Parental Text Message Monitoring Isn’t Snooping, It’s About Safety

test message monitoring

For many parents, the idea of  looking through their teen’s phone and text messages feels a little icky. Browsing through their personal messages may feel like reading their diary or invading their privacy.

But, keeping an eye on your child’s text messages isn’t about snooping; it’s about safety.

The Importance of Safety Over Privacy

As children grow up, they seek more independence, privacy, and freedom. It’s natural to let your child take more ownership of their lives, and it’s important to give them their space.

But, it’s just as important to stay connected to their lives.

As a parent, you need to know what is going on with your teen, what is happening in their life, and who they are communicating with. If your teen isn’t forthright about these details, it can create safety issues.

They may be hanging around with the wrong people, connecting with dangerous strangers, getting involved with illegal activities, or even starting to explore drugs and alcohol.

So if you feel like you are losing your connection with your teen, you need to do what you can to keep them safe. That may include checking their text messages.

When, If Ever, Is It Okay to Read Your Teen’s Text Messages?

Reading your teen’s text messages isn’t snooping if it can help keep them safe and protect them from dangerous strangers, bad influences, and sometimes even themselves.

If your teen starts doing any of the following, it may be time to take a deeper look into their lives.

  • Your teen starts to hide their phone or shield their messages from you.
  • Your teen quickly loses friends or joins a new group of friends.
  • Your teen starts sleeping more or spending more time in their room.
  • You catch your teen sneaking out or staying out too late.
  • Your teen stops spending time with family.
  • Your teen’s habits begin to change.
  • Your teen’s looks begin to change.

These can be signs that something bigger is going on with your teen. They may be struggling or dealing with issues that are outside of the scope of typical adolescence.

If you feel like something deeper is going on in your teen’s life, monitoring their text messages may help you find out what is happening and give you an opportunity to provide the help and support your teen needs.

How To Respectfully Monitor Your Teen’s Text Messages

If you decide to monitor their text messages to get a better idea about what is going on in their lives, the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ can help.

Our app offers a text message monitoring tool that connects parents and teens.

When a teen installs the MamaBear app on their Android device, their incoming and outgoing text messages can be recorded and sent to the parent’s version of the app.

To set up text message monitoring:

  1. Install MamaBear on your teen’s phone. (While Mamabear is available for iPhones and Androids, the teen version of the text message monitoring tool is only available for Androids at this time.)
  2. Install MamBear on the parent’s phone. (The parent version of the text message monitoring tool works for both iPhone and Androids.)
  3. From the child’s phone, go to the profile settings, tap “text alerts.” Tap “Turn On” in the top right-hand corner.

Monitoring your teen’s text messages may feel like snooping, but the upside far outweighs the downside.

By connecting with your teen’s digital life, you may identify and prevent problems in your teen’s life and help keep them safer, happier, and healthier.

Get the MamaBear app now by downloading it for both iPhone and Android devices.

“Teen Dating” Facebook Group May Be Linked to a 13-Year-Old Girl’s Death

Nicole Lovell

As you scroll through the page of the Facebook group “Teens Dating 17+100[Note: Link may include explicit content.], it’s difficult to tell what type of online community it is.

As the name suggests, there are photos of smiling teens and silly selfies. But for every innocent teen image, there are four or five explicit and pornographic photos and a stream of requests that invite strangers to connect and rate photos, comments that bully and belittle, and posts that share personal information and welcome members to contact and “friend” each other.

Despite what its name implies, Teen Dating 17+100 is a dangerous digital space for an adult to find themselves, let alone a child or a teen. This group is just one of the popular communities of “Teen Dating” networks that are on Facebook, and parents need to take notice.

The Danger of Teen Dating Facebook Groups

Teen Dating Facebook Groups are nothing new to social media. Groups that invite teens to join and connect with each other have been around for years.

But the true ugliness and danger of these sites recently came to light when the death of 13-year-old girl in Virginia was connected to the group, “Teen Dating and Flirting.”

On January 1st, a 7th grader, Nicole Lovell posted a selfie in the group with the caption, “cute or nah.” The photo received over 300 responses, many of them which were mean and vicious. Just a few weeks later, Lovell was found dead.

Police believe that Lovell may have been lured to her death by a member of the group who saw her saw her online.

How to Protect Your Teen

Parents need to take notice that these innocent sounding “teen” groups are actually places for dangerous adults and predators to find, bully, and pray on young teens.

To keep your kids safe from Facebook teen groups and others like it, we recommend that you:

  • Pay attention to the apps your kids are using and use them yourself. If your kid is on Facebook, get on Facebook. Create a profile on all of the social media apps they use so you can be aware of the platform, how it works, and who uses it.
  • Don’t expect your kids to tell you all of the apps they use. Check their phones to review newly installed apps and to open up the apps to try them out. Kids will often create multiple accounts to hide their activity, so log in from their phones to see what they are doing.
  • Periodically check their online communication to make sure they are only talking with trusted and known family and friends.
  • Don’t give your teen unlimited access to their phones and computers. Regulate when and where they use their devices so you can better monitor their activity and usage.
  • Report any suspicious activity to law enforcement. If you do find that a stranger has formed an inappropriate relationship with you child, don’t delay. Notify law enforcement immediately.

As a parent, monitoring all of your children’s social media activity is a big job, but it is an extremely important job. So, make it a priority.

You can use the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™ to simplify the management of your social media check-ins. The free app, available for both iPhones and Androids, enables parents to connect their profile with their children’s social media accounts so checking in and keeping your kids safe is easy and effective. 

