Most parents worry about their children’s safety and well-being, especially when they hit the teen years. One way to help ease your mind is to spy on your kids. It may seem like an extreme solution, but it can be surprisingly effective.
And there is no shortage of ways to do this. A quick search online would yield thousands of “solutions” that help parents monitor and spy on their children. But which ones are really effective? We asked 15 experts to share their ideas and here’s what they have to say.
To Spy or Not to Spy
But first we have to get the ethical question out of the way: is it okay to spy on your children?
Brian Hong, CEO of Big Easy SEO, has apprehensions about spying on children. “Never spy on your children without getting their consent. Their emotional well-being and privacy may be compromised,” he says.
“Be subtle when spying; you don’t want to convey the incorrect message or give your children the impression that they are constantly being observed, as this may make them believe they have no control over their life or prospects for their future,” Kshitij Nigam, Chief Marketing Officer of Cheef Botanicals, recommends.
“Be careful not to overdo it,” Ben Price of Heatable UK, says. “Too much spying can damage your relationship with your child. But if you use this tactic sparingly and only when genuinely worried about your child’s safety, it can be a helpful way to keep tabs on their online activity.”
Nevertheless, both Hong and Nigam agree that monitoring does have its benefits, and they suggest low-key ways to start doing it without being too intrusive. “Checking their social media accounts is the easiest way to keep eyes on them. Looking at what your children post online can reveal a lot about them, including their likes, dislikes, and interests as well as who they hang out with (or don’t),” Hong says.
“You can find out what apps they use then install these apps on your own phone. If your youngster uses Snapchat on an Android phone, for instance, consider installing the app yourself and try to figure out how it works. Then check out their account to see what posts they make,” adds Nigam.
Lanny Tuchmayer, Bergellaw has this suggestion: “Set up a fake social media account and friend your child. It will let you see what they’re posting and who they’re talking to online.”
Whichever side you are in the argument, you will almost certainly agree that having some kind of way to monitor your child’s activity is helpful in ensuring their safety while you’re away. If you’re interested in learning more, read on.
One of the best ways to spy on kids is to use a tracking device. According to Rachel Davis of Soul Factors, “You can buy a small device online that will let you know where your child is at all times. The device is designed to be undetectable and is easy to hide. You can then set it up in a place where your child knows about, like the back seat of their car or under their mattress. Once it’s set up, you’ll have a location for every moment that your child spends with their friends or doing activities during school hours.”
Deepanshu Bedi, Marketing Director of Holista Pet, recommends using location tracking apps instead. “You can explain to your child that a tracking app will be installed on your phone to check their location from time to time and that it will be used to regularly check on their safety. If this is effectively communicated, they will undoubtedly comprehend your intention,” he says.
Jamie Knight, CEO of Data Source Hub, has an interesting suggestion. “One way that parents have been able to spy on their kids without being too suspicious is by using a baby monitor. Baby monitors are small devices that plug into an electrical outlet and allow you to listen in on your child’s room without having to get out of bed or go into the child’s room themselves. You can use this device during nap time or while they’re asleep so that you can make sure they’re safe and sound at all times.”
Ankit Batra, Marketing Director of Hollyweed CBD, suggest a similar solution. “Secretly set up a hidden camera in your child’s room. You can buy small, covert cameras that blend in with the surroundings and are practically impossible to spot. Point it towards the bed so you can see them sleeping or watch their movements throughout the day. Alternatively, you could use a nanny cam if you have one handy. Just position it to have a clear view of the whole room,” he says.
However, most of the danger that our children are exposed to nowadays aren’t even physical. With children glued to their smartphones and computers, there is so much to watch out for in terms of what they’re being exposed to. As a parent, you have the authority to protect your child by taking advantage of the technological advancements that can sometimes put them in danger. As Anton Giuriou, co-founder of Homesthetics, puts it, “Technology is evolving every day and children are being exposed to it. Since technology is a part of our lives, parents can keep a close eye on their children using different apps.”
There are various parental control software and spy applications available on the market today, many of which are free.
