Spy on Your Kids Or They Will Be in Danger

Readers — As you know, the government has been spying on us all, from plebes to prime ministers. But National Security Agency agents look like pikers compared with plain old American parents, who are being encouraged to treat their kids as enemy agents whose every move must be observed, tracked, tapped or taped.

It’s all to “Keep our kids safe!”, of course, the greatest slogan since — well, there is no greater slogan once you’re a parent. (Before you’re a parent, it’s, “This will get you a date!”)

Here’s an ad for just one of the many new surveillance products being peddled to parents. Mind you, this is for a “basic” package. I guess that means it doesn’t paw through your child’s drawers.

No cavity searches, either.

If iesyynehie
you have asked yourself just one of these questions, the (device whose name I am deleting because I hate it) is for you!

Do you fear for your child’s safety?

Do you live in a dangerous neighborhood?

Does your child have to enter any unsafe environments?

Are they traveling somewhere without you?

Do you suspect that your child is lying to you about where they are or who they are with?

Is your child not picking up their phone when you call them?

Is your child being bullied or bullying someone else?

Is your child receiving nude photos from anyone?

Is your child sexting?

We all know it’s impossible to be with your child 24/7. That’s why (this hideous intrusion on your child’s privacy and sense of self) is an ideal product to keep your child safe in a growing digital world. (This particular trust destroyer) provides innovative software that assists in keeping your child safer, whether it’s through the captured call log, messages and chats, or GPS location component. Upon downloading, choose to leave the software detected or undetected, arm your child with the Panic Button for a quick and easy way to get help in an emergency, or even turn the mic on your child’s device to listen in real time.

Ultimately, [this Orwellian invention] facilitates another line of defense between a child’s mobile device and an anonymous online environment.

Got that? So if you are a parent whose child has ever had the temerity to travel “somewhere without you,” that’s reason enough to take up espionage. And dear me, “is your child not picking up their phone when you call them?”

Of course he’s not! No child picks up the phone every time Mom calls, just as no adult picks up the phone every time Mom calls! Is it time for your mother to spy on you?

It’s not time to spy on anybody, but this obsessive snooping is being presented as if it were just a normal thing good parents do. This particular system not only locates your kid’s whereabouts via GPS but also scans all emails and reads all texts. What’s more, its website suggests you “activate the microphone to listen in on calls without being detected to get firsthand insights.”

Isn’t that illegal? There must be some parental loophole. And don’t forget: The device also serves as an ambient microphone, so you can hear whatever your child is saying even when he or she is not on the phone. “Find out what’s really going on with your child before it’s too late!”

Ah, but by the time you are spying on everything your child says, does, looks at or listens to, it already is too late. You aren’t really a parent, any more than an undercover agent is really who he’s pretending to be.

I jusr hope I”m nor around when you’re discovered.

spy 22


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41 Responses to Spy on Your Kids Or They Will Be in Danger

  1. SOA December 16, 2013 at 8:37 am #

    I will never forgive my Mother in law for the things she did like that to my husband. He was a good kid who got perfect grades and never got in trouble. Ever. Yet, she had zero trust for him. She opened his mail all the way up to college because she wanted to see his grades. She could not trust him he was making good grades (which he always was) or at least let him see them first and then give him the chance to show her himself (which he would). I wanted to call the cops on her for mail tampering but that would have just gotten him kicked out of the house.

    She also would not let us be in his room with the door closed when we were in college at over 20 years old in broad daylight with her a few feet away. Did she really think we would try to have sex in that situation? We just wanted to talk without her trying to eavesdrop. She kept flinging the door open on us and would see us sitting across the room from each other. But kept trying to “bust” us.

    That woman had issues. He was so glad to get out of there when we got married. I would do back handsprings if my sons grow up to be as good as my husband was when he lived with her. He was a perfect son in my eyes except for being a bit messy. Otherwise perfect. Women did not know how lucky she had it. She could have had a son dropping out of school or getting DUIs or getting girls pregnant right and left. But she had a perfect son and still could not trust him. I will never do that to my kids. I will trust them till they give me a very good reason not to. He never did that to her.

