Should You Secretly Monitor Your Child's Cellphone?

The second episode of the "GMA" series "Cracking the Kid Code" looks at whether parents should monitor their kids' cellphones.
5:47 | 11/15/16

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Transcript for Should You Secretly Monitor Your Child's Cellphone?
Back here on "Gma" we're cracking the kid code looking at kids and technology and the big debate over whether you should monitor your kids' cell phone. T.J. Sat down with a mother who says yes. Robin, let me be perfectly clear here. We are talking about flat out spying on your child. There are some apps out there that will allow a parent to see everything their child is doing on the phone even deleted techs, some parents might be itching to run out and get that app but others, it brings up this heated question, does a child's right to privacy, is it actually trumped by a parent's desire to protect? Preteens and teens, what are they doing on their phones? Many adults will never know but there's one who does. You can't hide from me. Reporter: Christine Presti, mom of Isabella and Michael was so anxious to know what they are kids were doing than air phones she secretly installed spyware to watch them and can see anything. It's legal to monitor your kids but a controversy lurks. Do teens deserve privacy? Or is secretly monitoring for safety sake more important? At 11 and 13, we should know what's going on in your life. What's the problem with letting you see your phone. I like some privacy. Reporter: Last summer Christine says Isabella suddenly became more secretive. I immediately think that something is going on. Reporter: So she downloads spy software on both kids' phone sflsz were you torn? Nope. You were not. Not one bit. They are my kids an I needed to protect them. Reporter: Experts say secret monitoring may hurt your children and your relationship with them in the long run. Julie lythcott-haims is author of "How to raise an adult." Every moment is effectively saying, I do not trust Y in the slightest. How do you tell them you trust them when you spy on them? Wow, I hope they just know that I do trust them and that I'm doing this just to protect them. Reporter: Using the app Christine discovers Isabella is texting someone she thinks is a teenager. But when Christine calls the number, she gets a surprise. It's an adult. She thought she was talking to a friend and it turned out that it wasn't. Reporter: Christine blocked the caller. Still it was a scary moment. Went through every scenario. Meeting somebody. Kidnapping. Reporter: Christine knew she had to confront her daughter which meant confessing about the spyware but Isabella came clean first. She came down the stairs and was like, I need to talk to you. She beat you to it. She beat me to it. Isabella told her about the stranger she was texting and while shocked she was spying also saw the other side. I had a lot of different emotions like why is she doing this but was happy because I knew she was protecting me. Your momma loves you. 2 for 2, the piece today and the one today. Our chief medical editor Dr. Richard Besser is here and Callahan Walsh, friend of the program is hire, nice to see you, Cal. Dr. Besser, let me start with you. Should you monitor your child's cell phone? I don't think so. You know, as a parent and a pediatrician, I know that what concerns us most is our children's safety. But in order to ensure that there's all kinds of dangers, I think you need to develop a relationship in which you show you trust your child show they can trust you to come to you with anything and I think this can torpedo everything. We believe parents should monitor their youngest children online and help navigate those waters but for the older kids we want parents to have ongoing empowered conversations to make sure those kids can make those safe and smart decisions on their owns. Parents can go blue in their face monitoring them all day but they're not always going to be there. I also believe, you got two sons. T.J. Has a young daughter. You have a little time. Some of this even from the parps is not just a matter of making sure the kid is safe but for the parent's peace of mind. Not that the child did anything to break trust, the parent just needs that comfort to know I got an eye on everything. You bring up trust and now I want to ask you both about that. As a pediatrician do you feel that that could damage the trust between -- Well, I think it could. You know, if -- as a parent, the idea of bubble wrapping your child and protecting them until they're dulls and releasing them is comforting but if your child doesn't trust you as they hit the teen years facing decisions about alcohol, drugs, will they turn to you for guidance? I worry that if they don't feel there's trust, those tough issues they're not going to come to you and could be riskier. Aren't there some times you know your child and know something is not right here and want to weigh in. Again, we want parents to empower their kids. This may be an option the parents need to take. That phone is often bought by the parent, paid for by the parent and that's the responsibility till they turn 18. You sound like my parents now. I bought this phone. I'll take you out. This is a serious conversation to have and I know one that parents struggle with. It's about spying. I know we're running out of time. Is spying a bad thing? What if you let your kid know we're going to keep an eye -- I think you need to set up rules up front as to what's allowable and if you see a behavior or something different that you're going to sit down and go over it together because that's not acceptable. Work together. Technology, set ground rules and have ongoing conversations about your kids about safety. You're the best. Dr. Besser. T.J., you too. Coming up, the booted couple

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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