Smartphones have undoubtedly made many aspects of life easier for our multi-tasking society. For parents, however, those same smartphones have exposed children to potential risks and dangers that require a constant state of vigilance. The good news is there are many free and paid phone monitoring apps available to help parents keep a digital eye on their children and keep them safe from inappropriate content, online predators, and other cyber threats.
Phone monitoring apps have a variety of parental tools features and capabilities to consider when you are selecting the right one for your family. Your choice comes down to how much parental control you want and what type of tools you need on the phone you are monitoring. Here are some of the top things to look for in monitoring software for parents.
1. Internet controls
The internet is full of useful information, and sometimes children need to use smartphones for school research. That’s why it’s important to use a parent monitoring app that allows you only to block and filter out webpages containing content you’ve deemed inappropriate.
A blanket prohibition on internet access is counterproductive. More advanced apps scan the pages being accessed in real-time and block them if they contain blacklisted words or subjects. Some monitoring apps even record the photos or videos your children see and offer the ability to deliver screenshots of your child’s screen.
2. Communication monitoring
A 2010 University of New Hampshire study revealed nine percent of children who use the internet received an unwanted sexual solicitation. If you want to ensure your child isn’t one of them, a comprehensive phone monitoring app that includes coverage of chats and texts is a must. These apps can notify you if your child tries to share personal information, log their keystrokes, and send parents a transcript of both sides of the text and chat conversations.
3. App blocking
Apps are popular with children of all ages, so it’s no surprise online predators often contact children in chat rooms, on social media apps or in the chat feature of a game, according to the New England Journal of Public Policy. Parent monitoring controls can block these kinds of apps, capture screenshots of children’s screens and monitor conversations.
4. Control interface and alerts
Parents can’t be glued to their phones at all times, believe it or not. That makes an online portal that parents can access via computer a valuable phone monitoring app feature. Some apps send an alert to your phone if your child is engaging in prohibited activity. When you receive an alert, you can lock down your child’s phone if necessary.
5. Screen-time management
Screen time is one of the most talked-about, hot-button issues surrounding children and smartphones—and for a good reason. Too much time in front of a screen can impinge on a child’s ability to develop optimally, a JAMA Pediatrics study concluded.
Virtually every child monitoring app on the market includes a screen time management system. When a child reaches the predetermined amount of screen time, there are different outcomes ranging from shutting off phone access completely to allowing children to request more time.
Reduce some parenting anxiety
As technology advances, smartphones are only going to get smarter. Parents will need to ensure their phone monitoring app keeps pace with evolving technology. Used to their maximum ability, phone monitoring apps combined with attentive and involved parenting can keep families safe from the dangers that exist in an increasingly interconnected world.