Parental Monitoring for Phones: All Parents Need To Know (2023)

Parental Monitoring for Phones: All Parents Need To Know (1)


  • Two-thirds of parents say raising children is more challenging than 20 years ago
  • There are 4.66 billion active Internet users and trillions of media content online, significantly increasing potential threats for children
  • Parents cannot adequately protect children from online threats without a parental monitoring solution
  • Most children are ill-equipped to recognize online threats before it’s too late
  • There are 500,000 active online predators each day
  • Parents miss meaningful intervention opportunities if children phone activity and messages go unregulated
  • 50 percent of children have experienced at least one form of cyberbullying
  • There’s been a 70 percent increase in bullying or hate speech among children since the pandemic began
  • 7 out of 10 children are in favor of parental control
  • Transparency can help parents balance children’s privacy and parental monitoring
  • Parents can efficiently monitor children phone activity and messages with apps like MMGuardian

Get Started With MMGuardian Parental Control with Free 14 Day Trial

Are You Keeping Up with The Digital Era?

Parenting has never been easy. However, the widespread popularity of phones, social media channels, and instant messaging platforms introduces new challenges to parenting. As a result, many guardians are using parental monitoring apps to help keep children safe online.

One study by the Pew Research Center revealed that two-thirds of parents find it more difficult raising children today than 20 years ago. Many of those parents cite phones, social media, and other similar technologies as a primary reason.

As a parent, you’re the provider of an entire human being’s existence. You provide all the necessities for that person, such as shelter, clothing, food, and education. You help your children learn and navigate social life while simultaneously balancing your life and career.

So understandably, your plate is full. But you shouldn’t overlook the Internet-enabled devices your children use daily.

(Video) How to Set Up Parental Controls & Monitor Messages for iPhones

Should You Monitor Your Children’s Phone Activities & Messages

Responsible parents must protect kids from potential harm. Monitoring your children’s phone activities and messages is a significant part of that responsibility.

The fact is most of the time children spend using phones will be online, where anyone can publish anything. With 4.66 billion people accessing the Internet from all over the world daily – your children can easily encounter the wrong content and individuals, such as cyberbullies, child molesters, sextortionists, etc.

No parent can stop that from happening without a solid solution in place. Plus, contrary to popular belief, children favor parental control (7 out of 10), according to an Internet Matters study.

Even pioneers like Bill Gates and the late Steve Jobs were advocates for monitoring how children use phones.

Parental Monitoring for Phones: All Parents Need To Know (2)

What Law Enforcement Experts Are Saying

Many experts in cybercrime have been vocal about why parents should monitor digital activities. One such expert is detective Richard Wistocki, who has dealt with Internet crimes for over 20 years. Mr. Wistocki believes one of the greatest threats to children is the devices they carry with them daily, and he’s not alone in that conclusion.

The overall consensus among law enforcement officials is that parents shouldn’t trust children to manage online threats. And while many believe a child’s privacy is important, children cannot 100 percent ensure their safety in every environment.

That’s because children are curious by nature, making it super unlikely to recognize pending danger. On the other hand, most parents can accurately assess shady characters due to having more life experiences.

If you’re not monitoring your children’s behavior on phones, someone else likely is – somebody you wouldn’t want to be exposed to any child.

500,000 Predators Are a Threat to Children Online Daily

According to the FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation), more than half a million online predators pose a danger to children. All of these people use more than one account to reach potential victims. Additionally, 50 percent of victims are between 12 to 15 years old. These predators also prefer to contact kids primarily through online chat rooms and instant messaging.

According to Mr. Wistocki, the average online predator has 250 victims in their lifetime. That alone should be enough reason for parents to monitor phone activities and messages. But every vigilant parent is also helping others. Your vigilance can lead to capturing and removing a predator(s) from online spaces.

(Video) What is the best parental control app? Full app comparisons

An Example of How Online Predators Operate

Online predators like to groom children and then use peer pressure to get whatever they want.

The predator often starts by visiting popular platforms among young people, pretending to be the same age, and securing the child’s trust with fake profile pictures. Sometimes, the person will pretend to share similar interests and may offer gifts to the child.

