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5 Features to Look For In a Parental Monitoring App

Are you interested in knowing if your child is using his or her mobile device inappropriately? If so, there are many parental monitoring apps to choose from with varying levels of control, ranging from disabling device features to borderline spyware. With so many options available, how do you choose the right one for your family? Before selecting a parental monitoring app ask yourself the following question:

Which features should I look for when comparing parental monitoring apps?

Here are 5 features you should look for when choosing a parental monitoring app. Hopefully, they will guide you to a choice that meets the needs of your family:

1. Automated analysis of your child's content

According to a recent study by the Pew Research Center, 91% of teen cell phone owners use text messaging — either directly through their mobile phones or through an app or a website. The number of text messages sent or received by teen’s ages 13 to 17 on a typical day is 30. That number is higher for girls, who typically send and receive 40 messages a day, and increases as teen’s age. Instead of manually inspecting your child’s messages daily choose a parental monitoring app that automates the process for you. No need to hassle your child to hand over his or her mobile device.

2. Protection of your child’s privacy

There are few worse ways to lose your child’s trust than to violate his or her privacy. A parental monitoring app should not be used to spy on your child. Stay away from products that allow you to snoop through your child's mobile device or send you a copy of their messages. Instead look for apps that promote trust and communication with your child. Remember, it's far more important to know something inappropriate occurred than it is to see the offending content.

3. Intelligently differentiate between appropriate and inappropriate content

Teens are constantly changing the slang words and idioms used amongst their peers. Simply applying a keyword look-up is not enough to differentiate appropriate from inappropriate content. Choose a monitoring app that uses semantics and context to analyze content. This allows for the differentiation of content with similar sentiment. For example “I hate traffic” would identify as appropriate while “everyone hates you” would identify as inappropriate.

4. Send alert notifications when inappropriate content is detected

If inappropriate content is found on your child's mobile device you'd likely want to know if it was sent or received, the date and time it was transmitted, the type of inappropriateness, and the application used to transmit the content. This information alone is enough to begin a conversation with your child. Anything more, such as whom your child was communicating with or what was in the offending content could be found out by talking with your child.

5. Provide digital resources for parent and child

Do you know what to say to a child who is being bullied, or having an inappropriate conversation with a stranger? While alert notifications by themselves are helpful, they should be accompanied with resources that promote digital citizenship for children and help parents start a conversation with their child based on the alert they received. Choose a monitoring app that provides access to digital resources for parents and children.

Jason is a Co-Founder of PocketGuardian, a parental monitoring application that detects Cyberbullying and Sexting on children’s mobile devices while maintaining their privacy. Prior to PocketGuardian he founded Tangent Engineering, which creates custom software applications specializing in CyberSecurity, Natural Language Processing, and Web Design. Jason graduated from Carnegie Mellon University with a Bachelors of Science in Electrical & Computer Engineering and a Masters in Information Systems Management with a concentration in CyberSecurity. Follow PocketGuardian on Twitter @PocketGuardian.

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