We can't always be with our children, and we have to learn to let go at some point. And we do stop the hovering...as long as we know our kids are safe when they are out in the world with friends.
The good news is technology has made it possible to have some peace of mind (we say "some" because, you know, motherhood is synonymous with worrying). Here are three useful apps that will let you be on top of your child's Internet usage and physical safety.
Know where your family is exactly We like to think of this app as the Weasley family clock in the Harry Potter books. Family Locator - Life360 is a free downloadable app that lets you track your child's (and, ahem, your spouse's!) whereabouts via his or her smartphone's GPS. You don't need to ask your husband "san ka na (where are you)?" with this family locator app -- it shows you where he is on the road in real-time. You will also know if your kids are really at their friend's house like they said they were because the app shows where all your family members on the map. You can also receive alerts (one of our staff members gets her notifications via email) when family members left the house, reached the school or office, or are already on the way home.
You can even create groups or circle for people who are, for example, you're on vacation with. We're a huge fan of this app but use it wisely. But of course, family members should agree and set rules for the app. Download for iOS or Android.
Know what your kids are doing online The Internet, social media, and apps were game-changers in parenting, and rules for screen time media use vary for each family. ScreenGuide helps you to monitor. You can track how long your child has been using his mobile phone and what he does on it, whether that's gaming, social media, or watching videos and listening to music, or research.
You can then use the data to impose restrictions such as set bedtime or block apps, and set it up to notify you when your child turns off important settings such as GPS. Remember, though, that you need to talk to your child and agree on the rules so he or she wouldn't think that you're invading his or her privacy. It's a little over-the-top, but it gets the job done. Download for iOS or Android.
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Get the replies you need Nothing frustrates a parent more than sending her child a message and get no answer because we know where that frustration will lead: worry. Even if it's just been 15 minutes of no reply, we can easily imagine three worst case scenarios. Our answer: ReplyASAP, an app that freezes your kid's phone until he or she responds to your message. Only a parent, a dad, in fact, could have created this gem. And if your child's phone on silent, it will sound an alarm. You can also set messages to remind your child to message you when he or she arrives home from school every day.
The only catch is it has "cancel" and "snooze" buttons, which effectively lets your child delay replying to you for a few minutes. Either way, it wouldn't stop until the child chooses an option. You'll see if your child has seen or "snoozed" your message. You'll also know if your message is pending or has been delivered to your child. It's fairly new, so there's much room for improvement. Download for Android but coming soon on iOS.