Gone are those days when children and their parents needed to sift through the voluminous tomes for information. Though printed versions have not gone into oblivion, internet has emerged as a big obsession for children and adults alike. Smartphone is just like a personal possession and hence, it springs no surprises to see even preschool-aged kiddos busy with online games and net surfing. The know-it-all kind of confidence on their innocent faces looks cute.
More than 60% of parents say their kids start using smartphone before they attain the age of five. However, hazards lurk in disguise of affected simplicity and amicability. With snowballing of smart features and functions, the big disadvantages of internet cannot be ruled out. A way out for parents is to employ and exercise parental controls for Android and other devices. These apps are designed to deliver screen time management solutions and enable kids’ phone tracking.
With a rapid spike in cyber bullying and cybercrimes, which are mostly targeting kids and teens, it becomes a necessity for the 21st century parents to stay aware of what their children do on the internet and if they are aware of the dangers from the binary predators and their human developers. Let us first talk about some tips that parents should follow to protect their children from cyber goons.
Tips on Tracking
Talk to your children about the dangers that come from digital media. You should explain to them about app usage and online safety even before they start using an electronic device. Followings are some safety tips that you should talk to your child about.
- Never give the names of parents or house address to any stranger or anyone on social networking sites or online.
- Ask your child to talk to you if he/she feels someone is behaving strangely or using offensive languages.
- Avoid clicking on links sent by strangers.
- Never send your photos to anyone you don’t know.
Track Your Child’s Phone
Parental monitoring is not limited to only screen time limit and management but stretched to ensuring that your child is safe online. Most of the time, it means tracking your kid’s online activities through specific apps. It will allow you to track your child’s location if he/she is alone on way to home or elsewhere. This way, you can always get updates of if and when they reach home safe even when they forget to text you.
A few features of your app will help you track your child’s real-time location. If you are using Family Sharing for the purpose, follow the steps below:
Navigate to Settings on your child’s phone.
Tap Location Sharing. Find My Friends app is another option to track your child’s location. Instead of opening the app every time you want to locate your child, follow a shortcut in iMessage:
- Navigate to a text message thread with your child.
- You will find a button at the top right of the screen. Click it.
- You can track how many hours your kid is spending on their phone. Tap Turn on Screen Time under Settings.
- Tap Set Up as Parent
Best Apps for Monitoring Your Child’s Phone Activities and Screen Time
Keeping track of children’s phone activities and screen time has become important for parents to keep them safe on social networking sites and other digital media. Thanks to a number of parental control apps, you can now monitor their phone activities and screen time while staying discreet in the background.
mSpy: It is one of the leading monitoring apps to allow you to choose settings designed to keep your kid safe from social media sharks and filthy attacks. Launched more than a decade ago, this app is still one of the ‘BEST’ in the market. This app allows you to stay in the background so that your child will never get to know who is sneaking and snooping into their actions.
The app scans emails, message apps and text messages to look for inappropriate and potentially harmful contents (both texts and images). This app is easy to install and programmed to show your images and videos that your child shoots on the phone so that you can scan the contents if needed.
The app refreshes every five minutes to keep you up to date on what your kid is viewing and doing on the phone. mSpy features built-in GPS that allows you to track your child’s location and movement. “Mom, I’m at museum”. Now you have an app to check if he/she speaking the truth. You can set safe zones and hence, will immediately get to know when your child enters or leaves a shopping mall or a friend’s house.
With this app installed in your child’s device, you can now breathe a sigh of relief that your child is safe from potential harmful texts and videos, inappropriate contents, cyber bullying and malicious contacts or peers while ensuring that you always remain discreet and letting your child feel that their wings of freedom are not clipped and they can fly high in the virtual sky.
This app has loads of amazing features such as, remote control and remote device tracking to enable you to block websites, callers and apps. It puts controls literally in your hands.
With its ability to track every single area of digital platform usage, round-the-clock support in several languages and affordable plans, we have no reasons to wonder why mSpy is the numero uno family tracking app in the USA.
Qustodio: Qustodio claims itself as the best parental control app available free of cost. It works on Windows PC, Mac, Android, iOS and Kindle devices. The app provides a complete dashboard for monitoring a child’s online activities. The free version lets you keep round-the-clock watch on your child’s search engine and web use, Facebook and Twitter logins and set time limit. The premium version offers more such as, location tracking, blocking certain apps and games, monitoring calls and contents and many more. Qustodio is approved by corporate leaders including Softpedia and Softonic.
Net Nanny Family Protect Pass: If you have more than one child, it means you need to track multiple devices at the same time. The task is challenging but made easy by this app. It is a handy tool that you can install on up to 10 different Window PC, Mac or Android devices. Remember Windows XP does not support the system. Hence, if any of your children uses Windows XP system, you have to buy a separate product for Net Nanny to find compatibility with iOS devices.
The app enables you to create different log-ins/profiles and automatic web content filtration for each user depending on if they fit the categorization such as, Child, Pre-Teen, Teen or Adult profile. It lets you “mask” profanity on webpages. This feature helps if your child needs a new article for a school project but the comment section is full with vulgar comments. Use a weekly grid and divide it into 30-minute time slots to set internet use limitation for each child. With this app, it gets really easy to limit web access when they are studying and when it is time to go to bed.
Screen Time: This app is designed to allow parents to monitor how much time kids are spending on their mobile devices. It lets you set daily online time limit, assign homework to your kids and check which apps they use more frequently and the most. Screen Time comes with loads of interesting features such as, instant pause that lets parents pause their child’s devices. This app won the National Parenting Products Awards in 2019.
