How much privacy should a 12-year-old have?


My son is almost 12, and he wants more privacy. Should I give it to him? So far, I’m not. Should I give it to him? So far, I’m not.

Connor routinely closes his bedroom door now, whereas he never has before. I suspect he wants me to knock before I go in, but I don’t.

He seems a little too young, in my opinion, to grant me permission to enter his room. In fact, he’s probably several years away from meriting a knock on the door before I enter.

If Connor had unrestricted access to the Internet in his room, he’d be entitled to even less privacy. I wouldn’t let him shut the door, for fear he was looking at porn or sending inappropriate emails.

I gave Connor a desktop computer about a year ago for his room. At first, I didn’t monitor his Internet activity. Hell, he was only 10. I didn’t think he could get into too much trouble.

After he turned 11, though, I started feeling I was being naïve. Surely, he was old enough to visit Internet sites that he shouldn’t. So I came up with a plan: I changed the password on his computer and kept it secret from him.

Now, he can only use the computer (and Internet) if I log him in. I know many parents refuse to let their children have a computer in their room. They insist that it be in a family room where there’s no Internet privacy.

I considered moving the computer, but I didn’t for a couple of reasons. One, we don’t have a good place to put it. Two, Connor uses his computer for homework occasionally, and I wanted him to have privacy to concentrate better.

How much privacy should kids have?

I figure the privacy vs. Dad-needs-to-know issue is far from over. Connor has a cell phone, but he rarely uses it. It’s really just for when he needs to reach me.

Once he starts using his phone to call friends, will I check his call history? On his computer, will I tell him the password so he can access the Internet at any time? If I do, will I check his activity daily?

I don’t know. But given my parenting views, I’ll probably err on the side of being too nosy.

Sorry, Connor. You’re still the kid, and I’m still the adult. I pay the bills, and I get to make the house rules.


A child’s right to privacy is a legitimate issue. The older they get, the more privacy they deserve. But kids should show good judgment before earning greater privacy. They should never assume that you won’t check their call history or Internet activity. Keep them a little off guard, and they’ll hesitate before they make bad decisions.

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