We talked to Jo Abi from Mamamia and tech expert Trevor Long about the ways her kids try to avoid her stalking them.
“As a long-time tech-stalker of my children, I like to think of myself as savvy to all the tricks one of my three kids might use to misdirect me.
I use an app called Family Map* that links to my children's phones and shows me where they are at all times. Then my son's friend told me he's already found a way to game it and make it look like he's somewhere he's not. Little trickster.
I thought I was on top of it all but the problem parents face is how rapidly technology is developing, making it impossible to ever truly be on top of all the tricks and all times. We are left playing a forever game of catch up.”
Jo has done her research so you don’t have to. These are the ways kids will try and trick parents, a list that will need to be constantly updated but hey, we've got to start somewhere.
1. Pausing their location on 'Finding' apps
“It was my son's friend who let me know of this trick. He told me that he does it on his Family Map app, and because he confessed to using it I naturally assumed Philip, 12, was using it too. In fact, I accused him of as much and he completely denied it. He soon proved to me he didn't know how to pause his location when I checked up on him and found him at the shops instead of my sister's house.”
Jo’s advice is to stay aware of this function and let your kids know you are aware of it.
2. 'Hiding' their number
“A phone call was coming through from a blocked number which normally means my mum was trying to call me from her landline. She's the only person I know who still uses one. It turns out it was my son.
I asked him why his number didn’t show up and he replied, "Oh, I was prank-calling my friends yesterday so I turned it off." Needless to say, I made him turn it back on immediately.”
While your kids’ reason to turn the identity function off may be innocent, they might forget to turn it back on and then you won't know to answer their phone calls. Of course, there's a chance they do this knowing you may not answer because you don't know it is them: "I did call you mum, but you didn't answer!" Does that one sound familiar?
3. Faking dead batteries
“I just like to hear my son's voice the night of a sleep over, and usually the next morning, too, but my phone calls seem to embarrass him in front of his friends so he fakes a dead battery, thus cutting off contact with me. Which is INFURIATING.”
That’s a parenting situation we’re all likely to encounter at some point. At least we can make our kids accountable with a little bit of helpful meddling. Jo packs her son’s bag for him now, complete with charger, so there are no excuses.
4. Having a second 'burner' phone
This one applies less to younger kids and is more common among teenagers with jobs. They buy a second 'burner' phone so they can do whatever they want on one phone and show you the 'safe' phone on which they simply text, surf and play games.
Jo admits, ‘This is one of those tricks a child uses that leaves you torn between admiration at their resourcefulness and terrified at their deceptive abilities.”
She doesn’t have any issue with putting a stop to it though. In fact, in Jo’s experience “The only way to become aware of this is to toss their room while they are eating dinner or in the shower or the bathroom. Yes, like a jailhouse warden. Don’t blame the parents. We wouldn't have to do it if our kids weren't trying to hide something from us.”
5. Clearing their browser history
Unfortunately, kids can be such evil geniuses, so if they know you are checking their browser history they could delete it. To get around that, you can purchase software that tracks their activity or easier still, set your child up with a Microsoft* account. Tech expert Trevor Long says this is how he monitors his son's use because his Microsoft* account is used on his computer and his gaming console and because the account is connected to Long's email, he gets a weekly usage report.
"I get a report every week which shows me the activity - how many hours of screen time he's had, I can see what websites he went to, which ones were blocked and all this sort of stuff so really simple things that are free."
6. Duplicate social media accounts
Yes, children will have duplicate social media accounts, particularly if you've banned them from particular social media accounts such as SnapChat*, and it can be hard to keep children safe on platforms you don't even know they are on.
That's when you know you need to ensure your children's devices are linked to yours and accessible via mirroring software or a Microsoft* account.
A good way to punish your child for tech transgressions, Trevor Long says, is to go into their Microsoft* account (or whatever equivalent they're using) and simply turn it off. If you have set your kids up to do everything via their Microsoft* account, by turning it off they can't go online or do anything aside from type or play offline games. Punishment, delivered.
Or you could take their phone off them, but then you lose the benefit of being able to call and stalk them.
Sometimes being a parent is protecting them from themselves.
Listen to the full episode of The Parent Code with tech expert Trevor Long.
To subscribe to The Parent Code in iTunes go to apple.co/mamamia where you'll find all of our shows in one place and any books written by the many Mamamia guests.
Top tech gifts to give your kids.
Tips and tricks for how to get your kids back to school ready and prepared.
All of the fun, small tech accessories that can be used as stocking stuffers for Christmas.
Guide of all the tech accessories that should always be bought on sale.
Let Santa do the heavy lifting with the shopping and gifting of presents that kids will need after the school holidays.
Different tech options that are relevant to each age group and stage requirements.
Answers to questions that you may have about how to choose the best device for your child to bring to school.
Purchasing a device for school requires a lot of thought from parents, but it’s also a great opportunity to get your kids involved.
We’ll help you decide what kind of device is the best option for your child by breaking down the features and benefits of each.
Whether your child is The Artist, The Clumsy, The Forgetful or The Tech Wiz, there’s a device out there that suits them perfectly.
Keep in the loop with the newest technological trends for kids transitioning from primary to high school.
Five areas that you should know when it comes to why devices are used in schools and how they help children to learn.
Get educated on the power of the Wi-Fi password and learn practical tips and tricks to take control of your internet and device usage.
Demystify the meaning behind common tech lingo and understand how the featured programs or functionalities impact your child’s device usage.
Practical tips for navigating how to manage your child’s device use in a positive and constructive manner.
Five top-tips for making your device child-friendly and child-proof.
In this easy to digest, straightforward guide we’ll detail everything you need to know keep your kids safe online.
Programming is the literacy of the digital age so learning how to code is one of the best things a child can do.
What you can expect your child to need when it comes to high school.
How to talk to your kids to help them understand that they have a responsibility to look after their device.