When children turn a certain age, we give them a cell phone. It’s almost like a right of passage. We give it to them with the best intentions thinking it will help keep them safe. They can call us when they need a ride or if they are in trouble and they can stay in touch with their friends.But with smartphones today like an Android, a phone is like a personal computer and can give a child access to the world and all of the crazy, weird and inappropriate content out there. We’ve put together a guide for what to look for in a parental monitoring app for Android so you have everything you need to know to keep your kids safe!
Take Advantage Of The Google Parental Controls
First things first, use the Parental Controls designed for the Android.
Google Play Store Parental Controls
The Google Play Store allows you to restrict what type of content your child or teen has access to downloading on their phone. The apps may still come up in the search, but they will be denied from downloading. You can filter out violent games, adult content, in-app purchases or anything else you deem appropriate to your child.
Google Family Link
Google has just created Family Link which allows you to set digital ground rules for your children and teens. The Family Link helps guide kids as they learn, play and explore online. Parents receive notifications to allow block or approve apps your child is trying to download from the Google Play Store.
You can also manage their screen time with screen time activity reports. Family Link shows teacher recommend apps that you can add directly to your child’s Android device. Recognizing that not all screen time is created equally and apps that promote creativity and utilize a child’s problem solving skills have a positive impact.
Chrome Parental Controls
Google Family Link has officially replaced the Chrome Supervised Users and is the current Parental Control Monitoring Software for Chrome. This affects your child’s browsing experience in the following ways:
- Children won’t have access to apps and extensions from Chrome Web Store.
- Children can’t use incognito mode.
- Parents can manage the websites their children can visit on Chrome, and limit their children’s ability to grant permissions to websites.
- If “Try to block mature sites” has been turned on for your child in Family Link, Chrome browsing tries to block sexually explicit and violent sites.
As an extra measure, you can download an add-on to your child’s Google Chrome to block adult content. Parental Control- Adult Content Blocker is a free add-on that blocks porn sites and protects your child from sexually explicit adult content.
Where Google Falls Short
Google does a good job of preventing kids from downloading apps that are blocked by their parents, but they don’t provide a full picture to parents of their child’s digital life. Almost every single child has a Facebook page, even before the age of 13 as Facebook requires. Social media is full of adult content, other children who may be bullies, and influencers and celebrities creating unrealistic standards for teenagers today.
Is your child’s face in their Android device all the time? Is it constantly pinging and you are asking them who they are talking to and they respond, “my friend mom!” Google isn’t going to tell you who they are texting and the contents of the messages. Is your daughter talking to a boy she has a crush that she met online or is she being groomed by an online predator?
For these reasons alone, you need a Parental Monitoring app for Android that will give you the full picture of what is going on in your child’s world.
Parental Monitoring Apps For Android
With a parental control monitoring app you can track your child’s Android activity and control what they have access to. Parents are able to see activities including texts, private messages, web browsing history, social media, photos, videos and more. Parental control monitoring apps are a great tool in preventing your child from becoming a victim of cyberbullying or being exposed to an online predator.
What To Look For
Make sure the Parental Monitoring app has real time GPS location. Kids are glued to their phones, they go wherever they go. If you want to know where your kid is track them with your parental monitoring app. Are they at Susie’s house doing homework or did they sneak off to the mall?
Choose an app that will show you the full contents of their SMS messages and private messages. Including dates, time stamps, who they are talking to and extract deleted messages. Kids tend to be sneaky and hide things, so you’ll want to see everything.
Make sure you have access to all Social Media platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. This is where kids most of their communicating. Whether it’s in direct messaging or through posts. Many kids aren’t friends with their parents on Social Media, so this is your way in. Choose an app that gives you access to their full activity.
You’ll need access to their photos and videos. It only takes one photo to go viral and ruin someone’s reputation and haunt you. Find a parental monitoring app that gives you access to their photos and videos including deleted content.
Choose an app that doesn’t have any monthly fees or upgrade fees. Find one that has a one time download fee with lifetime free upgrades.
Our Top Pick
Our favorite Parental Monitoring app for Android is PhoneSpector. This app allows you to control and monitor your child’s phones and texts. Access full copies of text messages on the device. It also provides you with real time GPS location tracking of the device so you know where they are at all times. You will be able to see all photos and videos, old, new and deleted. See posts an activity on all Social Media platforms including direct messages. And so much more!
We reviewed the top 5 parental monitoring apps here.
Additional Ways To Make Device Safe
In addition to monitoring your child’s device, have an open conversation with them about safety and best practices when using the internet and Social Media.
Tips for the Conversation:
- Let them know you are only trying to protect them and make sure they have a happy, healthy and bright future.
- Make sure all of their social media pages are set to Private so strangers cannot follow them or view their posts.
- Do not have the school they attend posted anywhere on any of their profiles
- Do not accept friend or follow requests from people you don’t know, even if their picture appears to be a child
- Never give out their address or information about where their parents work to strangers
- Keep their posts to GIFs, quotes and memes
- Once something is posted, even if you delete it, it will remain on the internet forever so make smart decisions with your pictures
- Their phones are a privilege that can be revoked at any time
Now that you know what to look for in an Android Parental Monitoring app and how to navigate the conversation with your child, safety should be the #1 priority. An app like PhoneSpector, can let you know it’s time to step in before something serious happens to your child.