There has been a lot of discussion lately regarding teenagers and their relationships with Social Media, and many parents are now looking for ways in which to spy on their teenagers online activity, spy on text messages and more importantly, how to spy on a cell phone.
A story went viral across social networks, after a middle school teacher from Utah, USA had asked 100 or so ninth-graders to finish the sentence: “What my parents don’t know about Social Media…”. Apparently the answers were quite shocking, as the students confessed to swearing, looking at ‘rude’ pictures, using their phone to text when they were supposed to be doing homework or sleeping, some referred to cyber bullying, sexting, porn and secret accounts. All incredibly inappropriate, and parents worldwide are apparently shocked to the core.
Wait. Stop. Rewind…
You may have noticed that I used the word ‘apparently’, twice in the last paragraph. Apparently the answers the children gave were shocking. Apparently the parents are shocked by this. I’m sorry, but the only thing apparent about any of this, is that either the parents of today are completely ignorant, or that we have simply reached a stage where we blindly believe and follow everything we read on the internet.
As a parent, I am not shocked at all by what those children wrote. I have absolutely no doubt that my teenagers get up to things they shouldn’t – and to be honest, I’d rather not know the gruesome details (but that’s just me). Have you never looked under your teenage son’s bed and wished you hadn’t? Have you never had to put a crusty sock through the washing machine? Have you never sent your daughter up to her bedroom to get changed when she tries to leave the house dressed in what looks like underwear?
History Repeats Itself, Yet Evolves At The Same Time
Teenagers push the limits whenever they can. It’s part of growing up, of exploring oneself, of testing boundaries. We were all teenagers once, and I’m sure we all did things that we are thankful our parents never found out about. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t be concerned – of course we should! But shocked? No. This should come as no surprise.
- Shakespeare’s Romeo & Juliet – teenage gangs brawling in the streets, and teenagers suiciding because their parents ‘just didn’t understand’…
- In 1517, the Mercers’ guild complained that many of their teenage apprentices “have greatly mysordered theymself“, spending their masters’ money on “harlotes… dyce, cardes and other unthrifty games“.
- In a speech to the House of Commons on February 28, 1843, Anthony Ashley Cooper, the 7th Earl of Shaftesbury, ranted: “…a fearful multitude of untutored savages… [boys] with dogs at their heels and other evidence of dissolute habits…[girls who] drive coal-carts, ride astride upon horses, drink, swear, fight, smoke, whistle, and care for nobody…the morals of children are tenfold worse than formerly.”
Throughout history, teenagers just have not changed, and parents have always felt that their generation of teenagers is worse than ever before… The question is, what are we to do about it in 2018, and how do we address our issues? Because as with every other generation before us, teenagers face a whole new world to the world we faced, and as it has been throughout history, there is no previous example to go by. It’s all new. Social Media is new, and it’s the world our children were born into – the world they will own and control as they grow into adults.
For the first time, parents have been given an easy answer. Thanks to the wonders of modern technology, the same technology that created Social Media and these new worries for parents of teenagers has given us the ability to fight our teenagers at their own game. Spy Apps.
What is a Spy App?
In a nutshell, a Spy App allows a parent to covertly place an application on a ‘target smartphone’ or ‘target computer’, allowing the parent complete access to anything that happens on that phone or PC. At this point in time, it is perfectly legal to use this type of technology on your own children. The parent can view the activity on their own phone or computer, either as a report, or as notifications in real time regarding specific events. The child or teenager has no knowledge of the fact they are being spied on, and the parent can then determine whatever course of action they desire in response. It is typically a subscription type service, paid either monthly or yearly..
There are many companies providing this kind of service, but today I am looking at the mSpy application. mSpy is currently the market leader in this area, and has by far the widest range of features and packages available, to suit all different types of situation, so I felt it would be a great app to explore in order to show you the extent of what a Spy App is capable of. Please bear in mind that some features require the ‘target phone’ to be jailbroken, and there are slight differences in features available on iOS to Android.
So here goes…..
MANAGE CALLS AND TRACK TEXT MESSAGES
- Check time of all incoming and outgoing calls
- Call duration
- Number of calls made
- All available information for any contact in the address book
- Block phone calls from unwanted numbers
- View all text and SMS Messages, incoming, outgoing, deleted.
- View all media shared and received via SMS and MMS
MONITOR MESSAGING APPS
WhatsApp – Snapchat – Facebook Messenger – iMessage – Google Hangouts – Line – Viber – Kik – Instagram – Skype
- Monitor all photos and videos sent, received or downloaded
- Track date, time and duration of every call sent or received.
- Read all chats and messages sent, received or deleted
- Date and time stamps as well as recipient name
- View private or secret conversations
- View group chat session logs
- Look through shared links
- Immediate updates or chats sent directly to you if your child is chatting with strangers or sharing inappropriate content on some platfroms
- Blocking feature to restrict undesired contacts on some platforms
Telegram offers messages that self-destruct for greater privacy, making it a favourite tool for online predators. Telegram is most often used to share files, which means that it can be used for exchanging undesirable or possibly illegal content
- Monitor all contacts
- See all text messages, file exchanges, and timestamps
- View secret chats
Tinder is one of the fastest growing dating apps on the Internet, which works together with Facebook to quickly browse profiles of members close to your location.
- Browse all conversations
- View all matches and your child’s preferences
- Monitor all your child’s matches and oversee the search parameters they set
GPS LOCATING AND GEOFENCING
- View current whereabouts on a detailed map
- Check route history over a specific period of time
- Set barriers drawn on a digital map and get alerted immediately if the barriers are breached.
