Useful apps for parents to monitor device usage and keep their children safe

There are a variety of different causes and awareness campaigns that take place during the month of October. Two causes that go hand in hand are National Bullying Prevention Month and Cyber Security Awareness Month. Because scholars are spending more and more time online, here are some ways you can help keep track of their device usage and keep them safe.

Nowadays, there are a variety of different resources available to monitor and track your scholars cell phone and app usage. These can be very effective tools to help parents supervise who their child is communicating with, and potentially even prevent, or be able to intervene with, a bullying situation.

Not sure what apps you should be looking out for, or monitoring? StopBullying.gov compiled a list of current popular apps.

  • Askfm: A social networking site that allows users to ask other people questions, often anonymously.
  • Calculator%: A “vault” or secret app that appears harmless, but hides photos, videos, files, and browser history.
  • Chatroulette: There are over 20 different chat roulette sites that allow users to instantly connect via webcam and video chat. Sites typically pair the users randomly and instantly.
  • Discord: A voice-over-IP (VOIP) app that allows users to video chat with others, private message, and join, create, or participate in public and private chat rooms. This app is often used by players to chat with each other while playing videogames.
  • Facebook and Facebook Live: The most commonly used social media site that is accessible on many different media platforms.
  • Instagram: A photo and video sharing and networking site that connects users through other social networking sites (e.g., Facebook).
  • Kik: Messaging app that allows users of all ages to contact others anonymously.
  • Line: A messaging app that allows users to make free phone calls, leave voice messages, and text. Users can delete texts or chats from recipient’s phone using a timer.
  • LiveMe: A tool to broadcast live-streaming videos and watch other users’ videos.
  • MeetMe: A dating app that connects users to others based on geographic proximity.
  • Omegle: An app that pairs users with strangers in anonymous one-on-one chat sessions.
  • Reddit: A site that stores social news, rates and evaluates web content, and discussion threads.
  • Sarahah: An anonymous messaging app that allows users to send anonymous messages to people they may know.
  • Snapchat: A photo messaging app that allows for sharing pictures and short videos that are intended to be erased shortly after delivery.
  • Telegram: Messaging app that allows users to share photos, videos, and files; make calls, and delete texts or chats from recipient’s phone using a timer.
  • TikTok: An app that allows users to create and share their own videos where they lip-synch, sing, dance, or just talk. 
  • Tumblr: A social networking site that allows posting of short blogs and media.
  • Twitter: A microblogging site that allows users to send, read, and reply to “tweets” or short messages.
  • Vine: An app that allows the posting of short 6-second looping videos.
  • WeChat: An app that allows user to chat with friends, and to search for people nearby and around the globe.
  • WhatsApp: A private messaging app that allows users to text, send photos, videos, and location information to their contacts.
  • Whisper: An anonymous social media site that allows users to post and share photo and video messages.
  • YouTube: A video sharing platform that allows users to post and share videos.
  • YUBO (formerly YELLOW): An app referred to as the “Tinder for teens” that allows users to swipe right or left to accept or reject the profiles of other users.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed, don’t worry, we’re here to help. Mashable compiled a list of the best parental control apps. However, to be utilized to the best of their ability, it is recommended that you speak with your child first and develop a rapport and an understanding. This will help lessen the likelihood of them rebelling or trying to find loopholes in the app(s). In addition to this, allowing them the ability to help decide the limits might make them more open to having these parameters.

Note: Some of these apps will work better on Android phones as opposed to iPhones, due to the app restrictions that Apple has in place.

Screen Time

Screen Time is an app that comes in two versions, the free and the premium. The free version allows parents to monitor how often their child has been using an app or apps. In addition to this you receive a daily report with a summary of what your child did on their phone that day. It also provides Android users with Web History, so you can see what your child has been browsing for on the Internet, as well as social media monitoring and their YouTube video history.

The premium version provides parents with the ability to control how often they use the apps. For example, if you have an Android, you can flat out block certain apps if you feel the need to do so. If you want to negotiate with your child, you could opt to set a time limit for certain apps. There’s also a very cool rewards system where you set up tasks and chores such as mowing the lawn, doing the dishes or completing their homework and once completed, you can add additional time to their time limits.

