Should You Monitor Your Child’s Online Activity?

Photo by John Schnobrich / Unsplash

Admit it: it’s tempting to attempt to discover what’s going on in someone else’s head; even more so when that someone is your very own child. App developers understand this temptation very well and that is why numerous digital spying and monitoring tools exist. And such software is rather popular among parents.

According to recent studies, 75 percent of parents have looked through their teenager’s or child’s device. It is worth mentioning that curiosity is not the only reason why parents are tempted to invade their kid’s privacy online. The majority of those who have admitted to snooping through their child’s electronics said that they did it because they were worried about their kid’s safety online.

From a parent’s perspective, this makes perfect sense: we all want the best for our children and to keep them out of harm’s way. We will even deprive them of their privacy to do so. In fact, 60 percent of parents interviewed by ParentWise said that they believe that kids don’t have a right to privacy when it comes to their electronics.

But is this the right thing to do?’, some readers may ask, kids and parents included. How ethical is it to infringe on your kid’s privacy? Even if it means keeping them safe?

Of course, parents have a good reason to be worried. Over 30% of teens admitted that they have been lured into something shady online. Parents have every right to want to prevent their kids from going too far and engaging in some kind of illegal activity online. But then again, not all teenagers do things they aren’t supposed to when on their devices. The majority of teens engage in activities they have no reason to hide from others.

Do it?

Even if you feel that your annoying teenager does not deserve the right to use their smartphone in privacy, try to place yourself in their shoes. How would you feel if your employer did the same thing with you? This isn’t such an unlikely possibility, after all. A number of employers do use software to spy on employees at their workplace.

If we were to use the same logic that parents use when opting to monitor their kids, employers have every right to spy on their staff at work. Company owners want the best for their company, in terms of profit and prosperity, and for that they need to make sure that all company procedures are being carried out as desired. As a result, managers may opt to monitor their employees’ work stations to be certain that each person is working to the best of their ability and not slacking away or sharing confidential information with their company’s  competitors.

So, how would you feel if you found out that you were one of these employees whose every move online is being watched? You’d feel mistrusted, undervalued, dominated.

Now, think of your teenager finding out that their parents don’t trust them enough to allow them to have some privacy when using their electronic device. They would be destroyed and chances are that you will lose their trust forever and that your relationship with your child will never be the same.

Having all this in mind, there are some parents who still think that remotely monitoring their teenager does much more good than harm. Perhaps, you’re convinced that by invading their privacy you’re preventing them from someday being the victim of a cybercrime. Or the case may be that in addition to being worried for your young one’s safety, curiosity has got the best of you and you’re confident that your teenager will never discover that they’re being watched on.

Whatever your reason for using spy software, several options exist for you. A detailed review of the best three digital spying tools can be found here. However, prior to making the decision to invade your child’s privacy or not, the consequences of each option should be carefully weighed.


Parents, and potentially kids as well, may agree that there are several advantages to monitoring a teenager’s activity online. The main benefit is the safety aspect. If you can see everything that is going on your kid’s phone, you will definitely notice when something begins to go astray. You will be able to prevent your child from being taken advantage of online if you have access to every message they send and every activity they engage in. You may even save your child’s life this way. According to statistics, 20% of teenagers bullied online consider suicide and a number of them go as far as attempting it.

Also, it’s probably a well-known fact by now that teens go everywhere with their phones, even to use the bathroom. As a result, should your child go missing, you will easily be able to locate them, by means of digital spying software.

In addition, since children have less experience than us grownups, they may unintentionally put themselves at risk online by sharing personal info. If you are aware that they’re sharing something they shouldn’t be, you can easily help protect your tween’s privacy by talking to them about the risks of doing so.

There is also an alternative for those who wish to protect their youngsters without being too invasive. Some family counselors suggest that instead of snooping on their teenagers, parents should educate their kids about the dangers and how to stay safe online. However, some may think that simply teaching kids about what’s wrong and what’s right is not enough. Our children go through a lot of things that they would never think of sharing with their caregivers. Therefore, a suggestion is to install ‘safety apps’ instead of monitoring software. Such apps pick up words that may cause problems for your child in the future. For example, if your child sends a message or conducts a google search including the word ‘suicide’, the safety app will notify you.

So, now that you are aware of all the possible alternatives, the choice is really up to you. You can let your kid roam wild online and learn to be responsible on their own or you can watch their every step. You can also opt for something in between. Whatever your decision may be, just make sure that you’re aware of all the potential consequences and whether or not the option you choose is the best for you and your teen. Experts also recommend for parents to be open with their children when it comes to online monitoring.