MamaBear: This app offers multiple useful features such as, location alerts and tracking, social media monitoring etc. MamaBear is considered a one-in-host app that can keep parents free of all worries. It allows you to check your child’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram activities. You can monitor their check-ins time, uploaded photos and new tags.
Another great feature of this app is it enables you to develop your list of restricted words that you can use to keep watch on if your kid is subjected to any cyber bullying or foul languages. Does your child have a habit of rash driving? If yes, this app will tell if he/she is driving the car beyond a certain speed limit. You will get notification as soon as they drive the car. A free version along with different packages of this app is available. It won the 2017 “Best Parenting App” Mumii Family Awards.
Bouncie: The app for monitoring child’s phone is programmed to deliver OPD connected car experience to stop distraction while driving by sending parents real-time notification whenever their kids get involved in rash driving. From this app, you will also get to know if your child is crossing the speed limit you have set. The app also notifies you about your child’s location during driving and parking.
YouTube Kids: YouTube has emerged as a rich source of entertainment for adults and kids alike. Unfortunately, it is not always good for your kids. Pesky ad pop-ups take the pleasure out of entertainment. Another big problem is links to “related” videos (which mostly contain adult content). YouTube has already introduced their whitelisted version of YouTube Kids app for kids-friendly contents.
This app puts all the controls right in your hand. It is up to you how to tailor the ‘watching’ experience for your kids and grown-up family members alike. You are allowed to set screen time, block videos or channels, create custom kid profiles on their search and watch history, report videos, turn on/off search and do many more.
RespondASAP: Are you concerned about your child ignoring your text messages and phone calls? This app comes to your rescue. It locks your child’s mobile phone by taking screen controls and generating an alarm sound. It will force your child to call you back; otherwise the phone cannot be unblocked. Snatching the phone away might exert a negative reaction from them and so, this app looks a better solution. The app allows your child to call you, make emergency calls or dial 911 even in a ‘frozen’ state. It is available on both iPhone and Android devices.
Checky: Addiction to smartphone is an alarming reality. It is almost next to impossible to cure this obsession but this app can certainly help to create a healthy and happy balance between studies and smartphones. This is a free app that counts how many times your kid uses his/her phone every day. I believe it is a good app for Mummy and Daddy too as parents are too much obsessed with their smartphones.
With this app, you can compare your kid’s today vs yesterday performance in terms of how many times he/she used phone. You can share this data with your family members and friends. Break Free (for iOS and Android) and Moment (for iPhone only) are similar apps that promote healthy smartphone usage habits.
Bark: This app detects cyber bullying following its analysis of every detail of your child’s online activities. It checks account content and a user’s digital history to figure out existence and nature of true threats. It monitors more than 30 popular apps as well as social media sites. It sends notification to both parents and children of bullies and victims that use this app and offers action-based advices.
The simplest and smartest solution is to block online bullying. Considering seriousness of action, you might have to take legal recourse. Bark has helped to prevent 16 school shootings and detected 124, 000 serious self-harm situations.
Google Family Links: This all-in-one app lets parents view their children’s online activities and block or approve content from viewing. You certainly don’t want your kid accidentally place an order for pricey products. To let it not happen, this app also enables you to manage app-based purchases.
With it, you can track the real-time location of your child. It will send you notification about your child’s whereabouts – whether he/she is at school, in the park/shopping mall, or somewhere else. There is no way for them to bunk school or college and spend time elsewhere. Hence, its parental function is not limited to only site blocking and time limit. This app works on Android and other phones as well.
Is your child’s phone (it could be anything such as, Chromebook, Mac, Android phone, iPhone, iPad or something else) interfering with picnic ambiance, family time or quick convo that you love to have with your kiddo? FamilyTime app allows you to set limits for phone usage and calls too. Its bedtime feature lets the parents lock screen time when it is time to sleep for the children.
There is Homework Time function to lock the screen so that kiddo can concentrate on studies. You can also block the adult content and social media apps as well as get real-time location of your child.
Kaspersky Safe Kids: Do your child stay busy with screen most of the time in a day? That’s a big worry for any parent. Kaspersky Safe Kids allow you to schedule screen time usage on your child’s tablet or smartphone so that he/she does not get distracted when studying. With help of this app, you can easily block adult contents on your child’s device, prepare a custom list of trustworthy apps or sites and check your kid’s YouTube search history.
In addition to this web filter, this parental app features GPS tracking function to keep a watchful eye on your child’s location. You can easily download it on your Windows and Mac devices from the App Store or alternatively, on Google Play.
OurPact: The app allows you to schedule and set daily screen time use on your child’s device. It will prevent your child from accessing their device during studies, school time and family dinners and convo. You can also block adult contents and limit access to only trustworthy sites. These are free features. For more, you can switch to premium option. The premium version allows you to manage up to 20 devices (both tablets and smatphones) and customize other settings and web filters for each device.
Norton Family Parental Control App: The brand ‘Norton’ is known for its popular anti-virus software. However, they also have a parental app to help you monitor your child’s screen time usage, online content that he/she views and many more. Parents can set time limits for internet access, receive weekly/monthly details about their children’s screen usage, use a geofencing function to create physical distance boundaries and monitor web searches. This app is easily downloadable for Android phones on Google Play or for iOS on the App Store.
These apps to monitor kids’ phones are really handy when it comes to tracking your child’s real-time location, movement and online activities. They are cyber bodyguards for your child. But keep in mind that your child must not feel like being spied on 24×7 hours though these apps are designed to do so. You need to exercise more care and cautiousness; otherwise they might take it as a peek into their privacy or clipping the wings of their freedom. On top of that, always keep the doors of dialogues open to them as nothing can replace healthy and hearty parent-child conversation to read the canvas of their mind.