Kids today are growing up using technology, unlike the Baby Boomer generation. They’re actively using social media, mobile devices, computers, tablets, smartwatches, and more. For the foreseeable future technology will continue to evolve and become most commonly used by children. However, as a parent, it’s necessary to be concerned about how your child is using their devices. Who are they talking with? What are they doing on it? The only way to know is to monitor your kid’s devices.
What Devices Are They Using?
According to a Porch survey, parents report that their children start using technology at the age of 5, with the average age of users starting around ages 9 – 11. The top 3 devices children commonly use are smartphones, tablets, and gaming systems.
Now ask yourself: What devices does my child use regularly? What’s the number of devices they use?
6 Reasons To Monitor Their Devices
Know Their Whereabouts
Kids often get rides from other parents to go out with friends, or sneak out of the house. To see where they are on a regular basis and ensure they are where they should be, it’s wise to use location tracking on their phone. Sometimes, depending on what tools and parental control software you’re using, you can set geofenced areas where they frequent regularly, like school or a neighbor’s house.
See Who They’re Talking With
Technology is great and all until your child starts to send text messages to strangers online. Often, this occurs on social media and private messaging apps. However, these strangers could turn out to be hackers, scammers, or sex offenders! The only way to know who they are speaking with is to monitor their phone use and see who they are messaging with.
View Their Social Media Posts
Social media gives kids the freedom to express themselves and their opinion, along with connecting with friends and family. However, when it comes to posting and commenting, kids don’t always make the best decisions. They may post something political, inappropriate, or something that hurts another person’s feelings. This kind of behavior could hurt them down the road when they apply for college and jobs.
Make Sure They Aren’t Viewing Inappropriate Content
With restricting and tracking your child’s device use, they can easily get access to inappropriate content (intentionally or unintentionally). It could be on social media like YouTube or while accessing the internet.
Prevent Technology Addiction
Kids seem to be on their devices 24/7, besides when doing schoolwork of course. They’re using computers, tablets, smartwatch, and other iOS and Android devices. Do you know how long your child spends on their devices? Well, the overuse of them can lead to technology addictions which can lead to a lack of social skills, sleep deprivation, and device possessiveness.
Protect Them From Cyberbullying
Monitoring your child’s phone use will provide you with peace of mind knowing your child is not being cyberbullied. According to UNICEF, one in three young people in 30 countries have been the victim of cyberbullying. Online bullying often occurs via text or private messages, and on social media.
What Should You Monitor On Their Devices?
- Text Messages and Private Messaging Apps
The main form of communication kids use today is texting/messaging. Many devices come with a main texting app. For example, Android devices come with the “Messages” app. They also use private messaging apps such as Kik and WhatsApp. By monitoring their texts, you’ll be able to see who they are talking with, what they’re texting, and any media they are sending.
- Social Media Activity
Even though the legal age to use most social media platforms is 13-years-old, many kids younger than that use them. TikTok, Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook… the list goes on. Be aware of who they’re direct messaging with, friending/following, posting, sharing, and commenting. Ensure they aren’t speaking with strangers they aren’t or putting up inappropriate content.
- Phone Call History
Even though kids today don’t make many phone calls, it’s still a good idea to monitor their call history. View what numbers and contacts they are calling and when.
- Internet Browsing History
The internet is fraught with dangers from hackers to inappropriate content to online predators. Monitor your child’s internet access to see their searches, websites visited, and other content viewed online.
- Photos and Videos Taken
In general, it’s a good idea to look through photos and videos your child has taken of themselves and others. Make sure there isn’t any media content that could get them in trouble such as underaged drinking, explicit images, or weapons.
- Overall App Use
Is your child using appropriate apps? Are they spending too much time on them? These and more questions can easily be answered by overseeing your child’s app use.
What You Can Use To Monitor Their Devices?
Device Monitoring App
There are many affordable apps out there that allow parents to monitor their child’s Android or iOS devices. Using a device monitoring app, you can view your child’s call log, texts, social media activity, photos, videos, GPS location, and much more. From experience, these apps are easy to install and use. However, make sure to do research before getting one as some have hidden charges they don’t tell you about upfront.
Parental Control App
Now, parental control apps are a little bit different than monitoring applications. They don’t allow you to monitor as many phone activities, but they do allow you to have actual control over your child’s device. This includes setting time limits for device use, blocking contacts, locking the device, using web filters, and much more. Some of the most popular parental control apps include Net Nanny, Bark, and OurPact.
Google Family Link
It’s not a surprise that Google provides a free app for parents to use to oversee their child’s device use. Using Google Family Link, you can view your child’s current location, see and control app use, set screen time limits, and use content filters. Prior to using this app, make sure to create a Google account for your child.
Find My Phone
In the situation your child’s phone is lost or stolen, or you just want to know your child’s whereabouts, you can use Google Find My Device (for Android) or Find My iPhone apps. You’ll be able to locate their device, play a sound to find it, and erase or lock it.