After establishing an online relationship, the predator slowly steers conversations towards more inappropriate topics. Over time, they may pressure the child to make explicit videos, take inappropriate photos, or even meet in person. Some predators prefer to use blackmail, such as threatening to release private text messages, photos, or videos.

In most cases, victims never recognize the grooming and consider the predator a friend. These types of interactions often occur when the child is at home or school, so it’s hard to detect.

The Ethical Dilemma

Deciding whether to monitor children’s online activities is challenging for some parents. But it’s hard to arrive at a decision not to because responsibility always falls on the parent’s shoulders.

Parents are responsible for life necessities and the technologies bestowed upon children. And with technology, too much privacy can endanger kids. No good parent wants to ignore a child’s real-world activities, so why is it ok to ignore the digital ones?

Think about all the things a good parent monitors, such as the child’s phone bill, the odometer on the car after a trip, school activities, etc. Since most parents check those things, it’s uncertain why parental monitoring of adolescent phone activities and messages will differ.

Left unregulated, parents may miss important intervention opportunities to prevent permanent damage to a child’s development.

Parental Monitoring for Phones: All Parents Need To Know (3)

Trusting Your Child Isn't Enough

Most parents are unable to properly protect children from the dangers circling online. The most common ones include:

  • CyberbullyingStatistics show that 50 percent of children have experienced at least one kind of cyberbullying. There has also been a 70% increase in bullying or hate speech among children since the pandemic.
  • Cyber predators – Sexual and other predators stalk children online. Since most children don’t fully understand social boundaries, some may post personally identifiable information (PII) on the Internet.
  • Phishing and other scams – Phishing is when a cybercriminal uses email or another communication method to trick victims into clicking on malicious attachments or links. These communications often appear to be from friends or family, making it especially difficult for kids to detect.
  • Blackmail – Not all children understand that information stays online forever. Things like questionable party pictures, messages, and other embarrassing moments could resurface years later.

If you’re worried that spying on your children will affect trust, consider being transparent about everything. You can let your kids know there’s a parental monitoring app on the device and explain why to avoid impacting trust.

Further, despite how much you trust your children, peer pressure is a real problem. Children often do things out of character to feel accepted and valued by friends.

Balancing Privacy and Protecting Your Children

(Video) Parental monitoring of children's cell phones

Contrary to some opinions, you can establish a middle ground between privacy and protecting your kids from online dangers.

As previously noted, parents should let children know about the safety measures to avoid mistrust. As long as your child is aware, you’re not snooping or performing some secret operation, just protecting them from potential harm. Being transparent also means your child won’t feel uneasy about parental monitoring and should understand why it’s necessary.

While some parents may feel permission is unnecessary when protecting children (understandable), transparency is still wise. Transparency is how you balance your child’s need for privacy and ensure their safety.

How to Properly Protect Your Children from Online Threats

By now, you can probably see how many online interactions can go unnoticed by parents, especially with phones. Children can be interacting with the wrong individuals for months and even years without adult intervention.

Usually, a parent’s first instinct is to grab the child’s phone and go through it occasionally. While that may work for some, it’s very inefficient. That’s because most children are tech-savvy enough to delete text messages, call records, browser history, and even downloaded applications.

Instead, consider installing MMGuardian, an AI-driven parental monitoring app for smartphones (Android and iPhone). It will allow you to:

  • Set screen time rules and limitations
  • Remotely control access to the phone, such as locking it up if necessary
  • Receive regular alerts and reports regarding usage
  • See everything, including messages, calls, apps downloaded, browsing history, and more
  • Get alerts about potentially risky interactions or threats to your child

You can explore all features of MMGuardian here.

For many parents, the decision is quite clear. Installing a parental control app on all Internet-connected phones is a great way to regulate children’s digital habits. However, it all comes down to what you want for your kids.

As you plan for parental monitoring, consider your child’s age and customize the conversation accordingly. The level of freedom you give to a tween (ages 9 to 12) should be different from a teenager. Lastly, while there’s nothing wrong with monitoring your children’s phone activities and messages, avoid nagging about every little thing. Good luck.

