How to monitor your kids’ phone and app usage The explosion of digital devices seems to bring benefit to people. However, as these devices become a part of our everyday life, many problems associated with it have become apparent as well. Overuse of digital devices has negative consequences on our well-being. While adults can gauge the positive and negative effect of these devices, children, on the other hand, need guidance. Children cannot exercise the control that adults have when it comes to limiting screen time.
There is no doubt that digital devices have improved our lives in many ways but it has also brought many concerns. Smartphones and tablets are found in every household. Because of this, children are overexposed to these devices. A child gains access to these devices through their parents, and so parents should be concerned regarding how their children use these devices.
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Should parents monitor their kids or not?
Parents hold the sole responsibility for their children. Preteens, and kids below this age, need guidance while using digital devices. They are naïve and oblivious to what is on the internet. Children can be easily manipulated at the hands of cybercriminals such as hackers, extortionists, and scammers.
The same goes for teenagers. However, kids in this age group may not prefer parental supervision. In this case, parents need to teach their children about digital etiquette, how to conduct themselves online, and the threats to stay away from. But, even after educating your child, there is still a need for monitoring their actions. This is for the safety of your child and not because there is a lack of trust. It is necessary that kids understand this, too.
Some parents, however, get carried away with monitoring their children. This can drive a child away from their parents. Parents need to exercise caution when monitoring their child’s activities. They need to find a balance. Without this epiphany, they could either become overprotective or indifferent about their child’s online and offline activities.
What is acceptable and what is not?
When it comes to monitoring your child, you need to develop trust. This can only happen when parents are open about monitoring their children’s activities.
Going behind your child’s back, to find who they talk to and when, is not the way to go about it. Similarly, checking on their phone logs and contact list may lead them to mistrust you in the future.
As children grow, they need some privacy. This is paramount to their growth as individuals. Often parents who focus too much on monitoring their kids become overbearing. This helicopter parenting behavior is counter-productive to the well-being of a child. Thus, monitoring up to a certain level is acceptable. Too much can lead your child away from you.
When you decide to monitor your kids’ cell phone or tablet, you need to have a conversation with them. It is true that younger kids may not understand the value of this conversation. However, for older kids, especially teenagers, it is imperative that you have this conversation. You need to discuss with your child what you wish to monitor. You should also ask your child whether it is acceptable to them or not. Take their opinion when you want to set down the rules for monitoring your child’s phone.
There are many parental control apps available. Imagine that you use one to find out what your child does throughout the day. You do this for a while without realizing how this would make your child feel. You have been reading the text messages on their phone, finding out who they have been talking to, without their approval. When your child finds out that you were spying on them, imagine how that would make them feel. It would cause tensions to develop between you and your child. It would lead your child into believing that you do not trust them or think that they are irresponsible.
Parents who needlessly monitor their children soon alienate their children. Alongside giving your child the freedom to do what they want, you need to set rules as well. This ensures that children don’t take everything for granted. It holds them accountable for their actions and how they conduct themselves, both online and offline. This makes kids responsible for their actions and instills good practices in them.
Is it legal to monitor my child’s phone?
Since children are minors, they are under the protection of their parents. This makes it legal for parents to monitor their child’s activities, both online and offline.
To monitor the cell phone activity of an adult, you need to have their consent. Without it, it is illegal to monitor someone’s private data. However, this is not true in the case of children. You can monitor the phone of your minor, without their consent. But ethically, it is wrong to monitor someone’s phone without their permission.
Teenage is a time when children are growing up, finding new interests, making new friends, and experiencing new things. They need privacy and parents should understand this. For older kids, such as teenagers, it is advised that you seek their permission before installing a cell phone monitoring app on their phone.
Cell phone monitoring apps
If you have made up your mind to monitor your child’s phone, it’s then time to decide how. There are many cell phone monitoring applications available that could help you with this, let’s take a look at some of the best ones.
Parents can find out where their children are, who they talk to, and what they do. Parents can monitor text messages, call logs, instant messaging apps, multimedia files, location history, emails, browsing history, bookmarks, calendar entries, and much more. With these features, parents can monitor more than just who their child talks to. They can also monitor their child’s online activity. By monitoring their browsing history, parents can be assured that their child is not viewing inappropriate content and is safe from scammers and other frauds.
