Software helps parents monitor what kids are up to - DC News FOX 5 DC WTTG

Software helps parents monitor what kids are up to

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ATLANTA -

What's on your child's cell phone? Today, it can be difficult for parents to keep up with their children on social media. But, there is a software you can download that can help you monitor what's going on in your child's world.

It used to be that parents could do their own investigative work -- snoop around their child's room, and maybe take a peek in their diary. In today's technology-driven world, it's a different ball game, and some parents are getting creative to find out what their children are up to.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram -- social media is a part of life for most teens. It means freedom from the eyes of parents or does it?

"My own phone, I was so happy. I was like, yes can't nobody stop me, I can do whatever I want. For her to come and say ‘uh, uh I'm tracking your phone. I'm watching your moves and all you're saying,'" said 16-year-old Ashton Mitchell.

Mitchell was shocked when he got busted by his own mother about the things he was doing and saying on his smart phone

"When I started getting alerts on my phone about cursing, it just let me have a conversation with my son. I also found out my son was participating in illegal marijuana usage with his friends. That was alarming," said Kati Thomas.

Thomas started tracking her son Ashton two years ago, and her older son Langston when he was a teen, through a surveillance system called aBeanstalk. It's a piece of software that notifies a parent if their teen is engaging in risky behavior. It tracks emails, text messages, contacts, pictures, and even alerts parents if their child is using phrases associated with drugs, alcohol, guns or bullying.  But is it an invasion of privacy?

"I felt like she didn't trust me at all, or with what I was doing. But, what I was doing wasn't very trustworthy," said Langston.

"There is no privacy issue when it comes to the parents monitoring their underage child's activities. See, there's implied consent because a child can't give consent. They're not legally adults yet," said Joe Everson of I-Spy.

He says more and more parents are relying on this type of software -- not to track a child's every move, but to encourage their child to make better choices.

"Even though you may have deleted it from the phone, it's still there. It's in the hard drive of the phone. It can be obtained, it can be accessed, it can be posted without your permission or knowledge," said Everson.

"They live in your house. You pay the bills. You provide them with the smartphones and technology and you have a responsibility to protect them, and nurture them and guide them to be healthy and make wise choices," said Thomas.

There are a number of spyware sites for parents. Many are free, and some come with a small annual fee. For more information on aBeanstalk, click here!

Do you spy on your kids, and how? Post your comments on our FOX 5 Atlanta Facebook page, or tweet us @GoodDayAtlanta.  We'll read some of your comments on the air during Good Day Atlanta!

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