norms, i.e., minimum dating age. 

    Since teenagers try to experiment at their age, it’s natural for them to come across situations that they don’t know how to handle. For example, teens might start talking to strangers, using social media platforms, or even exploring dark websites. This can lead to all sorts of trouble such as: 

    • Cyberbullying 
    • Sexual harassment 
    • Grooming 
    • Low self-esteem 

    In this day and age, not monitoring kids on the internet is no longer an option. But as we’ll soon find out, monitoring doesn’t mean maintaining a totalitarian regime in your household. Rather, it means guiding your child safely to adulthood. 

    Teenage girl sitting on the ground with her phone in her hand

    Why Parents Should Respect Their Child’s Privacy 

    Respecting your teenage child’s privacy means a lot to them. Most of all, it means that you trust them. Generally speaking, trusting teenagers and giving them their privacy has two main benefits: 

    • Strengthening the bond between you and your child 
    • Enables your child to acquire skills needed for childhood 

    Studies have shown that teenagers have the best mental health when their idea of how autonomous they are matches with their parents. When you understand how autonomous your child sees themself, you have to consider how close it is to how autonomous you think they are. Try to close the gap between both views. When you give your child privacy, even in simple gestures, such as knocking on the door, they value the respect you give them as an individual. 

    Giving space and privacy helps your child go through the process of individuating themself from others more easily. This is an important part of stepping into adulthood. It’s part of letting your child step out of the nest so they realize that they’re separate from the nest, an individual being that can exist apart from the nest. 

    There’s nothing wrong with guiding your child and giving them advice like telling them they shouldn’t talk to strangers when they’re a kid. But as an adult people talk to strangers all the time. This is an example of a skill that should be learned in adolescence. Other skills which are useful in adulthood such as rational thinking and metacognition also need opportunities to grow when your child is a teenager. Privacy allows them to experiment and make mistakes. 

    Teenage boy lying on a couch using his phone

    How to Give Teenagers Privacy 

    Privacy is a right and rights go hand-in-hand with responsibilities. The best way to give teenagers privacy is to make sure they understand the responsibility that comes along with it. If they show themselves to be responsible enough, you should allow them more privacy, and if they don’t live up to your expectations dial it down a bit. Here are a few tips you can use in your interactions with your teenage child. 

    Healthy Communication 

    Healthy communication means you have to be upfront about two things; what privileges your teenager is getting and what you expect from them. It’s not fair to punish actions that you first haven’t made clear are punishable. For example, tell your teenage child exactly when they should be back home, instead of just telling them to be back before it gets dark. 

    Being flexible is also an important part of parenting a teenager. In the case of the example above, if your teenager wants another hour to be added to their curfew, don’t refuse right away. Instead, tell them you’ll think about it. Is it a one-time thing? What are the reasons they have for making this request? List their reasons in your mind or write them down. Afterward, think about why you would want to approve or deny this request. 

    Whatever your decision is, you have to be upfront about it. But you should also try your best to explain why you’ve come to that decision. Let them ask questions, even challenge your decision. The point is to have that discussion because even if you don’t give your teenager the freedom they wanted, they’ll still value the fact that you discussed your decision with them. 

    Be Ready to Take Away Privileges and Grant Them Again 

    Privileges should be granted, and then your teenager should be able to expect more privileges if they play by the rules. For example, grounding is a common way to punish a teenager if they’ve done something wrong.  

    Remember the idiom, “Never say never”? We’re only human and we all deserve a chance to do better. Make sure your teenager understands that they can bounce back from a mistake and be granted their privileges once again. 

    There are some cases where you have to step in to protect your child. Hopefully, they’ll come to you if they have a problem, but this doesn’t always happen. If you have legitimate reasons for concern, for example, overhearing a conversation about suicidal thoughts with a friend, you can step in. 

