Spy on Your Children

Did I grab your attention with that title?

I bet when you read that, your gut reaction was, “That’s a terrible idea, why would you do that?”

Hear me out. I think there’s some wiggle room for this.

As a teacher, my job was not only to teach the younger generation about academics, but also about life. I also wanted to keep them safe at all cost. Physically I could do that, no problem. Mentally and emotionally…that’s a different story. As a parent, all I want to do is keep my son safe from harm. I know he’s not old enough to be affected by this yet, but it’s something to keep in the back of my mind for when the time comes. Technology has advanced so much over the years. We’ve become so immersed with it. Sometimes it’s hard to give it up. It’s our jobs as parents and teachers to show our kids the right ways to use technology.

So what does teaching our kids to be safe and healthy have to do with spying on them?

Turns out, a lot more than you might think.

As much as our children think that they know everything about social media and the Internet, they don’t know the half of it. What starts out as an innocent conversation on Facebook or Twitter might turn into 24/7 harassment. Liking a picture on Instagram could become a potential extortion situation. Posting a comment on Facebook can last forever. Keeping an open dialogue with your child and monitoring their phone use could prevent these things from happening.

I never realized how much of an impact phone use had on your health. There have been plenty of nights where I couldn’t sleep so I played with my phone. I never thought for a second that my phone was the reason I couldn’t fall asleep. It turns out the blue light phones emit delay the release of melatonin, which means you don’t fall asleep as fast. Around 87% of high schoolers don’t get the recommended amount of sleep per night, which will affect their learning the next day. Prolonged phone use can also contribute to obesity and high blood pressure.

As a parent, what can you do to ensure that your child is using their phone safely?

Have an open discussion with them about why this is important to you. Tell them that this is about their safety. Show them the statistics about phone usage. Talking to them like adults and providing them legit reasons (as opposed to “Because I said so”) opens the door to more open dialogue about whatever’s going on in their lives.

They should be speaking and behaving appropriately at all times, no matter who they are talking to or how they are communicating.

There are third party apps that can help you monitor your child’s phone. KidGuard allows you to see your child’s text messages, track their phone using its GPS location, and check all their social media accounts. While you can use this app without your child’s knowledge, KidGuard recommends having a phone usage contract so that everyone knows when the phone can be used and what for. I like this idea because it allows your child to think more like an adult and make those decisions for themselves.

The end goal for this is to keep your child safe and healthy, no matter what.

Parents: would you consider using an app to track your child’s phone? Or do you have any other ideas?

If you’d like more information, check out this parent guide

KidGuard provided me with the reading material, but all views and comments are my own. 

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