  • Published: September 18, 2019

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Parental Monitoring for Phones: All Parents Need To Know (4)

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How can I monitor my child's phone without them knowing? ›

AirDroid Parental Control app is an all-in-one app. It allows users to manage and monitor the target device remotely. It runs in stealth mode, so they wouldn't know you have it installed on their phone.

What percentage of parents monitor their child's phone? ›

According to a survey of parents conducted in March 2020 and April 2021 in the United States, the share of respondents monitoring the online content accessed by their children on websites and mobile apps increased to 84 percent in 2021, compared to 78 percent in 2020.

What age should your parents stop checking your phone? ›

Second, as long as your child has the ability to think for themselves and trusts you enough to come to you for help (aka If you raised your children properly), I'd say around the ages 12–14 that you should stop checking their phone.

Should parents monitor phones? ›

Responsible parents must protect kids from potential harm. Monitoring your children's phone activities and messages is a significant part of that responsibility. The fact is most of the time children spend using phones will be online, where anyone can publish anything.

How can I see everything on my child's phone without them knowing for free? ›

How Can I See Everything on My Child's Phone Without Them Knowing? You need to monitor their phone discreetly with a phone monitoring app. However, not all monitoring apps are discreet and invisible. Hence, you should use an app like AirDroid Parental Monitoring app, that works in stealth mode.

How can I see my child's text messages without them knowing? ›

Another way to view their text message is via parental control apps like AirDroid. AirDroid Parental Control app is an all-in-one app. It allows users to manage and monitor the target device remotely. It runs in stealth mode, so they wouldn't know you have it installed on their phone.

Should I read my 14 year olds text messages? ›

Parents: There's no absolute right answer as to whether it's okay to read your kid's text messages. It depends on your kid's age, personality and behavior. The most important thing is that you discuss responsible texting behavior.

Should you check your 13 year olds phone? ›

The phone plan is probably in your name and you probably bought the electronic devices. But even if not, you have every right and responsibility to check them if you've been given cause to do so because you have the right and obligation to keep your home safe, your child safe, and your other children safe.

Why parents always check their child's phone? ›

Monitoring lets you know if your child (or their friends) post something damaging. Identity theft. Because they are prone to give out too much information, it's easy for someone to steal your child's identity to open up credit card accounts or other instances of fraud. Viruses and malware.

Should I monitor my 15 year olds phone? ›

“Does your child's perceived right to privacy supersede their safety? It's 100 percent your right to check their devices,” said Bill Wiltse, President of Child Rescue Coalition. Child predators want to invade children's lives, an abuse that they may never recover from.

Why parents shouldn't take away phones at night? ›

Taking away a teen's phone interferes with their social life, which can drive a wedge between parent and teen. It's helpful to make the punishment related to the misbehavior, so taking away your teen's phone for a misbehavior like breaking curfew doesn't usually make sense.

Should I check my 15 year old phone? ›

So, should you check your child's phone? Yes. However, you need to talk to your child first and come up with a set of rules together before you starting taking their phones off of them to snoop through.

Should parents go through their child's text messages? ›

Reading your child's text messages is not that different than eavesdropping or reading their diary.” She advises parents to stay in their lane by steering clear of needless snooping, whether trying to find out what your kids are saying or who they are hanging out with.

Should I limit my 15 year olds screen time? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that parents of kids and teens 5 to 18 years old place consistent limits on the use of any media. This includes entertainment media (like watching TV and movies), as well as educational media (like creating flash cards on a smartphone app).

Should parents read their kids text messages? ›

It helps to keep them safe.

If you've already established the routine of spot checks, your kid should be expecting them. If not, make it clear it's for their safety and that keeping them safe is part of your job.

How can I see everything on my child's phone? ›

You can monitor your child's screen time with third-party apps like Qustodio, Norton Family, or Net Nanny. Another option is to use the built-in parental controls on your device.

