Mobile App Allows Parents to Either Keep Kids Safe or Follow Their Every Move [UPDATED]
There is a smart phone app that can allow parents to keep track of what their kids are doing all the time. GPS apps are fairly common, but this mobile app - called Smart Shepherd - isn't just a GPS tracker. It does so much more.
I currently use a GPS app called Life360 to help find my son's phone when he loses it, or I want to know where he is. Like Life360, the Smart Shepherd app has GPS capabilities, but it also serves as a sort of a 'panic button'. If a child is in any kind of danger, they can hit the button, and their phone automatically takes photos of the kid's surroundings. It also sends a text message to every number in their emergency contacts list and alerts authorities. All for $15.00 a month. Very cool.
The other part of Smart Shepherd can be considerably more sneaky. When you download the app (which doesn't have a brand name on it, and cannot be tracked back to Smart Shepherd), it is also constantly capturing information of the child's surroundings in real time. You can keep track of emails, text messages, and even listen in to conversations your kid is having. It seems you can also intercept messages before they are sent from your child's phone. It gives you the possibility to intervene on your kids' social behavior, before it even happens.
As a parent, you basically have the choice of telling your child that they have the capability of spying on them. Or, you could be sneaky and spy on your kids. The choice is yours.
This is amazing and scary at the same time. While there are obvious benefits to having Smart Shepherd, it seems to me that there will be parents that will micromanage - or flat out spy - on their kids, and that just doesn't seem right. If I was spied on every moment of my teenage life, I would still be grounded today.
Another issue I would have is if another kid, a boyfriend or girlfriend, a sexual predator or someone else put this app on the child's phone. Having this technology in the wrong hands scares the daylights out of me. I've contacted Smart Shepherd with that question, and here was their reply:
We take security of our product very seriously and understand, like with many useful tools, SmartShepherd could be used inappropriately. In order to ensure that the software is in the "right" hands, we require that the software is installed directly to your child's phone. So, unless you have the phone in hand, the software can not be put on the phone. This protective tool is intended for parents to use for protection and guidance only.
If you had this app, would you tell your kid about its full capabilities, or just let him/her know it's a panic button and nothing more?
Smart Shepherd boasts that they are at the forefront of child safety when it comes to smart phone usage, and it's hard to argue. I've looked, and haven't found any product that offers the same type of protection and security options that Smart Shepherd does. They state on their website:
We had several different directions we could have taken this software. We are proud of the direction we have chosen. We are the leader, the risk-taker, the higher standard, the more complete solution. There is ABSOLUTELY no comparable solution that provides the level of protection Smart Shepherd offers. We fill the gaps that other protection software leaves behind. We are watching the trends and incorporating the capture of new apps into our software every day. We are the most complete solution ever.
Clearly, the full remote protection gives a lot of power to parents, and allows the ability to oversee a lot of what goes on with their kids in the digital world. This service may not be for every parent, but there are certainly a lot of parents who must feel they would love to have this technology, for peace of mind, if nothing else.