Yes, I monitor my kids’ cell phone activity, from texts to calls, to photos taken, to social media, and of course their locations, I monitor all of it; even when they’re at their Moms’. This might seem unfair or intrusive to some, but while I monitor and see all, I’m still respectful of their privacy. I’m not nosey into their text conversations with their Moms or their Moms’ significant others. That’s none of my business, and that’s how I approach it. My children also know I monitor everything, but that I’m not going to pry or be rude, and to this point, they’ve never shown issue with knowing I can see things (and also hasn’t stopped them from behaving as if I can’t see everything.) All this monitoring goes beyond just making sure my kids are safe, it’s a window into their lives that I don’t get on a day-to-day basis because they’re not with me day-to-day.
The Extra Benefits
I’ve learned about school projects and sporting events that I would have never been informed of by the kids or their Moms if I didn’t monitor things. I knew my kid’s class schedules and teacher’s names and things that they’d never share or only share half the info if I asked. I get to see who my kids’ friends are from social media notifications and what their likes are based on internet history. Yes, I monitor my kids because it’s a way to parent them, even when they’re hours away from me, but it’s also my way of being involved in their lives and getting to know them in a way that every other weekend just doesn’t allow.
This has also lead to situations that call for a Father’s perspective we’ll say. My son is an early teenage boy, and as such, makes stupid teenage boy decisions driven by hormones and lack of common sense. We’ve had a few different discussions, including ones of respect, not only for other people but for ourselves. So yes, some things have come from it, but I think he’s grateful the conversations have been with me versus his Mom.
It’s really a double edge sword though. It sucks because I see and know things that I’m powerless about, and if I attempt to co-parent with their respective Moms, it’s either blown out of proportion or blown off. When it comes to monitoring and parenting my kids, my wife and I are somewhat on a parental island of our own.
I realize my situation isn’t like everyone’s, and both moms have made the kids feel like they can’t or shouldn’t really share things with me, either because they don’t feel it’s important or it doesn’t affect me in any way. There is definitely an attitude of its just none of my business. How much of that has been implied versus direct voice, I don’t know and I can’t speak to that and won’t, but I do know after years of watching and learning, that a cloud of information separation hangs over my head when it comes to my kids. So, I do what I have to do to know what’s going on and to make sure my kids are safe and aren’t doing anything stupid, without rocking the boat with the other parent.
How to Monitor without a Monitoring App
So how do I come about the ultimate power you may ask. Well, my monitoring power is a multiheaded dragon. We all have iPhones, so the standard Screen Time and location sharing are turned on, where I can check things to my hearts’ content. I also was the one who originally set up their email accounts and Instagram accounts, so I have access to those too. That’s not my skeleton key to all things though. That comes from something else, something that has proven extremely beneficial to this point: their old phones.
While there’s never been a verbal agreement between myself and the kids’ Moms, I’ve been the one to provide the kids’ cellphones, which means I’ve been the one in charge of upgrading or replacing devices, be it an available upgrade or a hand-me-down device. In doing so, when setting up their new devices, I’ve restored from iCloud or had direct data transfer, setting everything up on their new device, but leaving the old untouched, and leaving us a window of ultimate monitoring.
Again, I know some would argue against this. Not all parents agree it right to monitor kids on such a level, but we do our best to not overstep. This ultimately is for safety and precaution, but as long as I’m able to I’m going to take advantage. Not because I’m an overbearing or nosy parent, but I’m a parent that wants to know his kids as much as he possibly can, but in my circumstances, that’s not always a straight line, so I’ll take advantages when I see them. While also, just making sure my kids don’t do anything stupid.