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American Parents Are Increasingly Okay With Snooping Through Kids’ Phones

75 percent admit to looking through their child's phone to monitor online activity.

The Internet is undeniably amazing. It’s also a box of unknown horrors which makes many parents rightfully protective about what their kids are looking at and who they’re talking to. Well, parents are not above going full NSA on their kids: A recent survey found that around 75 percent of parents admit to snooping on their kid’s phone to find out what they do online.

The survey looked to understand the challenges of raising a child in the digital age. ParentWise gathered 2,000 American parents with school-age children, finding that most parents see this particular invasion of privacy as a vital part of protecting their children, not as an invasion of privacy.

“Most” might even be putting it lightly. According to the New York Post, 84 percent of parents thought that snooping on their child was perfectly fine. Sixty percent of the respondents didn’t even think that their child had a right to hide their online activities from parents.

Though parents didn’t seem shy about snooping, whether they’re doing so effectively is another thing entirely. Only 40 percent of those in the study believed that they’d know what to look for and how to look for it, should they get on their kid’s phone. Seventy percent of respondents already feel like their kids know more about the technology than they do, and can thus easily cover their own tracks.

Given the pervasiveness of smartphones in 2018, it’s not really a surprise that parents are concerned. According to a Pew study, 73 percent of teenagers have their own smartphone. And, according to Growing Wireless – an organization aimed at giving parents the “knowledge and resources to provide a safe and rewarding wireless experience for kids” – 56 percent of young people also use a password on their phones. While usage is going up, the age at which most kids get a cell phone is going down. In 2016, most kids were getting their first smartphones around the age of 10, compared to 12 in 2012.

Still, the snooping isn’t just coming from the prevalence of smartphones. Social media is also playing a huge role. More than half of the parents in the study said they didn’t like how much time their kids spend on social media, and 64 percent said they were worried that their child would start talking to strangers online. According to a different Pew poll, more than half of teens between 13 and 17 years of age have made a new friend online, and around 30 percent of teens indicated that they’ve made five or more new friends online.