Should parents use monitoring apps to track their children online and on their phones? Social scientists have shown that trust is central to close relationships, including healthy parent-child relationships. It is necessary for the development of commitment and feelings of security.  The risk, I would argue, of not monitoring children’s online usage is perhaps far more serious for children than the concern of building trust without them. The best way to know where your children are, what they are doing online, and who they are talking to is to have the kind of relationship with them in which they tell you — truthfully. Unfortunately, when it comes to kids, they often hide things for many reasons; and the dangers they are facing with online predators are real and can have very serious consequences. Although we are not against using parent control apps, we recommend that you talk to your children and tell them you are using a monitoring app and why. When you make it a family discussion and decision it will build the kind of trust you want and need in your relationship. Keep them informed about what you are doing and what you find. Calmly talk to them and ask their opinion about what you see online. Make sure you have ground rules regarding disconnecting the monitoring app and then be consistent with the consequences. 

Here is a list of apps that will allow you to track your children’s online usage, comings and goings:

 

Free Phone Monitoring Apps:

Life360- helps manage daily family life and lets you know where your family members are located, what safety points and threats are nearby, and when your family members have arrived at or left pre-set locations. It will also monitor their MPH while driving, send alerts, and monitor their battery life. Also available is free cross-platform family chat through the secure Family Channel with over 27 million registered users. https;//life360.com

Find My Friends– Can be enabled on iOS devices. Keep track of your friends and family in real time. Browse through their travel history, get timely notifications when they arrive at a certain place or leave it. Create circles for group chats, keep track of their battery levels, and share locations. https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201493

 

Glymps– Glympse is the easy way to safely share your location in realtime. No sign-up needed. No social network to manage. Just send a Glympse to anyone via email, and SMS. https://glympse.com/get-glympse-app/

Phone Tracker By Number-Easily locate and track your family friends, and kids with this GPS tracker.  Keep your family and friends safe wherever they go. https://family-locator.com/

 

Apps that charge fees:

 Bark– Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s online lives on 24 different platforms. They monitor 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms, including text messaging and email, for signs of digital dangers. Our screen time management and web filtering tools help you set healthy limits around how and when your kids use their devices.

https://www.bark.us

Net Nanny–  Blocks apps, filters online content, track screen time, turn the internet off, set schedules and curfews, and know the locations of your child’s primary device.

https://get.netnanny.com

Norton -Features that help you manage protection for your kids’ devices in our easy-to- use Web portal.

https://us.norton.com/norton-family-premier

Qustodio– Is available in English, Spanish and 6 other languages. It provides powerful monitoring tools and parental controls for things like screen time, adult content, pornography, gambling sites, and risky apps.

https://www.qustodio.com

Web Watcher– Sends data on all Internet browsing and other web-related activity. Identifies risky behaviors, online predators, suicide prevention, inappropriate behavior, cyber bullying, sexting, drug & alcohol use.

https://www.webwatcher.com/ca

FamilyTime– Control what websites, images, videos, and other content your children can access on the internet. Mobile geo-fencing & location tracking. Track their whereabouts and instantly know when they visit suspicious places. Block pornography and control apps.

https://familytime.io