Keeping your children and grandchildren safe is priority one. Thanks to smartphones, tablets and the internet, there are many potential threats to them that you might not see coming. They could be using one of these dangerous apps or be in contact with an online predator and you wouldn't know.
That is why I encourage parents to talk to kids before they use technology and set clear rules. You should also be regularly checking their gadgets for dangerous apps and conversations, as well as monitoring their social media accounts.
Of course, constant monitoring can be a problem.
Ideally, you want to be able to peek in on what your children are doing no matter where they are. There are several companies that make remote spy software, such as mSpy, WebWatcher and more.
However, those will set you back $30 or more for the spying app. I've found a spying app that's free and works on up to five phones, so you can keep tabs on all your kids or grandkids.
The free app is called Phone Tracker from Spy Phone Labs, and it gives you detailed information about any phone or tablet you put it on. We have a link for you to download it at the end of this post.
Here's a video that tells you more about it.
The Phone Tracker app uses GPS to track a phone's location, gives you a full log of all calls sent and received, and even shows you text messages and web activity. This information is available online after you create a free account. Not bad for a free app that isn't too difficult to install.
Once it's installed, open the app, set up an account name and password, give the phone a nickname and you're done.
To monitor multiple gadgets with the same account, just install the app on each gadget to monitor and use the same account name and password you used for the first one. They'll all show up when you log in online at Phone Tracker. Give it about 30 minutes after installing the app for the data to start appearing.
Warning: The Phone Tracker website has several confusing ads at the top of the page. The button you want to press on the home page is the blue "Login" button. On the login page, enter your username and password and click the gray "Log in" button. You can also scroll down for the answers to frequently asked questions.
Phone Tracker is free and has versions available for both Android and Apple. However, installing spy apps in iOS is no picnic.
Bonus tip: iPhones running iOS 11 can continuously send location information to another iPhone, iPad or Mac computer. On the phone you wish to track, go to Messages >> find the thread of messages they've had with you. In the upper-right corner, touch "Information" icon, which looks like a lower-cased I. Tap, "Send My Current Location" to instantly send a map of the phone's current location, one time only. Or just below it, "Share My Location," which will continuously send the phone's location to your Apple gadget. To see the phone's location, go to your Messages app and find your child's contact. Tap the "Information" icon and a map will display the phone's location. Note that your child can easily turn off this location sharing anytime, but perhaps a firm conversation about the consequences of doing so might encourage him or her to leave it on. (Note: These features will also work for your Apple gadgets that are running iOS 10.)
To get around legal problems, Phone Tracker puts an icon on the gadget's home screen and fires off a notification every 12 hours telling the person they're being monitored.
That's actually a good thing in most situations, but kids are resourceful. If they know they're being watched, they can find ways around the app. So, either tell them you're putting it on there and you expect them to leave it alone or go for a paid app that's completely hidden.
To install the app, you will need access to the phone or tablet. Then go to Google Play or iTunes, find the Phone Tracker app and tap "Install."
Maybe there's a spy app on your phone now, here's how to find out.
When you sign up for a new app, you can often use credentials from social media sites like Facebook to automatically log in. That's scary because the apps that use your credentials suddenly have access to your name, photos, email address and more information that you'd like to keep private. The good news is, it's pretty easy to find out which apps are spying on you.