Some of the most popular articles I’ve ever written or edited for this site are on keeping your kids safe on the Internet and their smartphones. While some experts say parents should not even give their teens a smartphone, many have already done so, and need resources to make their teens’ smartphone use as SAFE as humanly possible. For those of you in that parental boat, there is some VERY good news.
Turns out, THERE’S AN APP FOR THAT. Three, actually! They each have some pretty great features, as you can see in the video above from the TODAY Show’s “Rossen Reports.” As a mom who regularly writes about the dangers of the Internet and smartphones in the hands of kids who aren’t yet mature enough to handle the mass responsibilities and risks that come with that technology, this came as a BRIGHT spot of good news for me, and I can only pray that YOU and all parents who have kids with smartphones will avail themselves of the amazing services these apps provide. I fully, 100% believe that these apps can SAVE your teens’ lives.
Here’s a brief breakdown of the apps and their features. These apps all have a smartphone version AND a version for computers as well.
As Mark Rossen reports, “Net Nanny allows you to control your kids’ internet activity remotely. Not only can you choose specific websites that you want blocked on your kids’ phones; you can also block types of websites, such as ones involving dating, nudity, pornography or tobacco. You can also set it so that you will get a warning if your child types in a certain keyword, such as ‘suicide.'”
All of Net Nanny’s features are fantastic and much-needed, but I think it’s the keyword alert feature that is most likely to be life-saving. Teen suicide is a REAL danger to all our kids, especially in this day of cyber-bullying. Audrie Pott, the subject of Netflix’s powerful documentary Audrie & Daisy, committed suicide just one week after being sexually assaulted while unconscious at a party. Her parents had NO idea anything had even happened to their daughter. Apps like NetNanny can make sure that parents like Audrie’s have a chance to save their child’s life.
SecureTeen takes monitoring a step further by giving you your kids call logs, and possibly even more important, allows you to read their incoming and outgoing text messages. So you’ll not only know who they are communicating with, but also who may be trying to engage them. This is extremely useful, as parents can see if anyone unknown to the family or suspicious is trying to contact your child, and if so, put a STOP to it.
TeenSafe may be the most advanced monitoring app of all, according to Rossen. Not only does it provide the text message, website, and call montioring features, it also lets you track your kid with GPS. AND – if you know they’re out driving, you can even LOCK their phones while they’re behind the wheel so they can’t text and drive! WOW. In this age when texting and driving claims so many lives, that is a SERIOUSLY life-saving feature. I know it seems extreme, but just from driving around town I can see that many ADULTS can’t resist the allure of texting and driving, so how can we expect teens to?
I realize that with smartphones and Internet, there can be a very fine line between being controlling and invasive and trying to keep your kids safe. To that end, I honestly err on the side of caution. This is your child’s very LIFE you are talking about in many cases. However, if some of the features of these apps seem extreme to you, you don’t have to use them all. I encourage you to check into these apps, do some more research, and choose the app and/or features that is best for your family. But, moms and dads, don’t do NOTHING.
Please, please, don’t do nothing to protect your teen.
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