Tools You Need To Spy On Your Kids

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mash: family / technology

I actually don’t believe you should spy on your kids: I believe in monitoring them, and I believe in letting them know they are being monitored. (I addressed my reasons in the Slender Man commentary.)

Some parents would argue that this is almost an insurmountable task given how techno-crafty kids are these days. In fact, a well-spoken Googler I corresponded with through my Google + account noted about the recent Slender Man stabbing:  

The facts are that in this day and age most parents CAN’T do that. These girls plotted this for months, and were apparently smart enough to be discrete about it. It isn’t a lack of parenting skill, or love not given, or such… It’s the simple fact that these two were clever enough to secretly plan murdering their best friend, and to come up with an ‘alibi’ they could use to make people think they were insane.

  Tools you need to Spy On Your Kid OnlineAnd while the task of monitoring your children’s online alter egos might seem daunting, there are somethings you can do to make it easier. The truth is, I think we give kids too much credit. Many of the children today are users of technology. Beyond entering a password and setting basic profile settings, many of them have little knowledge about online security, the cogs and gears of how social media works, or the way information flows online. As a parent, if you are willing to spend a little time, there are ways you can be more aware of what your children are doing online. Here are a few tools you can add to your tech-belt to help “spy on your kid”.     UKnowKids This company claims to be “parental intelligence”. They give you all the bangs and whistles, like graphs and charts, to monitor children’s social media use. On Android phones you can review text messages, photos, call history, and apps. (Only photos and contacts on the iPhone.) You also get Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram monitoring, “geo-based” notifications, and pre-established “check-ins”. They’ll even help you find social media accounts your kids try to hide from you. And this service is probably a lot cheaper than you probably think.   Parental Controls Remember those good old fashion parental controls from your TV’s V-chip? Well some communications companies have them too (for a fee). For example, AT&T and T-Mobile can shut off a phone’s access to the internet, outgoing calls, and text-messaging during certain fixed hours. Sprint even says that they can restrict internet use to age-appropriate sites.   NetNanny Netnanny has been around for a while. It seems to be a jack-of-all trades by providing social media monitoring, cyber bullying detection, pornogrpahy blocking, and time/day usage limitations. It also has an option that monitors several well-established social media sites in a way that isn’t tied to a device. (That means that they can use a friend’s phone to access the social media sites, but you’ll still see the activity.)   Apple’s Family Sharing / Where’s My Phone Apple has a new “Family Sharing” option. It isn’t revolutionary. You probably do most of this stuff anyway of you have an iPhone. One thing I do like is that you can ‘find’ other family member’s phones. So you’ll know where you kid is–or at least their phone. And if it’s in the reigm of what you are comfortable with, you can even add their pictures to the ‘cloud’. That means you can see what they are taking pictures of.   mSpy This seems to be the mack-daddy of commercial electronic intel. You can tell who your child is calling, when, how long they talked, and even record the phone call and listen to it. (I probably wouldn’t go this far, but some parents might need too). You can read messages, email, and see text messages. It even has a key-stroke logger for goodness sakes (that means you can have the password for any site they visit). Combine the GPS locator and the ability to “listen to device surroundings” and you’ll know where they aren and what they are doing anytime you want. You can also block unwanted callers and websites, and check what they talk about on Instant Messenger.   Low Tech For low tech solutions, move electronic devices to a general space where you can monitor what kids are doing. This means laptops, tablets and smart phones. Also, set all of the devices your child can access to store the cache and cookies. Occasionally check to see if your child cleared them–this could be a signal you need to monitor their activity more closely. (Here is how to clean your cache. You should start with a clear cache, and monitor if it’s been cleaned by some else). Looking through the cache and cookies can help you spot trends, and see where they might be hiding social profiles you don’t know about.   Also, you can search specifically for their face on Google’s face search engine (yes, that does exist). Get even a wider scope using Pictriev, which bring up look alikes. This is great if you think you kid is hiding a profile under a different name. If they slapped a profile picture up there, you just might find the account this way.   In the end, I’m all about parents doing what they have to do in order to keep their children safe, even if it’s from themselves. Tools you need to spy on and monitor your kids online

What methods do you use to monitor your children’s online activities?

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  • http://famigami.com FamiGami

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. Interesting tools but I prefer to trust my kids.

    • http://famigami.com FamiGami

      Having read your Slender man commentary – I fully agree with you!

  • Charity L.

    Thanks for this article. We put all sorts of security settings in place so the children are never on the computer without an adult being there. And no electronics in the bedrooms, etc.

  • http://hugatreewithme.com Roechelle

    I am all for spying on my daughter, I was a kid not to long ago, I know that aren’t to be trusted :)

  • http://www.savingmamasita.com Amber NElson

    Kids definitely need to be monitored in this scary society!

