What the Tech? Monitoring your child's activity on their smartphone
If you're a parent, you have probably walked into a room and saw your child quickly put down their phone to hide the screen from you. What are they doing?
It's easy for them to watch pornography, broadcast or live-stream themselves from their room, send or receive nude photos and videos, take part in bullying, or be bullied themselves. That kind of thing happens every day with teenagers and young children. It's a much scarier world than the one their parents grew up in.
Even if you don't suspect your kids are involved in any of this, they could be. But how do you find out what's on the screen?
Is his or her phone on your phone plan? How about your iPhone account. If you haven't done it yet, set up Family Sharing by going to 'settings' on your phone, tap your name and then Family Sharing. Now if they download an app, it'll show up on your account.
You can also open up the App Store and see every app purchased by anyone on the account. You can see what they're doing on their phone or any connected device with Disney's Circle Go. This device connects to smartphones, computers, gaming systems, and will send parents an alert if they've been on their device for too long. Parents can turn off WiFi at dinnertime, and can see what websites the kids are visiting. For an additional monthly subscription, parents can see what they're doing when they're on someone else's WiFi network.
If you can look at their phone, look for an extra calculator app icon. There are dozens of apps that act as a hidden locker and nearly all of them are disguised as a calculator. They can hide photos, videos, contacts, anything really in these lockers and parents won't notice. These apps act as a calculator, but when a certain equation is entered, the locker opens. But fair warning, some of these hidden lockers have double secret codes. If a parent asks to unlock the locker, they can enter a fake equation to open a locker where they've stored a few innocent photos. Parents don't know there's a second hidden locker opened by a different equation.
Parents can use these tricks to find out what the kids are doing, but kids are always figuring out other ways to be sneaky. It's best to talk with kids about what's out there and what you expect from their online lives.