So, just yesterday iOS 12 came out for Apple devices. All of my family (including me) use Apple devices faithfully. My dad has used a Mac since they were first commercially available for the public.

iOS 12 has some serious parental control upgrades that will allow my parents to have complete control over everything I do on my iPad. Here is a link to where you can read up on what's new.

I am 16 years old. I don't have any sort of phone yet because I deem myself too young and I don't have the money for one yet. Not owning a phone eliminates most of my problems in this area. Anyway, when I bought my iPad I was too young to work at a real job. I used some birthday money to pay for pamphlets and I walked around and hired myself out as an amateur yard-worker. It was seriously hard work. I handed out 400 pamphlets and only 7 people followed up. I saved up my hard earned money and bought myself a MacBook and an iPad to teach myself how to code.

I don't really have anything to hide anymore but I would appreciate my iPad being my iPad. It seems like it would be unfair for my parents to invade my ownership like this. My parents will most likely (although, we haven't updated yet) take advantage of this new Screen Time feature in iOS 12 and restrict my usage because I have a really bad track record of hiding things.

I will admit, I used to look at pornography a lot. I was hugely addicted to it. Back when iOS 7-9 was still jail-breakable I figured out how to remove all the restrictions my parents had put in place and I could download whatever games or apps I wanted. I got caught doing all these things (Because your sins always find you out) and developed a ton of trust issues with my parents.

That was back when I was really irresponsible and untrustworthy. I feel like I have built a lot of that trust back up. I think it would be unfair for my parents to do this. I don't have a lot going for me. I'm only 16, technically still a minor which means my parents own my devices. I have regretfully proven myself untrustworthy before, which gives them a lot of incentive to invoke some restrictions.

My question is, how can I approach them and ask them to trust me and respect my privacy? I don't really use my iPad for much. Mostly just school, some gaming with friends, and multi-tasking with my job. I think I do a good job of regulating my own behavior. How do I tell my parents this?

up vote 41 down vote accepted

You are in a challenging spot that pretty much every adult can identify with - you feel like an adult, you want to have adult responsibilities and the ability to make adult decisions, yet you're still legally a child and feel like your parents have too much control over you.

You really have 2 options here. Option 1 is to let the narrative happen. Option 2, which I recommend to develop as an excellent interpersonal skill, is for you to control the narrative.

To do that, you approach them. Acknowledge your mistake. Show how you have changed. Tell them that you have the iPad and want to earn their trust - now how do you do it? And then you (gasp) do it. Winning back trust doesn't happen overnight. It takes longer to win it back than it did to lose it, and that's another important interpersonal skill to have - being trustworthy.

You have an excellent beginning here in your question. I'd say just that:

I don't really use my iPad for much. Mostly just school, some gaming with friends, and multi-tasking with my job. I think I do a good job of regulating my own behavior.

Then talk about the initiative you put into this. You did lawn jobs. You saved. Tell them why you don't have a phone. These are mature decisions and should be pointed out.

And then you show them that you can self-regulate. As they see that you've changed, the restrictions should lessen up slowly.

When you talk to them, be calm. Accept their decision. The angrier you are and the more you fight, the less chance you have of winning. If the decision doesn't go your way and you are calm about it, there's a chance of it changing down the road. If you yell and fight, the decision gets a LOT harder to change.

The key to any negotiation is to solve a problem for the other person. Look at the reasons you parents would want to restrict your access, and discuss how you would solve that problem without their needing to do something. Be frank and serious - if you try to patronize them, they'll see through it.

I've got kids of my own and I can tell you this: it's very hard when you have to switch from being an active participant in your kid's life to being a spectator. Some navigate that easier than others do. All your life, they've had to make decisions for you and you're at an age where they can start letting some of those go - but there's a whole (literally) lifetime of them not doing that. So be patient.

