Auto Forward is a sophisticated but easy to use program that allows parents to spy on text messages that come to and from their teen’s phone. The software runs completely invisible on the target phone, and users will have no idea that is it there. The easy to use dashboard allows parents to see the text messages, emails, contact list, call log, social media and a lot more that goes on on their teen’s phone. However, software like this does not take the place of a parent’s responsibility to raise a smart and conscientious cell phone user. Here are a few things parents can do to ensure their kid never becomes that loud person talking on their phone in a movie theater, texting during yoga or using social media to embarrass or hurt others.
1. Set up a cell phone contract- When your teen is ready for a phone, sit down together and come up with a clear explanation of your expectations for his/her behavior on the phone. This kind of contract spells out the responsibilities of both you and your teen. You can add that it is your right to monitor their phone activity if you have any suspicions of inappropriate behavior (and maybe even if you don’t have any suspicions.) This could also be the time when parents remind teens about what the cell phone is for, such as being able to reach them during an emergency, and is not for texting during class or sending pictures to strangers. You can then explain why you’re planning on using software that helps you spy on text messages, and how it can benefit both of you.
2. Teach kids about privacy- Teach kids about the importance of keeping their private information private. Remind them to keep their passwords to themselves, and not to use the same password for all of their log ins. Remind them to NEVER give out their address or other personal info online.
3. Don’t raise a bully- Remind kids how hurtful bullying can be, and don’t let them be the kid in school who used text messages, emails, pictures and/or social media to hurt others. Auto Forward lets you check all of these things so parents can be sure their kids aren’t being hurtful.
4. Raise a thoughtful cell phone user- Encourage your kids to be aware of their surroundings and not use their phones in quiet, public places. Teach them to talk to people, not just text them. Model the appropriate times to use the phone, and point out times when cell phones should be put away (dinner table, hanging out with family, etc.)
Having software downloaded onto a teen’s phone that enables you to spy on text messages doesn’t have to be a punishment. It can be a mutually agreed upon safety measure that parents and teens can agree upon. It can be a teaching tool, and it can be used to reward positive and appropriate use of the cell phone. If downloading the software is in response to a teen’s history of bad cell phone choices, it can be a great way to enforce better behavior and, most importantly, keep the teen safe.
Parents and their cell phone using teens can work together to make sure the privilege of a cell phone isn’t abused.