Families want to keep their teens safe, and sometimes, it is too much of a temptation for teens to use cell phones in harmful ways. These applications can help you start the conversation about safety with your kids and establish appropriate boundaries for them as they prepare for their future lives balancing technology with safety.
OurPact makes a great point even in its name: when you are working with teens to keep them safe, you have the opportunity to set limits as a family and to negotiate if necessary. They will appreciate the freedom to make a good choice, but they also need to know where they stand. The OurPact application helps them budget their "screen time" as well as scheduling important other tasks, focusing on the positive rather than just the negative. The app also contains a family locator, helps you make rules for different applications that are on your child's phone, and sends you alerts if the child's phone is found outside of the area where he or she should be present.
This app is an educational course meant to help your teen or pre-teen to navigate the tumultuous world of online choices using games and mini-lessons that are engaging. This can be a great way to start a new season in your child's life: if they are getting a phone for the first time, for instance, might be a good time to take this course, or if the teen has friends who have recently gotten in trouble for distracted driving. Taking the course helps them build "Digital Citizenship," which helps them transcend just being safe online but also ensures they understand not to participate in cyberbullying and other negative behaviors.
TeenSafe attempts to tackle the serious distractions caused by a binging and beeping phone when a teen is behind the wheel. The feature actually allows making and receiving phone calls, but otherwise, the phone app disables the features and notifications of the phone to keep your teen from feeling compelled to look at a phone while driving. Especially in those early years of driving, keeping their eyes on the road is one of the best ways to stay safe.
Despite its prying name, Spyzie can be very useful for some of the more invasive features if you feel you need them to help keep your teen safe. These include being able to track your child through the GPS location of the phone, setting a schedule for when a teen can use their phone, and recording keystrokes or various application usage. Be aware that the name may be frustrating to teens, and they can research all the features involved; Spyzie may be a good candidate if a teen has chosen unsafe behaviors and you want them to understand that, while they are re-earning your trust, you need to know about just about everything they are doing.
Your teen is probably just developing his or her skills as a driver; why not start good habits now? Drive Smart allows users to see how their habits are working compared to the safest possible driving choices, and rewards them with "Smartcoins" to help them get discounts and savings at retailers. This can be fun for teens while also promoting good driving! Teens may enjoy getting the driving certificate and feeling accomplished as they progress and see real improvement in their driving habits.
This app began as a safe browser, and now is valuable across a variety of platforms. While not focused on tracking or reporting, it does use a robust system to protect your teen from online threats and offers the option to monitor across a variety of devices. Each package comes with multiple user licenses, so it can be helpful for different members of your family.
Net Nanny offers a lot of different features, and you can choose which ones make the most sense for your family. They have parental controls, internet filters, and pornography blockers, as well as screen time management, remote access, and alerts for you if something happens on your teen's phone. As with other comprehensive apps, talk candidly with your teen about the app, and that will make them more likely to be able to understand where you are coming from.
Each app has its benefits and many of them require a subscription to access the premium features, but for the peace-of-mind of knowing where your teen is and the positive communication of being able to help them limit their screen time, it is well worth the money! Check out each of the options and decide on which application makes the most sense given the teen you are parenting.