The Parent Spy Guide to Child Phone Monitoring

Father looking at his sons phone over his shoulder.

Is it spying on your child to put a tracker or monitoring tools on your child’s phone? Your child may see it that way. But the reality is that there are good reasons why you should be keeping an eye on your child’s smartphone usage. 

Doing so can help protect them from mistakes and threats that could have a profound impact on their lives. And it’s important to realize that you can monitor your child’s smartphone without overdoing it. You don’t have to micromanage every text and download in order to make sure that your children are safe and making good decisions while they use their smartphones. Here are some key considerations for parents who are considering using child phone monitoring software.

You Should Be Upfront About Your Monitoring Plans

Whether or not you think of smartphone monitoring as spying, it’s best not to approach your monitoring plan as a spy would. Once you install monitoring software on your child’s phone, you can be certain they will find out about it one way or another. In fact, they may discover it on their phone by themselves. Even if you think you have it hidden, children can be remarkably tech-savvy, and they’re likely to find it eventually. 

And suppose that your child doesn’t discover the monitoring software on their own. The first time that you have to talk to them about something that you learned through the monitoring software, you’ll have to admit how you got that information. 

Consider that your child could learn about the software you’ve installed on their phone because you’ve caught them doing something they shouldn’t. This type of situation is likely to be emotionally charged, and they’ll be more upset about the spying than they would have been if they’d learned about it in a less fraught situation. 

All things considered, your best bet is to tell your child from the beginning that you plan to put phone monitoring software on their phone. Make it clear that you’re not asking for permission. You’re the parent, you’re probably paying for the phone and the phone bill, and you have a right to know how it’s being used. You’re also responsible for your child, and you need to be able to know that they’re behaving responsibly. 

Make it clear that monitoring software is one of your ground rules that they have to follow if they’re going to continue to have and use a phone. They may not like it, but most children will accept your rules and boundaries if you state them clearly and enforce them fairly. 

Find Ways to Monitor Without Being Intrusive

You don’t have to read every text that your child sends or receives, or track every move that they make with the GPS function. There’s a line between monitoring your child for their own well-being and refusing to let them have any privacy at all. 

Even if you think about your phone in the same way, it’s important to keep in mind that many children and teens really do view their phones the same way that they might view a diary – full of personal and private information that’s no one else’s business. 

Learning to spot check your child’s phone is a good starting point. It’s fine to check in to make sure that they are where they say they are. Likewise, you could set your monitoring software to alert you when your child tries to download an app. That way you can make sure that the app is age-appropriate and doesn’t cost more money than you’re willing to let your child spend in the app store. 

You may even want to check in on their text messages and chat histories now and then. But in most cases, you don’t have to read all of them. If you don’t find anything in random spot checks that seems concerning and you don’t have any other reason to suspect that your child may be in trouble or up to something, make it a point not to pry further than you need to into your child’s phone. Remember that your goal is to keep your child safe, not to prevent them from having private conversations or taking any independent actions.

Be Thorough When Choosing Child Phone Monitoring Software

Young female teen taking a selfie.
The more monitoring options you have available, the better you can protect your child.

You may not want to use all of the tools that your monitoring software offers all of the time to track your child’s every move. But that doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t have the tools available in case you need them. It’s better to have the tools and not need them than to need them and not have them.

When you consider your monitoring software options, look for the product that provides all of the features that you want as well as the flexibility that you need to decide when to use them. 

You want monitoring software that offers GPS tracking so that you can find the phone if your child loses it – or so that you can find your child if you aren’t sure where they are. You want the ability to read text and multimedia messages and to see what your child is downloading to their phone. You will probably also want to be able to see your child’s instant messaging and email histories on the phone. 

And most parents want to be able to see their child’s call log history, view any pictures or videos they have stored on their phone, see screenshots, and view their web browsing history. You may not need all of these features all of the time, but you can monitor your kids more appropriately if you have all the features that you may need readily available in case you do need them. 

Raising children in a high-tech world means learning how to leverage the technology that your children need and want in order to make sure that they’re learning how to be safe and responsible with that technology. Sometimes the answers will be clear, but sometimes parenting in the Information Age provides challenges that you never expected. 

Monitoring software is a valuable tool for helping you navigate those difficult waters, especially when it comes to mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. To find out more about how monitoring software can help you parent in these high-tech times, get our risk free trial.