Teens (and even preteens and adolescents) enjoy a huge amount of access to technology these days. They can access content online that kids growing up in the 1980s and 1990s couldn’t even dream of. But not all of that content is good, and some of it can even be dangerous.
The rise of more children using their own smartphones and other gadgets on a regular basis has made way for the rise of another kind of technology: parental spying software. Apps and other software allow parents to keep an eye on what exactly is going on behind their children’s screens. However, not all of this tech is equal.
One of the biggest players on the market? mSpy. This popular monitoring app is a cell phone tracker that claims it’s the top choice for parental control. It allows you to view all text messages (even deleted texts), check call history, track your child’s location and access their social channels. But even with all that, does it live up to the hype and is it a necessary tool for most parents?
Here’s what we found, as well as everything you need to know about cell phone tracking in general.
How Does mSpy Work?
MSpy works pretty easily and seamlessly, and the installation process takes fewer than 10 minutes. All you have to do is sign up for an mSpy account on the website and then install the app on your child’s phone (either Android or iOS). However, it’s not just as simple as downloading an app from the Google Play store or the Apple app store.
If your child has an Android phone, you’ll have to set things up from here using the physical phone.
You’ll need to turn off the protective blocks in your child’s phone’s app store and then go to a browser on the phone and type in a specific link that will be provided to you. That link will allow you to download the app and install it using the codes that you received when you signed up for your mSpy account.
From there, you’ll be asked to approve mSpy’s various features, and you’ll also be able to set the app up to work completely invisibly, without your child ever knowing you did a thing. There’s no sign that you installed an app and, even if they did somehow discover what you did, you could set the app up to be unremovable.
If your child has an iPhone, however, you won’t need access to the physical phone unless you enable two-factor authentication to monitor the device, in which case you’d need to get a code from the phone. If not, though, as long as you have the iCloud credentials for the phone, you can set everything up totally remotely.
So what happens next?
From this point, you’ll be able to access your mSpy software dashboard. This will show you all the information from the “target device” that you might want, such as most-visited websites, contacts that your child texts or calls most and GPS location. It even shows you how much battery life your child’s device has at any moment in time.
What Can You Track with mSpy?
You can track a lot of different data with mSpy. You’ll get access to call logs, contacts, text messages, photos, emails, calendar info, videos, WiFi networks that your child has joined, web searches, keystrokes, keywords, installed apps, GPS location, social network activity, IM apps, the phone’s control panel and browsing history. You can also see deleted text messages, so long as those messages remained on the phone for up to 2 minutes before being deleted.
Other mSpy Functions
In addition to tracking, mSpy also allows you to control certain features of your child’s phone remotely — again, without them knowing.
You can turn off their WiFi and block websites. You can also receive a notification every time your child moves outside of a certain geographical location.
How Much Does mSpy Cost?
For all of this, how much does the mSpy app cost? You might think that, with so many features and functions, it’s pretty expensive. However, mSpy starts at only $30 per month for the basic plan and $50 per month for the premium plan. If you pay for more than one month at once, you’ll receive a cheaper per-month price. A family kit that allows you to monitor up to three devices at once is also available at a higher price point.
Special perks that you get with a premium plan include all of the mSpy functions listed above, as well as access to a customer support line. If you didn’t pay for a premium plan, you can pay separately for access to the priority support line for $13. You can also purchase tech assistance.
Who is mSpy Right For?
MSpy is best-suited to Android users. While installing mSpy on an iPhone does allow you to do so remotely, under the right circumstances and without physical access to the device, you still run into the issue of not being able to track absolutely everything on an iPhone. When mSpy is installed on an Android device, however, you really can keep an eye on every single thing that’s happening on your child’s phone.
Is mSpy legal?
Just keep in mind, though, that using mSpy is technically illegal if you use it for tracking the device of another adult without their consent. You can only use mSpy legally if you’re tracking your own child under 18 years of age and living with you, whose phone you legally own. If your child is over 18 years of age, it would be considered illegal to install mSpy on their mobile device.
A lot of websites might recommend using a spy software or app like mSpy to track spouses or partners or even to track employees, but you should probably steer clear of these uses just to be safe. If you really want to use them, make sure you tell the device owners first, and be sure to get their consent.
Should I be tracking my child’s cell phone?
