Monitoring your child’s smartphone is a thorny and often emotional topic for families. Kids feel like they are being spied on, while parents feel like they don’t know enough of what’s going on in their child’s digital world. The conversation between parents and children regarding monitoring and privacy needs to be ongoing, but even in the best-case scenario rarely satisfies both.

According to a recent Nielsen survey of the parents who have gotten their children a smartphone, 71% worried that their children would spend too much time on their device and 68% expressed concern over the lack of control over what their children would see online. These concerns are driving more parents to consider app and screen time management as fundamental, which is why Apple and Google have both started to make these features available free to parents. But parents are still forced to use crude methods to monitor what their children are doing online.

A Pew Research study highlights the many ways that parents attempt to monitor their children such as checking browser history, reviewing text messages and following them on social media sites, but these approaches miss where most activity takes place. While most parents want to allow their child a level of independent exploration, it is hard for them to determine when that independence becomes concerning.

Our recent Latch Mobile Survey of hundreds of parents uncovered these top concerns of parents of children with smartphones:

Feature Why It’s Ok... Why It Might Not Be...
Online Videos (e.g. YouTube and Musical.ly) Watching age appropriate shows, instructional videos for school, or sharing homemade music videos with friends. Stumbling into shows with inappropriate content. “Friending” strangers who appear to have kind profiles but may be predators.
Messaging (e.g. Texting and Snapchat) Communication with parents, friends, extended family. Bullying, sexting, inappropriate images. Messages in apps like Snapchat disappear before parents can see them.
Streaming Movies & Shows (e.g. Netflix and Hulu) Age appropriate entertainment. Immediate access to inappropriate movies or shows, even with parental controls turned on due to coarse settings and ratings..
Social Media (e.g. Facebook and  Instagram) Fun social connections with friends and family. Organizational tool for teams, clubs, and parties. Can be a minefield of bullying and peer pressure. Online predators may disguise themselves as “friends” and join social media groups.  Sharing of personal information
Web Information, news, education and entertainment. Inappropriate or dangerous content such as violence and pornography.
Games (e.g. Clash of Clans and Minecraft) Individual and social fun. Many apps include the ability to chat with other players including strangers and children might share personal information.

All of these smartphone features are avenues by which children can become vulnerable to online predators, exposed to harmful content, cyberbullying, and leaks of personal information. The younger the child--as this Common Sense Media infographic shows--the more involvement and oversight a parent needs.

Helping parents address these concerns is the focus of Latch Mobile. We provide parents with real time alerts whenever there is inappropriate content, a dangerous conversation, or harmful activity regardless of the app or website in which it occurs.

Latch Mobile is the only parental monitoring solution that meets the needs of everyone in the family. As a parent, it means you can know what is going on and still give your child some privacy and space to grow. For kids, this is a way for them to use a phone without mom or dad looking over their shoulder--until they need to.