  2. SOA December 16, 2013 at 8:44 am #

    I also had a best friend in high school whose mother recorded her phone calls. But I informed my friend to tell her mother what she is doing is illegal in our state. By law if she calls me she is not allowed to record me without my permission. So if my friend called me and her mother was recording it she was breaking the law. I thought about calling the cops on her mom too. So I would say ridiculous things about gross stuff on the phone with her just to mess with her mom so she had to listen to it and my friend thought it was funny. I would talk about my period and being constipated and vomiting and stuff trying to be really gross to freak her mom out.

    The funny part of that story is her mother accused me of being the bad influence on her daughter. Except I am married to a husband with a college degree with a respected job and I have a college degree too. Her daughter? She is in jail for life for making meth in her basement. Now who was the bad influence exactly? Considering I have never even gotten so much as a moving violation or parking ticket? Um probably her mother had it backwards and needed to check her own parenting because trying to blame your parenting fails on other people is not the way to go. I am pretty smug about it.

    That just goes to show even recording your kid’s phone calls is not going to prevent anything. If anything it might piss off their good friends who are trying to help them be better people (as I was with my friend, mostly I tried to make her study and helped her in school) and then run off their good friends because they don’t like being treated like criminals and having their phone convos recorded.

  3. JaneW December 16, 2013 at 8:53 am #

    If you have a toddler or developmentally disabled child who loves to wander off and explore the world, a GPS tracker might possibly be a useful tool to protect him or her.

    But if you are using technology to spy on your teen (and this is clearly aimed at parents of developmentally normal teens and preteens) there are MAJOR problems in your family. Whatever surveillance you’re using, they’ll find a way to get around it. Start tracking your child’s phone, she’ll just leave the phone at the library or her friend’s house while she goes to the shady club downtown. (And then won’t have a phone when she gets into trouble at the shady club downtown.)

    Actual communication, and a bit of trust. It works better.

  4. BL December 16, 2013 at 9:11 am #

    “By law if she calls me she is not allowed to record me without my permission. So if my friend called me and her mother was recording it she was breaking the law. I thought about calling the cops on her mom too.”

    Sounds like an idea. If you know of anyone doing this to their kids (even or perhaps especially if you’re the kids), call the cops and report a wiretapping violation.

    You can’t be too careful, after all. 🙂

  5. Andrew December 16, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    All this seems pretty useless to me,as any parent who would use this service wouldn’t let their kid out of sight long enough to make the service useful or cost effective.

  6. Bose in St. Peter MN December 16, 2013 at 11:01 am #

    The spy-always, trust-never approach also lays a terrible foundation for adult relationships… it’s made out to be normal that simple conversations can flip to an interrogations complete with cross-checking timestamps on activity logs and the content of prior chats.

  7. Ben December 16, 2013 at 11:37 am #

    Not only is this device detrimental to a normal trusting relationship between parents and their children, the advert is also a blatant lie. Apart from a few very specific cases, no amount of spying is going to make your child any safer. You might know about it sooner, but it does in no way increase their safety — very much like a burglar alarm…

  8. SKL December 16, 2013 at 12:05 pm #

    If I had reason to have so little trust in my kid, I’d want her to know it, so she could work on earning my trust back.

  9. lollipoplover December 16, 2013 at 12:07 pm #

    The makers of this devise should also have a link to mental health foundation helplines for parents who need such information. If you’re spying on your kid when they are away from you and feel the need to breach the foundation of trust that is so important for kids, you need help. This is stalking.
    Being preoccupied with every little detail of Junior’s life is a mental disorder. Most normal parents enjoy time away from their children to have their own lives and interests. Maybe they’re not answering their phone because they don’t want to talk to you because you have no life outside of stalking your own children.

  10. Emily December 16, 2013 at 1:56 pm #

    Wow, and I thought my colleague in university whose mother tracked her every move with a GPS chip in her cell phone had it bad. At least this mother wasn’t also monitoring her daughter’s every interaction.

