Tech – for Everyone

Tech Tips and Tricks & Advice – written in plain English.

Parents, Is Your Child Asking For A Cell Phone?

Parental Monitoring And Cellular Phones

If you are a parent concerned about what your child is doing with their mobile phone– whether or not they’re talking to strangers, for example– you may want to keep reading. This topic was spawned by a question from such a parent.

And if you’re the kind of person who’s easily agitated about technology and the erosion of privacy, a Luddite, a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist, or anyone else who hasn’t quite come to terms with the modern age we’re living in– you might want to stop reading here.
You’ve been warned. I will not respond to your angry e-mail.shhh

Regular readers (and tech-savvy people in general) know that your computer use at work is monitored. And you’ve probably heard of “spyware” and “keyloggers” that record what you type (my readers have, and that’s fersher). And you know that GPS devices can pinpoint your location.

And you know that modern phones allow text messaging, the sending of photos and movies, and surfing the Internet. (They are becoming more like little laptops everyday.)

And you know that the Internet can be a dangerous place. Especially for kids.
(read Monitoring Your Teenager’s Internet Usage – Should You?)

And thus a parent’s dilemma. If you have a child, odds are good the day will come when they want a phone. I think that happens around the ages of 7-9, these days.
And being kids, they won’t want just any old phone, but they will want a “kewl” phone; one with all the bell’s and whistles.

“But Mom, everybody’s got one!”

The answer, for you, may be to give your child a phone that allows you to see what they text and IM, control who their “contacts” are, and, maybe, even record their calls. It’s called “parental monitoring”, and the extent to which you use it is up to you.
[note: if reading that made your blood pressure go up a notch, refer now to the second paragraph.]

You don’t need to buy a special phone.. or even a new phone, to monitor your child’s activity.
* There is commercial software that can be installed on every type of phone– such as RADAR and MobileSpy. These can notify you in “real time” if a parameter you set is being broken. iPhone users can look at safe eyes.
[note: did your employer give you your cellphone? Think, people. Think. Let’s add two and two here.]

click me

* There are USB dongles that read a phone’s SIM chip –even if your child’s erased their messages– for $50.

So, if you’re a concerned parent, you have several options that will allow you to find some middle ground. And if you’re a Big Brother Conspiracy Theorist.. well, friend, it’s twice as bad as you dare to realize and it’s only going to get worse.

Today’s free link(s): Concerned parents who have a child reaching the driving age (and Big Brother Conspiracy Theorists) might read my article “What Your Car Is Saying About You.
Or you can give them a Guardian Angel cell phone which reports their location and speed..

Orig post: 10/21/08

Copyright 2007-2010 © “Tech Paul” (Paul Eckstrom). All Rights Reserved. jaanix post to jaanix.

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June 3, 2010 - Posted by | advice, cellular, computers, how to, Internet, kids and the Internet, mobile, privacy, security, tech | , , , , , ,


  1. TechPaul,

    This is a gem of an article that I will be forwarding to friends and family. Just another chapter in Tech-for Everyone’s eBook! Great job…



    Comment by Ramblinrick | June 3, 2010 | Reply

    • Thank you, Rick.

      I thought I might be hearing from you on this one..

      Folks, have you visited Rick’s site yet? It is one of my daily reads.


      Comment by techpaul | June 3, 2010 | Reply

      • Just going through Rick’s site. Very interesting.


        Comment by Grr | June 3, 2010 | Reply

        • Grr,
          … not sure how to respond to this one…


          Comment by techpaul | June 3, 2010 | Reply

  2. sounds like a lot of money to throw away while sidestepping the issues of responsibility and trust. parents today don’t have a clue as to how to use any of the software you mentioned (except for maybe keyloggers because most of them are viruses lol). take my word for it parents, you’re better off saving that money you’d waste on software you don’t know how to use and putting it towards your kid’s college education fund.


    Comment by nick | June 3, 2010 | Reply

    • nick,
      I have had several reactions to your comment, and I am not certain which one to “go with”.

      Responsibility. Trust. Communicating with your child. All very important! True.

      But everything else you offer strikes me as false.
      … Just for starters (sorry, I can’t resist at least one rebuttal) it is absolutely foolish and arrogant to think older people don’t have a clue — who do you think invented and built the technology we’re using today? Bill Gates is 55, old enough to be a grandpa. The older generation had to learn DOS and the command line while the younger generation had to learn how to click on the pretty icon: which requires more “savvy”?

