Can Parents Track And Read Text Messages?

Parents can track and read their child’s text messages if they are under the age of 18 years old. Legally and technically, you can read your child’s written communication. However, morally speaking, there are only a few specific conditions that make this invasion of privacy ok.

Being a modern-day parent in the 21st century is no easy feat, and it’s a journey that comes with hurdles our predecessors could have never imagined. “Can I track and read my child’s text messages?” is a question that most parents will ask themselves at some stage in their child’s life. So, can you?

It’s a complicated question to find yourself asking, and it has a complicated answer. Today’s article will help you understand the ins and outs of tracking and reading your child’s text messages and help you figure out whether this is the right move to make.

Child hiding phone from his parents who are trying to look at it and track it

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Can a Parent Track and Read Their Children’s Text Messages?

At some point or another, you’re going to want to find out what is going on in your child’s digital life. You may see the screen of your child’s phone light up and be overcome with curiosity. Or you may have noticed changes in your child’s behavior that leave you concerned. 

Several factors come into play when it comes to monitoring your child’s online activity. Should you, or shouldn’t you? To help you decide, consider the following:

  • Your child’s age
  • Your child’s level of maturity
  • The terms and conditions that came with your child getting a phone
  • Your reason for wanting to track and their messages

Another very important factor to keep in mind is what you may find when snooping through their phone. Often when we go looking for one thing, we end up finding something completely different. 

On the one hand, you may find that your concerns were unfounded, and your child is borderline angelic in their online behavior. In such an instance, though the outcome was favorable, you will have violated their privacy and advertised your evident lack of trust in them.

On the other hand, you might have been concerned that your child has been looking up age-inappropriate content and in one fell swoop, your world comes crashing down upon discovering that your child is engaging in risky online behavior.  

Technically, CAN I Track and Read My Child’s Text Messages?

As a parent, you can track and read your child’s text messages. And as a parent living in the era of the internet, there is a plethora of tools, apps, and software to help you do so.

While, of course, you can kick it old school and physically inspect your child’s phone when they’re sleeping or showering, there are ways in which you can get the data you need without even touching their phone.

With the help of modern-day technology, you can see who your child is messaging and what they’re saying in these texts. Many spyware apps even allow you to retrieve texts that have been deleted and view those that never made it to their intended recipient.

There are several different apps and software that enable parents to track, monitor, and read their children’s text messages. While parents truly are spoiled for choice, here are a few examples of such software:

Legally, Am I ALLOWED to Track and Read My Child’s Text Messages? 

Now that you know you’re physically or digitally able to track and read your child’s text messages, you’re probably wondering if you’re also legally able to.

The short answer?


The longer answer?

Until the day your child turns 18 years old, you’re well within your legal rights to keep tabs on their texts. Depending on where you are in the world, your child is still legally a child until they turn 18 years old.

Related Reading: Can Parents Force Children To Go To Church?

Morally, SHOULD I Track and Read My Child’s Text Messages? 

You’re the parent in this scenario, and you’re allowed — in all senses of the word — to track and read your child’s text messages. In today’s “there’s an app for that” world, you’re even provided with the tools to do so.

But on a moral level, you need to carefully consider why you want to track and read your child’s text messages before doing so.

If you’re simply bored or feeling disconnected from your child, invading their privacy is not ok. But in some cases, you have the moral high ground because tracking and reading your child’s text messages may be in their best interests.

It’s ok to read your child’s messages if or when:

  • You have noticed drastic changes in their behavior
  • You suspect they are being cyberbullied
  • You fear an online predator is grooming them  
  • You suspect they are sexting
  • You do not know their whereabouts, and reading their messages may help locate them
  • You suspect they are engaging in illegal activity 

Before Tracking and Reading Your Child’s Text Messages

Before sneakily snatching your child’s phone while they are sleeping or discreetly downloading an app to save you the leg work, there are several factors you should keep in mind.

Firstly, if you don’t have a solid reason to cyber snoop: don’t. It’s really that simple. The damage you may cause to the relationship you have with your child could be irreparable. 

Secondly, there are other ways to find out what is going on in your child’s life, like talking to them. Initiate an open conversation with them and let them know where you’re at; you never know, your child may willingly offer up their phone for your peace of mind.


Nobody said that parenting would be easy, and the topic of today’s article is just one prime example of how true this is. In all likelihood, at some point or another, every parent of a 21st-century child will find themselves in this situation.

The bottom line is that YOU are the parent, and YOU know your child. If you have a genuinely valid reason to be concerned about what they’re getting up to behind the screen, by all means, check their phone. But if you’re concerns aren’t valid, exercising a little trust can go very a long way.

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