Spying on your children – how much is too much? And what should you be doing?

How often do you spy on your child’s online activity? And how much should you be spying? Read tips to help keep your children safe. 

Snooping, or spying on your children has always been a hot topic amongst parents. Some believe the right thing to do is to keep a watchful eye, while others disagree with invasive methods.

There many ways you can spy on your children – from occasionally reading their text messages, to installing a tracking device to keep tabs on their movements.

And whatever way you keep tabs on your child, it can be reassuring to know that it’s actually more common than you think. A recent survey conducted by Space Station, found that almost two thirds (61%) of parents in the UK have admitted to spying on their children, with more than a third (34%) continuing even after they have hit the age of 18.

How much spying is too much?

It’s easy to understand why parents want (and even need) to spy on their children today. With the age of technology, it’s much easier for children to get caught up in online activities, such as watching x-rated videos, downloading malicious content, cyber bullying or gaining unwanted attention.

Having access to a mobile phone and the internet does has its positives; it allows children to keep in contact with family and friends, as well as researching topics for school or learning about new things.

With such a mixture of positives and negatives for your child having access to technology, how much snooping is too much snooping?

Here are some helpful tips to maintain a balance of keeping your child safe, but allowing them that all important independence that they need as they grow into adulthood. 

Communicate with each other

As a parent, it’s your right to keep a watchful eye on your child. Whether you’d prefer to monitor their every movement, or prefer to keep a watchful eye from the sidelines, it’s important to communicate with your children on how you plan to monitor their internet usage or phone calls.

Create a rapport with your child and explain what you will be monitoring, and most importantly why. If you plan on checking through their social media accounts, photos or messages, explain why and how important it is to keep them safe.

This will help your child understand why it’s important for you to check through their phone, rather than you just being nosey. Going behind their back is not ideal, as this could lead to trust issues or arguments.  

Install parental control apps on their devices

To keep your children safe online, you could download parental control apps. Again, this is something that you should be upfront about with your child to avoid any arguments or feelings of distrust.

Parental control apps are fantastic for not only keeping your child safe, but also their device. Consider downloading malware apps or software to limit the risk of viruses and to help keep their accounts, data and personal information safe. You could also consider a screen time limit app, which allows you to set time limits which can block malicious content and also stop certain apps from working past a set time.

 Track your child’s movements with a location app

Location apps aren’t for every parent, and some may find them a step too far, but for those considering location apps, there are plenty to choose from.

Location apps have the benefit of not only allowing you to track your child’s location, but some also allow you to access their smartphone’s data, such as messages, photos and browsing history. Alternatively, most smartphones come with built-in location tracking. For iPhone users, Find My iPhone easily allows you to be able to locate any iOS device, such as an iPhone or Apple Watch. 

Set boundaries

If you do choose to keep a watchful eye on your children, set boundaries for what you plan on monitoring. If you intend on just checking their social media accounts every so often, communicate this to them, but don’t look through their text messages or photos without mentioning this first to them. Spying on them using a different method to those agreed could result in arguments or the loss of trust from your child.

If you do decide to monitor your children, set boundaries and communicate with them to help ensure a healthy balance of keeping your child safe, but allowing them to freedom and independence growing children crave.

Read more parenting tips

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Photo by Dollar Gill