Nearly 11 percent of 3,767 students interviewed for the Journal of Adolescent Health said that someone bullied them electronically in the past several months. Keeping your child safe from bullies and predators is one of the reasons you should monitor your child’s cell phone usage. However, there are plenty of other reasons you may want to restrict your child’s time on the phone, apps downloaded, photos taken, and minutes used. Whatever your reason for monitoring your child’s smart phone, there are plenty of simple ways to do it:
Know the Apps Kids Use
Today’s smart phones are replacing laptops and have all the features that computers have except they are easily concealed and can be used 24/7. You may allow your kid’s to take their smart phones with them when they are supposed to be going to sleep. Instead they are online communicating with ‘friends’ late into the evening.
Additionally, you may not be familiar with the apps your kids are using to secretly send messages to friends or post photos to social media websites. Therefore, it is important that you become familiar with the apps your kids are using so you understand how they work and the potential harm associated with many of these apps.
Your Cell Phone Provider
Most major cell phone providers offer some family services. For example, with T-Mobile’s 4G family plans, you can manage the plan’s “family allowances,” thus restricting your child’s cell phone usage. These plans allow you to set caps on texting, minutes and data. Of course, all plans give you access to your detailed billing information, so you can always see what numbers your child communicates with and how much/often they use minutes, text and data.
Programs and Apps
If you want in-depth information about your kid’s cell phone usage, the best way is to use programs or apps that do the monitoring for you.
Mobile Spy is an interesting program that gives you access to block your child from downloading apps, and monitor social networking apps such as WhatsApp, Skype, Viber, Facebook, and Twitter. This means you can monitor messages sent through apps in addition to normal texts. Mobile Spy also has GPS monitoring and you can view photos and videos sent and received on the phone. Most features work on iPhone, Android, BlackBerry, and Windows smartphones.
StealthGenie is another program that monitors cell phone usage beyond what you can glean from your mobile provider. This program actually records phone calls so you can listen to what your child is talking about and with whom. It also records text, images, data usage and more. The program’s GPS monitoring will let you know where your child is at all times. StealthGenie works for iPhone, Android and Blackberry.
PhoneSheriff a recent entry into the mobile spyware market can be activated without installing any software on the monitored smart phone. The software gives you access to see photos, text messages, notes, call history – recording incoming and outgoing calls, Safari bookmarks, and GPS location maps so you’ll know where your child is when they leave home. It was developed for the iPhone, iPad and iTouch.
The Old-Fashioned Way
If you think your child is responsible, trustworthy, and knows that you can access what they do online and your expectations that they will use their cell phone in a responsible manner then you may not need to install monitoring software. However, if need be, you can check their cell phone usage by physically going into the cell phone to see what apps they installed and how they are using the device. Be sure to obtain their passwords for the phone, and their email and social media accounts. Make it a point to check their activity regularly and without warning. If you make this the norm from the beginning, you can minimize the potential fallout.
Keep in mind that there are hundreds of apps available for kids to download and many of them are not safe. Additionally, new apps are being developed that kids are using and you have no idea what they do or are used for.
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