Big Mother Is Watching You
Though most teens don’t know this, many parents have the ability to go online and read the texts that their kids send and receive.
Many teens find this revolting and question a parent’s right to do so. In a world where everything we do is made public, is it possible we have no privacy left at all? Facebook now allows us to post things from every fact of our lives, yet we get upset when our parents go through our phones. With our current technology, anything can become public.
The teenager’s argument against parent access to phone texts & pics is that the phones feel like property of the teen, and so adults have no right to go through them.
Parents can counter with arguments of protection and looking out for our well-being. Does that give them the right to do a full search without just cause? An student who asked not to be identified in print said, “However well meaning the intentions are, parents should never go through someone’s phone. [A person] should be able to have the expectation that they can talk [or text] to someone without worrying about their parents reading everything they have to say.” Most teens share that view; the cell phone is said to be theirs, and thus, so should be the conversations and pictures. No one else should be allowed to go through a phone’s contents as it feels like an invasion of privacy.
But most teens don’t pay for their own phone. Thus, some parents reason that the phone is the property of the parents, in turn, justifying a search of “their” phone as they see fit. Still, others suggest that parents should at least have to use the excuse of “just cause” before doing so. Junior Megan Allen says, “They have full right to [go through their kid's phone] if they have suspicions that their son or daughter is hiding something.” In fact, most agree that with enough suspicion, parents generally have the right to search anything, including cell phones. It’s their job to protect their kids, and some teens can make pretty poor decisions with their lives and phones.
Though parents may have the right to seize and search a phone, many feel that they should always tell their kids when and why they wish to search it. ”Otherwise the child loses trust in their parents,” Allen says. By going through phones, parents walk a fine line, especially if they do it secretly. Tim Snodgrass, AP 11 English and Satire teacher, says he would never go through his daughter’s phone without reason, but making sure she’s safe is enough cause. “If [the parents] are paying,” Snodgrass says, “they have a right.” From a parent’s point of view, like that of Snodgrass, enough reason is “if they see a change in behavior or they’re overly emotional.”
With such rhetoric safety and well-being in mind, parents need to make it very clear and be upfront that the phone is theirs, not the kid’s, and that gives them the rights to go through it at any time.
Students make a big deal about having their timelines updated with everything going on in their lives, but cell phones and private texting conversations seem to be different. They are meant to be private: a way to have a conversation with someone without other people listening in. Regardless of who is right in this debate, the best answer is just to be smart with your technology and don’t text or photo anything you wouldn’t want becoming public.