Yumi Stynes on why she goes through her daughters' phones.

Thanks to our brand partner, Intel



Ten years ago teenage girls were forced to interact with each other face-to-face.

Social media was in it’s infancy and while text-bullying was an option, bullying and fighting mostly took place in the school yard.

Now teenage girls carry with them a device that invites bullying into their lives at all times.

It means that modern day parenting requires a bit of snooping, for our children’s own good.
Writer, presenter and mother-of-four Yumi Stynes is unapologetic about trawling through her teenage daughter’s phones. It’s the only one of the many social media rules she implements in her family.


Yumi’s daughters are Anouk, 14, Dee Dee, 12, Mercy, two-and-a-half and a one-year-old baby whose nickname is “Man Baby”.

Yumi explains how she keeps track of her teenage daughter’s social media use on Intel and Mamamia podcast The Parent Code.

Her two eldest, from her first marriage to Ben Ely from Australian band Regurgitator, are in high school and have had phones from a young age. The idea was that both parents could communicate with them easily while sharing custody.

Mercy and Man Baby are with husband Martin Bendeler, whom she married in 2012.

Yumi Stynes baby
Yumi Stynes with husband Martin Bendeler at their 2012 wedding. Image: Getty


These days Yumi appears on several TV shows including The Project and hosts a cooking channel on YouTube called Zero F**ks Cooking.  She is also a woman with two girls navigating the difficult world of high school.

Yumi says both girls love their phones and look after them, but she still keeps an eye on their use, particularly when it comes to social media.

"They love their phones, you know, just like we do, so they're pretty good with the phones but I do have their pass codes so I can read their text messages," Yumi said on The Parent Code podcast.

She says it's not because she was overly concerned about their interactions online, but because she was curious about what they were getting up to.


"I love knowing what's going on in their lives," Yumi says. "I think that they're at their tender age and I want to make sure they're being good people."

Yumi says social media is where most bitch-fests happen, and that it's hard to stay up-to-date with the different social media sites, but that by following her daughters closely on Instagram and Snapchat, she's across any teenage transgressions.

"Sometimes these group of kids get into like a bitch-storm - and I really love the lesson to not bitch. And this is something we actively engage with every day really in our house, to not be that person and not be that group of people."

Teaching her oldest daughter to have fun with social media and society in general has helped foster a healthy relationship with social media.

Yumi Stynes now has four children aged 14, 12, two-and-a-half and one. And a pug. Image: Instagram

It's nice to know that to help our children, in particular our teenagers, navigate technology and social media we don't need to stand over them with strict rules.

Like Yumi, we can simply engage openly and honestly with our kids, follow them online, have fun with technology and social media and most importantly, teach them how to behave offline so their online behaviour is kind, decent and considered.

Listen to the full episode of The Parent Code with Jo Abi and Yumi Stynes.

To subscribe to The Parent Code in iTunes go to apple.co/mamamia where you'll find all of our shows in one place and any books written by the many Mamamia guests.