Category Archives: Parents

Parental Surveillance: to Survey or not to Survey

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Contemporary parents’ options for keeping track of their children’s activities and whereabouts are numerous. Most people think of cell phone tracking as the most convenient tool for monitoring their teenagers’ lives, and it may indeed be convenient, but there are other sides to using this and other types of surveillance, i.e. ethical and psychological. How can a balance be attained between keeping children safe and relatively independent and parents – relatively calm?

Technological accomplishments are now available to the masses, and cell phone surveillance is among the accessible options. It used to be that only private investigators and corporate security departments (aside from police, of course) could intrude on people’s privacy and go unnoticed, now anyone can do it with the least amount of effort. If we consider the short-term efficiency, cell phone spying seems like a perfect method for worried parents to make sure that their teenagers are not out of line, but as far as the long-term behavioral effects and psychological consequences go, it is a dubious issue.

A false sense of security?

We live in the times when realizing that your child has left home without his or her cell phone sets off a panic attack in both parents and children. However, the sense of security accorded by the cell phones is a double-edged sword. Indeed, a great number of the threats children encounter today are linked closely to mobile devices and the Internet. Cell phone monitoring creates a feeling that parents can avert all these dangers in the making, but the situation is far from being that simple. Some of the surveillance we now consider a desperate necessity only emerged a decade or two ago, and the need for it is often exaggerated by the increasingly apprehensive atmosphere in the world in general, and, in particular, the marketing strategies that play on the parents’ weak spots, one of which, undoubtedly, is a child’s safety. However, continuous communication with your child or teenager is the key to a better relationship, where sharing is a norm, and no surveillance is required.

Technological options

However, if you do choose to track your child’s cell phone, there is a vast range of software on the market which allows to read messages, turn on the camera and microphone remotely, keep track of social media activity, track current location via GPS, even listen in on conversations. These include mSpy, Highster Mobile, FlexiSpy, and many others, from free to rather pricey versions.

Psychological and behavioral effects

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In any case, the effect that such surveillance has on both parents and children is debatable, to say the least. It most certainly affects the quality of the bond in a negative manner, since the parental lack of trust can not go unnoticed, even if the actual spying is. It will eat away at the parents and make them desire more and more control over the child’s surroundings, even though teaching children how to be safe and independent may be a wiser thing to do. Meanwhile the children, who are well aware that a possibility of cell phone surveillance exists, may become more secretive and less likely to share with parents of their own will. Moreover, keeping your child on a short virtual leash is not particularly conducive to the separation they need to be making from their parents during the teenage years. How will they learn to live independently and make responsible choices if they are not allowed any freedom, which includes the freedom to have their privacy and the freedom to make mistakes? Will they learn that the key issue is whether your behavior is discovered, rather than the behavior itself? It is a very fine line that the parents, as (hopefully) the wiser ones in the parent-teenager relationship have to be very conscious about.

The teen years are the most challenging for both parents and teenagers. We hope that you’ll be able to come up with your unique combination of mechanisms to ensure your child’s safety, including deliberate and well-considered surveillance choices, while preserving a trusting relationship.

Catch Them if You Can: Detecting a Lie

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Learning to lie is a normal part of growing up. Young kids tell very clumsy lies, but teenagers can become quite adept at it. Learning to see when your children are lying to you is the key to keeping them safe both online and offline: after all, you may not even know they are at risk! Here we offer a few tips.

Listen to the talk

If you suspect that your children are spending time on dangerous websites, you may want to confront them about it. Unfortunately, studies show that parents are unwilling to believe their kids are lying to them – it is our natural bias to think that our kids are better and more truthful than those of other people. However, there are clues that allow to spot a lie . Watch out for these signs:

  • Unnecessarily detailed explanations – the kid will try to make the story more believable by adding details;
  • High pitch – people tend to talk in a higher voice when they are anxious or insecure, since their vocal chords stiffen;
  • Trying to change the topic;
  • Stuttering;
  • Inability to repeat the story – ask your kid to tell it again, and see if the details match;
  • A show of anger or “insulted innocence” if accused of lying (this is very often found in adults, too);
  • Repeating your questions (trying to gain time to invent a lie).