Free Version

  • App Usage
  • Daily Reports
  • Web History (Android only)
  • Social Media monitoring (Android only)
  • See YouTube videos watched (Android only)
  • 1 Device per child  

Premium Version: $6.99/month

  • App Usage
  • Daily Reports
  • Web History (Android only)
  • Search History (Android only)
  • Up to 5 devices per account
  • Daily Time Limit
  • Block certain apps (Android only)
  • Tasks & chores
  • Instant Pause
  • Free Play Mode
  • Bedtime app blocker
  • Schedules
  • Web Filtering
  • Geo-Trips
  • Location Tracking
  • Geofencing
  • Daily Email Summary
  • 24/7 friendly customer support

Qustodio

Qustodio is an app that encourages its users to invest in the premium version. Say your family has two children. Child A has their own phone and computer, and Child B has a phone, tablet, and computer. In this scenario, the Five Devices premium version would provide you with the peace of mind of being able to track and monitor all the devices.

Free version:
The Free version of Qustodio can protect a single device and includes basic protection features.

Premium Version:
Five devices: $54.95/year | 10 devices: $96.95/year | 15 devices: $137.95/year

  • Extended reporting
    Receive a full 30 day breakdown of your child’s activity directly in your inbox on a daily or weekly basis.
  • Basic Protection
    Qustodio’s world-class web filtering engine, time limits, and reporting features.
  • Time limits by device
    Easily set a time schedule or limits for how much internet time is allowed each day.
  • Games & Apps blocking
    Decide which games and applications can be used and when.
  • YouTube Monitoring
    See what your child searches for and watches on the YouTube Android app and YouTube website. Android, Windows, and Mac devices only.
  • Advanced Facebook Monitoring
    View status updates, pictures, friends, and more on social networks.
  • Call Tracking and Blocking for Android
    See who your child calls most and block unwanted numbers on Android.
  • Track SMS for Android
    See who your child texts most and read text messages.
  • Family Locator
    Find your child on the map and know where they have been. Available for Android and iOS only.
  • Panic Button for Android
    Adds an SOS button to your child’s Android smartphone that sends you location-based alerts when there’s trouble.
  • Priority Support
    To help you get set up with Qustodio and answer your questions.

Google Family Link

Google Family Link is FREE and provides you with the following features:

Guide them to good content

  • View their app activity – Not all screen time is the same. Help your child make healthy decisions about what they do on their Android device, with activity reports showing how much time they’re spending on their favorite apps. You can see daily, weekly, or monthly reports.
  • Manage their apps – Handy notifications let you approve or block apps your child wants to download from the Google Play Store. You can also manage in-app purchases, and hide specific apps on their device, all remotely from your own device.
  • Feed their curiosity – It can be hard to figure out what apps are right for your child, so Family Link shows you teacher-recommended apps on Android that you can add directly to their device.

Keep an eye on screen time

  • Set limits – It’s up to you to decide the right amount of screen time for your child. Family Link lets you set time limits and a bedtime for their supervised devices, so you can help them find a good balance.
  • Lock their device – Whether it’s time to go play outside, have dinner, or just spend time together, you can remotely lock a supervised device whenever it’s time to take a break.

See where they are

  • It’s helpful to be able to find your child when they’re on the go.
  • You can use Family Link to help locate them as long as they’re carrying their Android devices.

Norton 360 Deluxe

At a cost of $49.99/year (for the first year), Norton 360 Deluxe offers protection for up to 5 PCs, Macs, smartphones or tablets. This software suite offers the following:

  • Real-time Threat Protection
    Multi-layered, advanced security helps protect against existing and emerging malware threats to your devices, and help protect your private and financial information when you go online.
  • Secure VPN
    Browse anonymously and securely with a no-log VPN. Add bank-grade encryption to help keep your information like passwords and bank details secure and private.
  • Dark Web Monitoring
    Powered by LifeLock
    We monitor and notify you if we find your personal information on the Dark Web.
  • Password Manager
    Easily create, store, and manage your passwords, credit card information and other credentials online – safely and securely.
  • 50GB Cloud Backup
    Automatic, secure cloud backup for PCs – to store and protect important files and documents against hard drive failures, stolen devices and even ransomware.
  • Parental Control
    Manage your kids’ activities online. Help them explore, learn, and enjoy their connected world safely.
  • SafeCam
    Get notified if cybercriminals try to use your webcam, and we can help block them

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