I want to look at the options for cell phone parental control. In this article I will explore a couple of different ways to do this; using features available from some service providers, mainstream apps and the more comprehensive monitoring software programs.
Kids, at ever younger ages, are getting their hands on modern smart phones with full access to the Internet and all that entails. A 10-year-old with a smart phone without any sort of parental control in place can freely access the Internet, social media, chat rooms and much more.
They basically have a mini computer, but unlike their home PC it is not possible to be looking over their shoulder to keep a check on things – or is it?
There are a few different forms of parental control available for cell phones depending on how much control you need to have.
For younger kids, the more limited features from your service provider or mainstream apps may be all you need. I’ll also take a detailed look at what is available with dedicated monitoring software from MobiStealth, mSpy and Flexspy – comparing their parental control features. See them all in detail in my main reviews section here.
Service Provider Controls
Most of the major service providers have some sort of parental control options, some paid and some for free. Many of these features are aimed at controlling total phone usage by imposing limits to help parents avoid huge unexpected bills.
Some offer things like web blocking, where you can totally block access to the Internet or to specific sites and with some you can track your children’s cell phone. For anything but the most basic features there will usually be a monthly cost.
You can check out a great article at the Onlinemom.com – it goes into great detail about some of the parental control features offered by the major carriers such as AT&T, Sprint, Verizon and T-Mobile.
Using your service provider for parental control is very limited. They are more focused on saving money by setting Data caps and only offer very basic controls. For some people this may be enough but so much more is possible.
Using Mainstream Apps for Parental Control
By mainstream apps I mean some of the big brand monitoring software programs out there, which are clearly visible on the phone – not stealthy or hidden in any way. Apps like My Mobile Watchdog and Text Guard fall into this category and can offer some good controls.
The major issue with these programs is that your child will know they are there and that they are being monitored.
For many this may not be an issue but try telling most 13-year-olds that you’re putting monitoring software on their beloved cell phone! Remember that most of our kids are more advanced than us and will find ways around these sorts of controls, if they know that the software has been installed.
Using Spy Apps for Parental Control
The major so-called spy software companies have recognized that this is one of their biggest markets. Their advertizing has moved away from spying on spouses to the more ethical monitoring of kids and employees. Check out my comparisson of the Best Spy Apps here.
The big difference between these and mainstream apps is that they are totally hidden – the kids don’t need to know that they are being monitored. This gives you as a parent a huge advantage and will help you to find out what they are really getting up to.
This is perfectly legal for your own children under the age of consent in most countries. The ethical decision is down to you and your circumstances. The question is do you want to spy on your child or simply keep them safe – a sensible approach can find the middle ground.
Let’s take a look at what two of the most popular cell phone spy apps have to offer in terms of parental control.
Mobile Spy vs. StealthGenie for Parental Controls
Both of these programs have been busy adding features aimed at better monitoring of kids cell phones. Both have all the basic monitoring features you’d expect from spy software – monitoring texts, call logs, e-mail, web browsing history and GPS tracking.
Recent additions to their features include monitoring WhatsApp and other messenger services-widely used by today’s kids.
So what separates these two programs?
Mobile Spy Parental Controls
They have some unique features aimed at monitoring kids and adding some level of parental control.
App blocking – with this feature you can block certain apps on the cell phone. Things like YouTube, Facebook, messenger apps or even Internet access. You can choose to block some or all apps, easily configured in the Control Panel.
Lock and unlock the phone remotely – again from the online Control Panel you can totally lock the phone at any time and restrict their use.
View apps installed – this feature allows you to see all of the apps they have downloaded onto their cell phone.
Social networks – MobileSpy allows you to monitor activity on the major social platforms such as Facebook Twitter and WhatsApp.
Apps Installed and App Blocking are great features to give you extra control over what your children are exposed to when using their cell phones. Blocking individual apps can be very useful.
StealthGenie Parental Control Features
They were one of the first to recognize the importance of child monitoring and cell phone parental control features. They also offer a few advanced special features.
Call Recording and Phone Surroundings Recording. These features take cell phone monitoring to a whole new level and are not available with Mobile Spy. Now you can actually listen to the conversations in detail and have hard evidence of what is going on when you are not there.
For some people these features are really important, for others they are a step too far.
Other features which are great for monitoring your kids:
Instant Alerts – you can set up StealthGenie to send an alert whenever your child calls a specific number or if they send / receive a text or e-mail containing a predefined trigger word. This is easy to set up in the Control Panel and you can be notified instantly by text, e-mail or both, direct to your phone.
Lock the phone remotely – again a handy feature to give you some added control.
View Installed Apps – this will let you see all the apps installed on the phone however you cannot block certain apps with StealthGenie – yet.
There is not a lot between these two programs and it really depends on the features you feel you really need.
Both these programs offer pretty amazing monitoring capabilities. Compared to using service providers or mainstream apps, they offer so much more in terms of monitoring and advanced parental controls.
Installing spy software on your kid’s phone may be a step too far for some people but depending on your situation how far would you go to ensure your children’s safety. For many people they offer peace of mind and added security.
Don’t forget to check out my complete Guide to Cell Phone Spy Apps.