Michael Andronico from tomguide.com says that getting your child a smartphone is a great way of ensuring you can reach them at any time, “but it also provides them with a gateway into tons of potentially harmful content”.
“Who are they texting? What types of websites are they visiting? These are just a couple of the concerns that might run through your head once you give your little one their first Internet-connected handset,” he says.
This is where spyware comes in handy. Spyware can be downloaded and installed on a smartphone to monitor minors and even keep track of employees, showing how much time they are spending visiting social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter. Depending on which program or app you choose, you can have access to all files, incoming and outgoing phone calls made and a history of the websites that have been visited.
Another feature is that you can track the phone online from any computer at any time – simply by entering your password and username. Spyware programs which can be purchased online can be installed on a smartphone without the target user being aware that they are being monitored.
According to the US National Crime Prevention Centre (www.ncpc.org), more than 40% of American teens with Internet access have reported being bullied online, with more than half never having told their parents. Remember, though, legal and ethical concerns have to be taken into account. For one thing, spyware should only be installed on a mobile device which is under your authority, such as a phone that has been ‘issued’ to your employee or child. To be safe when it comes to employees, visit cybercrime.org.za.
This very useful site has, among many other resources, a page covering the legality of spyware. As regards the ethical side, while it’s good parenting to install spyware on a young one’s smartphone, it is even better parenting to tell them that you have done so. This is, after all, not about being sneaky and mistrustful, it’s about protecting them.