Watch the face

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Lying makes the person tense and even fearful, eliciting many involuntary physical responses . However, keep in mind that these signs may signify general anxiety or discomfort, not necessarily lying (you can read more here):

  • Nodding when saying “no” or shaking the head when saying “yes”;
  • Blushing because of the inflow of blood to the face caused by the fight-or-flight response of the body (the fear of getting caught);
  • Touching nose, ears, and lips (the feeling of stress and danger causes the blood to rush to the face, making one feel an itch);
  • Avoiding eye contact – keep in mind that simply looking down may also signify sadness, while looking aside may mean trying to avoid or ignore the problem;
  • Microfacial expressions – these are involunary and last for a split second, but you may be able to spot surprise or fear on your child’s face (more on reading expressions here😉
  • Expression of relief when the topic is changed – try to start talking about something else and see what happens.

Body language clues

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  • Fidgeting – this is a way to relieve the stress
  • Shifting the anchor points – if your kid is standing, he or she may start moving the feet; if they are sitting, watch out for the kid shifting in his or her seat;
  • Trying to create distance by crossing arms or legs (however, this may also signify emotional distancing);
  • Trying to cover oneself or to appear smaller; some people cover their mouth.
  • Trembling – this is often found in children who are not used to lying.

Put it all together

Just one of two of these signs are not a proof that your child is lying to you, but if you observe several at the same time, it is a cause for concern. Recent research shows that people’s brain becomes better at lying when they do it often. For this reason, it is important to spot your children’s lies while you still can. Of course, you should also be a good role model for your kids and show them the importance of telling the truth. And while it is essential to know how to keep your kids safe online, establishing an honest dialogue with them may make spy software unnecessary.

Keep Your Kids Digitally Safe

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Raising children has been a challenge in all times, no matter how science and technology progress. As technology evolves, new challenges emerge. With the advent of mobile phones and mobile internet, children have gone busy communicating over the Internet. They stare into the screens of their phones instead of running and rushing wildly around the neighborhood. Although sitting with a phone will hardly result in a broken arm or leg, there are other, even more serious perils.

Two sides of the coin

Like everything that has clearly defined positive sides, technological boom has its milestones. There are tons of information available over the Internet, and a large share of it is far from positive. Digital communication has opened up countless new venues. However, not all people are good, and in the hands of a bad guy a good thing can become a deadly weapon. There are a growing number of complaints from schoolchildren about cyberbullying. Some bad people use social network account to unify and zombify children, whose psyche is too weak and vulnerable to resist this psychological aggression. There statistics of social media-related suicides is really intimidating.

Control your kids properly

It is every parent’s duty to guard hand steer his/her children down the safest path. How can we do that? Stop letting them go outside without attendance? Take the phone away? Lock them inside a bedroom?

As kids grow older, they learn more about the world and, most important, learn and want to be independent. However, their desire to be independent outruns the understanding of the price we pay for it, because their mind is too young to comprehend it.

To avoid trouble, parents should start teaching their children to use phones and Internet properly. Children start getting involved in digital activities around 8-10 years old, when they are still unable to tell good from bad. It is during this age that they learn to exchange messages, share photos, videos, audio, etc. Now it is your biggest responsibility to teach your child the digital etiquette and get him/her used to the fact that you are going to monitor this activity. If you fail to do it now, it will be much harder to do it when he/she enters the teens and becomes naturally assertive. Indeed, teaching a kid to put up with having to be controlled is an extremely important thing. And it is even more important how you go that!

Do not be too authoritarian!

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The radical steps mentioned in the beginning of the previous paragraph will hardly work, especially with teenagers. There are subtler and more ‘high-tech’ methods of keeping your child secure.

