59ºF

New phone apps allow parents to monitor children's phone activity

HOUSTON – Your kids are out and about and more and more it seems they are completely glued to their cellphones.

They live in their own secret world -- on those phones, talking, texting, searching the web, watching whatever on video.

The fact is you have no idea what your teens are doing on their phones.

That is until now.

Channel 2 Investigates has found three apps that you can download onto your children’s phones that will, for the first time, allow you to break into that secret cellphone world your child is living in.

The first app is called Net Nanny.

It’s a program that allows you to block not just specific websites, but entire categories of websites that you don’t want your child visiting on their phone.

We asked mother of three Diana Massaro from West University to try out the device and tell us how it works.

“So every time my kids go to a site that Net Nanny knows has nudity on it for example, it will be blocked and they won’t be able to go to that site and I will also be notified that they have been there,” said Massaro.

With Net Nanny you can block nudity, pornography, weapons, suicide and a whole host of other questionable web categories.

You can also ask the app to warn you if your child is searching for dangerous information on different subjects like tobacco and alcohol.

App number two is called SecureTeen.

It goes even farther.

It allows you for the first time to actually read word for word exactly what your child is texting to other people.

It also gives you call logs that show you exactly who your children are talking to, and how often.

Diana punches up a log of her son Dillon’s recent texts and reads what he has been writing to a friend.

“There it is, his friend Gus says to him: ‘It’s your boy Gus coming at ya with another rad message,’ and Dillon says ‘Hi’ and then they start texting about video games they are playing," said Massaro.

But our third app, maybe the most powerful of all.

It’s called TeenSafe, and not only does it allow you to track your teens texts and calls, it gives you your child’s exact location at any given moment.

It displays their location on easy to read maps that appear on your laptop, your tablet, whatever device you have chosen to track your kids with using this application.

To test it out, we send Diana’s son Brendan to Game Stop and Menchies, and right there on Diana’s computer, she sees where Brendan is.

“Yep, it shows him between Menchies and Game Stop in West University off of Bissonnet,” said Massaro.

Best of all, Massaro can actually freeze her children’s phones, in other words shut them down remotely if she wants to keep them off the phone for a period of time.

This could be valuable if Diana knows one of her kids would be taking a test at school, or going to church and does not want them texting at that point.

“This TeenSafe app really gives me peace of mind because I have some control over them and I know exactly where they are at any moment and that is important for me,” said Massaro.

We have links to all three of these apps directly below this story if you would like to read more about what these apps can do and how much they cost.

Net Nanny

SecureTeen

TeenSafe