Can parental controls see incognito mode? ›

If you're browsing in Chrome Incognito mode, you are, by default, not signed into any accounts or sites. Your school, Internet Service Provider, or any parental tracking software may be able to see your activity. You can check if your Chrome browser is managed.

How can I monitor my child's Snapchat without them knowing? ›

For example, you can use a third-party app like AirDroid and Hoverwatch Parental Control to monitor Snapchat. Also, you can monitor Snapchat by sourcing the cache file on Android and backup on iPhone when posts on Snapchat have been removed.

How can I read my daughter's text messages on her iPhone? ›

Monitor text messages through iCloud

If you use iOS 12 or a more recent version, you can use Apple's cloud message sync feature. By enabling iCloud syncing, you can access all data from your child's device. Make sure to enable message synching so you can read messages from your child's phone.

How can I read my kids text messages on my phone? ›

Unlike iOS, Android doesn't enable you to view your child's text messages and doesn't forward them to you either. However, you can monitor your child's text messages and social media texts using Google Family Link.

How can I see my hidden text messages? ›

Step 1: Go to Settings. Select Private mode or click on the option from the notification panel. Step 2: Turn on the private mode & Enter your security pin. View your hidden texts in the private folder or browse the gallery for other content.

Is it normal to sext at 14? ›

Sexting, in the form of shared photographs or explicit text messages, is becoming a fairly common experience for teens and preteens. Research shows that 14.8 percent of kids ages 12-17 have sent explicit text messages while 24.8 percent have received them.

What age should a child have privacy? ›

By age six, most kids understand the concept of privacy, and may start asking for modesty at home. Here's what you can do to honour your child's privacy. Be supportiveA child's demand for privacy signals their increasing independence, says Sandy Riley, a child and adolescent therapist in Toronto.

What time should a 13 year old go to bed? ›

6-12 years old: should go to sleep between 7:30 and 8:30 pm. 13-18 years old: should go to sleep around 10:00 pm.

Is it OK to go through my daughters phone? ›

Overall, parents should be able to trust their kid enough to not look through their phones. This will also maintain trust and a healthy relationship. If there is heavy evidence that there is something that should be investigated, then it's okay, but if not… teens should have some privacy.

How long should the average 13 year old be on their phone? ›

For years, the American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended no more than two hours of screen time for children and teenagers, and absolutely no screen time for children under 2.

Is it normal for parents to go through their kids phones? ›

What's more, 64% of parents with teens said they have snooped on their children's cell phones. Nearly the same amount of teens, about 62%, hid some form of activity. Here's the breakdown of what parents secretly do on their kid's phones without their permission: 32% have read their texts or direct messages.

What age do most parents give their child a phone? ›

The average age kids get a phone is between 12 and 13. With that in mind, it's up to the parents to be the best judge of whether their child is ready for a cell phone.

What age should parents give their child a phone? ›

Your children could be ready for a smartphone or similar device anywhere from 10 to 14, or during middle school. A sixth-grader (typically 10 to 11 years old) could be a good start for considering a phone or a wearable.

Is it okay to read your child's diary? ›

In most cases, parents should refrain from reading their child's journal. Reading their journal is a violation of trust and undermines healthy communication between parent and child. Parents should only read their child's journal if they have good reason to be concerned about their immediate safety.

Should I monitor my 14 year olds phone? ›

Responsible parents must protect kids from potential harm. Monitoring your children's phone activities and messages is a significant part of that responsibility. The fact is most of the time children spend using phones will be online, where anyone can publish anything.

What time should a 13 year old get off their phone at night? ›

The phone should be turned off after 9 p.m. – no texts or calls or watching video in internet. A parental control app installed on the kid's phone can be a big support for following up on this rule. They should not text while walking or make a call while crossing the street – it can be dangerous.

Should I monitor my 16 year olds phone? ›

Social media monitoring is an essential part of parenting in today's world. You can even set up notifications so that you are alerted anytime your teen posts something. This way, if your teen posts something inappropriate, you can address it, and have them remove it. Be sure you know what your teen is doing online.

