New app enables parents to guide a child’s use of a smartphone

Monday, February 23rd, 2015

Cyber Safety for Kids and Families with Joanna and Jodie on 103.9FM The Fish Family Morning Show

Photo: Christi Benz

Photo: Christi Benz

Providing protective cover for your child’s on-line experiences is the greatest challenge for the modern parent. New apps are surfacing all the time, and what was popular with your 15-year-old when she was in the fifth grade may not be so with your fifth grader today.

The new demand on parents today is to assume nothing. You must always “inspect what you expect”, which can feel like spying and a lack of trust if the mindset is that children need privacy from their parents. The truth is what children require is caring oversight that provides instructive guidance, protection and correction during defining moments, such as experiences of gossip or bullying, or sexual advances by dubious actors that are not your child’s peers.

Overcoming hurt feelings

The social cyber realm is very difficult to monitor and children very quickly begin to resent oversight once they get a taste of feeling autonomous. Many parents express concern about hurting their relationship with their minor child who expects privacy as a measure of trust. The truth is that trust among people is always verifiable, while privacy is keeping personal business from the world, not from your parents. The world can easily convince us the opposite.  It helps to have instructive monitoring tools to reinforce the guidance that parents offer to empower, not oppress their children.

So the conversation about parental control with your child should be framed around training them to understand the “when” and “how” they will be granted cyber freedoms so that they do not wind up giving up personal power to bullies, commercials, and bad actors.

A new app called “MyMobileWatchDog” ($4.95 per month) offers parents a very comprehensive solution to position their child in the driver seat with a virtual presence. Introduced correctly with your child, the use of this type of app will enable you to establish a collaboration centered around the cyber-safe grooming of your child for independence in the social network. The parent-child control functions include:

  • Monitoring alerts – phone calls, texts, GPS tracking, unauthorized communications
  • Contact list management – establish and track the list of contacts for your child with settings for “allow” or “alert”
  • Application management – all new downloaded apps will be held for parent approval; block specific apps such as WISPER, Secret, Ask.FM, or games, web browser and camera
    Web blocking – this app allows you to access your child’s phone, via the dashboard, as well as be alerted when blocked websites are attempted.
  • Time blocks – it is possible to establish periods of down time for the use of the phone, wherein your child will only be able to make emergency calls and other important numbers designated by you.

Also check out another parental control solution for mobile devices: Family (free by Norton)

Parental control versus engagement

The aim of using this or any parental control app is to engage the intellect and will of your child so as to give them instructive experiences about their own capacity to set limits and establish boundaries from the world. This is what it means to understand the meaning of privacy – to establish a shield from the world that gives you a measure of protection from untrustworthy agendas and manipulations (think bullies, identity thefts and pedophiles).

Parental control app should be used to reinforce the cyber rites of passage that prepare your child for independence. At the heart of the path to independence is the concept of a “Family Approved App Listing” which establishes that downloading apps is a serious decision event though it can feel trivial. With the “Family Approved App Listing” every family member has a list of age-appropriate apps that are being used, and before an app is downloaded for use, it is discussed. This is an opportunity to impart wisdom about the purpose-driven mindset required to be cyber-safe. Is this new app going to make my life better? If so, how? Is there a downside to the app? What is it?

To learn more about establishing cyber rites of passage which identify the level of social network access and cyber-safe independence, download the free ebook: Cyber Rites of Passage.


Jodie Stevens, Hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM, with her cyber mom, Joanna Jullien. They talk cyber safety on Tuesday mornings.

Jodie Stevens, Hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM, with her cyber mom, Joanna Jullien. They talk cyber safety on Tuesday mornings.

Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.

Jodie Stevens, hostess of The Fish Family Morning Show on 103.9FM The Fish offers insights and lessons learned about faith and spiritual resilience. Check out her blog, Genuine Life with Jodie Stevens, weekday mornings on the Family Morning Show.

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About Joanna Jullien

Joanna Jullien

Joanna ( and her husband have raised two sons in Roseville, CA. She has a degree from U.C. Berkeley in Social Anthropology (corporate culture). Her honors thesis was awarded the Kroeber Prize and funding from National Science Foundation grant. Joanna writes to help parents with the modern-day leadership challenges of raising children. She is a contributing writer for The Granite Bay View, the Press Tribune, the Sacramento Examiner, and editor of Banana Moments.