But even though using mSpy to track your child’s cell phone is legal, that doesn’t necessarily make it the right choice for your family’s individual situation and your individual child.
You want to consider a few things before installing a tracking software or app on your child’s phone.
Firstly, do you really need to see your child’s cell phone activity? Have they done something to lose your trust in the past? Are they engaged in any dangerous or risky behavior?
Do you actually want to know what all your child is up to in private? Maybe they’re looking at content or holding conversations with a boyfriend or girlfriend that aren’t necessarily dangerous but that you as a parent don’t want to be privy to.
Lastly, while mSpy works in the background of your child’s phone, where they won’t see it or even know about it. But if they do happen to find out you’re using mSpy (for example, if they see an mSpy email pop up on your phone, or they come into the room while you’re looking at your mSpy dashboard), what will that teach your child regarding trust? Will they feel betrayed?
If your child doesn’t give you any reason to legitimately worry about their safety, you may want to consider talking to them about safe internet usage before jumping straight to spying.
Known mSpy Issues
No spying or cell phone tracking app is perfect, and mSpy does come with a few issues. For example, the app might delete the data that it would normally send you if the phone user completely wipes their phone. Additionally, if the phone’s internet connection is turned off or if the phone is roaming, it won’t be able to send you data.
Also, while mSpy does allow you to monitor activity within many social media and messaging apps, it’s not compatible with every single app. You can currently view activity within WhatsApp, Snapchat, Facebook Messenger, iMessage, Skype, Telegram, Google Hangouts, Tinder, Line, Viber, Kik and Instagram.
If mSpy doesn’t quite meet your needs, you may want to consider some of the other cell phone tracking and monitoring software options out there.
uMobix is an option that provides a few extra features that mSpy doesn’t. While mSpy allows you to monitor social media usage, for example, uMobix goes a step further and allows you to actively use your child’s social media platforms. You can delete followers, add followers, adjust settings, whatever. It’s also pretty affordable, at $30 per month.
FlexiSPY also offers a few unique features that you won’t find with mSpy, such as camera hacking and phone call recording. You can access a device’s camera and microphone at any time to listen in or see whatever is going on around your child.
The app also works on devices beyond cell phones and can be applied to tablets and computers as well. If you upgrade to the highest service tier, you’ll also be able to intercept calls in real-time.
iSpyoo will allow you to track three devices at once, all in real time. It also allows you to watch video calls and listen to phone calls, whether the user makes those calls on the device itself or via apps like Skype or Viber. Plus, the basic plan is extra-affordable, at $20 per month.
If you think that you might not necessarily need all of mSpy’s flashy bells and whistles, you can go with a simpler solution. KidsGuard Pro focuses on GPS tracking, browser histories and social media monitoring. While the amount of data you get with this solution is less than what you might get with one of the others, if you really don’t need all that extra data, why pay for it?
Where’s My Droid
Similarly, if you only really need the GPS tracking, go with Where’s My Droid for Android devices. Great for both tracking individuals and tracking your phone when you lose it, the app allows for geofencing (alerts when your phone or loved one travel outside a certain area), remote phone locking and passcode protection without the battery drain that comes with a lot of these tracking apps.
If you just want to give one of these spy apps a try, and you’re not quite sure just yet if they’re the right solution for your family, you might want to consider signing up for Spyic. The app tracks calls, WiFi usage, phone activity, web browsing and more, while also allowing you to take screenshots of your child’s phone usage remotely.
But the best part is the 60-day money-back guarantee and hassle-free refund policy, which allows you to literally just try the app out for two months, see if you like it, and then back out if you don’t.
Can Someone Tell if I’m Tracking Their Phone?
While mSpy and other related apps pride themselves on being able to track cell phone usage in complete secrecy, there are tell-tale ways that someone could catch on that something’s not quite right. Symptoms of cell phone tracking include the device overheating, increased monthly data usage, a quickly-draining battery, random cell phone shutdowns or actions that the user didn’t initiate and slow operating times. Any of these symptoms could tip off your teen to your tracking.
Used the Right Way, Apps Like mSpy Can Keep Your Child Safe
While there’s a lot of talk around the ethics of phone tracking, when used the correct way, apps like mSpy can help you keep a close eye on your child’s activity. Whether you want to watch out for cyberbullying, keep them clear of inappropriate content or see who’s calling or texting them, mSpy can help.
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