  11. C. S. P. Schofield December 16, 2013 at 2:03 pm #

    What occurs to me is that teens are almost always a great deal more tech-savy than their parents, so this is highly likely to backfire big-time.

  12. Melissa December 16, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Whatever happened to plain old parental ESP? Hm? The ONE time I lied to my Dad, he caught me. All he had to do was SUGGEST that he knew where I’d been, and I rolled over like a paid informant.

    Communicate, have a real parent/child relationship, trust them when they’re trustworthy, and you’ll know they’re up to something (sometimes even before THEY are) if they are.

  13. Papilio December 16, 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Hah – the DDR revisited… Goodbye *scratch* Hello Lenin!

    The mere thought of having parents who do this is just disgusting. I was a ‘good kid’, but still, the idea of having no privacy whatsoever is frightening.
    Are they also going to install cameras in their kid’s bedroom, or is that a law they are still afraid to break (kiddie porn!)?

  14. LTMG December 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm #

    Just waiting for the day that some bright teen spark gets the idea to spy in a similar way on parents. I’d love to be a fly on the wall to see how that scenario would play out.

  15. Papilio December 16, 2013 at 2:57 pm #

    Besides, time-consuming as spying on kids sounds, don’t these parents have anything better to do (than giving their boss a good excuse to fire them)?

    Lenore, I like your alternatives for the name of that device 😀 but I think it’s clearer if you put all of them in square brackets. Although I admit it was funny to see this ad telling me it hates the product it’s advertising for…
    (And now for a completely off-topic question: isn’t ‘whose’ supposed to refer to a person, or has its use broadened in (American) English?)

  16. E December 16, 2013 at 7:14 pm #

    Parents are inundated with news stories when things go wrong. Just today I heard a CNN story about “how responsible should parents be….” in discussing the latest school shooting.

    My kids are grown, but I always felt the you are damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Hands off and you are neglectful, hands on and you are helicopter. It’s not easy to find your comfort zone.

    Clearly this is marketing to the parent who is full of fear.

  17. Silver Fang December 16, 2013 at 7:16 pm #

    That’s just so creepy and icky, I don’t know where to begin. Thanks for not naming this software!

  18. Gina December 16, 2013 at 7:19 pm #

    I have always been able to trust my kids because I always trusted them. Self-fulfilling prophecy and all that.

  19. Kelly December 16, 2013 at 7:42 pm #

    How sick and twisted is this?! Way to teach your kid how to relate to other people. I would rather get to know my children and show them how trust works. It’s a two-way deal!! I’d be afraid my kids would grow up to be the kind of crazy partners who go through their spouse/partners phone, email, etc. Bonkers!

  20. Melissa December 16, 2013 at 8:11 pm #

    Some parents have too much time on their hands! I have better things to do than spy on my kids and listen to their every interaction. I much prefer to trust that they are sensible until they give me reason not to trust them.

  21. Warren December 16, 2013 at 8:44 pm #

    Legal question. If they are able to activate the mike remotely and spy in real time, then they are able to listen to anyone the mike picks up around their kid. How can this be legal? How can it be legal to tap a phone and spy on not only their own kid, but all those that call them as well.

    And all this is going to do is cause teens to buy phones of their own, that spymom doesn’t know about.

  22. Bob Davis December 16, 2013 at 9:11 pm #

    My wife and I were at Target today, and I noticed a display of “baby monitors”, the predecessor of what today’s discussion is about. I commented, “Gee [our daughters] grew up just fine without all these electronic devices.” And I liked Melissa’s item about her dad and “parental ESP”. This sense is sometimes called a “BS detector”, and it’s usually more accurate than any cyber gadget.

  23. Reziac December 16, 2013 at 9:15 pm #

    The most important thing you can give your children isn’t love, or safety, or a nice home, or anything else you might think of.

    The most important thing you can give your children is PRIVACY.

    PRIVACY is what tells a child he’s a person, not an object. A person has real meaning in the world; an object does not.

    I swear there’s a stupid gene that turns on when people become parents, that makes them forget how much it sucked to be a kid, to be powerless and assumed guilty ALL the time. This sort of parental spying will only make that worse.

