How I Keep an Eye on my Teen’s Social Media (Without Being a Total Stalker)
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This is not a sponsored post! I started using Qustodio a few months ago after getting a recommendation from a friend, and I wanted to share our experience with it. :) To be completely honest, I don't check Jenelle's iPhone and social media activity very often because she's never really given us a reason not to trust her. However, if anything were to come up, I have Qustodio Premium so I could go back through 30 days of activity to check it out. This includes websites visited, social media, etc.
Jenelle and I have a pretty open relationship, well at least much more open than my Mom and I had. I don't know what's “normal”, but I do know she talks to me about a lot of things. I'm sure there are some things she doesn't talk to me about and that's okay, too. I try hard to make sure she understands the door is always open when she does want to talk. We have mother daughter dates and I always tell her how much I love her. That's gotta count for something, yeah? ;)
With that being said, it'd be stupid for me not to keep an eye on her social media and iPhone activity at all in this day and age. Not only to keep an eye on her and the decisions she's making, but to make sure nothing gets out of control if messages are being sent to her. Bullying is a real thing and looking the other way doesn't solve it. If I see that someone sends her messages that cross the line, I will have no problem confronting her about it. With that being said, I don't check her messages on a regular basis (though her iMessages do pop up on my computer because she uses my Apple ID on her phone).
How I Keep an Eye on my Teen's Social Media
Links used in this post are affiliate links, which means I earn a commission if you purchase through them but you don't pay anything extra. In fact, many affiliate links can save you money! :)
Qustudio is one of many options for online parental controls. You can use it on your child's iPhone, Android device (in fact, there are even more features for Android users), laptop, tablet, Kindle, etc. Qustodio has many uses, including the ones I mentioned above that work for our family. You can also limit internet usage on any device, which is great for parents who want to make sure their kids aren't online 10 hours a day (or even 3!). You can limit time on certain sites, too. So if you don't want them spending more than an hour a day on YouTube, you just log into Qustodio and set that up in a few easy clicks.
Also under reports in Qustodio, you'll see your child's search activity as well as the exact sites they visited. Nell's search history is pretty boring: 90% of it involves Shawn Mendes wallpapers.
You can block certain sites, or apps, from your child's device. If you don't want them on SnapChat, you can block it completely. Same for YouTube or any other app or website. You can also set it up to where you get notified if your child visits a “suspicious” site. I've gotten a few emails like this, but they always turn out to be false alarms. For example, CoverGirl is marked as pornographic. Probably for good reason if you look at some of their articles, but I do allow Jenelle to access CoverGirl so I set up a setting to where she can do just that.
Two slight quirks I've found with our Qustodio use:
Jenelle doesn't have Facebook, but it keeps saying she uses it. Sometimes 1% of her daily usage, sometimes 10% of her daily usage. Before I freaked out on her, I wanted to make sure it was legit. So I kept her phone all day and then looked at the usage. It still said she was on Facebook, which obviously she wasn't because I had her phone. So if you have an issue like this, and you don't want them on Facebook at all, you can just block it completely. If you're okay with them being on Facebook, this wouldn't be an issue.
She does use SnapChat, but the reporting is off. For example, it said she spent 9 hours on SnapChat the other day, while she only had her phone for about 3 hours. I think she logged into SnapChat and it kept running all day so it counted as usage. I'm not 100% sure on that one but we don't limit her time at this point so that wasn't an issue for us. If you are limiting time, make sure your teen knows to completely log off of SnapChat unless they want the timer to keep running.
Even if you don't end up stalking your child's internet usage, it's good to have just in case it's needed. With an Android phone, you can even see all SMS messages, so that's a plus if you're worried about them sending or receiving inappropriate texts.
The bottom line
If you have a teenager, you know there is always a way to “work the system” and not get caught. Your child could use someone else's phone to log into their social media and Qustodio wouldn't track that. They could take pictures on someone else's phone and send them, and Qustodio wouldn't track that, either. Qustodio is able to track anything that takes place on their devices only.
At the end of the day, though, you've gotta have trust and an open relationship because no app or tracking device can create trust. Qustodio is a helpful tool but it's not foolproof so you have to actually talk to them, too. Don't be sneaky about installing the app; be honest. Let them know why you're doing it and what it means. If you are concerned about their internet usage already, maybe you don't have to go into ALL of the details letting them know it tracks everything allll the way down to their search terms and websites visited. Do what's best for your family and the relationship you have with your child!
Your teen has to trust you, and you have to be able to trust them. Apps like Qustodio give me the peace of mind that I'm not just being dumb or naive and blindly trusting everything my teen says, but it also gives Jenelle reassurance that if something happens and she needs my help (like someone is harassing her on social media), I can see what's going on and step in and chat with her without her having to come to me and “snitch”.