  • 5
    Fantastic answer! It's not that big of a deal. I don't have anything to hide so It won't affect me much. The problem is, I like being able to do what I want when I want. Its not like I sit around watching YouTube all day. There are certain things I do that I won't be able to do anymore. For instance, I get a text from a friend and I generally like to respond quickly. I wont be able to do that on weekdays anymore. I like being able to play a game while I wait for a download or watch something when Im gearing down for bed. Those things will be removed and I feel like its kind of unfair. – E. Huckabee Sep 19 at 19:57
  • I like this answer but would like to add that if OP's parents / guardians say no, being calm is the best possible thing anyone can do. Back when I was a kid, my parents would often say no to certain requests purely to see what my reaction would be / how I handled rejection. If I flipped out, I never got that thing I wanted. 99/100 times I was calm and they "changed their mind". Just wanted to tac this on here :) – Horkrine Sep 20 at 14:26
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    @Horkrine that's an unfortunate parenting strategy (inconsistency in order to investigate a child's reaction to disappointment). I'm sorry you were exposed to it, and I hope the OP's parents don't use it. – De Novo Sep 20 at 18:52
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    @Horkrine thanks for the input! I thought I had said that in the third paragraph from the bottom - should I have included more verbiage to that effect or did not address this suggestion? It's a good suggestion; I'd like to be sure that I address this appropriately. Thanks! – baldPrussian Sep 20 at 20:22

baldPrussian makes some excellent points. What you need to do is negotiate with your parents to find a mutually beneficial solution, one that gives you additional privacy but gives your parents assurance that you're not doing anything that will affect your health or safety. They are still legally responsible for you and more importantly they love you and don't want you to come to harm.

The best book on negotiating is "Getting to Yes" by Fisher and Ury. I suggest you read at least the summary (click here) because mastery of negotiation techniques will demonstrate your maturity in a way that simple words cannot.

The four principles of "Getting to Yes" are:

  • separating people from the problem,
  • focusing on interests rather than positions,
  • generating a variety of options before settling on an agreement,
  • insisting that the agreement be based on objective criteria

"Getting to Yes" has techniques for dealing with obstacles:

  • when the other party is more powerful
  • when the other party won't use principled negotiation
  • when the other party uses dirty tricks

The first of these obstacles is the main one you're dealing with. When the other party is more powerful

the weaker party should concentrate on assessing their best alternative to a negotiated agreement (BATNA). The authors note that "the reason you negotiate is to produce something better than the results you can obtain without negotiating."[p. 104] The weaker party should reject agreements that would leave them worse off than their BATNA. Without a clear idea of their BATNA a party is simply negotiating blindly. The BATNA is also key to making the most of existing assets. Power in a negotiation comes from the ability to walk away from negotiations. Thus the party with the best BATNA is the more powerful party in the negotiation. Generally, the weaker party can take unilateral steps to improve their alternatives to negotiation. They must identify potential opportunities and take steps to further develop those opportunities. The weaker party will have a better understanding of the negotiation context if they also try to estimate the other side's BATNA. Fisher and Ury conclude that "developing your BATNA thus not only enables you to determine what is a minimally acceptable agreement, it will probably raise that minimum."[p. 111]

For the agreement to be objectively verified, I suggest a technique that was used during the nuclear arms reduction agreements of the 1980s, "Trust but verify." If all else fails, you can suggest to your parents that in return for removing controls on your devices, they can inspect your devices at any time. You will get minute-to-minute privacy in exchange for occasional inspections to verify compliance and you can negotiate the terms of those inspections.

Good luck!

Trust is next to impossible to regain, regardless of your age.

It's also unclear what it is you've done to violate that trust, were you caught hacking? Browsing porn? Downloading (perhaps specific) apps and games after you were told not to? While it's not relevant to the Q&A "what" has been done, it does affect how much freedom you may be able to negotiate.

For example, if you were caught hacking your parent's bank info it's unlikely there is any conversation you can have with your parents to convince them to give you your space.

However, if the offense was "i got caught browsing porn" then it's ideal to have a one-off adult conversation with your mother or father, whichever is easiest to talk to, about how you understand the danger of what you did (as your parents are responsible for your actions, their complacency can be misconstrued as negligence by the law -- and this has serious implications for your parents, you, AND your siblings -- for parents this can be very scary, and their kids don't really understand the half of it until they become parents, too.)

What am I saying? It's not enough to acknowledge your mistake. This is great textbook advice, but, what is really necessary is for you to acknowledge the ramifications of your actions (and in doing so, you also recognize that your actions were a mistake without needing to say as much.) This will prove to your parents that you've developed to a point that, perhaps, you can be trusted to make good decisions moving forward. This is why "mom, dad, I am sorry I did that one thing. I know it wasn't right, and I know not to do it now, and I will never do anything like that again. I am a different person today" is itself insufficient justification -- as a parent this comes off as begging, grovelling, possibly even penance ... but it is not a sign of maturity, it is the exact opposite (to an educated parent, anyway) and only serves to dissuade them.

