How much privacy does your child need? How much should you give him or her? It’s a question up for debate, since modern parents not only have to deal with outside human distractions (like friends, schoolwork, and after school activities) but today’s parents also have to deal with a different kind of world: the online world.
If you’re the parent of a tween or teen, most likely he or she has a cell phone. And most likely, it’s a smartphone. In this age of entitlement, many parents fall victim to what they perceive to be society’s rules: if Little Joe’s best friend has an iPhone, Little Joe must have one. And it’s not even the kids that are doing the begging these days, it’s the parents or guardians that come up with these conclusions themselves!
When a teen owns a cell phone, it’s like them getting their own driver’s license: it instantly means a new level of freedom and instant access to all their friends, at all hours of the day. The problem is, the one thing that hasn’t changed with kids is that most think they are invincible. Oversharing is never an issue. Is Little Joe having a fight with his dad? Share it. Did he do something in class that he wants to brag about? Post a picture of it on Instagram. Is there a racially charged video that he thought was funny? Share it in a status update in Facebook. Like it on YouTube. Nothing is isolated anymore.
So how much “privacy” should today’s teen have? According to a miamiherald.com article, parents should have “defense levels” when it comes to their child’s cell phone. Article states:
“Parents have defense levels when it comes to keeping their children safe in the virtual world. According to John Quain of Laptopmag.com, there are three main defenses in this battlefield.
▪ First line of defense: the phone itself. When you think about it, how many kids really need smartphones before high school? Safe phones allow calling and texting without Web browsing capabilities.
▪ Second line of defense: carrier programs. When parents feel it is necessary to control their child’s phone activity, most major phone carriers have special services and parent monitoring programs.
Parental control packages include location tracking — known as geotracking or geofencing — as well as text control and time limitations. You can locate and track your child’s phone, receive notifications when the child arrives at a specific location, and control lock features at a predetermined times.
Some phones have safety driving features, so when the phone detects it is traveling at more than 10 mph it locks down. Message alerts and incoming calls are sent directly to voicemail.
▪ Third line of defense: third-party software. Parents who have already run into problems with their children’s online behavior may want to take a more aggressive approach and monitor the content of their child’s online communications. This is fundamentally deceitful, so there should be sufficient grounds for implementing this tactic and a plan for its culmination.
Amy Williams of Teenology says after you have made the decision to monitor your child’s activity, it is important to follow a few basic guidelines and steps:
▪ If appropriate, inform your child that you will be checking their phone activity.
▪ Install a monitoring app that allows you to see messages, texts and Internet activity. Most programs run in the background and shouldn’t interfere with your child’s phone.
▪ Make a distinction between spying and monitoring. A teenager is probably going to pitch an epic fit when they find out their parents are checking their cellphone. Remind teens that nothing online is private and monitoring their activity openly is not spying.
▪ If appropriate, sit down with your child and look at the messages together. This is especially useful if your child is receiving threats or involved with cyberbullying.
The options for monitoring and parental control software are extensive, so how you go about your research and selection depends what concerns you want to address and what your budget allows.”
Third-party software like an Android or iPhone tracking app to monitor a teen’s phone is bringing the future into the present. A spyphone may sound like an invasive concept, but remember, nothing online is private, and monitoring a child’s phone is perfectly acceptable in this modern world. Cell phone spy software is intended to keep kids safe while still allowing them a modicum of privacy. Programs like Auto Forward phone tracking app allows a parent to spy text messages, photos, videos, emails and more.