How to spy on your kids without getting caught
Recently, an old friend posted something on Facebook asking for advice. Her son was turning 13, and she wasn't sure what to expect.
All the helpful comments were about communication. Particularly, about how this was an age when boys clam up. Information is on a one-way highway right through those adolescent ears. Blah blah blah.
Now that my own son is almost 15 and a freshman in high school, I've had to devise ways other than actual talking to seek information. And I still feel extremely uninformed. So if you have ideas, please share.
First, employ a spy. A younger sister can be effective, if she's paying attention and willing to divulge. But you can't abuse the relationship. Mostly, I've gotten tidbits he would find simply embarrassing. Nothing truly valuable. Like the time some girls yelled across a playground that they thought he was "hot." Whatever.
Second, the surreptitious backpack search. I was one of those parents who kept all the little reports from daycare about diaper changes. I diligently went through the backpack every single day through elementary school. I read all the school and PTA newsletters. I talked to or emailed teachers. I was informed. Now, I know nothing. It was weeks after the fact that I learned that school pictures had already been taken and the deadline for buying pictures long past. Somehow, hmmm, the form had vanished. So when I have a moment alone in the house, and the backpack just happens to be sitting out, well....I'm not above a little search. Mostly, I've found crumbs and empty bags of chips. Sometimes, the lack of evidence is very comforting.
Electronic surveillance. This one is tricky, because you can be caught. If you read his text messages, he'll know. My colleague Brittany Wallman mulled this option recently when her son's cell phone was taken away from him in school. My feeling: She had a perfect excuse to invade her son's privacy as part of his "punishment." But you can check your phone bill online to determine exactly what time of day your child is sending and receiving texts. My son still hasn't figured out how I knew those girls were texting him at 2 in the morning!
Online grade books. This is the club hanging over his head. If his grade falls below my comfort level, I get an email. And he knows that if a grade falls, his computer privileges will be severely restricted.
Facebook. He does not want to be my friend. And I can kinda understand that. I don't like it, but he hasn't given me a reason to go to battle over it. But...he's friends with his 20something cousins -- they'll be on the watch. And, I am friends with one of his friends, so sometimes I get a little glimpse into his world. Lemme tell you, it's pretty lame.
The school website. My son's school posts the daily announcements, and they are a gold mine of information about clubs he doesn't want to join and tryouts he doesn't want to go to. At least it gives me something to talk to him about. Not that he's listening.POSTED IN: None