I think this topic is huge with all parents of teenagers. We want to give our kids space to grow, but we also want to protect them from the evils of the world.
My approach is probably a little more lenient and lax than other parents. I know Brenn, I know that he's a good kid, but I also know that he's a teenager. I'm well aware that he's not always going to make the best decisions. I was a teenager once. Ask my mom...I gave her hell as a teen. Thankfully, so far Brenn has been ten times better than I was at this age.
So, here's my take on privacy and my teenager:
First, I have to know my child. It is my job to know his mannerisms and his personality. Knowing my child will make it much easier to notice when he's not acting like himself.
I have Brenn's password to Facebook and to email. I know the passcode to his phone. He knows that at any given moment, I can and will check on him (and have in the past). I don't get into his business just because I'm bored or for the fun of it. I do allow him to take his phone to bed. It doesn't make him stay awake any longer than normal and he uses it for an alarm.
If something is going on that starts to affect Brenn's grades, attitude, or personality I will start investigating. This means I will check social media and I will check his phone. I will make it my priority to find out what is bothering him.
I'm very blessed because my almost 16 years old is very open with me about what's going on in his life. I think one of the reasons for this is because I have given him space to grow and become his own person. He knows that he can come to me about anything and I will listen calmly and with an open mind. He also has the security in knowing where the boundaries are and that I care enough to enforce those boundaries.
I know some of his friend's parents are much more strict when it comes to this stuff. I don't totally disagree with their actions. They have their reasons for making the decisions they do. I just know this works for us.
So, long story short...Yes, I will check Brenn's phone or social media if I feel it's necessary. Yes, I do allow him to take his phone to bed. Yes, I do give him space to grow and make decisions because that's how decision making skills are developed. Yes, that does leave the door open for wrong choices to be made. I know I can't protect him forever no matter I much I want to.