- Set safe boundaries for your child such as home, school, or a carer’s house.
- Monitor the movement of your child’s smartphone.
- Receive email notifications every time your child enters or exits a safe zone.
- Monitor when and how often each zone is visited
CONTROL DOWNLOADED APPS AND PROGRAMS
- View all installed applications
- Block selected installed applications
- Monitor the times and frequency of allowed apps
- Monitor newly downloaded apps including dating apps, games, Facebook messaging and more Monitor activities and set limits to help your child avoid unhealthy online behaviors
- Monitor every stroke on your child’s mobile device keyboard or keypad
- Receive notifications whenever inappropriate keywords or phrases are used on your child’s phone.
- Specify keywords and mSpy lets you know in real-time whenever they are used. Whether they are used by your child in a search or received in a text through a conversation with someone else, you’ll be notified immediately whenever they appear on your child’s phone
VIEW MULTIMEDIA FILES
- Browse all pictures downloaded onto your child’s phone
- Get time and date stamps for each photo taken
- View all photos as thumbnails
- Browse videos on your child’s phone
- View date and time stamps on all videos
- Access video log history
- View every video your child receives, shares, downloads or takes with his/her phone camera
MONITOR INTERNET ACTIVITY
- Browsing History/Blocking Websites
- View all websites bookmarked in your child’s web browser.
- Filter online content and analyze all browsing history data
- Check date and time stamps to see when sites were visited
- Establish specific times when access to certain sites is restricted
- If a website includes racist, violent or explicit sexual content and your child bookmarks it, you will be immediately notified.
- Website blocking feature Allows you to block access to websites that may contain inappropriate content, including 18+ materials, racism, drug usage, violence etc.
- Identify the name of the Wi-Fi access point the device is connected to
- Track down the accurate location of a wireless access point
- Find out what type of connection it is (Public, WPA, WPA2, WPA-PSK, etc.)
- Find out when the connection with Wi-Fi AP was established/disabled
- Remotely prevent users from establishing connections with an unsafe Wi-Fi hotspot
- Wi-Fi Network location tracking provides you with more precise location details than GPS tracking
ACCESS EMAILS, CONTACTS AND CALENDAR
- Monitor content from all incoming and outgoing emails
- View date and time stamp of every email
- See the name and contact information of the sender/recipient saved in the address book
- Supervise entries made on your child’s phone calendar
- Browse scheduled meetings. Oversee meeting details
- If your child makes an unusual entry into their calendar, you’ll be notified immediately
- View all names, numbers and other contact details, such as business/home addresses, emails and more, stored in the address book
- Device Locking
- Lockout your child’s phone if it has been stolen
- Find the locked phone and unlock it from Control Panel
- Additional Device Info
- View the battery charging status
- See the type of Internet connection (Wi-Fi or cellular)
- Check the device’s mobile operator
Control Panel is your personal control board, where you can view all monitored data remotely. Contacts, call logs, locations, text messages and other features are presented to you in a comprehensive report.
- Generate reports and have them sent straight to your personal panel depending on your requests: (e.g.all calls, messages, locations)
- Set monitoring time period
- Export into files (XLS, CSV)
- Keep tabs on several devices at once
- Alerts if the application is removed from the target device
mSpy Sum Up
I think you will agree that this is pretty hard core stuff. If you had concerns about what your teenager was doing online, then this app will certainly be able to fill in the blanks for you. I’d like to think I am pretty internet savvy, and I can’t see anything missing from this list!
My personal opinion, is that this app has a few really useful features. I’m a fan of GPS tracking, and geofencing can be put to really good use, especially with younger teens. I like the keyword feature as it can run in the background and only alert me if there are issues. Website blocking is something that should be in place anyway with any child, and I do admit to checking my kids browser history from time to time. I don’ think I would need to be covert to use these features, but rather use them openly, as a condition of allowing my child to even have a smartphone.
However… I feel that some of the other features are an invasion of privacy. I also think, that if these features were available to you, as a parent, even if you told yourself you wouldn’t use them, curiosity would eventually get the better of you. I think if you monitored every movement your teenager was making online, that you would end up worrying even more, and spying on your teen might just end up an obsession. I don’t believe that doing anything covertly within a family unit is not going to end well. Honesty is the best policy, as as parents we should lead by example.
Final Words on How To Spy On A Cell Phone
If you want to spy on text messages sent by your teen, monitor social networks and track your kids location quickly and easily – mSpy can do that, and do it in an easy and affordable way. However, I urge you to consider WHY you want to do this? I appreciate that each family faces it’s own unique challenges, and that some teens find themselves in over their heads in certain situations, in which case, a total tracking solution may be the right way to go.
Generally speaking though, just because this technology is available to you, doesn’t mean you should necessarily use it. At least, not without some deep thought. Technology cannot replace actual parenting, and spying will not replace discussion. If discovering what teens do on Social Media shocks you, then I fear the problem lies with YOU, not with your teenager, and perhaps YOU should log off Facebook and spend some one on one time with your child!
You have two options below… a banner that will take you directly to the mSpy homepage, where you can find out more about this application, and set your family on a path with an unknown destination. Or, below the banner, is a carefully selected range of parenting books available from Amazon. Books written by Psychologists, Counsellors and Child Experts, that may help you to understand your child more and help promote discussion and trust within your family unit.
If you have read this far, congratulations, it’s a long article! Hopefully I have got you thinking, and that your next actions are based on reason and a good internal judgement of your motivations, not following the crowd after a 500 word viral post on Facebook… the choice is yours.