Dear Daronne, do I have the right to search my teenage son’s phone?

La Daronne answers your questions trying not to be too off track.

La Daronne is the queen of not-so-stupid advice, covered with a large dose of more or less subtle humor. Here she is back to help a reader!

Dear Daronne,

I’m the mother (among others) of a 13 year old teenager and I’m feeling a little lost. She is the typical teenager, that is to say that my talkative little girl, always attached to me, has become distant and spends hours in her room or at her friends’ houses. She told me everything, she doesn’t tell me anything anymore. I’m trying to find out more about her life. But she always answers me: “Mom!!!! » or “Pfff!!! » or even “Well… you saw what! “NO, I DON’T SEE.

At Christmas we gave him a smartphone and it gets worse and worse. At the slightest sign he JUMPS on it and isolates himself. Sometimes I see her giggling at the screen, sometimes she looks upset. You can imagine her response when I ask him what’s happening: nothing. She spends a lot of time on it. We decided together which apps she can install, but does she obey me? And who is he talking to?

I worry about not knowing anything about his life, and therefore not knowing whether he is okay or not. Because of how angry he gets when I ask him for details, I want to check his phone. Tell me, Daronne, may I?


Daronne’s response

My candlestick,

No you can not. See you next week for a new answer!

Jokes aside. No, you still can’t. But yes, I can elaborate.

Why can’t you check your daughter’s phone?

Going through someone’s cell phone is an invasion of their privacy. Even if that someone is your child. You deliberately bought him this phone. Phone you probably held onto throughout your adolescence, lowering your voice when your Darons approached. Obviously he would have used it to share his life with people who are not you and it would have also piqued your curiosity and potentially your susceptibility.

If this involvement is unbearable, you can choose to take away his phone, but you can’t act cool to secretly get the money. That said, I strongly advise you not to confiscate the device. There are many possible solutions before you get to that point and subsequently annoy the young man you would like to get close to.

Here is a second argument in favor of n. Let’s say you search your phone and find something juicy: what do you do? Nothing. Because once again, if your daughter finds out what you’ve done, you’ll have achieved exactly the opposite of what you hoped for: you’ll push her away even more.

Your daughter is growing up, tomorrow morning she will be old adult and we will all be dead. Being a teenager isn’t just about making up clever quips and quips. It also means discovering autonomy in a climate that is still relatively safe. All adults have smartphones, and when we see boomers’ use of social networks, believe me, everyone could have used their parents to learn how to use them.

Healthy and moderate phone use

Stay his mother. This is good news, as it means that, as the nerdy Daronne, you are responsible for enforcing painful rules for teenagers.

You did not tell me in your letter whether you had discussed digital issues with the child before giving him his phone. This is essential, of course, especially if we avoid falling into catastrophism. The digital world is no more or less dangerous than the real world. You need to know how to identify good and bad uses and know the risks. Naturally the child will sigh with boredom and possibly express his annoyance at your little presentation. So ? The important thing is that she is 1) aware, 2) that she knows that even if no one is going to check her phone (right? Her) her mother is watching her and that she is not left to her own devices . This isn’t the kind of conversation you want to have just once. The news, public debates, the summer, all occasions are good to do a bit of prevention which, without being alarmist, reminds us how to use the telephone correctly. And when.

You do not yet have the right to control your child’s phone. On the other hand, you can impose disconnected times in your home and you can even decide that your home is a disconnected place. Respecting your child doesn’t mean you can’t impose sometimes strict rules. Isn’t that Yann Moix?

Even if the child cries foul, it is not a punishment. It is a deliberate act aimed at strengthening family bonds and rediscovering the joy of good times together. I call it a self-help book, but that’s because it’s true. This means that everyone in the house is subject to the same rules, including adults. And this means that these same adults will rack their brains to offer their teenager family activities that can, despite the sadness required of her by her status, please her too.

Attention! I warn you right away, these activities will not act on your daughter as a truth filter. It’s very likely that she won’t release any information for a few more years. But at least she knows that she can trust you and that you are there for her, unconditionally, just for love and pleasure. That way, if one day there’s cause for concern, she’ll feel comfortable enough with you to confide in her. No news is good news, it’s (almost) as reliable as the information you find on a phone.

When to worry?

Unfortunately, life spares no one, especially girls. The behavior described in your letter reveals nothing of concern. However, some details can alert you to potential discomfort: she isolates herself and withdraws into herself, for example. She is your daughter, you will know better than me if this happens.

Despite everything, I really insist, before you get to the point of going through her phone, you can first share your doubts with her and insist. It’s okay to sound like an idiot parent when you’re worried, that’s also why we’re here. If the mutism is inscrutable, you can also ask his teachers or other adults around him if they have noticed anything. Even without obvious discomfort on his part, if you feel that communication at home is drying up, you can also suggest that he talk to a psychologist. This way, you can ensure that he gets the support he needs, even if he has difficulty confiding in you.

By gritting your teeth now, you allow the relationship to flourish once it has grown a bit. It’s worth it. I’ll leave you, I have to go get something from my daughter’s room.

The kiss,

Your Daronne

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