Monitor Your Kids: There's An App For That - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Monitor Your Kids: There's An App For That

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You want to do all you can to keep your family safe and there are lots of smartphone apps that promise to help you do that.

KMPH Fox 26 News reporter Erick Rosales investigated what the apps promise to do and he uncovered that some of those apps designed to help your children may actually cause problems for you and your kids.

TechMamas founder, Beth Blecherman says for many families, tech safety is trending, with a growing number of apps designed to make you safer with your smartphone. "You can actually track your child through 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," said Blecherman.

Several apps will monitor your kids offline, using GPS to pinpoint their location. That's the case with Find My Kids, Family Tracker and the Life360 family locator app, which also tells you about 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.

But when it comes to all this oversight, are parents crossing a line between safety and privacy? Psychoanalyst Robin Stern, PhD says age is an important consideration, and privacy becomes more of an issue in teenage years. "What we know about brain development is that at about 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 and beyond, and again, that, it depends on the individual," said Stern.

Stern believes parents have to teach their children how to handle situations that could lead to trouble, and not count on an app for that. "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," said Stern

TechMama founder Beth Blecherman points out that it's 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.

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