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: