6 apps you should really use to spy on your kids

There are good apps you can use to monitor your kids online, and some are even free.

There are good apps you can use to monitor your kids online, and some are even free.

The internet is a terrifying place to send your children. Predators prey on the young, images never truly disappear, sanctimonious trolls ambush news feeds, and decade-old tweets can haunt future careers. It’s not like we can take our kids off the grid completely until they graduate, so how do we keep them safe?

Until a child is in their 20s, their prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain that helps them plan and control impulses, isn’t fully developed. “Part of the parent’s obligation is to be in that judgmental center to help the child make better choices,” she said. Adam Plettera child psychologist who manages the iParent 101 Parenting and technology workshop.

He believes spying is very different from monitoring and that “supervision and mentoring” are what parents should aim for with their children’s online activity, “just like any other parenting concern, in hopes of safeguarding and teaching children their children to better self-regulate in their adolescence and early adulthood.

This monitoring should begin “as soon as possible, because it’s a disaster to put toothpaste back in the tube,” Pletter said.

While the FBI doesn’t approve of any particular monitoring app, it does encourage parents “to familiarize themselves with all the devices their children have access to—computers, tablets, and phones,” said Amanda Videll, public affairs manager at the FBI Jacksonville .

“The best thing is to get involved,” he added. “There is no substitute for direct and consistent engagement with your child. Parents should have ongoing conversations with young people of all ages to encourage responsible online behavior and warn them of the risks of communicating with people they don’t know personally.

If you catch your child doing something inappropriate, remind them that mistakes are “part of how you grow up,” she said Diana Graberauthor of “Raising Humans in a Digital World: Helping Kids Build a Healthy Relationship With Technology”.

She recommends keeping children off apps and social media for as long as possible, and that all internet choices and apps used should be openly discussed with children. “Seat the family together, make decisions about what’s appropriate for that child, what you trust them with, what you want them to still have restrictions on,” she said. “Choose the restrictions together. Revisit in a month.

The goal is to trust the kids as much as possible and keep the conversation open, so if they come across something creepy or inappropriate, they know they can talk to you.

Here are six apps to support you as a parent in monitoring your kids online.

1. Bark

While the app only works for phones, Bark is a popular pick that claims to have detected over 629,000 major harm situations and 2.6 million major bullying situations. Bark allows parents to block websites and apps, manage screen time, get location updates, and monitor text messages, video sites, emails, and over 30 social networks. The app monitors everything from inappropriate conversations with strangers to signs of depression or suicidal thoughts, instantly firing alerts to parents if anything troubling is detected. There’s also a Samsung Bark phone with built-in Bark tracking.

Cost: Free seven-day trial, then $5 for younger kids version, $14 for premium. Plans include an unlimited number of family members. The plan included with the phone costs $49 per month.

2. Qustodio

Qustodio allows parents to set limits on kids’ overall daily usage time, like many of the other apps on this list, but it also allows them to set limits for individual apps and block numerous periods of time each day, such as homework time, dinner time and before bedtime. The easy-to-use app blocks inappropriate content, monitors what kids are watching, and offers location tracking and notifications when kids arrive at pre-set locations. It also allows parents to view contacts, calls and messages and sends them daily, weekly and monthly activity reports. It can be used on computers, phones and tablets running Android or iOS operating systems.

Cost: Free for one device, then starts at $54.95 a year for five devices. You can get a three day free trial.

3. Find my children

If you are not interested in monitoring your child’s internet usage, but want to know that your children are physically safe, this app focuses on location tracking, tracking your child’s location and sending you notifications when they reach landmarks presets and even lets you listen to your child’s environment. (This feature isn’t available on iPhone.) If your child is in danger and can’t call you, they can send you an SOS signal, giving you their exact location while their phone automatically begins recording audio. If your child doesn’t have a phone, a Find My Kids watch is available.

Cost: For one device: $2.99 ​​per month or $33.98 per year ($16.99 at time of writing due to promotion). For up to three devices: $42.99 per year. Minutes for the live listen feature cost $1 for 30 minutes, $4.49 for 180 minutes, $14.99 for unlimited each month.

4. Google Family Link

This is a free and easy to use app that allows parents to monitor app usage, set limits on screen time, and track the location of their children. Using Google Maps in conjunction with the app will allow you to be notified when your children reach pre-set destinations. While parents can’t limit the usage time of individual apps, they can block them. Google Family Link also allows parents to manage in-app purchases so kids don’t have to go on a shopping spree. Once a child reaches the age of 13, they must consent to continue being monitored with this app.

Cost: Free

5. Kaspersky Safe Kids

The free Kaspersky plan is a decent option if you don’t need all the features. The free plan includes web and app content filtering, YouTube filtering, app usage control, and screen time limits. The paid plan includes GPS location tracking, a battery tracker, and real-time alerts if kids go to inappropriate sites or stray from designated locations. Kaspersky Safe Kids works cross-platform and can be used on an unlimited number of devices.

Cost: Free or $14.99 per month for premium.

6. Net nanny

While Net Nanny doesn’t monitor phone calls or text messages, it shines when it comes to real-time alerts if a child is looking for blocked content or porn, suicide, weapons, and drug-related content. It also “masks” profanity on websites, censoring words instead of blocking entire sites, so kids can research for homework without sites being restricted due to a profanity in the comments section. Other than that, it has many of the same features as the other programs, including location tracking and screen time management.

Cost: $39.99 – $129.99 per year, depending on number of monitored devices and ongoing promotions

No matter how much you choose to monitor your children, they will make mistakes and it’s important to remember that it’s a step in their growth. Graber said you want them to know they can come to you and that you’ll say something like, “I’ve been there. Let’s not do it again. Here’s what you can do differently.


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