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Mom Finds Inappropriate Content in Son’s Browser History


I just ​found inappropriate content in the browsing history of my teenage son's phone. How do I handle it?​



It’s no fun to discover your teen has been surfing inappropriate sites on his phone. However, this is becoming a more common problem as more and more teens get cell phones and have Internet accessibility. If he does not know you have found the inappropriate content history on his phone, sit down for a talk with him when things are calm. Let him know what you know, give him an opportunity to explain, and then take away his phone as a negative consequence. Be calm yet firm while you talk, and specifically tell him how long you will keep the phone and what he has to do to get it back.

One idea would be to make returning his phone to him contingent on his good behavior for a certain period of time. Once he gets the phone back, you can set conditions that include restricted Internet access, you knowing all of his passwords, him not being able to erase any history, allowing him to use the phone only in certain rooms of your home, and you being able to check the phone whenever you want.

This is also a good time to lay out your expectations for what he can and cannot have on his phone. Explain that he has no control over the websites he visits, and that one video can “cookie” him into another one. Before he knows it, he could be viewing underage children on the screen, which is considered a crime.​

Afterwards, you may also want to do a thorough check of his phone – photos, videos, texts, and apps – and delete any inappropriate or harmful materials.

While many teens feel it is their right to have a cell phone, it is not a right but rather a privilege that only parents can grant. Right now, your son is using his phone in a way you do not accept or condone. The problem here, and the challenge all parents face, is that certain sites on the Internet entice teens with one level of inappropriate content in order to get them to stay on the site so they can view even “better” videos or photos. The biggest danger for kids is that this kind of behavior can quickly oversexualize them and become an addictive habit. Plus, viewing inappropriate sexual content is not an ideal way for teens or younger children to learn what a healthy physical relationship looks like​.

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