To snoop or not has always been a parenting question, but technology has raised the stakes. It gives us more to snoop with and more to worry about.
In a perfect world, kids would come fully-equipped with the cognitive capacities to make wise decisions online, starting from the moment they first press a sticky finger to the screen of a smartphone or tablet. Or, perhaps even better, kids would be banned from using digital devices until their frontal lobe, that part of the brain responsible for good judgment, is fully developed. But since experts say this can take up until age 25, I suppose that’s being unrealistic.
The fact of matter is kids are going online at younger and younger ages and parents are increasingly looking for help to monitor their actions. Many are turning to Internet filtering and/or monitoring software and apps. Designed to identify and block dangerous sites and track inappropriate or excessive Internet use. Most Internet filtering or monitoring programs allow for customization, letting users restrict or block categories as they see fit.
Here is a list of some the highest rated apps to help parents “spy”.
Think your kid’s being bullied? Or sending sexts? Or dealing drugs? There’s an app for that. Parent based fears have fueled the rise in CIA type apps, including one popular spy agent named TeenSafe.
The company urges parents to tell their children they are being monitored, but the app can work covertly and show what kids are posting on social media as well as deleted texts and messages sent via popular apps such as Kik, WhatsApp and Snapchat.
“Parents can log in to TeenSafe on their own phone, or on a tablet or desktop and see what their children are saying and doing on their iPhone or Android phones. The service has helped parents identify online bullying and has kept teens out of dangerous situations like getting into a car with a drunk driver,” says co-founder Ameeta Jain.
“The real question is, ‘Is it justified?’ and those are moral decisions a parent has to make. What we believe is that when it comes to protecting your child from these things – privacy is trumped by protection,” says TeenSafe’s chief executive Rawdon Messenger.
In addition to texting, most young children are often anxious to send email. Like MessageSafe, Kids Email let’s kids send and receive email only to and from those people on their contact list. At the same time a copy of these emails can go to the parent so they can review their young child’s first correspondences. “The use of technology in today’s society is key to a child’s development” says Kids Email’s Brittany Oler, “So we believe that you should allow your child to use technology, but in a safe environment.
Aside from tracking social media use and texting, other parent apps can actually monitor how fast someone is driving or moving in a vehicle as a passenger.
MamaBear offers that service, and co-founder Robyn Spoto says the app is used to link entire families and send alerts when someone is driving above the speed limit or has ventured outside a pre-determined boundary. It cannot be used covertly.
“Technology is your right-hand man to give you the information that you need so that you can have the right conversation,” says Ms Spoto.
Amber Alert GPS
Amber Alert GPS lets you track your child’s whereabouts and receive emails and texts if an alert is triggered (if they venture outside of a safe zone, for example). It even notifies you if your child comes within 500 feet of a registered sex offender’s residence and gives your child the ability to use an SOS button if they need immediate help.
In my opinion, this technology could save lives so I think that it’s absolutely a great thing to be able to track our kids. What do you think?