Without recognition of cause/effect it is very hard for a parent to trust where trust has been violated once before, as the violation demonstrates that you are willing to make a bad decision (regardless of the circumstances, the violation applies cleanly over ALL concerns.) This is what you are dealing with now, and breaking trust is not something anyone forgets, ever. Time and trust are not really related as we might like to think. Think of trust as an absolute: it is today what it was 2 years ago, and what it will be 2 years from now.

Consider that the prefrontal cortex is the portion of the human brain responsible for rationalizing right and wrong, it is the part of the brain responsible for rationalizing cause and effect. This portion of the brain begins development as early as 5-8 years old, and continues development as late as 22-25 years old (I believe academic studies put the range 7-21?) Parents reading this can confirm that up until this development begins children are very malleable and compliant, if you tell them something is right or wrong they take that knowledge at face value, and this sort of interaction directs a childs actions before they're able to understand on their own what to do or why. As such, your parents learn your personality long before you do as part of raising you, answering your questions and dictating your behavior. They get an idea of how you think as early as 2-3 years old, and they watch that mental development continue for the rest of your life.

This is also why we make the mistakes we do as children. It is why our parents are held legally responsible for our actions. It is what you are battling with, whether you realize it or not.

So with that knowledge, to circle back around:

You need to have a mature conversation to make it clear you understand the ramification of your actions. This will hold more weight with your parents than anything else you can say or do.

Furthermore:

This conversation should NOT be attached to your request for freedom/privacy/ownership. DO NOT MIX THESE CONVERSATIONS. Heck, space them out two weeks or so for maximum effect. Not doing so detracts from the credibility of your acknowledgement instead causing it to be viewed as mere "bargaining" (ie. not "acknowledgement.")

Also consider that if this sort of introspection was not possible before reading these answers then it's entirely possible that you're not ready for this conversation (yet), and your attempt will instead be viewed as a negotiation/manipulation attempt and not recognition/comprehension of your actions. (or put another way, consider that a conversation about ones rational capability and maturity is a battle of wits, yours vs. theirs, and you may still fail even if you have prepared a bullet-proof argument.)


All else aside, I was a child "technology enthusiast and savant" at the age of 6 (mmhmm, my poor parents, lulz) and while I won't enumerate all the "mistakes" I made I do remember when my parents confiscated technology, shut off the phone, canceled credit cards, restricted the hours I could be out, restricted who I could associate with, etc. As a result they kept me on the straight and narrow -- not by restriction, but by forcing me to be extremely careful with my actions until I could realize the ramifications of those actions. I, of course, didn't see it this way until my mid 20s (yep. prefrontal know-it-all right here) and so ultimately nothing they did stopped me.. I used friend's computers, got my own laptop and kept it at my friend's house, learned to phreak public lines, at one point I even had a phone line installed without them knowing (later added to the top of the list of "worst ideas ever" the day the mail/bill for the line came in. oops!)

The hardest part for me as a teen was that not having a phone meant I couldn't talk to my girlfriend(s). I eventually got them to turn the phone back on after talking to my mom about this, but, the trade-off was that she got to keep the phone off the hook unless I got pre-approved permission to make a call, and even then she would listen to make sure I wasn't using the line for "other things." This was awkward for me for a while, but, I got used to it and after a while she stopped snooping my calls, gave me some space, and my parents ultimately learned to trust my ability to make sound decisions (although my dad still watches me skeptically when I touch one of his computers, and I am over 40 years old now.)

Trust is next to impossible to regain, regardless of your age.

HTH, best of luck. Parents only ever want the very best for their children and as messed up as it sounds; this is how they show it.

  • The advice in this answer is really amazing! I edited my answer to clarify the "things people shouldn't look at" part. Its quite embarrassing to admit this on the internet, which is why I didn't do it in the first place. I've given it a lot of thought. It's ok if my parents go through with this. I don't have anything to hide and its time to prove this to my parents. I did, however, have a lot to hide. I was living in constant fear of my parents finding out back then. I never want to go back to that. Those were the darkest days of my life so far. – E. Huckabee Sep 21 at 10:02

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