At some stage of life, you can and should explain to your kid some simple things. Let him/her know that they should not talk to strangers and why. A clear and laconic explanation can do wonders to even the fussiest young boy or girl.

Keep track of your child’s mood and reactions to things. Under usual circumstances they remain the same for years. If you have noticed that he/she has grown aloof, gloomy, or reserved, and it has continued for several days, something is definitely wrong. Not unlikely, your child has fallen in with some wild IT bunch or is being bullied online. Fortunately, there are good solutions, which can save you a lot of worries.

Use parental control software!

There are unique software tools like ExactSpy, PhoneSheriff, etc., which you can install on your and your child’s phone or tablet. These programs have a variety of tracking options, which allow you to tract and keep record off incoming and outgoing phone calls, instant messages, browser activity, use of multimedia, etc. There have been lots of cases whereby parents, who observed sudden changes in their kids’ behavior and mood, discovered that they were being abused online and took steps to stop it.

Cyberbullying and How to Deal with It

Bullying is something that everyone has to face during childhood years to a certain extent. Do you know what it feels like getting a punch or kick from your playground- or school mate? Hurts as hell, both physically and mentally, doesn’t it? It feels just as bad if you are a parent of a child who is getting bullied. Believe it or not, the technological boom has paved the way for a kind of high-tech bullying, which is called cyberbullying.

What is cyberbullying?

This type of bullying is just as common among today’s kids as traditional bullying was among those from a distant past. They have just one thing in common: it hurts really bad.

Cyberbullying is intentional actions aimed at hurting and embarrassing other people with the use of advanced communication tools (cell/smartphones, PCs, etc.) and . These actions include:

  • Sending hurtful and insulting messages to another person with the use of email, instant messengers, etc.
  • Sending messages repetitively and persistently
  • Sharing private, delicate, and personal information about someone with others or posting it in social media
  • Hacking someone else’s profile and writing to others on the profile owner’s behalf
  • Gossiping about someone in multiple chats
  • Threatening someone online on a regular basis
  • Sharing someone else’s pictures, avatars, etc. (including embarrassing ones) with others without his or her consent

These activities (to name a few) are considered cyberbullying if they are downright deliberate and are committed on a repeatedly.


Different stats data suggests that 25-50% of teenagers and adolescent people say they have confronted this or that form of bullying via phone or online.


Who is at risk and why it hurts

There is hardly a kid with a hundred-per-cent guarantee against bullying and/or cyberbullying. However, there are categories of kids who run a higher risk of getting cyberbullied. These include children with health issues, physical disabilities, some behavioral issues, as well as those dealing with learning problems. In other words, a kid, who looks or acts in but a slightly different way than others, is more likely to be targeted. Those who get bullied regularly tend to grow reserved, develop low self-esteem, suffer severe frustration and often slide into depression. There is another problem as well: more than 50% of young people prefer not to tell their parents or other people about the problem.

What can we do about it?

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This is the case to say: prevention is the best cure. It takes a complex approach to deal with the problem. It should involve at least children themselves, their parents, and teachers. In addition to measures taken to prevent traditional bullying, the cyberbullying issue also implies education on how to use technical devices properly.

Most important, children and their parents must be aware of why cyberbullying is bad and what consequences it may entail for both victims and perpetrators. Particularly, it won’t hurt to discuss with a kid why it is dangerous to share a password with even his or her best friend or let everyone in on your other little secrets. It takes quite a bit of coordination for children themselves, parents and school to raise awareness.

It is important that the feeling of security of being safely away from your victim is illusionary: laws are keeping up with the reality, and any such activity can entail a serious punishment! Therefore, victims should not be reluctant to report such cases to their parents, friends, and, if necessary, to police. The cyber life is part of real life!

Working with perpetrators is crucial! Particularly, every opportunity should be used to teach a perpetrator a lesson of empathy by letting them what it feels like being insulted, threatened and/or bullied otherwise. This does not mean that you should do the same thing to them! It would be reasonable to use explanatory methods of letting them know how words and actions influence victims.

