5 Ways To Monitor Your Child’s Media
When it comes to technology, teenagers will always have the upper hand. Face it, they’re already experts at the next big app by the time adults learn about last one. In light of the latest sexting nightmare at a Colorado high school, in which students used apps designed to camouflage explicit photos, here are five ways to take some control and keep track of your child’s media.
Each method gets a rating on a scale from one to five of these spy emojis, one putting you at Inspector Clouseau level, five making you James Bond.
Available only on the App store, Ask to Buy is a free setting on Apple products that grants parents control over which apps their child can download. Their purchase or free download can’t go through without parental approval. Adults receive a notification on their phone, and the download only goes through when parents click Decline or Approve.
Ask to Buy gets three spy emojis, or what we call an “Austin Powers.” It gives parents complete control over what their child downloads. But it loses points because it forces parents to take their own initiative to research the apps their children want. The problem there: parents don’t know what they don’t know. (Sort of like when Dr. Evil demanded a ransom of “ONE MILLION DOLLARS.” )
This is some innovative spying. Luma is an avant-garde router that creates “surround Wi-Fi” which puts an end to dead spots in the house. Even better, it has Wi-Fi privacy settings that can be managed from an app. Get this: Luma allows parents to review every site their child visits, keep tabs on the devices that are using the network and even allows parents to limit the Wi-Fi access of different devices during different parts of the day. (So you can keep the kids off Netflix when you’re not at home.) Luma costs $99 for an individual router and $249 for a set of three. One problem, Luma is only available for pre-order and won’t be ready to ship until 2016.
Luma gets two spies. It’s stellar for monitoring devices at home. But almost any kid can get around it by avoiding the Wi-Fi network and just burn through their data. And what happens when a child isn’t at home?
There is a reason the word spy is a part of this app’s name. FlexiSpy records live phone calls, tracks text messages, accesses address books and tracks new contact additions. The app is designed to catch cheating spouses, but it is still widely used by concerned parents. How much does it cost to be a spy? A 12 month subscription only costs $149. Use FlexiSpy with caution, however, because it’s probably all sorts of illegal to bug someone’s phone calls without their knowledge. You’re not the NSA, after all.
FlexiSpy gets five spies. (James Bond called and says he wants his software back.) While this app is surely an effective tracking device, it may damage natural communication lines. Spying on a child is probably not the best way to get them to open up.
mSpy is the top cell phone tracking app worldwide. It has the same sort of questionable legal issues as FlexiSpy because of its multiple tracking options: monitoring calls, texts, apps and GPS location. The app is available for purchase on their website, and it only takes five minutes to download. Better yet, mSpy has the same capabilities as FlexiSpy and it is even cheaper, costing just $8.33 a month.
mSpy gets five spies. Again, monitoring takes on a new meaning when spy software is involved. Plus, parents have to install it on their child’s phone. Good luck with that.
The good, natural, old-fashioned way
Having an open communication line with your child is crucial. In an ideal world that means your child tells you everything on their own accord. However, if your relationship doesn’t mirror the Gilmore Girls, setting boundaries and initiating a discussion about online safety is a necessity. It never hurts to familiarize yourself with the latest technology before the discussion to make the biggest and most relevant impact.