Tools track kids' phone use

Apps keep tabs on teens

With so many teens and kids armed with smartphones, parents can often feel out of the loop and maybe even nervous about how their kids are using those devices. There are now more ways than ever before for parents to keep tabs. We asked the folks at Verizon to break down the best options. Lawrence Ross said, "With Family Base you can see who your children are talking to, when they're talking to them." At $5 a month, Family Base gives you alerts and email updates on exactly how your kids are using their phones. "You can see exactly what they're using," said Ross. "So what apps are they using, what websites are they visiting. You can have your conversation later if it's something not appropriate." If you're worried about where your child is going, you can track them for $10 a month with Family Locator, another Verizon service. "This is really great if you're at work and you want to make sure your kids got home from school safe." Even if you don't have Verizon, you can still get apps to help monitor your child. The Canary app will tell you if your child is driving or a passenger in a speeding car "You can find out if your child is text messaging, talking on the phone, or using social media while they're in a moving vehicle," Ross said. "You get that alert immediately, so you can contact them immediately to stop that behavior." Your teen can install the Safely Go app. Push the button before getting behind the wheel to disable the phone. You can make exceptions for things like navigation or calls from your parents. Ross said, "Anyone who tries to call them or sends them a message, they're going to get a response that says 'I'm driving.'" And for your younger kids, download the Kids Place app before handing over your phone to your little one. This will ensure your child doesn't make a purchase or email your boss. "You pick which apps they're allowed on to play, and they can't do anything but play those games," said Ross. So many ways to monitor and track your children might seem excessive. But Ross says parental involvement is key with so much technology at kids' fingertips. "Smartphones and these tools are here to stay," he said. "And we need to make sure our kids are learning to use them appropriately."