How Parents Can Monitor Their Kids Smartphones And Tablets For Child Safety

parents monitor kids smartphone track child safety mobile devices

It’s a tricky and highly technological time for parenting. Although many of today’s parents weren’t raised with a lot of the technology that exists today, they have to help their children navigate the waters without their own childhood experiences to reference. Moreover, the internet has brought about risks that expose children to dangers that simply didn’t exist in the past. So how are parents raising these tech-oriented generations? We surveyed over a thousand parents in the United States to find out. We learned when kids begin to use technology, as well as how parents are managing to keep them safe. Keep reading below to see what we discovered on child smartphone and mobile device tracking for parents. 

Monitor Moms And Dads 

We asked parents how often they felt it was necessary to monitor their child’s tech devices. About 38% answered “always,” and another 35%said “very often.” As it turns out, however, these responses might have some gender bias. And 59% of the parents surveyed agreed there is a gender bias when it comes to disciplining boys and girls. However, another 75% admitted they are equally strict with all their children. Fortunately, many parents deemed their children well- behaved. On another positive note, tracking children’s technology doesn’t often cause tension: about 94% of parents said communication with their child was better or the same since they began tech monitoring practices

Raised On Too Much Tech 

American parents spend upward of six figures raising children today, and one of the key costs is evidently technology. About 75% of the parents surveyed said their kids use smartphones, which have a higher average cost than ever. What’s more, is that the average age of children using these phones was just 10 years old. Children owned tablets at the even-younger age of 9. This age is possibly reflective of the popularity of tablets as self-soothing tools, although their use is highly controversial. Some researchers claim using technology too early can cause “brain hacking,” essentially causing a faulty takeover of the brain’s pleasure and reward systems. Parents said their children started to use technology at an average age of 5, but 85% of parents also chose to monitor their children’s devices

So Much Screen Time 

Despite scientific warnings about too much screen time, 59% of parents felt their children spent just the right amount of time using technology, and another 2% said their children didn’t Most parents (about 61%) have admitted to reading their children’s text messages. In other words, parents admittedly gained access to what their children and other children had to say through tech monitoring. And about half of the time—46%—they were disappointed with what they found on the devices. Most often, parents were disappointed by the inappropriate language they read in their child’s texts (64%), followed by age-inappropriate content (34%) and even someone bullying their child (25%) online. 

And when parents found something they didn’t like, revoking Wi-Fi wasn’t their only form of punishment: 80% of parents had taken away their child’s phone at some point, as well. Sometimes screen time had to be taken away for disciplinary purposes and balance.

Navigating The Net Now 

We found that around 80% parents surveyed monitored their children’s tech and internet use in some way, although 67% also said they trusted their children to use the internet responsibly. While internet content truly runs the gamut, it has become a critical component of education for children as well as adults. In fact, many impoverished families are at a disadvantage with how heavily education has come to rely on technology and internet access. Some reports estimate that millions of teens in the U.S. are unable to complete their homework because of a lack of access to technology. 

But education wasn’t what most of the parents surveyed were concerned about. Instead, more than 1 in 3 parents were concerned about age-inappropriate content, while another 10% were concerned by the prevalence of social media influencers. Only 12% of parents felt social media influencers had anything close to a positive effect on their children’s lives. 

Location Lurking 

Over half of parents tracked their child’s location—yet another heavily debated behavior of modern parents. Controversy aside, 80% of parents said their child was aware of being tracked. Most often, they tracked the location through their child’s smartphone. Although this offers an additional level of safety, it may also be convenient for specifying pickup, depending on the age of the child. Many parents chose to arm their homes with security features to keep their children safe. Roughly 70% of respondents had security cameras installed, nearly 60% utilized alarms, and 45 percent purchased video doorbells. Some common safety features didn’t involve technology at all: half of children had a curfew, having to return home by midnight, on average. Nevertheless, more than a quarter of parents still caught their children breaking curfew at least once. 

Technological Safety For Kids

Although data reveals parents are doing the heavy lifting when it comes to internet safety, internet users must protect and secure their own technology as well. Outside of tech, of course, physical safety must always be a top priority for parents, teens, and children.

Survey Study Methodology And Limitations 

To collect the data shown above on child device monitoring practices, we conducted a survey of a thousand respondents. To qualify for this survey, respondents were required to have at least one child age 18 or younger who uses tech devices. The respondent pool was 55% female and 45% male. The data were calculated to exclude outliers. We did this by finding initial averages and standard deviations for the data. Then, the standard deviation was multiplied by two and added to the initial average. Any data point above the calculated number was then excluded from the data. Because the survey relies on self-reporting, issues such as telescoping and exaggeration can influence responses. An attention-check question was included in the survey to make sure respondents did not randomly answer the questions on child tech monitoring safety measures.

Master Monitoring

Whatever you gained from this article, make sure you monitor your kids' mobile devices safety and securely without overstepping too many unnecessary boundaries. Keep your kids safe smartly!

More Michael Schiemer Media