Should I take my 12 year olds phone away at night? ›

The only things allowed in a bedroom are things that don't have the potential to obstruct sleep. A phone has that ability, as does a computer, TV, pretty much anything with a screen. Electronics and sleep do not go together. Your job is to ensure she is protected at night by safeguarding her sleeping space.

How do you discipline a disrespectful 12 year old? ›

How to deal with an angry, disrespectful child
  1. Do not become angry. ...
  2. Make sure everyone is safe. ...
  3. Do not punish. ...
  4. Acknowledge your child's anger. ...
  5. Ask questions to understand the source of anger. ...
  6. Offer help. ...
  7. Teach emotional regulation skills. ...
  8. Teach how to express objections respectfully.
Jan 19, 2023

How late should my 16 year old stay out? ›

While some parents rely on a set curfew, others make the rules fit he circumstances. For example, if your teen gets home from after-school activities at 7 p.m., a weekday curfew of 10 p.m. may make sense. On the weekends, maybe 11 p.m. is a more reasonable time. It depends on your family's schedule and your child.

Should I read my 17 year olds text messages? ›

If you feel justified in reading them, you ought to be willing to be upfront with your child about what they're doing. Wanting to keep your child safe and have the information you need about their lives to provide guidance is a fair reason for reading text messages – if that's what you want to do, just say so.

How often should co parents text? ›

Emergencies aside, there will rarely ever be any need for multiple texts per day. If your communication usually happens once per day, then both you and your co-parent should try and sum up all that there is to say in one clear and concise message to reduce any conflict opportunity.

How do you break a screen addiction? ›

6 Steps To Break Your Screen Addiction
  1. Set A Screen Limit. It might seem difficult at first, but setting a limit or goal you want to achieve will help you to break your screen dependency and addiction. ...
  2. Disconnect From Social Media. ...
  3. Find Other Ways To Fill your Time. ...
  4. Charge Your Phone In Another Room. ...
  5. Turn Off Notifications.

How much screen time should a 14 year old have a day? ›

The American Academy of Pediatrics discourages media use by children younger than 2 and recommends limiting older children's screen time to no more than one or two hours a day.

How much screen time should a 20 year old have? ›

What's a healthy amount of screen time for adults? Experts say adults should limit screen time outside of work to less than two hours per day. Any time beyond that which you would typically spend on screens should instead be spent participating in physical activity.

How do I bypass screen time without parents knowing? ›

There are several ways kids can break through screen time regulations set by parents by using/changing settings on their devices.
  1. Changing the Time Zone. ...
  2. Deleting and Reinstalling Apps. ...
  3. Reset the Device/Set Up a New Account/Use an Old Device. ...
  4. The Power Glitch. ...
  5. Disable Location. ...
  6. Software Downloads.
Aug 20, 2020

How do I connect my child's phone to mine? ›

If you're a parent, you can find your child's Android device location in the Family Link app.
  1. Open the Family Link app .
  2. Tap Location.
  3. Tap Set up.
  4. If you have multiple children, select which ones you want to turn on location sharing for.
  5. Tap Turn on.

How can I see my kids text messages? ›

Unlike iOS, Android doesn't enable you to view your child's text messages and doesn't forward them to you either. However, you can monitor your child's text messages and social media texts using Google Family Link.

Can I see what my son is doing on his phone? ›

How to Monitor a Child's Phone Activity on Android. You can use a monitoring app to stay informed about your child's phone activity online and offline. Our highly recommended option is AirDroid Parental Control. It is a complete feature tracking tool for parents to stay abreast of their child's activities remotely.

Can parental controls see secret mode? ›

If you're browsing in Chrome Incognito mode, you are, by default, not signed into any accounts or sites. Your school, Internet Service Provider, or any parental tracking software may be able to see your activity.

What app mirrors your child's phone? ›

AirDroid Parental Monitoring App is the best all-in-one parental control program for families. It enables parents to remotely monitor and manage their children's Android mobile devices. Some excellent monitoring features make it stand out in the market, like sync app notifications, screen mirroring, remote camera, etc.


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