I pay for my teen’s phone, so I’ll spy on them whenever I want

Every night around 11:30 pm, mom of two Laura Muse pecks her teenage son Cohen on the cheek before tucking him into bed.

Then, she grabs his cell phone and walks out of the room.

Confiscating the device to ensure that her 15-year-old gets adequate rest for school the next day — instead of texting, tweeting and watching TikTok videos all night long — is just one of Muse’s meddling mama moves.

The Greensboro, North Carolina, mother also routinely checks both his and her 17-year-old daughter Kylie’s phones, screening their personal correspondences and social media activitiesto ensure that her high schoolers are behaving behind their screens.

“I own their phones, I pay for the phones. I can go through them whenever I want,” an unapologetic Muse, 41, told The Post.

Mom of two Laura Muse doesn’t care if haters disagree with her decision to check her teen son and daughter’s phones.
Getty Images

“People might think [checking my teens’ phones] is a sign of disrespect or an invasion of their privacy, but this is how I manage my ship,” added Muse, a mental health clinician.

Parents are increasingly moderating and monitoring their kids’ online behavior. Under the hashtag #RaisingTeens, which boasts more than 216 million and counting TikTok impressions, Muse and other parents of Gen Zers proudly admit to snooping. A recent survey by software security imprint Malwarebytes revealed that 54% of parents supervise their teens using two or more mechanisms — either tracking their phones through GPS, reading their emails, overseeing their web-search history, reviewing texts, overseeing social posts, screening computer games and spying on YouTube activity.

Muse (left center) and her husband TJ (far left) have been monitoring their children's phones since the kids were each 11-years-old.

Muse (left center) and her husband TJ (far left) have been monitoring their children’s phones since the kids were each 11-years-old.

Muse says Cohen and Kylie used to complain about her random searches when they were young, but have since grown accustomed to the probes.

Muse says Cohen and Kylie used to complain about her random searches when they were young, but have since grown accustomed to the probes.

Muse’s children got their phones at age 11, and she’s been tracking them ever since. Initially, she conducted surprise inspections weekly. The then-tweens would grumble a bit, but then willingly hand over their devices, knowing random searches were the price they had to pay for phone privileges.

Now well into their teens, Muse’s check-ups have become more sporadic; she’s randomly performing the probes just a few times per year.

And while she trusts her children — both of whom are star athletes with massive social media followings — the hawk-eyed mom feels overseeing her brood’s digital doings prevents them from engaging in inappropriate exploits and protects them from online predators and scammers.

In the past, she’s caught Cohen posting shirtless pictures and using foul language on Instagram. She immediately instructed him to delete the taboo content.

Studies have found that the vast majority of parents with kids between 13 and 17 regularly inspect their phones and social media apps for inappropriate and dangerous activities.

Studies have found that the vast majority of parents with kids between 13 and 17 regularly inspect their phones and social media apps for inappropriate and dangerous activities.


A recent survey found that at least 31% of parents intend on monitoring their kids' phones until the age of 18.

A recent survey found that at least 31% of parents intend on monitoring their kids’ phones until the age of 18.


On social media, other parents are sharing their illicit discoveries.

One mom fetched almost 5,000 views on TikTok for a video revealing that she’d discovered her 15-year-old son was swapping nude pictures with his girlfriend.

Another mouthed along to audio of a man screaming “What the f–k?,” to demonstrate her dismay after combing through her teen daughter’s device. She captioned her clip, which earned more than 105,000 views, “WTF did I just see,” opting not to disclose the details of her disturbing discovery.

In response to the prying mother’s post, commenters authored scathing rebukes, writing, “This is not okay,” “You don’t have to go through her phone,” and “I hate parents who can’t respect boundaries.”

Gillian Margonis, a Gen Z TikToker from Nashville, Tenn., scored 5.6 million views on a video bashing nosey moms and dads.

“Just like your room, [your phone] is your own private space, and they shouldn’t be looking through it because you deserve privacy,” she told her followers.

Laura Muse (left) says she, Cohen and Kylie have become closer thanks to her sporadic phone checks.
Muse (left) says she, Cohen and Kylie have become closer thanks to her sporadic phone checks.
Courtesy Laura Muse

But, while privacy and boundaries are important, Manhattan psychotherapist Kelly Nadel tells The Post that phone monitoring isn’t inherently wrong, so long as parents clearly and honestly express their motives and concerns to their teens.

“My guidance for parents is that they have a sit-down with their child, let them know what is or isn’t appropriate to share over the phone and come up with ways you both will feel safe about their phone usage,” said Nadel .

She added that including your kid into the phone monitoring process — which will allow them to feel that the inspection is a team effort rather than a shakedown — can create a sense of bonding.

“Prioritizing the relationship between parent and child will enable the teen to make wise decisions around technology as they get older,” Nadel added.

And as much is true in Muse’s home.

She says her kids have learned to appreciate her snooping. In fact, she says it’s made them a closer family.

“If I do find something that’s an issue, we talk about it and turn it into a teachable moment,” said Muse. “I’m not perfect, I don’t expect my children to be perfect, but it’s important to keep an eye on things.”

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