  • http://www.lavendeandlemonade.blogspot.com Lavende

    Open communication is the most important tool…but a little technology help isn’t a bad idea!

  • Robin (Masshole Mommy)

    I am all for monitoring my kids. Mine are still a little young to be online, but they will be on there soon enough and I need to know what they are doing.

  • http://www.couponblessingsnow.com CouponGal

    sadly, no matter how much parents trust their kids – these days they need to watch where they go online….

  • http://www.productreviewmom.com Louida

    I monitor my daughters when they go online. I sit there along with them to make sure they are on sites appropriate for their age.

  • http://www.singlemommywarrior.com Tiffany Hathorn

    Great post! Although I think that you have to draw the line somewhere between spying on your kids and trusting them to be the people you have been raising them to be, I do think that in this age it is more critical than ever to keep track of their online activity. I think that a few tactics (like recording and listening in on phone calls) is a bit much, but most of them seem to be reasonable.

    • Mrs. Mashed Up

      I agree. There are some options that a few companies offer that I think are overboard, like recording them, and the keystroke logger. I don’t work for the CIA–lol.

  • http://www.kungphoo.com Kungphoo

    I do not spy, i monitor, and it seems to work. I have used Net Nanny for customers before and that works very well also..

  • http://familylivingonabudget.blogspot.com/ Anna

    My kids aren’t old enough for solo use online, so I don’t have to worry about it just yet. But laptops are only used where anyone in the house can easily see the screen.

  • http://www.chicksdomesticdish.blogspot.ca Alysia

    This is an absolutely FANTASTIC post! I’m bookmarking it for future use!

    Thank you for the great resources!!

    Alysia, from the Dish
    http://www.mydomesticdish.com

    • Mrs. Mashed Up

      Thank you Alysia!! So happy you enjoyed it!

  • http://blog.pickurgift.com Yona Williams

    The Internet is such a powerful tool, and oh so very dangerous for young minds. I really like that uKnowKids gives you graphs and charts (that’s my kind of thing), and that mSpy sounds like the ultimate thing for parents with teens to look into.

  • http://thepositivemom.com Elayna Fernandez ~ The Positive MOM

    I am an advocate of monitoring. Kids need limits. They need discipline. They need boundaries. They won’t be able to thrive or adjust to a society with laws and rules unless they are taught at home.

  • Meredith@MommyAtoZ

    Wow, this makes me glad my oldest is only five! Such a complicated issue. These apps sound like good tools…it’s just how much monitoring you feel comfortable with, I guess.

  • Dawn Kropp

    Our kiddos need our guidance, they may think it’s spying… but, our monitoring is for their best interest :) Thanks for posting this!

  • Kero

    essentisl list and tips at this day and age. our neighbor is especially considering the NetNanny for her twin adolescents

  • http://tallmomtinybaby.com/ Mary Larsen

    I love the iphone feature, and when my little guy is old enough, he will be on one

  • Liz Mays

    I’ve heard of NetNanny and MSpy. Our kids’ safety is our number one priority!

  • rochelle33

    Thanks for the review

  • sherry butcher

    I agree with youI believe in monitoring them and letting them know they will be monitoring. I had kids that would be on the phone at 2AM talking to the radio guy, to friends and sometimes strangers! One lost her phone more than once even knowing I would be monitoring her. Thanks for the review.

    • That’s Mashed Up

      Yup, sometimes you have to put your foot down for their own good. Good parenting mama!

  • Anne Flickinger

    I do not have any kids (my kids are fur babies); however, my cousins have just started their families and would appreciate these tips!

  • Christina G.

    I’m going to look into the UKnowKids. I had never heard of it. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ari T.

    I was so shocked when I found out about that horrific Slenderman incident. Trying to control kids’ online and other exposure seems almost like an impossible job, but these tips you’ve listed should hopefully make it less difficult.

  • Raine Dawson

    This was a great post, My daughter is 16 and has not been on her best behavior-we’ve had problems and she has a new boyfriend we don’t know well. Of course she ‘knows everything’ but I worry. I don’t want to be a crazy obsessed mom monitoring every little thing but I need to know she’s safe. These are very helpful links and tips, I shared everywhere because this is something every parent should read.

    • http://thatsmashedup.com Mrs. Mashed Up

      Wow, that means a lot! If this article can in some way help one parent keep their kid just a bit safer, I’m a happy, happy, gal!

  • http://www.ladymarielle.com/ Marielle Altenor

    My son is only 6 but he loves watching YouTube gameplay video tutorials. There’s an option where you can put a parental control so that gives me peace of mind. Not looking forward to when he is old enough to get a cell phone and be on the internet alone. Knowing me I would want to know everything that he is doing. lol

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