Are you curious about what your young kids are up to online? You’re not alone. There are a wide range of parental control and monitoring software and apps available for parents to choose from, and we’ll discuss these options later in this post.
Although monitoring apps are certainly useful, we strongly believe the best approach to keeping kids safe online is speaking openly with them about the risks as soon as they start using a computer. Parents often use social media monitoring software as one part of a multi-faceted approach.
Of course, every family will have their own approach to parenting, and it’s important that you choose a strategy that works for you and your children.
We’d also like to mention that new monitoring apps enter the market frequently. We’ve taken a moment to review some of the more popular options on the market, so you can more easily decide whether monitoring software is right for you, and if so, which version may work best for your family.
But first, we want to delve into why parents are so eager to track their kids online.
What’s fueling the demand for parental monitoring apps and software?
According to ABI Research, there are a couple of factors fueling the billion dollar online tracking industry:
- inadequate cyber education for children;
- insufficient parental knowledge about the rapidly changing cyber industry; and
- a resulting lack of parental confidence.
What apps are available for monitoring social media and Internet use?
The common denominator for each of the apps below is that they aren’t designed for spying on your child’s devices; instead the apps are meant to prompt discussions with your child if suspicious activity is detected on their devices.
Billing itself as “your family’s watchdog for internet safety,” Bark analyzes the activity on your child’s device and alerts you when a problem is found. To sign up, you have to connect your child’s accounts (including social media, text messaging, and email) to your Bark account.
Bark alerts you via email and text message if it suspects anything suspicious, such as sexting, cyber bullying, or even suicidal thoughts, and includes recommended actions to handle the situation.
With Bark, you don’t have to comb through your child’s social media posts or text messages, so you build trust and an open dialogue with your child as issues arise.
Cost: The first month is free, and after that, it’s $9/month/per family.
Pocket Guardian (https://gopocketguardian.com)
Similar to Bark, Pocket Guardian alerts parents when sexting, bullying, or explicit images are detected on their child’s device. Although parents can’t see the actual content or who it’s from, they do receive helpful resources specific to the alert type, which are designed to spark a discussion with their child.
Pocket Guardian works with Android and iOS devices; you can visit the website to sign up.
Cost: There is a 30-day free trial and then you have a choice of two monthly subscription plans. The Basic plan costs $9.99 per month, per household, and monitors SMS, iMessage, and social media accounts, while the Plus plan costs $12.99 per month, per household, and monitors everything in the Basic plan plus additional messaging apps.
Just as with Bark and Pocket Guardian, Trackidz is designed to be non-invasive in order to respect your child’s privacy. Although you can’t see specific content from your child’s device, you can track app installations and use, block browsers and apps, manage time in apps and on the device, schedule device-free time, track the device’s location, receive an alert when your child’s phone is turned off, and see your child’s contacts.
Another feature allows your child to send you an emergency notification by tapping multiple times on the phone’s power button; and when you open the emergency message, you can see your child’s location. Visit the website to sign up for the app.
Cost: There is a free 15-day trial, and then you pay a one-time fee of $6.99 (per family). There is no monthly fee.
Is there another approach?
In short, yes. Before recurring to these apps, we recommend speaking with your children about online safety long before they become teens. According to CNN, direct communication is best because it fosters kids’ sense of responsibility and resilience.
One way to begin the discussion is to use a cyber education platform, like eebudee, to equip your kids with the skills and knowledge they need to navigate the online world.
eebudee was founded to close this digital knowledge gap.
What is eebudee?
eebudee is a training platform that prepares kids aged 4 to 12 (and their families) for the online world. To sign up, head to our website. The eebudee chat app is also available on Android and iPhone.
**The eebudee online platform and app are in beta phase and will be officially launched in 2017. If you have any feedback or suggestions, we would love to hear from you.**