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Suspicious mother spying a daughter looking phone Internet Safety Tips

Should You Monitor Your Child’s Messages Without Them Knowing?

The Bark Team  |  March 14, 2017

Suspicious mother spying a daughter looking phone

When your child ventures into the digital world, it’s natural to want to know what they’re doing so that you can protect them from questionable content and potentially dangerous situations. But should you monitor your child's messages without them knowing?

Know the Difference Between a Mobile Spy and a Responsible Digital Parent

Monitoring and spying differ in both method and intent. Spying on your kids means hovering over their activities without them knowing it, waiting to call them out on improper actions. Monitoring is about safety, paying attention to what kids do on the computer and their mobile devices with their knowledge of your supervision. Not only is monitoring more fruitful, but it also avoids potential legal problems with tracking older kids.  Every relationship, particularly with your children, should have an underlying theme of comfort with an understanding that your goal is to protect them. Spying does not often convey that theme, and can actually have the opposite intended effect if your goal is to build a trusted relationship with your tween or teen.

Monitoring Your Child's Messages? Be Open with Your Reasons

Children, especially teens, value their growing independence and might not understand your concern regarding their digital lives. Before implementing a monitoring system, discuss what you’ll be watching and why. It’s not that you care to know about every single conversation that takes place between them and their peers, and it’s not that you don’t trust them. What it is, however, is a way to keep them safe and ensure they don’t encounter situations that can harm them or their futures. Emphasize the use of monitoring as a form of protection, not as a way to restrict their freedom or try to catch them doing something “bad.” Explaining you trust your child to behave well in the digital realm and want to use monitoring to prevent potential threats from others establishes a positive foundation.

Take Time to Teach

Whether your child is starting out with their first device or is a seasoned consumer of digital media, it’s important to be clear about the responsibilities involved. Children need to know the difference between appropriate and inappropriate communications, and understand how to disengage from a situation before it gets out of hand. Work together to set up a safety plan, including your own monitoring activities, and let them know they can come to you if something they encounter doesn’t seem right, no matter what.

Make Friends with Apps

Not all monitoring apps are created equal. Some go overboard by allowing parents to read every word and see every action. These apps can stray into the territory of “helicopter parenting” and undermine the trust necessary for successful monitoring. These apps also put a huge time burden on parents to read through all of that data, extra time that none of us have. A better solution is to use to look for specific communication “red flags.” With this type of app, you can watch for signs of:

Choosing an app designed to send alerts when these or other situations of concern occur gives you the tools you need to keep your children safe online without prying into every aspect of their blossoming digital lives with a secretive mobile spy approach.

So should you monitor your child's messages without them knowing? Games, social platforms, websites, email, texting, and streaming media can all expose kids to people and content you don’t want in their lives. With Bark, you have the information necessary to keep your children safer in their digital lives. Taking an upfront, honest approach to monitoring keeps communication open between you and your tweens and teens. Therefore, if something does happen, you can address the issue before it escalates without a critical breakdown of trust.

Bark helps families manage and protect their children’s digital lives.

mother and daughter discussing Bark Parental Controls