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MamaBear’s Most Popular Posts in 2015

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As digital and social media use continued to rise in 2015, MamaBear was there to explain new trends and problems to parents throughout the year. As we enter another year and look forward to even more changes to come, take a minute to recap the most important issues and posts from the MamaBear blog in 2015.

Is Instagram Safe for Kids: A Guide for Concerned Parents

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In 2015, Instagram grew to be one of the most popular social media sites for teens. With more than 300 million users, the photo-sharing app became a platform that parents absolutely needed to be aware of. MamaBear published Is Instagram Safe for Kids: A Guide for Concerned Parents to help parents navigate the popular site and learn how to protect their children who use it.

The Hurtful Side of Social Media: Horrific Threats Via Instagram for One Teen

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Many parents still believe that social media is not a serious issue. But in our post The Hurtful Side of Social Media: Horrific Threats Via Instagram for One Teen, we looked at the real severity of danger in the digital world. The post looked into the story of one family who got school officials and police involved when their daughter started receiving death threats through Instagram. It also included tips on how parents can prevent the same thing from happening to their children.

Parents Are Oversharing on Social Media and It May Be Impacting Their Kids

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We regularly discuss dangers related to the habits of children and teens who use social media on our MamaBear blog. We flipped the coin in our post, Parents Are Oversharing on Social Media and It May Be Impacting Their Kids. In the post, we looked at why parents share on social media, how often they share, and how their over sharing can negatively affect their children.

Preparing Your Teen Driver to Hit the Road

Preparing Your Teen Driver to Hit the Road

MamaBear strives to protect teens online and on the road. In our post, Preparing Your Teen Driver to Hit the Road, we covered the most important considerations for parents with a new teen driver. From reviewing common driving mistakes and setting driving rules to creating a driver’s contract, the post gives parents a full prep lesson before they pass the keys over to their teen.

How To Use Bear2Bear – MamaBear’s Customer Referral Program

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In 2015, we encouraged our users to share the benefits of our app with their friends and family. In the post, How to Use Bear2Bear —  MamaBear’s Customer Referral Program, we explained how parents could use our referral program to become a premium member for free by sharing MamaBear through text, email, or social media. We want more parents and families to experience the benefit of the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™, so we made it simple for our users to spread the word.

Family Safety in 2016

As we start 2016, MamaBear would like to wish you and your family a happy and safe New Year. We hope you use these resources (along with the other helpful posts on our blog) and the MamaBear App to make 2016 the best and safest year yet.

To start this year on the right foot and protect your family while providing yourself peace of mind, get MamaBear for free on both iPhone and Android devices.

 

How to Have a Safe and Fun Halloween With Kids of All Ages

Halloween safety tips for kids

From costume advice to trick-and-treating rules, use these tips to make sure you have a fun and safe Halloween with your kids of all ages.

Tips for Kids Ages 0-5

Even small children and toddlers can be a part of Halloween festivities with the right planning.

Costumes

Make sure store-bought costumes have no choking hazards or loose buttons or accessories.

Toddlers love to be on their feet even though they are still a little wobbly. To ensure that can safely move around, hem long costumes and capes so children have no loose fabric to step on.

Before you put any makeup on your child’s skin (even if it is just a few dots on their cheeks), test the makeup in a small spot to make sure the product doesn’t irritate your child’s skin.

Events and Activities

Look around for events that specifically state that they are for younger children. Halloween is supposed to be spooky, but you don’t want it to be scary for your kids. Make sure that the events you are attending have specified that the event is friendly for small children.

Trick and Treating

Toddlers will likely want to walk during some of their trick-or-treat experience. But don’t let them walk on their own in dark or crowded areas.

Smaller kids may be unable to eat the candy they collect. Let them enjoy the fun of putting candy in their bag, but don’t let them put anything in their mouth until you have inspected and approved it.

Tips for Kids Ages 6-11

At this age, kids are a little more independent and will want to experience more Halloween activities. But you should still put rules in place to make sure they have a safe Halloween.

Costumes

On Halloween, kids may come in close contact with decorative candles and flames. So it’s important that their costumes are flame-resistant. Check the labels before you buy any costume or accessory to ensure it is resistant to fire.

Events and Activities

Kids at this age may still be a little too young to carve their own pumpkins, but they can get involved with the activity another way. Let them scoop out the insides of the pumpkin, and instead of carving designs, let them draw faces on pumpkins with markers.

Trick and Treating

Set candy rules early on. Kids should not eat any of the candy that makes it into their bag until their parents have inspected it.

Tips for Kids Ages 12-17

Preteens and teens are still old enough to want to enjoy Halloween, but often want to do it on their own. If your kids are going to celebrate Halloween on their own, make sure they are equipped with tools and knowledge to keep them safe.

Costumes

When kids are trick-or-treating on their own, you want to be extra careful about the visibility of their costume. If your child is in a dark costume, add LED lights or glow stick jewelry to make sure they stand out in the dark.

Trick and Treating

Before your kids walk out the door, lay out a map of their intended trick-or-treat route.

Kids this age probably won’t wait to get home to eat a few pieces of candy. So teach them how to inspect their candy on their own. They should only eat candy in commercially-wrapped packages from neighbors that they know. Everything else should wait until you can inspect it.

Set check-in times when kids need to update you on their status and location.

Halloween Safety App

If your kids are trick-or-treating on their own for the first time, it can be a little nerve-racking to let them go on their own. But with the MamaBear, The Ultimate Parenting App™, you can have added peace of mind.

The app, which is free for both iPhones and Androids, can send you an automatic update when your child meets a certain destination. MamaBear doesn’t rely on your child remembering to check in with you, it automatically shows their location on the family map so long as they have it running properly on their phone. With MamaBear  you can enjoy a more relaxed evening while your kids have a fun and safe Halloween.  

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