How Can I See My Child’s Deleted Texts on iPhone?

Closeup of teen girl texting on iPhone

If you suspect your child might be deleting their text messages in an attempt to hide them from you, it’s natural to be concerned and want to investigate. If you’re trying to figure out how to see your child’s deleted texts on iPhone (and if you should even read them in the first place), then you’ve come to the right place. This article covers ways to access deleted texts and how to decide if this is the right approach for your circumstances. 

Should I read my child’s deleted texts? 

First things first: spying on your child is generally not a good idea. It’s an invasion of their privacy and could jeopardize the mutual trust you’ve worked to build with them. If you feel it’s necessary to read your child’s deleted texts, it’s important to be transparent with them rather than going behind their back. 

So, how do you decide if it’s necessary to read their deleted texts in the first place? Here are some tips: 

Consider your reasons

The fact that your child is deleting texts probably isn’t enough on its own to warrant trying to access the missing messages. In fact, there are perfectly innocent reasons this may be happening, like the age-appropriate desire for privacy and independence. 

There are, however, concerning reasons they may be concealing messages. If you suspect something more serious like drugs or alcohol, investigating further is a good idea. 

Exhaust other options first

If you suspect your child may be deleting their texts for a concerning reason, your first course of action should be to talk to them. Let them know you’re worried and your priority is their safety. Ask them what’s going on and give them the space to tell you without judgment. 

How to restore deleted texts

After considering the above points, if you still feel it’s necessary to view your child’s deleted texts, here’s how to do it.

Messages app 

Available for: iOS 16 and above. 

How far back you can restore texts: 30 days (in some cases, up to 40)

Steps to restore texts

  • Open the Messages app
  • Tap Edit in the upper-left corner
  • Choose Show Recently Deleted
  • Tap the message(s) you want to recover
  • Select Recover in the lower-right corner
  • Tap Recover Message(s)


How far back you can restore texts: 30 days (in some cases, up to 40)

Important note: Because this method requires factory resetting your child’s iPhone settings, all of the data on their phone will be wiped out. So, it’s important to back up their data first, especially from the Messages app — or you’ll wipe out the very data you’re trying to access.

Steps to back up your child’s data: 

  1. Go to Settings
  2. Tap your child’s name
  3. Go to iCloud
  4. Select Manage Storage > Backups

Steps to restore texts:

  1. Go to Settings > General
  2. Scroll down and select Reset
  3. Select Erase All Content and Settings
  4. Turn on your kid’s iPhone and set it up from the start
  5. On the Apps and Data window, choose Restore from iCloud Backup


This is definitely the easiest method to view your child’s deleted texts. (Just two steps!) BrightCanary is also the only child safety app that allows parents to review deleted texts on iOS devices.

How far back it can go: Monitoring begins as soon as your child's account is connected to BrightCanary. Any texts your child sends, receives, or deletes after that point will remain in their text history. 

Steps to view deleted texts: 

  1. Open the BrightCanary app
  2. On the dashboard, tap text messages
  3. Look for the Deleted tag as you scroll through conversations

If you haven’t set up text message monitoring with BrightCanary yet, here’s how to do it.

Additional steps to monitor your child’s text messages

The best way to monitor your child’s text messages is to be proactive so you don't need to read their deleted texts in the first place. Here are some ideas: 

  • Encourage open communication. When your child first gets their phone, make it clear your goal is to help them learn to use it safely. Encourage them to come to you with any problems.
  • Digital safety check-ins. Make it a point to regularly sit down with your child to look at their phone together and talk about how they’re using it.
  • Download BrightCanary. BrightCanary uses advanced technology to monitor your child’s text messages and alert you to any issues so you can head them off before they become a problem. 

The bottom line

The best approach to monitoring your child’s text messages is open communication and the use of a monitoring app, such as BrightCanary. If you’re concerned and feel the need to read your child’s deleted texts, it’s best to be transparent with them about it first. 

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