  24. Per December 17, 2013 at 5:25 am #

    If you suspect that your parents (or someone else) might be using this to spy on you via your iPhone, then you should connect your phone to iTunes and update to the latest version of iOS.

    This crap is not allowed on the App Store (for obvious reasons), so the only way to install it on an iPhone is by “jailbreaking” the phone first. There is currently no known way to jailbreak an iPhone with the latest version of iOS.

  25. Jodie December 17, 2013 at 6:27 am #

    As I said when I retweeted this article, this can’t possibly be legal! The scary thing is, I’m sure some group of parents or other will get together and try to legalize it. Hopefully congress will squash it in favor of upholding the constitution.

    As for baby monitors, I’m totally blind and a first time mom. I also have a slight hearing problem, so I was glad to have the monitor. My daughter is almost two and doesn’t call for me or my fiancé to get her out of her crib when she wakes up. We keep the bedroom doors closed, mostly for our privacy, and I’m glad to have the monitor so I can hear her when she wakes up. I have to admit, though, that I also keep it for the cuteness factor. I love to hear her talk to herself and her toys when she wakes up, or when she’s refusing to go to sleep.

    But as soon as she’s old enough to use a toddler bed and get up and come out of the room by herself, we’ll put the monitor away. By then she can come to us and tell us if she needs or wants something.

  26. SOA December 17, 2013 at 7:44 am #

    There is nothing wrong with baby monitors. They actually can help parents be more free range. My friend would go outside or over to our house next door with the baby monitor. It enabled her to leave the house while the baby napped. Otherwise she would have been stuck in the house.

  27. Donna December 17, 2013 at 8:33 am #

    “How can it be legal to tap a phone and spy on not only their own kid, but all those that call them as well.”

    All you need is the consent of ONE participant to listen to/record a conversation, not all parties. As long as the child consents, and using a phone knowing that parents can listen in is consent, absolutely no law is broken. Listening in on conversations is the same rule. As long as one participant in the conversation consents, listening in or recording it is not a crime. Think about it. If it was, wiretaps (of phones or microphones put on people) by the police would result in police officer arrest and conviction instead of providing evidence used in court since the whole basis of them is that the target doesn’t know the conversation is being recorded.

    Further, while a minor child is equal to an adult against the government (e.g. the government can’t confine you to your room without going through a court proceeding), s/he is not equal to an adult against parents (e.g. your parents can and quite arbitrarily). While the police listening in on a minor’s phone conversations would be illegal, I absolutely cannot imagine a police officer, a DA or a judge who would ever prosecute a parent for listening in on phone conversations of their minor children, especially phone conversations conducted on phones bought by those same parents.

    I am just speaking about the law. I am personally totally against spying on your children this way. If you really believe that you can’t trust them with a phone, don’t allow them to have a phone.

  28. lollipoplover December 17, 2013 at 9:50 am #

    “I am personally totally against spying on your children this way. If you really believe that you can’t trust them with a phone, don’t allow them to have a phone.”

    I so agree with this. You can probably trace the root of this parental mistrust back to the inability to say no to the child.

    They also won’t take the phone away because they want to constantly be in contact with the child- taking away the phone cuts off their lifeline. What if stalker mom can’t reach them when her paranoia hits after watching Nancy Grace or L&O SVU?

  29. SOA December 17, 2013 at 10:09 am #

    I am not sure if that is correct. In TN where I live the law is that if you call someone else you have to inform them they are being recorded. Also my friend never consented to being taped by her mother and neither did I. So while I doubt the law would have done anything legally to her mother, it was breaking the law technically. Anything she got on those recordings would not held up in a court of law because she did not obtain the recordings legally.

  30. Donna December 17, 2013 at 12:03 pm #

    @SOA – Dolly, we have had this conversation several times in the past. Both people absolutely do not have to consent to phone calls being recorded according to the US Supreme Court. In fact, I am in the process of getting equipment from the police to record phone calls between my client and her mother to use as evidence in a case. Telling the mother would seriously decrease the likelihood that mom will confess to the crime on the phone, don’tcha think?