You may consider installing software on your child’s phone that lets you monitor their activity without having access to the actual device itself (this requires spyware). There are many different types of spyware available today, some of which are inexpensive and easy for anyone to install themselves using just a few clicks in their web browser or on their smartphone’s app store interface,” says Isla Zyair, Nutritionist at Obesity Controller.
Parental control software can work wonders in helping parents limit their kids’ screen time. These programs allow parents to monitor what apps are being used on tablets, smartphones, etc., as well as how much time has been spent using them. “They can help keep tabs on where your kid’s attention is going, whether they’re glued to Facebook, playing games, watching videos, or whatever else. This can go a long way towards preventing unwanted behavior and ensuring that our little ones get plenty of rest and exercise while still having fun,” says Daniel Cook, Head of Business Development at Mullen & Mullen.
Chris Walker, the CEO of Superstar CEO, adds to the merits of using spy applications. “These applications feature accessibility to information that your children input into their devices. Thus, you are able to identify if they have engaged in inappropriate internet behaviors such as watching pornographic material, gambling, addictiveness, and so forth. Parents may check maps of every area a child and his phone have visited, as well as monitor calls, messages, chats, and social media posts,” he says.
“Monitoring software provides a comprehensive system that enables you to control and monitor your children’s exposure to certain forms of media and online activities. It allows you to create a list of approved websites, restrict when or how long they can use the computer, flag keywords, and be notified if they’re used,” Kev Tilley, Marketing Director of Mortgageable UK.
Many apps allow you to remotely view activity on another person’s phone, including texts, call history, and GPS location. You can even set up alerts so that you’re notified if specific keywords are used. It can be a great way to keep tabs on your kids without them knowing, and it can give you peace of mind if you’re concerned about their safety or well-being,” says Chel Gacrama, Content Editor of Castnoble.
Here are some popular choices:
This monitoring app gathers data from a target phone or computer and displays it on a secured web-based account.
This parental control software is perfect for parents with toddlers, preschoolers, or school-aged children at home. It allows you to filter the internet, block adult content, schedule screen time, and receive online activity alerts.
mSpy is a cellphone tracking app that lets you monitor who your child calls, words used during text, live calls, and social platforms they use.
uMobix is a parental control app that lets you monitor your child’s online activity and receive real-time updates from your child’s phone. This app also gives you access to your child’s sent messages or search queries.
Mobistealth can be used on both smartphone and desktop monitoring. It can be used to track the child’s location, monitor calls, check photos and videos.
Spyzie is very user-friendly and capable of monitoring files, locations and messages on your child’s device.
Beyond using these spy applications, there are still things you can do to help protect your children. Leo Coleman, founder of Gambling ‘n Go, suggests using the built-in protection systems on your PCs and Macs allow you to manage how your children use their devices.
“Most operating systems also have an automatic history log that records visited sites,” he says. “If you go to the Systems Preferences of the Apple menu, you’ll be able to set up parental controls with Family Sharing, use ScreenTime to manage how your children use their devices, and turn on the ‘Ask to Buy’ feature so your child can ask for your permission for their online purchases.”
“Using Windows, you can access the parental controls through the Control Panel. By using the Family Safety Control feature, you’ll be able to set up web restrictions and off-limit hours and receive reports about their computer usage,” he adds.
One helpful tactic to spy on your kids is logging all their internet activity. Most routers have built-in parental controls that let you do this easily. This way, you can see which websites they visit when they’re not around, said by Marcus Nielsen CEO of LaptopBlogger.
“By monitoring their web browsing, you can get an idea of what sites they visited and what they were looking at. You can also see if they were interacting with strangers or engaging in risky behavior. Logging their internet activity can help you identify potential red flags or warning signs. If you see your child regularly visiting certain websites or spending a lot of time online, it may be worth talking to them about it to see if anything is going on in their life that they need help with,” Stacy Lewis of Eternity Modern says.
When done right, monitoring and spying on your kids can help keep them safe both online and offline. Of course there will be privacy concerns, but as parents, it is also our responsibility to keep our children’s safety and well-being a priority. If you find yourself looking for a solution to this problem, try any of these suggestions and you’ll be pleased at the results!