These apps let parents 'spy' on their kids to protect them onlin - KCTV5

These apps let parents 'spy' on their kids to protect them online

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A growing number of parents are installing secret spyware on their teens' smartphones and computers, but psychiatrists warn the consequences could outweigh the benefits. (KCTV5) A growing number of parents are installing secret spyware on their teens' smartphones and computers, but psychiatrists warn the consequences could outweigh the benefits. (KCTV5)
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

A growing number of parents are installing secret spyware on their teens' smartphones and computers, but psychiatrists warn the consequences could outweigh the benefits.

Teenagers seem to be glued to their phones all day long. But what if a danger was lurking on the other side? Would you want to monitor their Internet activity to protect them? 

"Yes. Absolutely," said Bob Arthur, a Kansas City grandfather.

Kansas City technology expert, Burton Kelso, says a growing number of parents are downloading apps to secretly monitor everything their teens do online.

"With the monitoring software installed, a child would never know their device is being spied on," Kelso said.

"I think if you enter the spyware thing, it just shows you don't trust them and that you're doing it behind their backs, and I don't like that," said Overland Park mom, Cassie Noori.

Still, Kelso says plenty of parents are doing it. He says these are the three most popular: 

  • Teen Shield gives you access to all phone records and texts.
  • U Know Kids gives you access to all phone records, texts and all social media accounts. It also scans the Internet and alerts you if your teen creates any new accounts under different names.
  • Teen Safe gives you access to all phone records, texts and most social media accounts. You can also install Teen Safe remotely without ever touching your teen's device.

"The teen would never know," Kelso said.

But pediatric psychologist Stephen Lassen says using this spyware on your teen is a terrible idea. 

"Generally, going behind their backs is not going to turn out well," Lassen said.

Lassen cautions it could push troublesome behavior underground and shatter any trust you have built with your child.

"It's a loss of trust between parent and child and that trust is very difficult to rebuild," Lassen said.

Instead, he says you should install the apps but tell your teen that you are using them and will be doing periodic spot checks of their devices.

Lassen says the idea is to change your child's behavior not "catch them" at doing something wrong.

"It’s done in the context of a loving relationship with your child. That you’re doing it as a way to protect them but also to help teach them how to use technology," Lassen said.

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