  31. Warren December 17, 2013 at 12:17 pm #

    But Donna there are two flaws to your legal arguement, not the personal one.
    The consent issue is not there. “Either you let me tap your phone or you do not have one.” That is not consent, and I doubt any court would uphold that as consent. Maybe they would but I highly doubt it.
    Secondly, law enforcement agencies need a court order to install a “wire tap” do they not? Which means they need prior probable cause?
    The fact that minors are not allowed the same rights and freedoms as adults, as guaranteed under your laws is deplorable. If anything, because minors do not have the experience, their rights should be even more sacred.

  32. hineata December 17, 2013 at 12:59 pm #

    Found this particular post ironic because I have been trying recently to NOT ‘spy on my son! Before he left for Germany he had been using my phone to set up something called Messenger through Facebook, because mine is supposedly ‘smarter’ than his. Then somehow he didn’t sign out of it, so I was bugged for the last ten days or so by little round faces appearing at random times, together with the usual inane teenage comments. Didn’t mind the first time, as it was quite nice to hear that he’d gotten to the place okay, but after that it felt a little creepy.

    Finally got to speak to him a couple of days ago, and he pointed out sweetly to his dear moronic mum that all I had to do was….gasp….delete the app. Duhhhh!

    Cannot begin to understand why, without a truckload of evidence prior that your kid was say, dealing drugs, that anyone would actually want to spy on a teen.

  33. Donna December 17, 2013 at 1:42 pm #

    “The consent issue is not there. “Either you let me tap your phone or you do not have one.” That is not consent, and I doubt any court would uphold that as consent.”

    That is 100% legal consent. You can always choose not to use a phone. For example, jail calls are all recorded and all totally admissible in court(and yet my clients confess to their mamas on the jail phone all the freakin time!). Clearly a person in jail can’t get their own phone and the person that they are calling can’t talk to them any other way so neither party is truly willingly consenting to the call being recorded but it is deemed 100% consensual simply by virtue of using a phone that is known to be recorded, despite the fact that the only other option is no phone.

    “Secondly, law enforcement agencies need a court order to install a “wire tap” do they not?”

    They only need a court order to record phone calls in which they don’t want to or can’t get the consent of at least one party. If the police want to put a tap on your phone and record all your phone calls without you knowing, they need a court order (and probable cause). If they want to record a phone call between you and your wife and your wife agrees to the recording, they don’t need a court order (or probable cause). If your wife decides to record a conversation between the two of you without your knowledge, she can turn it over to the police and it is fully admissible in court.

    Same with email, Facebook, twitter and the like. If they are trying to get information from the carrier, they need a court order (and probable cause), but if one of the members of the conversation or one of your Facebook friends or Twitter followers give them access, no court order (or probable cause) is needed. All this is why you should choose your friends very wisely if you want to commit crimes … or at least not brag about your crimes on Facebook.

    “The fact that minors are not allowed the same rights and freedoms as adults, as guaranteed under your laws is deplorable.”

    Really, Warren? I did think that you were smarter than this. Clearly minor children do not have the same rights as adults when dealing with their PARENTS (they do have the exact same rights against the government). Obviously, I am legally within my rights to ground my 8 year old for a weekend. Doing the same thing to a 19 year old that lives in my house would be false imprisonment.

    But you need not even go to the parental discipline exception in the law. In most cases, the parent has provided the phone being monitored. There is less of an right to privacy when you use other people’s things, even things provided specifically for your use. This is no different than the fact that employers can legally remotely access your work computer and read your company email, internet search history, and even follow every key stroke you make on the screen. They can also search your hard drive, desk (unless locked), filing cabinet (again unless locked)and anything else in your office when you are not there whenever they want.

  34. Sally December 17, 2013 at 2:26 pm #

    A quick internet search pulled up this:

    Court: Parents can’t monitor kids’ phone calls

    the problem with Donna’s argument, that only one of the parties has to give consent, well that isn’t the case here (assuming the child’s phone conversations are being listened to without their knowledge). Neither party speaking is giving consent.