      And, you don’t have to be all that knowledgeable to install and use the software (mentioned) either…

      Folks, if you would like some pointers (tips) for how talk to your kids about online realities, one good resource is OnGuardOnline’s Net cetera.


      Comment by techpaul | June 3, 2010 | Reply

  3. @nick,

    A singular throw away comment – “parents today don’t have a clue as to how to use any of the software you mentioned”

    Really – who says so. What statistics do you base your opinion on? What studies have you read that support your statement.

    If your comment had included “In my view”, or “In my opinion”, for example, rather than the definitive statement you made, I would have found it more acceptable.

    I’ve spent more than 30+ years in the computer industry, in particular, technology security, and my experience runs counter to yours.

    Those who believe that teenagers are “tech savvy”, and parents are not, are sadly lacking in technology reality. As Tech Paul points out, “the younger generation had to learn how to click on the pretty icon”.

    Hardly the criteria for establishing “tech savviness”, in my view.


    Comment by Bill Mullins | June 3, 2010 | Reply

    • Bill,
      Always a pleasure to see you here.

      Sadly, I think nick’s um, er, “perception” is fairly widespread. I have had many parents tell me, “why bother? The kid is pretty smart with computers and (they) will just (work around) whatever I do.”

      I think it’s important for parents to know that there are methods, and means, for implementing controls that are not so easily “work around”-able. One of my earliest posts was More Internet safety–Use your router for access control, and that’s a good place to start, with a device you probably already have.


      Comment by techpaul | June 3, 2010 | Reply

    • @TechPaul,

      Your statement, “Those who believe that teenagers are “tech savvy”… Let me tell you something. During the past 10 years I have handed down my PC’s to a teenager with the intent that they will broaden their horizons and learn something about PCs. Today, those same teenagers are no further advanced than when I gave them the PCs. Basically, they have learned to “click on the pretty icon” and play games (to the point the PC will not longer run properly); THEN, they call me for the fix :(



      Comment by Ramblinrick | June 4, 2010 | Reply

      • Rick,
        While I was forced to deal with these new pieces of office equipment called “desktop computers” quite early, I did not take any interest in them until I saw Duke Nukem 3D.. so, I feel somewhat compelled to come to Gaming’s defense.. I would not be a tech today if it weren’t for the Duke, and Doom.
        (And to this day, I avoid spreadsheets like the plague.. and PP “presentations”..)

        Also.. I know some really, and I mean really savvy ‘kids’. So I kind of want to defend that a little bit too..

        But that said, I “came in” when icon-driven UI’s were the (new) norm, and I did not have to think in terms of mkdir’s and cd’s and always know my path, etc.. And to this day, I avoid command line interfaces whenever I can..
        I admire those who “came in” in the days of the command line and “speak’a dat lingo”. I missed out, I think.

        .. it is too bad about these kids missing the opportunity you provided though. And I know it’s pretty common. Maybe it’s not too late..?


        Comment by techpaul | June 4, 2010 | Reply

      • LOL Rick

        BTW Paul, when will you publish your eBook? I’ve been waiting for a long time… ;-)


        Comment by Adrian | June 5, 2010 | Reply

        • Adrian,
          Thanks for the reminder.. I do need to get on that.


          Comment by techpaul | June 5, 2010 | Reply

  4. So that means erasing messages on a SIM card is just like deleting but not overwriting files in Windows?


    Comment by Adrian | June 5, 2010 | Reply

    • Adrian,
      I have not looked into cell phone OSes or memory management enough to say with 100% certainty, but it is surely logical that they use the same methods as their older cousins do.

      Also, I think any battery powered device is going to be programmed to be as efficient as possible. What is more efficient than flipping one bit to 0?


      Comment by techpaul | June 5, 2010 | Reply

  5. now is technology year..but i think if our child who under 10 years old, they dont must has a cell phone


    Comment by abrenk | June 7, 2010 | Reply

    • abrenk,
      I am not a parent, so I do not have to make these kinds of choices.. but it is very hard for me to imagine a child under 10 needing a smartphone.

      I can understand giving a child a cellular phone for use in emergencies.


      Comment by techpaul | June 7, 2010 | Reply

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