    Keep in mind that it’s not always best to interfere directly. This all depends on the seriousness of the situation and your relationship with your teenage child. Sometimes, it’s best to confront your child and ask them what’s wrong. Sometimes, it might be better to have them talk to a therapist or try something else. In these cases, trust your instincts. 

    Understand the Difference Between Necessary and Unnecessary Information 

    You don’t need to know everything, so don’t ask for every piece of information. Your child is allowed to have secrets, it’s necessary as part of their individuation. As your child becomes a teenager you have to come to terms with the fact that you won’t know every little detail about their lives. 

    Some teenagers will tell you all about their day, and some won’t. Necessary information means that when they’re going out, they should tell you where they’re going, who they’re with, and when they’re coming back. If they’re not telling you why they’re hanging out with that person, it’s not suddenly a cause for concern. Let them keep their secrets. 

    How to Use a Parental Control App for Teenagers 

    Parental control apps can help with the process of individuating if used right. Many of the features offered to parents in Safes might be used 24/7 when a child is still young. But as your child becomes a teenager you can use Safes to grant privileges or take them away. For example, with Safes, you can: 

    • Set screen time limits for apps 
    • Set schedules for app usage on weekdays and weekends 
    • Instantly block apps with the press of a button 

    Along with the other features Safes provides, you can manage your child’s digital well-being even when you’re not there right next to them. To learn more about Safes, feel free to visit our FAQ page. 

    Mohammad

    Mohammad

    At auctor lacus fusce enim id tempor etiam amet. Et consequat amet eu nulla nunc est massa dui consequat. Facilisi adipiscing nec condimentum sit laoreet non turpis aenean in. Aliquam cursus elementum mollis sed accumsan nisl ullamcorper in.

    Want to know more about digital parenting?

    Our newsletter is your go-to source for staying updated with the latest information on parenting and online child safety. Subscribe to our once a week must have tips, to simplify parenting in the digital age. Read the editor’s top pick of the week to ensure a safe online experience for your child.

    More from Our Blog

    Mother with her two daughters sitting in front of a camera
    Mom influencers on Instagram have increased and are sharing more tips day by day. The question is whether to trust them all or not. Read on to find out. 
    Atena

    Atena

    children being upset
    Parents play a crucial role in recognizing self-harm in children. We tried to facilitate the information needed to support them.
    Atena

    Atena

    Steering Through Teen-Ternity: Comprehensive Guide for Parents
    Parents choosing teen-ternity leave prioritize their teens’ well-being over their careers. But is it a must for every mother or father? Let’s discuss it.
    Sina

    Sina

    Back pain in teens is a growing concern for all parents. What tends to go unnoticed is the link between back pain in teens and excessive screen time.
    Sina

    Sina

    Get Weekly Parenting Must-Knows in Your Inbox

    Deepen your parenting knowledge with our tips and tricks. Receive our editor’s top picks in your inbox once a week—no spam guaranteed.

    Download Safes Kids for Chrombook

    1. Install the Safes Kids app on your Chromebook from Google Play. 
    2. Pair Safes Kids with parent app. Follow the instructions in the app to pair your child’s device with your parent device.  
    3. Add the Safe Kids Chrome extension. Open Chrome and go to the Chrome Web Store. 
    4. Navigate to the Manage extensions page. Click the three dots in the top right corner of Chrome and select “Extensions”>”Manage Extensions”>”Details”
    5. Turn on “Allow in incognito mode” This will allow the Safe Kids extension to work in incognito mode, which is important if your child uses incognito mode to try to bypass the parental controls.
    6. Select Safes extension and follow on-screen instruction

    Download Safes Kids for Android

    Download the Android Kid’s app directly to get the full features!

    Download Safes Kids App on Play Store

    Download Safes Kids App on Play Store

    Safe Kids is available on the Google Play Store, but if you download it directly from our website, you will get access to Call and SMS monitoring feature, You can monitor the phone calls of your child’s device, as well as the contacts and messages they have sent and received, including those containing inappropriate content.