pros and cons of tracking your kids smartphone usage

Should Parents Track their Children’s Smartphone Activity?

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With children growing up seemingly intertwined with technology, they are exposed to a lot of things that older generations weren’t exposed to while young and vulnerable. This is impacting younger generations in a lot of ways.

There is some evidence that anxiety among children is increasing rapidly [1]. Because of this early exposure, a lot of parents are having a difficult time learning how to adapt. Some parents have begun taking a proactive and restrictive approach by tracking their child’s online behavior while some don’t. While it used to be as simple as monitoring who your children hang out with, now things have become much more complicated.

After all, a child can have a digital relationship with someone without any direct knowledge of it. As a parent, this can be extremely frightening. Knowing that you lack parenting control can be a major point of stress to the point where you get rid of your child’s phone altogether.

However, there is another option. Nowadays, you can track your child’s phone with monitoring apps that should give you the control and peace of mind you need as a parent.

By the end of this article, you should have a good idea as to whether or not you should be tracking your child’s phone.

Reasons To Track Your Child’s Smartphone Usage

1. To Keep Their Information Safe

One of the main reasons you should be tracking your child’s smartphone usage has to do with their vulnerability. Unfortunately, children aren’t as ‘street savvy’ as adults. They haven’t developed these smarts yet. As a result, they are at an increased risk of becoming victims of identity fraud. There has been a report of a lot more children becoming victims of this type of fraud [2].

It’s a very lucrative opportunity for criminals. Therefore, this type of fraud should be expected to continue to rise. One of the best ways to protect them is by tracking their phone. That way, you can see everything they are doing.

You can effectively limit apps they can download, block suspected spam and fraud calls, and even use smart web filters to minimize their exposure to phishing.

2. The Internet Offers Anonymity

One of the big reasons you should be actively tracking your child’s phone has to do with the level of anonymity that comes with the Internet. When you are on the Internet, you can be whoever you want. It offers a way to obscure your true self to the real world. Unfortunately, a lot of child predators use this to their advantage. They patrol the Internet and try to find young and vulnerable kids that they can target.

Sometimes they will pose as children themselves to engage with them. Some kids may even engage in cyberbullying when they normally wouldn’t act the same way in real life.

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Regardless, the level of anonymity is a problem that can be exploited in a variety of ways. By tracking your child’s phone, you will see what they are engaging in, what they are posting, and who they are engaging with.

3. Protection From Viruses and Malware

Another reason you should be tracking your child’s phone has to do with protecting their phones from malicious apps and other software. Children aren’t going to be capable of detecting malicious apps. They may have downloaded an app that hides in the background collecting data. They may have downloaded an app that is throwing advertising popups continuously for ad revenue.

Regardless, they may think it’s normal. These apps can be harmful to not only your child and his/her privacy, but they can even put your entire network at risk. If your child downloads a malicious app or file, it could potentially infect the entire network. This can become a major problem because it will put every device on the network at risk.

This is something you would ideally want to avoid. By installing a tracking app that allows you to monitor what’s put on your child’s phone, you can stop this from becoming a problem very easily.

4. Limit Screen Time

Another major reason to consider tracking your child’s phone has to do with the ability to limit their screen time. The fact is, even adults spend far too much time using their favorite mobile devices.

This harms us in a lot of different ways. For one, it can cause eye strain and even result in neck problems from looking down too at unnatural angles too often.

However, it can also inhibit productivity and stunt brain development. There have been studies that showed that younger children that spent too much time in front of screens experienced slower brain development than kids that didn’t [3].

5. Tracking Their Location to Keep Them Safe

With tracking apps, you will have the ability to track their location. This will give you the peace of mind as a parent to know where they are and to have a good idea of whether or not they are safe at all times.

Reasons You May Not Want To Track Your Children

1. The Data Being Misused

Perhaps one of the biggest reasons against tracking your children has to do with the data you are entrusting to a tracking app/company. The data that the app is tracking can be misused in ways that could potentially harm your children. These apps can harvest pertinent and valuable data that can then be sold to companies for a massive profit.

Health self-monitoring apps are expected to reach revenues exceeding $70 billion by the year 2022 [4].

Therefore, you need to fully trust the app and company you are using to track your children. After all, you’re providing them with a lot of targeted data they could sell to companies to build a profile of your children.

2. Can Break the Trust of Your Children

The bond between a parent and a child is a strong one. However, it can also be fragile. The last thing your child wants to think is that they don’t have the trust of their parent. If a child thinks a parent doesn’t trust them, they are much more likely to rebel. Therefore, you could be pushing your child towards what you are trying to keep them safe from.

So Should You Do It? – Do The Pros Outweigh The Cons?

This is one that you must decide for yourself. However, there is no doubt that when used properly, tracking apps can be beneficial to both parents and children. The key is letting your children know about the apps.

Don’t attempt to sneak these apps on their phone and track them unknowingly. Instead, you want to discuss it with them and let them know the reasons you will be tracking their phone.

When done properly, your child will understand you are doing it for their protection and because you care about them. They won’t hold resentment towards you if they know you are doing it for the right reasons.

Are There Tracking Apps That Can Help?

In today’s day in age, there are a lot of different apps that can help if you are looking to track your child’s phone. Some apps will do a lot more than that. Two of the prominent are Qustodio and Bark. There are plenty more, but these are two of the highest-rated.

Qustodio

This is an app that works on every platform including Windows, Mac, Kindle, iOS, and Android. They have plans that start at 5 devices up to 15 devices. This app is fully featured as it allows you to filter content, manage screentime, limit app installs, social media monitoring, and more.

Bark

Bark’s app is another parental control app that you can choose to use.

Bark offers some of the most comprehensive tracking and monitoring solutions. This tracking app can connect to over 30 different digital platforms which allow you to monitor everything from text messages to Discord chat interactions.

Best of all, Bark has built-in and optimized algorithms that will automatically detect potential risks so you don’t necessarily have to read every single sent or delivered-message.

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From the app, you will also be able to get alerts to specific things you should be aware of about your child’s online activity. This can make it easy for a parent to talk to their kid(s) about their online activities.

Summary

There are so many threats that exist when you are always connected. Unfortunately, children aren’t ready for them all. A lot of criminals prey on the inexperienced and most vulnerable. This puts your children at risk when they are connected.

By installing and using the right digital monitoring and tracking solutions, you should have much more control over your child’s digital life. This will give you the information you need as a parent to keep them as safe as possible.

As long as you let your children know what you are doing and why you are doing it, they should be able to accept it as a compromise. It could be a great way to give yourself more peace of mind as a parent and to allow your child to have the freedom to use the Internet and have their own experiences.

You simply need to find a trustworthy digital monitoring app and company like Qustodio and Bark and you’ll enjoy all of the benefits that come along with it.

References

  1. https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/10/learning/should-parents-track-their-children.html
  2. https://www.nbcnews.com/business/consumer/n885351
  3. https://www.webmd.com/children/news/20191105/too-much-screen-time-may-be-stunting-toddlers-brains
  4. https://www.bccresearch.com/market-research/healthcare/health-self-monitoring-technologies-markets-report.html