WebSafety is a FREE app for parents to monitor social media and web browsing on mobile devices.
Curious about what your child is actually doing or feeling? It might be time to pry into what they are texting. According to Pew Research, teens use texting as their primary form of communication. The texts your children are sending could tell you a little (or a lot) about their lives that you might not have known before.
Sexually explicit texts
For today's teens, sexual experimentation is easier than ever - and can even be performed virtually. According to DoSomething.org, nearly a quarter of high-school age teens have been involved in a form of nude sexting (sending or receiving nude photos). If you'd like your child to retain his or her innocence a little longer, it's time to check the text log.
Messages to predators
Innocent flirtation isn't so innocent if your child is messaging a predator - and that idea isn't too far-fetched. Stories of adults texting underage children in hopes of sexually assaulting them (virtually or in person) are becoming more common as mobile use continues to rise. Make sure you know what your child is texting, and, perhaps more importantly, to whom.
Whether your child is being bullied, or doing the bullying, it's worthwhile for you to know. That's because bullying behavior can have catastrophic consequences. According to stopbullying.gov, kids who are bullied are more likely to experience depression, anxiety, sadness, loneliness, health complaints and decreased academic achievement. Those who bully are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs, get into fights and vandalize property, drop out of school, engage in early sexual activity, have criminal convictions, and abuse romantic partners, spouses, or children later in their lives.
"If your teen's texts follow a pattern similar to, "did you hear (insert scandal) about (insert name)," you might want to talk to your child about the harm in a little idle gossip. Dishing the dirt may seem innocent enough, but can lead to humiliation, bullying, and general unhappiness. In fact, The Huffington Post calls gossiping one of the "7 Habits of Chronically Unhappy People."
Plans for the evening (or weekend)
Studying at his best friend's house? Attending a weekend church retreat? Your teen's texts might tell the real story. If you suspect your child isn't being forthcoming about his or her plans for the evening, weekend or general future, check the texts - they just might fill in some (important) blanks.
Hints of risky behavior
Your teen's texts might be innocent enough, but have you ever stopped to think about when he or she is sending them? If that handy time stamp indicates that your teen has been texting while driving, it's important you do something about it. According to DoSomething.org, texting while driving makes a crash up to 23 times more likely.
You already know teens use text messages as their main method of communication, but an affinity for texting can quickly turn into an addiction. According to the The New York Times, "a study of more than 400 eighth- and 11th-graders found that many teenage texters had a lot in common with compulsive gamblers, including losing sleep because of texting, problems cutting back on texting and lying to cover up the amount of time they spend texting." Compulsive texting can lead to sleep and behavioral and academic problems, just to name a few.
From sexual solicitations to friends advocating drugs, alcohol, or inappropriate activities, peer pressure can be undermining your child's integrity - and self-esteem. Thinking, "not my child?" Consider this: According to DrugAbuse.gov, the past-year use of illicit drugs for all grades combined was 27.2 percent in 2014. If you want to make sure pressure from friends and other peers isn't causing your teen harm, monitoring his or her texts is a simple way to do just that.
If you're wanting to help your teen live a fuller, happier, and more innocent life, it's time to pry. Download WebSafety, a comprehensive multi-featured parental control app designed to help parents monitor and keep track of their children's social and mobile activity - mobile activity that could very well be harming them. Take action today! Start protecting your children by keeping track of these texts that they are sending behind your back.
Kristen has a journalism degree and has experience writing in a variety of fields, including art and culture, health and fitness and financial and real estate services. Kristen has written for USA Today, SFGate and the Knot.