Being a good parent is the most important job anyone will ever take on, but parenthood can be a challenge when teenage children are concerned.
With technology allowing the free flow of information and communication, how can parents keep their kids safe while giving them freedom?
Unfortunately, it is a fact of life that most teenagers are naturally drawn to excitement and risk. This creates a big problem when it comes to finding a happy medium between safety and freedom.
With frequent use of the internet and social media sites and their complete reliance on mobile phones for communication, monitoring who your teenager talks to and what information he receives can seem like an insurmountable task.
However, you can’t realistically expect to deprive your children of the gadgets that most adults have. Nor should you limit all independence.
To begin with, doing so could seriously affect their ability to communicate with friends or get in contact with family members if they need urgent help.
Future career prospects might also depend on their ability to use the latest technology and communication tools.
Benefits and Risks
Allowing teenagers to have their own mobile phone can, of course, have many benefits, especially in the case of an emergency. A teenager’s mobile can be something of a thorn for a parent.
Though needed for safety reasons, the phone is also a child’s ticket to freedom. Sometimes freedom must be curtailed.
Parents who are not quite up to speed with new technology will be relieved to learn that there are a few options available to them that could provide help.
It is possible, for instance, to monitor mobile phone usage and even track the phone’s physical location using GPS.
If you are confident about taking matters into your own hands, you could consider seeking out a handset that includes tracking technology as standard. These are available from a few private companies and the phone is supplied without a SIM card.
You can then fit the handset with your own SIM card, install the provided software onto your home PC and track your child’s location.
There has been talk of a SIM card that will soon be available that has a built-in capacity for parental control. Parents will be given the power to switch off the phone’s network at certain times (e.g., during school hours or late at night).
They can also monitor texts and calls and even control contacts, blocking calls and texts from unknown or unwanted callers. Internet use and data downloads can also be controlled and monitored, as well as picture and video messaging.
Purchasing a SIM card without a handset will, of course, give you the freedom to keep up with your teenager’s rapidly changing tastes by enabling relatively low-cost replacement of the handset as often as you please.
In the case of the pre-fitted tracker handsets, this will allow you to purchase updated handsets as they are released.
It’s Easy to Get your Location Leaked
Location-based services for mobile phones have been around for a while, but have come into more regular use with the rise of the smartphones using GPS and Wi-Fi technology.
Many of the social networking sites used by teenagers have integrated applications that use these technologies, which allows users to share their location with friends.
Applications such as FourSquare or Google Latitude, part of Google Maps, also use this technology to locate users and show both their location and that of friends and family on a digital map.
Before you think about this as an easy way to locate your teenager, it is worth remembering that this information is not only visible to you, but to just about anyone who wants to find it.
Quite often, a teenager’s social networking friends will include people they may not have met before and this technology will effectively allow your teenager’s whereabouts to be common knowledge to strangers, possibly putting them at risk.
Perhaps the safest way to look at tracking your teenager’s phone would be to use a subscription tracking service. A Google search for “mobile tracker” will give you a host of companies that, for a monthly subscription, will track a particular phone and keep you informed of its whereabouts.
You may also use apps like Where’s My Droid for Android, or BlackBerry Protect for BlackBerry to keep a track on your child.
This information is only made available to you.
Any tracking device or service will only be effective if the phone is switched on and it is only the phone or SIM that can be tracked, not the child, so if your teenager leaves his phone at home or it gets lost, you may still not know your child’s whereabouts.
Also, it is worth knowing that a subscription tracking service can only be used with the child’s consent, so parents looking for a furtive way to track their child may be disappointed.
About The Author: Sarah James writes regularly on technology for a wide range of publications and websites. For more information compare high speed internet providers in your area on this website.