I want to look at three options for setting up good parental controls on your child’s cell phone. You don’t need to spend a fortune to do this but a small investment may give you some peace of mind. I’ll look at features available, free and paid, from your mobile service provider, from some big brand apps and lastly how cell phone spy software can give you the parental control you need to keep your children safe.
In the last section I take a look at some of the parental controls available with StealthGenie and Mobile Spy – two of the best monitoring programs featured in this site. (Check out my reviews for more details).
A Growing Problem
So most of our kids either have or want a cell phone – where’s the problem? Didn’t we buy them the cell phone to help keep them safe in the first place? So that we could keep tabs on them and they could ring us at any time. The problem is that nowadays a cell phone may not just be a cell phone.
The latest cell phones, or more accurately smart phones, can have access to the Internet and that presents us as parents with problems. At home you probably keep an eye on your children’s Internet use simply by looking over their shoulder and you are able to keep an eye on how much time they spend and what they’re up to.
With a smart phone and easy Internet access wherever they go, it’s suddenly more difficult to keep an eye on what they are doing.
We all recognize some of the potential dangers on the Internet. We worry about the type of sites they are visiting and who they are in contact with. From chat rooms, social media sites and porn sites our children’s safety is constantly under threat.
Thankfully there are a few things you can do to help control what they’re up to and ultimately keep them safe when using their cell phones.
Parental Controls from Your Service Provider
Most of the big service providers such as AT&T, Verizon and T-mobile have some limited features available to help parents. They are limited because they focus mostly on controlling costs for the parent. They allow you to set data limits, to block certain sites or totally block Internet use. There are also some options for tracking the cell phone.
For many of the services there will be a small charge and you needed check with your provider to find what they offer and how much it will cost.
Although some of these features can actually help I don’t feel they really offer enough to give true parental control.
Parental Control Apps
There are several big-name brands offering their services to provide parental control for cell phones. Some have basic free options to get you to try them, but for any significant features there will be a monthly charge. They can offer things like tracking, App blocking, Internet filters or totally blocking Internet access.
For many parents, especially with younger children, these apps can provide a good solution. In my opinion they have one major flaw and that is that they are not hidden from the user. The children will know that their phone is being controlled by their parents and that they are being tracked and monitored. For young kids this isn’t a major issue but try telling that to rebellious teenager!
Don’t forget that our kids are usually more technical than us and they can be very creative at finding ways around these controls.
Using Spy Software for Parental Controls
For some people the thought of using spy software on their kid’s cell phone may sound a little extreme. But it is important to
understand how this can be used legally and ethically to give the parent the ultimate tool in parental control.
The first big advantage is that the software is totally hidden and your child will not know they are being monitored unless you choose to tell them. Telling them may be to your advantage in some cases in that they may think twice about how they use their cell phones.
If they are not aware that they are being monitored, you are going to get a true picture of what they are really doing. Forewarned is fore-armed as they say!
It is perfectly legal to install monitoring software on your own child’s cell phone. After all you are responsible for their safety – and you pay for their phone.
The best cell phone spy software programs have some features specifically designed to give you added parental control but you also benefit from all of the standard reporting features.
Standard Features – with programs such as StealthGenie and MobileSpy you can monitor almost everything that is done on the phone. You can read text messages sent and received, view all call details, internet browsing history – know exactly which sites they are visiting, view photos and videos stored on the phone and of course accurate GPS tracking so you know where they are at all times.
The standard features give you a huge advantage right from the start, allowing you to know exactly what they are up to at any time.
A Few Advanced Features Useful for Parents.
StealthGenie can even go as far as recording live phone calls so you can actually listen in to what was said. Again not necessary for everyone but may be useful in extreme circumstances.
StealthGenie also has an alert system where you can define certain trigger words or phone numbers. When these numbers are flagged or the trigger words mentioned in text or e-mail, you will get an instant alert sent directly to your cell phone or e-mail address. This can be very effective and means you don’t need to be looking at every single thing they do.
Mobile Spy have a few special features of their own, great for added parental control. You can view a list of all the apps that have been downloaded onto the target phone. They also have App Blocking where you can actually block and unblock certain apps remotely. Just knowing which apps they are using can be a great advantage.
With both programs you can also take advantage of some advanced security features. You can remotely lock and unlock the cell phone and even wipe the data on the phone – very good if the phone is lost or stolen.
Spy software in my opinion gives the parent the best way of implementing parental controls for cell phones and can be a valuable tool to help keep your children safe. For younger kids, some of the other options may be all that you need.
Remember that just because you install monitoring software with lots of features, it doesn’t mean you have to look at everything your kid does with their phone. With some common sense you can keep them safe without totally ignoring their privacy. Everyone’s circumstances are different – never say never!