Tampa developer's app monitors kids' cell phone use - WFLA News Channel 8

Tampa developer's app monitors kids' cell phone use

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A Tampa-based app developer has created a free application that allows parents to monitor their child's cell phone activity. A Tampa-based app developer has created a free application that allows parents to monitor their child's cell phone activity.
TAMPA, FL (WFLA) - There's no right age for a kid to get a cell phone. According to Pew Research, though, most kids are getting their first cell phones between the ages of 12 and 14.

Many younger teens will be opening the gadgets on Christmas Day. A local app developer, Robyn Spoto, says her MamaBear app puts parents at ease. The app monitors kids' cell phone use.

"It's almost like training wheels," Spoto said. "We have to prepare them and make them safe when they're getting new things."

The free app has been around for about one year now. So far, more than 100,000 people have installed it.

On the app you can set a "word bucket." If your child uses certain words on social media, you'll get an alert. That helps prevent bullying and inappropriate activity.

You can also locate your kid on a map, and see who's tagged him or her on certain sites. The app also allows you to see how fast your child is driving.

So far, the app only monitors Facebook and Instagram but Spoto says they're working on an update for Twitter, texting, and other social media outlets.

Related: Cell phone policy has students talking

"Being aware is the first step," Spoto said. "Setting boundaries is another."

Susan Williamson's granddaughter just got her first cell phone at age 11.

"It's for safety purposes," Williamson said. "It's easy to monitor it these days. There are so many tools to help you monitor a cell phone. You can know where they are at any moment."

If you're giving your child a phone for Christmas, Spoto recommends the following
  • Create a contract with your child: Lay out a detailed description of exactly how much your child can use the phone and for what.
  • Set up parental restrictions: Do this by going to the settings section on your child's phone. From there you can set password protected restrictions. You can prevent them from using the internet or certain apps.     
  • Monitor social media: Use apps like MamaBear to check in on your child's habits.
  • More information about the MamaBear app
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