  35. Donna December 17, 2013 at 4:20 pm #

    “the problem with Donna’s argument, that only one of the parties has to give consent, well that isn’t the case here (assuming the child’s phone conversations are being listened to without their knowledge).”

    I don’t know why you are assuming that the kids don’t know that this app is on the phone. I can’t imagine that you could keep it from your kid for more than about 5 minutes unless the app is stealth – doesn’t put an icon on the phone when it installs. In fact, I can’t imagine how a parent can keep it on the phone without telling the child it was there and insisting that it stay put if they want to use the phone since the first thing that I would do upon finding an app on my phone that I didn’t put there would be to delete it.

  36. Donna December 17, 2013 at 4:31 pm #

    And I did say that it was illegal to listen in on your children’s phone calls without their knowledge (although I think that will vary by state). I simply believe that it would be highly unlikely to ever be prosecuted.

    And that definitely doesn’t extend to things like pictures or text messages, at least in my state. We’ve had several cases involving parents looking at their kid’s phones, seeing nude pictures or bad texts, calling the police and the phone evidence was admissible.

  37. SOA December 17, 2013 at 5:39 pm #

    The difference in my personal example is the mother was taping the phone calls of her daughter for an undetermined amount of time before my friend found out and told me. So for at least some period of time those phone calls were being recorded without knowledge or consent in any way shape or form from the parties speaking.

    Once we knew she was recording them we just started watching what was said if we did not want her eavesdropping and we said untruthful and bizarre things just to mess with her mom.

    I am aware the cops would not have done a darn thing about it, but the fact still remains that she was breaking the law and that is a law I agree with. You should not be able to record people’s phone conversations without them knowing about it.

  38. Puzzled December 18, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    Donna, doesn’t that vary state by state? I think that in my state, both parties to a conversation need to know its being recorded for the recording to be legal, but this device is being sold nationwide.

  39. Warren December 18, 2013 at 10:28 am #

    Funny how Donna equates extortion to consent. But that is a debate for another time.
    So by your employee/employer example, and by extention, if the child in question password protects their phone, then the parents cannot tap it, because it is locked?

    What about phones given by grandparents as gifts? Not the parents property whatsoever. In my case my daughters phone is in my name, can my ex wife tap it? My ex has already been warned once for trying to access the phones account with the carrier. As she has had to pose as me, my wife or the only other employee with authority on the account.

  40. Jen December 20, 2013 at 10:46 pm #

    What I find most disturbing is that our kids are so used to being under constant surveillance that it doesn’t even phase them. My 7 year old daughter is in elementary school and rides the bus (jumped on at 5 and never looked back). She mentioned that one of her friends and a bully have been separated and must sit in assigned seats. I said maybe that was a good thing since the bus driver needed to focus on driving and getting everyone to school safely and can’t do that well if kids are misbehaving. She rolled her eyes and said, “mom, that’s what the cameras are for.” I was shocked to learn that cameras are on the bus and throughout the school – even in our small rural community. The kids are being taught to tattle rather than trying to work out problems on their own first. of course, sometimes adults need to get involved, but where do they learn to handle things themselves if they don’t try? Still, I’m thankful. At least our school still has recess–outdoors, with balls and jump ropes and tag on the playground. . .and i think i even saw the kids playing dodgeball in the afterschool program — and all the kids were running around, winded and having a great time. looking forward to January when they do the ski program — hundreds of kids ages 5 – 13 from several area schools are let loose on the mountain to xcountry or alpine ski or board for 4 days during the month. Or they can pick from several other activities. Sadly, some parents don’t sign the permission slips and their kids spend the day at the school. the programs are very low cost (some don’t cost a thing). This is a great opportunity for the kids and a few intrepid adult chaperones to spend the day outdoors in the winter learning an activity that tests their abilities and builds confidence. Its awesome to watch.

  41. Steve December 22, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Do people really use this on kids? The only thing I could think of were I would even consider it was a teen that I suspected of taking major risks with the law (joy riding, breaking and entering, etc.) and more likely a husband suspected of being unfaithful.