How to police your child's phone when you aren't around

What’s on your child’s phone?

The apps they have downloaded on their cellphones or tablets could be gateways to cyberbullying or for online predators to find them.

“The cyber space continues to change, and it makes it harder for parents to keep up,” said Mitch Neff, social/digital strategy lead for Cisco Security.

Recent numbers show that one in four children will be bullied before the year is over, but how can you protect your child from something you don’t even know exists?

"Even a parent who is slightly savvy check the text messages or Facebook chat. But they just don't know what these other apps are," Neff said.

Neff warns against apps such as Kik Messenger and Whisper, which allow for anonymous chats with people through the internet. It’s online meetings like those that sometimes turn into real life meetings – a parent’s worst nightmare.

"That's the key thing parents really need to look out for: Any kind of chat app that doesn’t require a real person log in, another system verifying a person is who they say they are," Neff said.

The best practice is of course to have a conversation with your child, but Neff said just like there are apps out there targeting kids, there are also apps that can help parents police what’s going on in your child’s phone.

“The MamaBear app is almost like a parent within your child’s phone. It works two ways. The parent downloads it and the child downloads it and it watches what the child is doing online, even flagging the parent when certain keywords are used,” Neff said.

To download MamaBear, go to www.mamabearapp.com.

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