Do any parents monitor their kid’s social media/texts once they go away to boarding school? We value our kid’s independence and privacy, but also worry about being in the dark when/if he begins to experience mental health issues or head in unhealthy directions.
No - we do not - our kiddo needs privacy and our trust
We haven’t. When kiddo first went to bs, I tracked him with find my iphone. It was an old habit from when he roamed free after school here, but has no purpose at bs. (Where is he? On campus. How about now? Still on campus…) There are lots of those kinds of habits that get unlearned the first year a kid is away. Monitoring social media falls into that category for me.
IMO It is impossible to track your kids’ social media, unless they let you. If they want to have a secret account they will. If they know you are monitoring, they just won’t post the things they don’t want you to know.
Trust your parenting - you did a great job! But honestly, I have had to get comfortable with not knowing as much about what is going on with him as I want to. That’s a parent’s lot in life. My parents didn’t know half of what was going on in my world when I was a teen, same is true for parents/teens today. Teens will only show you what they want you to see. It just happens a little earlier and more thoroughly with bs.
We have weekly calls and text regularly, and I rely on those communications to get a sense of how he is doing. For the most part I think we know broad strokes - is he exhausted, is he happy, is he struggling with a class or a friendship, what kind of people his friends are, what is he doing with his spare time. If he was really off, I believe we would know.
Agree with CateCAParent and Golfgr8… we have never and do not monitor texts, and only see social media that they have allowed us to “follow”. Find Phone function is enabled on both their phones (while we pay for their phones, they will allow us to see where they are), but it is only used in emergencies or if they don’t return a text/phone call in an agreed-upon, timely manner. We don’t really ever check it while they are at school; more so when 17 yo new driver is home and I want to make sure she has gotten to a friend’s house safely, she is where she told me she is going, etc.
When they received their phones at age 13, they signed a contract with us that laid out mutually-agreed to terms for use: safety rules, social media behavior, phone etiquette, and consequences for breaking any of the terms. We periodically review and renew these and make adjustments as needed, based on their age, demonstrated trust, etc.
At BS there are many backstops with adults to assist with mental health checkins, etc. I am much more confident in those adults’ ability to spot anything out of the ordinary than I would be able to pick up from a social media post. We also facetime and text/call each other frequently, especially with 17yo; she usually initiates.
Thank you Golfgr8, CateCAParent, and hellomaisy for your very thoughtful replies. Thank you especially for pointing out all the support they will have at school.