Children today are getting cell phones at younger ages than in the past. The most common reasons for this are, younger children needing a way to get in touch with their parents or because their classmates also have one. However, just like when using other devices, phones open kids up to a world of dangers including sex offenders, scammers, catfishers, and hackers.
To help protect children, many parents are resorting to cell phone monitoring.
What Is Cell Phone Monitoring?
Cell phone monitoring is when someone oversees the activities and views the data of a specific Android phone or iOS device like the iPhone. Using monitoring or parental control software, parents can see what their child is really up to on their phone and set restrictions.
Some of the things that can be monitored and done may include:
- Social media apps and in-app messages.
- Phone call history.
- Sent and received text messages.
- Photos and videos stored on the phone.
- Web filtering and browsing history.
- Real-time phone location tracking.
- Phone screen time limits.
- Contact lists.
The features available depend on the app and software you choose to use.
What You Can Use To Monitor Your Child’s Phone
Phone Monitoring Software
Phone monitoring apps enable parents to track and view their child’s phone activities. Some software options do include setting phone and app limits, but most just include monitoring features. Parents can monitor practically all phone activities including texts, phone location, photos, videos, emails, call history, social media apps, and more. Once installed, parents can track these activities and more, all from their own device or web browser.
Parental Control App
Parental controls apps differ from monitoring software in that they focus on including features that can control and limit what a child has access to on their phone. These may include internet and adult content filtering, screen time limits, website and app blocking, alerts and reporting, location tracking, geofencing, and more. Often, these apps can be used to oversee and control computers, tablets, and phone use.
Google Family Link
If you are looking for a free tool to easily oversee and limit your child’s phone use, consider Google Family Link. Once it is set up, you’ll be able to see the apps they use and manage them, set screen time limits, see their location, and set phone and app store controls. It is limited in the features it includes, but if your main concern is your child’s app use and the amount they use their phone, this is a good option for you.
Built-In Phone & Account Parental Controls
Cell phones and platforms your child uses often include parental controls and limitation features you can customize. They can’t be used to monitor your child’s phone, but they can be used to keep them safe.
For example, on an iPhone, parents have access to the following settings:
- Content & Privacy Restrictions
- Downtime: Allow specific app use and phone calls during a certain period of time.
- App Limits
- Family Sharing: View your child’s phone location.
Android phones, social media platforms, the App Store, Google Play, Google, and other apps and sites have their own parental controls, content, and privacy settings any parent can utilize.
5 Tips For Cell Phone Monitoring For Parents
Set Ground Rules
Before giving your child a cell phone, you should both sit down and agree upon rules for them to follow. Some rules could include not using their phone during dinnertime, and to always pick up the phone a parent is calling. As your child grows older, these rules should change according to their priorities and giving them more responsibility.
Educate Them On Phone Safety
As stated previously, phone monitoring can help protect children from various online dangers. Make sure to educate your child on the basics of phone safety. For example, not contacting or friending strangers online. Many predators will try to develop a relationship with a child via social media and messaging apps.
Agree Upon Phone Monitoring
Before using a phone monitoring app and parental controls, talk with your child about it and agree upon a monitoring solution. It’s best to have your child’s approval to limit and monitor their phone use instead of them finding out after the fact and losing their trust.
Let Your Child Have Some Privacy
Just like all people, children do deserve to have privacy when it comes to their online and social life. Find a way to give them privacy when it comes to their phone use. One way you can do this is to not monitor them daily and only ever so often to ensure their safety.
Change Your Monitoring Habits Overtime
As your child grows older and becomes a teen, what you do to limit and monitor their phone use needs to change. When they become a teen, you will likely need to change what apps you monitor and give them some freedom as they need to learn responsibility.
Is It Legal?
It is completely legal for a parent or guardian to monitor their child’s phone as long as they are under the age of 18. Before purchasing any monitoring or parental controls, review their features to ensure they are all legal to use. For example, it is often illegal in most states to record phone calls. In general, always check with your state and local laws to ensure what your doing isn’t illegal.
No matter how old your child is, do what you can to ensure their phone safety from educating them to monitoring their phone activities. One small step can mean the difference between your child’s safety and them becoming a victim.