On this week's 'Parenting' segment on the Moncrieff show, one listener sought advice about whether her daughter is hiding something from them.
Joanna Fortune, psychotherapist specialising in Child & Adult Psychotherapy, joined Moncrieff to answer this and other listeners' questions.
“My 16-year-old daughter has become very insular lately and protective of her phone. She panicked one day thinking she lost it when her Dad moved it to charge it for her.
“There were tears, lots of hyperventilating and then she asked him a million questions about what he saw on her phone - did he look at anything? Did he read the texts?
“Why would she be so paranoid? She has done nothing but raise our suspicions. It’s not like her to be like this, what do I do?... I know her group of friends and they’re all lovely girls, should I ask one of them and see if they have noticed anything too?
“She is our eldest, so this is very much new territory for us.”
“No, don’t ask her friends,” Joann replied.
“Don’t go to her friends - that would be crossing a boundary for her and I think it would create a bigger issue because as soon as you talk to them, they will talk to her… I think you could say to her, ‘We’ve noticed how worried you were about your phone and it was a pretty big response from you and the story I’m telling myself is you’re hiding something on that phone. I could be wrong but that’s the story I’m telling myself because I’m concerned you might not be safe. If you can let you’re safe, I’m going to believe you but I need you to hear how worried I am.’
“One of the ways that we keep our children safe online is to actually maintain that very close connection and open communication about what’s online.
“If they think, ‘Oh, I can’t tell you because you’re going to come down really hard and heavy on me’ or ‘You’re going to scroll through my phone’ or ‘I’m going to be in trouble’, they tell you less.
“Keep openness around it and you’re more likely to know what’s going on and, when and if they hit trouble online, they’ll bring it to you rather than holding it.”
Joanna added that parents should not jump to the worst case scenario if they think their child might not be telling them everything.
“I would move away from dramatic fatalistic thinking here and wonder, might it be more like something like, might she have an intimate interest that she’s not ready to talk to you about?”
Main image: A girl wearing a woollen hat texting on her mobile phone. Picture by: Alamy.com