Tech safety is trending for families with a growing number of apps designed to make you safer with your smartphone, but how well can you really trust and depend on this technology?
“One of the reasons I do it is just so we can monitor their safety," said Julia Roberts. Roberts is a mother who uses safety apps to track where her family is at all times.
“You can actually track your child thru the device. you can put on web filters. You can control access for them not to download any apps at all, you have to approve it,” Beth Blecherman with Techmamas.com said.
Apps can monitor your kids offline, using GPS to pinpoint their location.
That’s the case with ‘Find my kids’, ‘Family tracker’ and the ‘Life360’ which also shows nearby registered sex offenders. Other apps, like 'Mamabear’ and ‘Appcertain’, will tell you what your kids are exposed to online through their phone and even offer controls to limit what web sites they can visit, or who they add as contacts.
“With Appcertain you can actually set curfews for digital devices for the kids and I think that’s really important, because kids have a hard time managing their screen time,” Blecherman said.
But when it comes to all this oversight, are parents crossing a line between safety and privacy? Psychoanalyst Robin Stern of Yale University says privacy becomes an issue in teenage years.
“What we know about brain development is that at about age 16, things get a lot better in kids’ ability to make decisions, so between 13 and 16 your kids probably need more monitoring than they will at 16,” Stern said.
She believes parents not apps have to teach their children how to handle situations that could lead to trouble.
“No new innovation in technology is going to take the place of those important conversations about what do you do when you’re confronted with a stranger, online, across the street, in the supermarket,” Stern said.
Blecherman points out its important for parents and kids to agree on the use of these apps. She says otherwise, many teens might just find ways to work around various monitors and controls.