WICHITA, Kansas – There is no doubt the childhood of a kid today looks far different from the childhood their parents experienced. Technology has changed the world, including the world of parenting. Kids are quick to learn new technology, which can be helpful but also dangerous.
Do you know what your kids are up to when they leave the house?
Melissa Wadkins remembers what it was like when she was a teenager like her 13-year-old son, Steven.
“Because I was his age,” says Melissa. “And I wasn’t an angel and I wasn’t raised strictly. I really wasn’t.”
That is one reason Melissa says she makes sure she always knows the who, what, and where when it comes to her son. He doesn’t have his own computer, tablet or cell phone.
“The best raised children make mistakes,” says Melissa. “They need monitoring.”
So how do you monitor your kids’ use of computers, cell phones or tablets? You use that same technology to track what they’re up to.
A free app called ‘Parent-Kit‘ lets you choose what features your kid can use and when and for how long. You simply schedule the time that certain features are allowed. When the time expires, the features are no longer usable.
“Well then I found out at 3:00 a.m. they were on an iPad on Facetime,” remembers Melissa.
“It wasn’t an iPad, it was a phone,” Steven reminds her. “And I think it was Snapchat he sent her asking her out for me.”
Can you really know what photos and messages your kids are sending online? Yes, you can. An app called ‘TeenSafe‘ lets you register your kid’s device — in this case an iPad — and then lets you monitor what text messages and phone calls they are sending and receiving. It even lets you monitor things like Facebook and Instagram so you can see what photos they are sending who and who’s following them.
Melissa says, aside from making unsupervised use of the Internet and his own cell phone against the rules, she also randomly checks Steven’s backpack and coat pockets. What other parents may view as too much control doesn’t bother her.
“Are you kidding? They’re kids. You’re not invading their privacy. It’s my home. Until they’re 18 and out, my rules.”
Speaking of rules, do you find your child avoiding your phone calls? You need an app called ‘Ignore No More‘. When you child doesn’t answer your phone call, it gives you the ability to lock their phone until they call you back. The only feature left usable is a call to you or any listed emergency contact. It provides pretty good motivation for always answering your calls.
“I don’t feel like I’m missing out on anything,” says Steven.
Steven says he is used to the rules and has seen more negative things that technology allows more than the benefits.
“One of my friends, she gets picked on all the time because she’s had a couple boyfriends,” Steven says. “And they just call her mean names because she’s had more than one boyfriend. The kids who are picking on her, their parents don’t really monitor what they’re doing on their phone — like they’ll send her mean texts.”
And that’s something Steven says he doesn’t want to be a part of.
“They use them mostly as toys I guess. They’re always on apps and playing around on them.”
“I think peer pressure is probably the biggest thing,” said Melissa. “Getting into things they shouldn’t be getting into.”
There are more parental control options available for older kids who are of driving age. New technology on cars is becoming standard to help keep your kids safe when they’re out on the road. You can catch a full interview outlining some of those features by clicking here.
We have also shared a list of several options helping with parental controls, including the apps mentioned in this story below.