How can I track or monitor my kid's phone?

You can monitor your kid's phone by using a phone-monitoring service through your service provider or you can download an app to monitor the phone. Or -- you can just monitor it yourself. Providers including AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, and T-Mobile each offer add-on packages for a fee that let you keep an eye on things, including monitoring usage, managing access to features, and tracking the location of the phone. Also, third-party software programs which you can download from the app store and install on your computer, can show you texts, website histories, photos, and more.

No monitoring service is 100 percent reliable. The programs require you to enter some of your kid's log-ins and passwords to track the phone's activity, and your kid can always change passwords on you or sign up for services you don't know about and can't monitor. They also can make your kid feel spied on, which can lead to sneaky behavior. And if the phone is off or discharged, its location can't be tracked. Parents aren't perfect either, but teaching kids how to use the phone is a skill they can use their whole lives. Try talking about responsibility and appropriate use first and consider the monitoring programs as a backup or extra insurance.

Do you monitor your kid's cell phone?

Ask Our Experts
Was this answer helpful?
Sign in or sign up to share your thoughts

Comments

Adult written by MOSM

Obviously there is no single solution, however I firmly believe that you should not set up monitoring unless your child has given you good reason to. It is natural for children to have secrets which they don't want you to know, especially if it's something like being in the closet. In many cases children simply hide what they're afraid of being judged for, even harmless things. While you should definitely talk openly about online activity with your child, remember communication is a two way street. It isn't fair of you to be closed off about your online life and expect the opposite from the child you are supposed to be a role model and example to. Chances are, if you have an open and healthy relationship with your child, you can probably trust them enough to not have to resort to such measures. On a final note, I cannot stress this enough. Monitoring your child's texts, location, etc at all times as their parent or loved one may send an unhealthy message that such measures would be acceptable from others like their future significant other. If you are not prepared to justify your actions in that light, you should not monitor your child's activity in that way. Similarly, the idea that the person who pays for an item means they can essentially control them is another unhealthy message. DO NOT TREAT YOUR OLDER CHILDREN IN WAYS THAT WOULD BE UNACCEPTABLE OUTSIDE OF THE GUISE OF PARENTING, ELSE YOU MAY BE SENDING THE WRONG MESSAGES ABOUT WHAT IS OKAY IN REGARDS TO CELL PHONE ACTIVITY MONITORING.
Kid, 11 years old

If you get an iPhone, you can set up 'Family Sharing' for under 13s. This feature is so your kids have to ask permission to download apps and do in-app purchases. For kids of any age then you can use 'Restrictions' in Settings to filter the rest.
Teen, 17 years old written by Emi.K

I think that parents should allow their children learn how to deal with situations themselves, when you track us teens we see that you don't trust us at all. And if you do download it, know that we teenagers are smart and we know 101 ways the get around the app (trust me i would know). So remember strict parents create sneaky kids. Just have a open discussion and build trust, so when they say they are going to the mall you (as a parent) will be able to believe it. And if your teen does go off and do illegal things, that is their choice to ruin their future and self. There is only so much a parent can lead a child, and at some point parents need to let them make their own decisions and suffer from the consequences they made for themselves instead a punishment that a parent gave them. And when you ground a teen for so long the only "lesson" we are learning is how to do time, we are able to punish ourselves, it makes things worse when a overprotective parent steps in. If you think about the 80's how did the teens of that time do it. They trusted. There was no tracking plan or app to constantly now where their teen was, and that generation turned out fine. So just because we have the technology doesn't mean we have to use it.
Parent written by Sarah C.

I have tried them all and the carrier parental controls are just terrible. Most of the apps in the app store do not work or struggle to work. After trying what seems like them all we finally found Netsanity and have been using it for the past year and I love it. It works and it is the first one my teen hasn't been able to disable. Don't use the jailbreaks mentioned in this article!