Device monitoring, is it legal? Simple answer? Yes. Parents and legal guardians are permitted to monitor the computer, smartphone, and other electronic devices of children they are responsible for.
There are three primary legal components for parents to be aware of.
While the law typically recognizes the parental right to control the possessions of their child (i.e. taking something away from the child if they misbehave), you should be the owner of the device on which you’re installing the cell phone tracking program.
Fortunately, this is an easy criteria to meet, as parents are typically the ones who buy the smartphone in question and pay the ongoing costs for keeping it connected to the network.
But it can also be an important point to use when talking to your children about monitoring. If you let your child know you own the phone, it reinforces the idea that a smartphone is not an “automatic” belonging or gift. It’s a piece of important technology that you own, and are giving them the privilege of using. They have to continually show good behavior to earn the right to keep it in their possession – good behavior that can be verified through monitoring.
We advise parents to set parental monitoring boundaries for themselves, including a plan to scale back on monitoring as a teen gets older. A cell phone spy is not meant to be a permanent fixture in your child’s life, and so you need to be prepared for the fact that by 18, they should be responsible enough to act without your supervision.
This is the tricky part. If you own the phone and your child is under the age of 18, they do not need to give consent to be monitored.
We encourage parents to let their children know, as it is easier to build trust and maintain honest dialogue when both parties are aware that a cell phone tracking software is being used. If you can talk to them openly about the importance of safe online behavior, and the role monitoring can play, your relationship will more likely be stronger for it.
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