Always try to save copies of text, images and other pieces of evidence!

Ethical Dilemma for Parents – or not?

Mobile tracking has become a common thing not so long ago – a decade at best; however, it took a very prominent start and the industry is proliferating.


Surely, with all the options and possibilities all these applications bring, there is no surprise, they have become so popular. Competition causes the companies implement new and more exclusive features on a regular basis and customers get all the more tempting toys.

However, there is a silver lining here as well. There can be no easy talk about any kind of monitoring without actually raising the issue of morale and ethics, let alone legality of such actions. Despite the fact that most cell phone monitoring applications are sold legally on the U.S. market, it does not stop the debate around ethics of the entire business. This especially concerns justification of such means with regards to kids – as ¾ of such mobile tracking software is bought by concerned parents.

No surprise that the temptation is to much to bear for many – such technology has been unheard of until recently and now there is a chance for every parent not only to know each and every move of their children but learn who they hang out with and text about after 10p.m.

A great number of parents see such option of additional control as a sign of good parenting; however, is it?

The idea of cell phone monitoring has got both proponents and opponents – both have their own arguments on the account.


A fair share of psychologists say that under the idea of proper protection is the desire of total control; and the purpose of parents is not to control but to guide. Upbringing, after all, is not about not allowing kids making their own mistakes, but rather, teaching to take the right steps as well as how to deal with the consequences. Parenting is much more about care without over-involvement than about total care and control.

There is also another issue here and it concerns distrust. Any app that a parent installs on their kids phone without notice is a notice in itself; and it clearly says: “I don’t trust you at all”. The kid’s reaction is likely to be obvious – neither do I.

This is the reason why most of psychologies advocate for open communication instead – about all the issues of life, and smartphone usage including. Otherwise we get a pretty adversarial relationship, which can end up sadly.


Proponents do not agree. They say that we live in a world with too many dangers and that parents have every right to be aware of their kids’ activities both online and offline. Mobile spy apps do more than good – they can help in prevention of bullying and any other harmful actions towards kids; dangers that the latter are frequently unaware of. Thus, this is parents responsibility to keep them safe from such threats – by any means.

Surely, it is a very individual choice of every family. The question of ethics and morale should be looked upon from the angle of each individual situation. There is a great number of applications that allow parents not to be too intrusive and at the same time to keep an eye on their children. Such apps should not necessarily be used discretely; but rather, the usage policy can be discussed and a mutual compromise can be found – the one that would suit both, a kid and a parent.


Again, we get back to the importance of open communication in the family. Upon cell phone purchase a contract can be drawn – the one that will clearly state both parties liberties, responsibilities and boundaries – the contract the terms of which will be followed by both. Perhaps, in this respect the issue of a mobile tracker installed on the phone won’t raise distrust and hostility but rather understanding of the fact that parents just care.

Things that Parents of Teens Should not Forget

Teenagers are sometimes very ungrateful; however, there are some things that they will definitely appreciate. Here are some of them and these tips can help parents and teenagers to find common language.

Do not Forget to Celebrate Their Small Success

Small achievements can seem unimportant and parents neglect them. However, the things that seem small and unimportant to an adult can be pretty crucial for a grown up. Besides, one thing that interests a parent – an exam in literature, for instance, – is not that of an importance for a teen if compared with an achievement to learn how to play a guitar. In this respect it makes sense to always notice such small achievements in your kids, no matter how small or stupid they can seem to a parent.

Let Them Be Alone

Next very important thing is to leave teenagers some space for their own. They are not kids any longer; however, many parents find it hard to get used to this thought. In this respect make sure to grant them the amount of privacy they need and want and you’ll see how much better your relationship becomes. Everyone needs space; do not forget about it. This also refers to the urgent need to know where your kid spends time and who they hang out with. If these things bother you too much, just acquire some mobile tracking app – by doing so you won’t be interfering with the questions and your son or daughter will feel much better with the share of privacy.

