ADDitude Approved: 3 Apps to Keep Kids Safe
Parental control apps to give nervous moms and dads peace of mind as their kids gain more independence with mobile devices and social media.
Reviewed on August 16, 2018
Basic version is free; premium version starts at $9.99; iOS, Android; kidgy.com
Kidgy is the all-in-one parental control app for “digital parents.” Worried that your kid isn’t where she claims to be? Kidgy’s GPS tracking gives you real-time updates on her location, and allows you to set “barriers” around your neighborhood — and notifies you when they’re crossed. Suspect your child is scrolling through Instagram during class? Kidgy allows you to block certain apps during the school day, at night, or whenever you want your child to take a break.
Kidgy does a lot — and children may feel like their every move is being monitored. While it’s true that Kidgy grants your child little privacy, there are a few features that may help put him at ease. For starters, the app includes a “panic button” that your child can press whenever he’s feeling unsafe. You’ll be alerted immediately, with his GPS location sent to your phone. Kidgy also allows parents and kids to track chores, assignments, and schedules — a boon to the disorganized child who forgets to feed the dog.
True Motion Family
Free; iOS, Android; gotruemotion.com
Your teen just got her driver’s license, and she’s thrilled. While you want her to experience everything adolescence has to offer, you also know that ADHD symptoms can lead to distracted or dangerous driving habits.
TrueMotion Family can help. The app runs in the background of your family’s phones, monitoring how fast each user drives, how often they check their phone, and when they speed or brake abruptly. Each ride is assigned a “score,” and family members can compete to be the safest driver.
Teens are more likely to resent the use of a “parental control” app. Rafi Finegold, VP of Product at TrueMotion, knows that teens don’t like feeling distrusted. That’s why his team designed the app to be a “two-way street,” encouraging safer driving for everyone in the family.
“When parents frame the app’s use as ‘We as a family should work on driving more safely’ — and teens see how Mom and Dad score — they’re more likely to be on board.”
229.99/month for Basic; $199.99/year for Premium; iOS, Android, Web
mSpy takes “parental control” further, allowing parents to use either their phone or computer to track their child’s social media accounts (including Snapchat, WhatsApp, and Kik), Internet activity, address book, and more. If your child accesses something online, you’ll know—and, in theory, put a stop to bullying or dangerous behavior before things get out of hand.
The app, like Kidgy, recommends that parents don’t try to keep the app a secret from their child. Rather, mSpy encourages parents to talk openly about trust, boundaries, and safety.
“Parents cannot lean on kids’ understanding of privacy and decent online behavior,” says Kate Green, a PR rep for mSpy. “You cannot read kids’ thoughts, and often they do not open up. [mSpy is] not about invading, it’s about caring—which means you have to know more about your kid than they sometimes want you to know.”