Spying on Your Kids’ Phones, for Their Own Good
Five days ago, I awoke to find an angry 15-year-old standing at the foot of my bed, intent on causing me grievous bodily harm. Fortunately, the most lethal thing my daughter had at her disposal was a pillow.
“If you don’t take that thing off my phone right now, I’m going to murder you in your sleep,” she seethed.
My wife patiently explained that now that she had woken me up her plan wasn’t going to work so well, and that unless she wanted everything she was saying to end up in an article on Yahoo Tech, she might want to consider shutting her trap.
She hurled the pillow at my head and stormed out.
My daughter was angry because I had recently installed an app that limits the amount of time she can spend doing certain things on her phone. Apparently her inability to play Kim Kardashian: Hollywood for hours on end had now ruined her life.
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Had my darling 15-year-old stuck around longer, I would have explained that she was getting off easy. With the right software, I could have locked down every feature of her phone, pried into every corner of her digital existence, and felt totally justified in doing so. Why? Because I would be doing it to keep her safe.Why worry?
According to Pew Research, 80 percent of teenagers use cellphones; nearly half of those are smartphones. Parents have good reasons to be concerned about how their progeny are using them — from how much time kids spend with their noses glued to a 4-inch screen to the apps they’re using, the sites they’re visiting, and the information they’re sharing.
A McAfee survey released in June revealed that one in four kids say they’ve been cyberbullied. Various surveys estimate that anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of teens have sent or received sexually explicit text messages.
The headlines are filled with horror stories of what can go wrong when you put a piece of ultra-sophisticated technology in the hands of an unmonitored teenager. In May, six San Francisco high school students were expelled for taking upskirt videos of their biology teacher and sharing them around the school. Law enforcement officials in Texas are going to insane lengths to prosecute a 17-year-old who texted nude photos of himself to his 15-year-old girlfriend, accusing him of trafficking in child porn. Dozens of college careers have been scuttled before they’ve even begun because of “private” photos or texts that found their way onto public networks.