Category Archives: Sexting

Apps to spy on your childrens mobile phones

Social Identity in the world

We look at the growing number of apps that spy on the mobile phone activity of your children.  An increasing number of parents feel the need to spy on their children’s cell phones to keep up with who they talk to and what they share. One thing to remember is that all of the data you are tracking is being sent from your child’s phone to the Internet and then stored there. While all of these services use encryption to store the data, the fear it is out there is always on our mind.

While we feel there are better ways, we look at the growing market of applications. A step you can take on a schedule, or even better randomly, is to sit with your child and ask to see their phone. Browse through the pictures, apps and contacts.  Learn the slang they use in texts. Check for history in the Direct Messages of Instagram, Facetime talks and more.  Compare it to how  your job owns your work email content, computer and provided phone if you are paying the bill you own theirs.

Remember that cyber bullying is a real issue and we are proud to be on the Board of Directors for the Megan Meier Foundation. You should be involved with your kid online activity and have open communication. Do not rely only on these applications.

Watch me in the following video that aired Jul 2016 on KSDK (NBC) News Channel 5 about this very topic before we look at apps.  Follow me on every network as @IdoNotes (Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and everything else)

Below is some of the top apps for monitoring your child’s mobile phone activity.

New Tools Let You Block Your Kids From Texting While Driving

Parents are always nervous about their kids being distracted while driving.  Carrying those trusty mobile devices are a key to constant communication with your child as well as your child with their friends.  So how do you balance both?  An enhancement coming from many of the cellular carriers will make an attempt to offer some peace of mind that kids will not be texting while driving.

The Family Locator service many of the carriers offer allows the parent to know where the phone is (and hopefully with the child) via a web interface or mobile application.  This gives some mental ease to parents being able to get a visual clue of the child’s location.  New enhancements will allow the parent to block the ability to text while the phone is in motion.  The plus side is it will remove the ability while they drive, but also restrict it while they ride with you.

Some other abilities coming include:

  • being able to see/approve photos before they leave the phone
  • see contents of text messages
  • stop certain web searches
  • block the downloading of applications or some applications

There is a fine balance between the trust factor and the exposure technology brings through these devices.  With the carriers offering more granular controls, parents can offer a better experience while receiving a level of comfort.  But, this will not come without an additional monthly cost.

Sexting – your kids doing it?

Sexting is the act of a minor sending photo images via cell phone to someone else.  Many of our kids have cell phones with cameras, coupled with the ability to send MMS (basically rich media messages) and pictures over their SMS.  While parents happily and unhappily buy their kids unlimited text messaging from carriers, you don’t see the contents or to whom on those monthly bills.   This is the surprising moment to many parents when the kids get caught either by them or an official.

In recent news, many children (I use this terms since we have to deal with underage issues) are facing charges when caught.  I went through about 15 articles and there was one common thread, the photos got shared far beyond the intended recipient by the resending of the photo to friends, showing the actual picture on the phone and alarmingly the number of school administrators that would see a photo once it was discovered.  Here is the scenario:

  • Girl gets request or for fun sends picture of herself unclothed in some manner to a boy.
  • Boy may or may not show his friends, but that can make a difference too
  • Someone finds the picture on the boys phone.  This could be a parent or school administrator
  • School administrator not only notifies parents on both sides, but the local police resource officer so many schools have
  • Girl is charged with distributing child pornography
  • Boy is charged with possessing child pornography

From January 2009:

This week, three teenage girls who allegedly sent nude or semi-nude cell phone pictures of themselves, and three male classmates in a western Pennsylvania high school who received them, are charged with child pornography.

I first asked myself, well how did they find out?  The answer was too obvious.  One of the children had turned on their cellphone during school hours, and got caught.

So who is at fault?  The sender for taking the picture.  Is a hormone driven teenager guilty of child pornography charges for pictures of herself?  I tend to say no since they are of herself and she willingly took them.  Is the recipient guilt of possession of child pornography?  If the recipient did not immediately delete the pictures I have to say yes.  Even though we are talking about a minor to a minor.  Sure, we can argue they didn’t know better.  We can’t argue that they were consenting, since they are minors right?  We have to agree that if the recipient kept the photos and never shared them with anyone, then they had what transgression?  It is such a gray area that you would hate to see someone get labeled for life as a sex offender for getting a picture on the cellphone.  Sharing the information with 200 friends might be a different matter that would have to be judged though.

From Mar 2009, we get a new jolt to the issue.  School administrators taking part in this same activity with students.  In this case it was a 17 year old female and a male administrator.  She had sent him photos of herself and at no time did he tell her to stop.  But the basic part was how they got each others cell phone numbers.  She was their babysitter.  So while we find out both of them have issues to deal with, the problem of sexting is not isolated to our kids today.

Summary: A new part of the ever growing technology is impacting how our kids interact.  Instead of judging each individual child, have we taught them what is proper etiquette when using the devices?  Do we regularly check their phones to see what is going on?  Do you have privacy issues with your kids?  Could you even discuss a topic like this with them?  Do you know where they send text messages to at all?  How about who they receive them from?  have you ever seen any content?