You can monitor incoming and outgoing messages on instant messaging applications such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Skype, LINE, Kik, Instagram Direct Messages, and Tinder Messages. Parents can also monitor their incoming, outgoing, and missed calls. The data gathered from the device is uploaded to your Pumpic account. The web-based account allows you to view and download the data. The app also offers a keylogger feature which logs all the keystrokes made on the device.
Pumpic is compatible with both Android and iPhones. For the later version of iOS, parents can install the app without having access to the device. You only require iCloud credentials for it. However, for Android and the jailbroken iOS version of the app, you need to have physical access to the device. The app also allows users to remotely control a device. You can remotely lock a phone, wipe data, view list of installed apps, block apps, and take live screenshots. The remote control features offered by Pumpic is especially beneficial for parents who wish to limit their children’s screen time on digital devices. Pumpic allows parents to not only monitor but also control their children’s cell phone usage. This makes Pumpic the preferred choice of parents.
Pumpic is the perfect tool to monitor your children’s devices. You can subscribe to the app for just $4.99/month or $59.99 annually.
FlexiSpy offers a wide variety of features. Other than the features that most apps provide, FlexiSpy allows parents to record calls, monitor surrounding by taking live pictures and recording the surroundings of a device.
With FlexiSpy, you can monitor messages sent via a multitude of messaging apps. These include Facebook Messenger, Hike, Kik, Hangout, QQ, Telegram, Tinder, and WeChat.
However, to avail the advanced features that the app offers, you need to root or jailbreak your device. This can make your device susceptible to viruses and malicious software. The app is compatible with Android and iPhone. However, the latest version of iOS such as 9.2–11.4.1 only work in tethered mode. To install the app, you need to have physical access to the device.
Flexispy comes at an eye-watering price of $350 for its one-year subscription and certainly not suitable if you have to monitor multiple devices.
mSpy will provide you all the phone logs, emails, contacts, and texts of your child, but there is very little remote functionality offered to parents. Parents can only view what their child does online. They cannot block application to control screen time and device usage. However, when it comes to monitoring internet activity, parents can block websites to ensure that their children are not able to access inappropriate websites.
Apart from this, the app also offers a geofencing feature, using which, parents can mark a location as safe or unsafe zones. If their child enters or leaves these zones, parents are notified about it on the web account. Hence, they can take a timely decision in case their child goes to a dangerous location.
The app is compatible with most versions of Android and iPhones. Android phones with Android 4.0 and above are compatible. All iOS versions are compatible with the app, but this depends on the subscription plan that you choose. There are two plans for iPhones: Jailbreak and No-Jailbreak. The subscription plans offered by the app are expensive. Since the app provides limited features to parents, these high prices are not justified.
Spyzie is a complete parental monitoring app that provides parents with various features. These include monitoring call logs, emails, geofences, viewing multimedia files, browsing history, bookmarks, text messages, calendar entries, deleted items, etc.
The schedule restriction feature of the app allows parents to control the activity of smartphone during specific times of the day. The app allows parents to restrict the use of apps by setting time limits on the app. When the time allotted for an app reaches the limit, the app is blocked from usage. Spyzie also allows users to restrict everything on the target phone. This way, your child will be discouraged from using the phone for a while. Parents can also view the list of all the installed apps on the phone.
Although parents can monitor incoming and outgoing text messages, there is little functionality offered when it comes to monitoring instant messaging applications. Users of the app will know that you can only monitor messages sent and received on WhatsApp. So if your kids use other IM apps, you would not be able to monitor the conversations on those apps.
But the app allows parents to monitor notes and memos on the device. They can also view documents that are saved on the cell phone. Given the features that the app provides to parents, it is expensive.
Qustodio is a parental monitoring application that allows parents to monitor their child’s activities on a digital device. Parents can block apps that they don’t consider useful for their children. The app also allows parents to block certain apps during specific times of the day and allow other apps. The scheduling features ensure that children do not lose focus, for example, when they are using educational resources.
Parents can, thus, allow and restrict apps as they deem fit. As opposed to other apps, parents can exercise more control over how their children use a smartphone. In this, parents can block websites that show inappropriate content such as pornography and adult content. Parents can also set screen times for each day.
You can view the information regarding your child’s phone usage on the dashboard. This can be accessed by logging into the user account. Although the app provides parental control features, limited features are available when it comes to monitoring the contact list, multimedia files, and other activity on the device.
These apps are an important tool for parents today. They ensure the safety of their child and helps parents keep a close eye on their kid’s activities. It eases the burden a parent feels when monitoring their kids.
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