Getting Real With Shadra Bruce
It’s never been easy being a parent, but the last decade has added smartphones, texting, social media, and email to an already challenging task of what to monitor when it comes to your teen. Teens today are more connected than ever before. The Pew Research Center reports 78 percent of teenagers have cell phones, and approximately half of those own a smartphone. Keeping kids safe, and keeping tabs on them, is part of your job as a parent, and these apps and gadgets can help.
iCurfew, created by Parenting magazine, is an app for the iPhone that makes it easy for kids to check in with parents anywhere. Rather than secretly tracking your teen, according to RadicalParenting.com, iCurfew encourages communications between kids and parents, allowing check-ins via Google Maps or email with a single button. Since tracking teens with GPS can feel like you don’t trust them, iCurfew aims to allow kids to change plans, send “pick me up” texts, and show their location when requested.
iCurfew is available for the iPhone for $0.99 through the iTunes store.
MSpy is a mobile device monitoring app that boasts a wide selection of features that allow you to track the smallest details of a mobile device’s use. Nothing remains secret when mSpy is installed, as it allows the recording of calls, texts and emails, as well as open access to photos, videos and calendars. Additionally, mSpy includes a GPS feature for device tracking and can restrict calls or websites accessible on a device at any time.
According to its site MSpy.com, the app works with a variety of devices, such as the Galaxy S4 on T-mobile, and through a variety of service providers. Unfortunately for those who wish to install it on an iPhone, such devices need to be jail-broken first. MSpy is available for $39.99 per month.
GPS Location Tracker
App developer FollowMee’s GPS Tracker turns a smartphone or tablet into a tracking beacon. Once installed on a device, it secretly tracks locations via WiFi, GPS service or cell triangulation, and uploads the data surreptitiously. This data is accessible via the Internet through any browser, be it on a desktop computer or a mobile device. As FollowMee.com explains, the standard version of this app is $2.99, while the Deluxe is $5.99.
ITrail GPS Data Logger
For parents of teens who don’t have a smartphone, iTrail’s GPS Data Logger, $189, can serve to track the movements of teens or vehicles by passively logging GPS data. Spy Gear Gadgets explains how you can simply place the device in a bag or car, turn it on, and the Data Logger begins creating data. By connecting the iTrail to a computer, you can view the collected data through either Google Maps or Google Earth. Additionally, you can set “restricted zones,” so it is easy to see when a vehicle or person has entered these zones when running reports on the accumulated data. The iTrail GPS Data Logger is an option that can be openly discussed, or squirreled away in a vehicle. Like all methods of teen tracking, it can’t beat open communication and earned trust, but it can certainly help put your mind at ease.