Monitoring Your Child's Digital Footprint
Monitoring your child’s phone may seem like an invasion of privacy, but you have to keep in mind the opportunities and accessibilities kids have to indulge in inappropriate behavior, or be exposed to inappropriate content. Keep reading if you want to learn how to monitor and control your child’s access to technology.
If your child has a smartphone, they have access to anything that is on the web, plus any social media apps. There are options on their smartphone where you can set restrictions. You can block certain apps, block installing or deleting apps, block in-app purchases and choose age appropriate content. Below are a list of instructions on how to do this for an Android or Apple phone:
On iPhone devices you can now use Apple’s Screen Time through Family Sharing. This feature allows you to monitor and control your childs phone without using a 3rd party app. Screen Time through Family Sharing allows parents to block apps and content, limit how much time is spent in apps, limit who can contact your child in contacts, manage content ratings, and view how much time your children are spending on their phone and how much time is spent in each app. This feature will also allow you to see if kids are using apps designed to hide what the app is actually for.
Setting up Screen Time through Family Sharing can be somewhat tricky the first time. You’ll first want to make sure you have Family Sharing set up. Here is a link on how to set up Family Sharing
Once you’ve set up Family Sharing, you can then set up Screen Time.
- Go to Settings
- Your Name (at the top)
- Family Sharing
- Screen Time
- Tap the name of the child or family member in your group and tap turn on Screen Time
Now you can set up the restrictions on each family member's device. Click Here to learn how to set downtime and app limits.
For Android devices, they have created something similar to Screen Time. Their version is called Digital Wellbeing. In this app, you can set screen time limits, manage apps and create content age limits.
First you’ll download the App “Digital Wellbeing” in the Google Play Store. Once you’ve got this downloaded, you can then follow the instructions in the link below to set it up.
This brings me to parental control apps. There are several to choose from, and I will list a few that I used or have friends who used before Apple and Android provided the built in options above. These apps are generally free to use, but you have the option to purchase the premium version as well. Depending on the app you choose depends on what options come with the premium version. Not all of these apps are the same, but serve generally the same purpose. Some apps have notifications to inform you if your child is speeding, some have tracking abilities, but all of them have restricted access options and time restrictions. Your best bet is to try a few that are free first before purchasing a premium version.
OurPact - I personally used this one. The free version worked fine for me and my teen. I was able to set schedules so I don’t have to mess in the app too much. She had a sleep and school schedule that restricted access to apps during school and sleep times. This app also does not require you to download the app on their phone, so they cannot easily find it and attempt to remove it.
MMGuardian - Has time limits, app control, location tracker, image alerts, web filters, and text monitoring.
FamilyTime - Includes time limits, safe searching, and web filter, location tracker, app blocker, and monitors calls, app usage, text message and installed apps.
Bark - I’ve not had experience with this app but I have read that it is capable of alerting your of certain words they may type to make you aware of sexting, cyberbullying or depression issues.
If tracking is more what you’re looking for as opposed to apps that control your child’s phone, there are so many to choose from. Below are some I’ve used:
Find Friends - for iOS devices
Family Locator - for Android devices
Bark - for iOS or/and Android
One more option I like to give out is an app to help your child in cases of emergencies. There are apps out there that are essentially a panic button for you child. Typically these apps will send a message to their emergency contacts with their GPS location, and some apps will automatically notify the police.
Life360 - Also a tracking app, notifies you if your family members phone has a low battery, has crash detection, help alert button sends your location to emergency contact.
bSafe - Has an SOS button that sends an alarm with your location, contact can also see and hear what is going on in real-time, can be voice activated, has a feature that allows you to receive a fake call to get you out of unwanted situations, has a check-in feature and siren as a deterrent.
Hopefully you find this information useful, and if you do find it useful, you cannot reveal where you heard it from, per my daughter. She catches a lot of flak from classmates once I’ve shown other parents how to monitor their child’s phone. She and I are finally getting to the point where she no longer loathes me and I’d like to keep it that way. Thanks!
Still need help setting this up? Contact us at 573-634-2464 to schedule a one-on-one technology class for free.