Tools to Keep Track of Kids’ Tech


Easy tech ways to keep your kids safe

By Mark Hodges

 

Thanks to a growing number of social media websites and apps available, it’s near impossible to be aware of everything your kids are doing on- and offline.

So, what are parents to do to keep their children safe and sensibly monitored? Luckily, there are a few companies that have started offering useful tools to allow parents to breathe a little easier.

Here are three top picks:

Phone Activity

For some parents, keeping track of a child’s cell phone activity is a must. Kids’ social lives often take place on their mobile phones and so it’s important to know what’s going on. It can be tedious to read through every downloaded message, plus kids don’t easily hand over their cell phones for inspection.

A good middle-ground solution is a tool called Mobil Spy. Using a Web interface, parents can look at sent text messages, see websites their children have visited, and even track their location. Moms and dads can also limit children’s access to websites and apps, and they can prevent kids from using their phones at specific times with this tool.

Mobile Spy can take “overbearing” to a new level. There’s an option that enables parents to hear their children’s surroundings using the phone’s microphone. The tool also can take photos using the phone's camera. While most parents aren’t ready for NSA-level surveillance, this is definitely a robust solution for keeping tabs on what their offspring are doing on their phones.

New Drivers

It’s commonly seen as a milestone when a teenager finally has the chance to get behind the wheel, but this kind of freedom can cause a lot of parental worry.

There’s a platform that can keep tabs on young drivers called MamaBear. Despite the cute name, it’s robust on features: It allows parents to create schedules with boundaries that show where their teenagers are supposed to be at different times throughout the day. If a child leaves one of those locations, goes somewhere he isn’t supposed to be, or doesn’t reach a scheduled location on time, parents are the first to know.

They’ll also be notified if the young driver is speeding or riding with someone who is speeding. It’s a great way to oversee a teen’s safety without constantly checking in

Social Media

There are growing numbers of social media sites kids use each day. While there isn’t a tool to keep tabs on all of them, there are many that help Mom and Dad monitor the most commonly used.

Avira Social Network Protection is a popular option. It allows a parent to connect with her child’s Twitter, Facebook, and Google+ accounts and monitors profiles for profanity and other red-flag keywords. This is an effective way to keep an eye on what a child is posting (and what others are posting about him) without constantly reviewing each and every profile. The only caveat is that a parent has to actually log in to her child’s social media accounts using his username and password.

The Avira service charges on a monthly basis, so if you prefer a more hands-off approach, Brook is a free tool developed to monitor a person’s Twitter account. It sends a daily email with the top five tweets from each person added to the app.

Trust is a Must

It’s just about impossible to keep track of every single thing kids do online, and parents would probably drive them crazy if it were possible. Trust and straightforward conversations are key when it comes to setting standards with children about interacting online, using a cell phone, driving, or maintaining other privileges.

That said, these tools are great assets for any parent looking for an extra layer of security and accountability.

Mark Hodges is the CEO of Brook, a social media tool that emails customers daily with the top five tweets from each Twitter user they select. It’s designed to cut through the clutter while making sure users don’t miss out on important updates from friends, co-workers, publications, competitors, and more.