Leave Them to Their Decisions

Again, it is quite clear that kids will always be kids for their parents. However, it does not meant that the level of protection and commitment should always be the same. As kids grow up physically, they also do so mentally and morally and are able to make their own decisions quite well. They will only be grateful for the freedom of choice as well as responsibility – this is the only way they can actually learn how to be in charge of their own lives.

Teach Them to Solve Problems

The skill of problem solving can seem natural when you are an adult, a parent. However, for a child, and a teenager this is a new and absolutely undiscovered filed. The longer you try to problems and keep your precious little baby in a greenhouse, the more helpless they will grow up eventually. And the more problems in life they will have to face. Real world is harsh sometimes but it is parents’ responsibility to teach their kids to cope with the harshness and difficulties. This is something that kids will be grateful for.

Make Home a Place to Come with Joy

One thing is to make your teenage kid grow responsible and independent, another is no be neglectful. Making home a nice place where they will always find support and love is no less important. Teenagers need to know that there is somewhere where they will be loved and where parents wait for them always no matter what.

These tips are simple but effective; they don’t require money or much effort. Yet, they do help to create better understanding between parents and teenagers.

Selfies and Teens’ Obsession with Them

selfieReally, sefies seem to have become a new trend in art, or at least it is definitely one of the most popular ways of self-expression for young people these days. It also frequently looks like people got brainwashed and some of them get so obsessed with the activity that they post their selfies every day in all the places at all times.
It might seem that people are prone to selfie liking because they are so fond of themselves; however, it is frequently just the opposite. Most people, and especially teenagers, are eager to get approval and they are very anxious to get accepted by some reference group and they simply take the easiest road to their goal. It is much simpler to post selfies and get likes and be accepted and approved instead of doing something that people can find worth respecting.

Other kids just can’t be worse than others in whatever they are involved in or concerned about. In their sensitive age it is really very important to be a part of a group that treats you like and equal and distinguishes you for whatever you have to offer and they consider interesting. Feedback is essential and validation is necessary at this stage of teenagers’ development and with the invention of this “selfie” idea these things are easier to get.

Surely, there seems to be nothing harmful about people posting images of themselves on the internet left and right if it boosts their self-esteem and makes them feel better about themselves. However, when it comes to various social networks, they are not that safe. The fact that they are not open to every visitor registered or unregistered alike does not guarantee that a personal page is secure.

Attention seeking can be fraught with unpleasant occurrences. There are all sorts of people surfing the internet and scammers and etc. and these people hardly mean good. Surely, teenagers do not seek attention of such people consciously and on purpose; however, their frivolity can backfire pretty badly sometimes.

There is also one more side to this “selfie” medal and it is also not a very pleasant one. In their constant pursue of attention and approval teenagers get so obsessed and crazy that they frequently can’t stop. In their attempt to get a great selfie they tend to do bizarre and even dangerous things; some of such cases have already ended fatally.

Taking these things into consideration, it makes sense for parents to pay more attention to the things their teenage kids post in their social networks and how they actually spend their time and who they hang out with both online and offline.

Surely, it is always complicated to come to terms with 13-15 year old teenagers and rows and scandals are normal; however, when it comes to mobile phones, there is a good way to make the entire relationship and control issues easier.

With the help of cell phone monitoring application it is very easy for a parent to get the idea of their kid’s whereabouts as well as plans, contacts and social life in general. When it comes to selfies, spy software allows tracking all the images that are created and sent online from this particular phone. Having this app installed on their teenagers’ devices allows parents to have full access to their cell phones and eliminates the necessity of fruitless control attempts. GPS tracker allow knowing where kids go and other various features allow keeping an eye on teenagers without being overly protective and controlling. When it comes to selfies, the app also allows remote content blocking; which is a definite advantage and kids will just get puzzled why this image fails to download.