3 Apps to Monitor Your Kids’ Online Behavior
These apps can be the digital eyes in the back of your head
Talk about multitasking: To keep kids safe online, parents often perform a technological juggling act that includes setting parental controls on all kinds of devices, keeping up-to-date with apps kids are using and staying on top of the latest texting acronyms so they know what the heck their teens and preteens are texting about.
And while you can turn to apps that help keep your kids from steaming inappropriate videos, that still may leave a lot of the big, bad Internet at your child's disposal.
Here are three parental control apps that let you see what your kids are doing online, control what kind of content they can access and set limits on how much time they can spend on websites or social media apps.
Related: 7 Ways to Keep Kids Safe Online
SecureTeen is a multi-platform security solution that lets you keep track of your kids’ social media activity and prevent them from accessing certain content.
Once it’s installed on an iPhone, an Android smartphone or a computer, SecureTeen will start blocking certain categories of content, including mature content and hate speech. The app also lets you block certain terms and keywords to limit what your kids can search for on the Internet.
A white list/black list feature lets you identify sites your kids can access and those they can't. But it’s the integration with Facebook and Instagram that may prove most useful. SecureTeen can alert you when your kids make new friends on Facebook. You can scan their timelines (including the stuff they may have blocked from you), check out their Facebook Chat sessions and see all of the photos they’ve shared on Instagram — all in one place.
SecureTeen also lets you see all SMS messages, offers location tracking (so you know where your kids are) and allows you to remotely manage your child’s device.
Cost: $40 per year. The app can be installed on up to three devices.
From security firm Symantec, Norton Family includes both computer-based Web supervision and mobile monitoring. With Norton’s app, you can see what your kids are browsing on the Internet and use tools that stop them from accessing certain kinds of sites. The service also includes time provisioning, which bans access to their devices during certain parts of the day. A mobile app and email alerts will tell you if your child tries to access a blocked website.
Symantec offers two versions of Norton Family: A free one that monitors search and social networking, and the Premier version, which adds location monitoring, text messaging supervision and the ability to see what YouTube and Hulu videos your kids have been watching on their devices.
Cost: Norton Family Premier is $50 per year. The app can be downloaded onto Windows machines, Macs, iOS devices and Android products.
Available for Android and iOS, TeenSafe lets you see sent, received and deleted SMS messages and iMessages on iOS devices. You can view call logs to see all incoming and outgoing calls. And you can see where your child is by tracking the device’s location.
Like SecureTeen, TeenSafe includes integration with several popular applications, including Instagram. Through the parent portal in TeenSafe, you can see what images your kids have posted to Instagram, as well as monitor followers and comments. The app integrates control over popular messaging applications, like WhatsApp and Kik. And it includes the ability to look at search history and Web browsing history.
Cost: After a free seven-day trial it's $14.95 per month.