Software lets parents track text messaging

By Denise Middleton– email

STONEWALL, LA (KSLA) – Today, more and more predators are switching to cell phones to lure their victims, but parents can use that same technology to help keep their kids safe.

Amy Antley checks her daughter's Facebook page every two to three days. "That was one of the stipulations. You have a phone, Facebook, I have the passwords."

But, it's not just her daughter she's checking on.

"It's other people you have to check on, too," she says.

Like child predators, who are using their cell phone to target children.

Amy's daughter, 14-year-old Austyn, got her first phone two years ago. Like many teens, she's constantly texting. Austyn says she sends about 80 text messages a day.

But what if your child got an inappropriate text or picture from a stranger?

A tool called My Mobile Watchdog can actually let you know who caller is and what kind of content they're sending.

Here's how it works: you download the software to your child's phone, log in to the site and talk to your child to decide who is on their approved contact list. Then you designate your phone to receive all notifications. That way, if an unauthorized person sends something suspicious, you'll know it instantly.

"I think I'd be okay with it because I would tell her anyway and I wouldn't have to tell her because she'd already know," Austyn said.

Other people have mixed reaction about these types of software.

"Kids in high school, I just think they need their independence because whenever they go off to college their going to want to know what it's like to be on their own," Ashley Boccaccio said.

Lt. Shelley Anderson with the Northwest Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force thinks My Mobile Watchdog is a helpful tool as long as parents and companies work with law enforcement.

"I think it's going to make a big difference because parents are going to really see first-hand what their kids are doing with these phones," she said. "The problem that I have with some of that is that the kid may just find other ways to hide it."

At $9.95 a month, this safety software may well be worth the price for parents like Amy, who see this tool as a secret weapon against child predators.

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