Monitor your Child’s Activity on iPhone or iPad

monitor kids iphone activitiesDo your parents scold you again and again because they don’t like how much time their grandchildren spend with smartphones and tablets? Of course, the phenomenon that even small kids are constantly using smartphones is completely new to their world. But in recent couple years kids with smartphones in their tiny hands has become standard.

And we don’t really know how it will affect the overall development of children. But one thing is clear, they are growing up with technology that is completely intuitive and easy to use for them because they learn it from a very young age.

They know this kind of technology and devices practically from their birth, they don’t know a life without this small screen constantly providing unlimited new entertainment programs.

Also this new way of communication with the outside world, through chat programs and other social media programs, is normal for our children. They know this just as much as interactions in the real world. Cyber communication is normal for them – for them it’s simply one of the natural ways to interact with the outside world!

But even though the smell of smartphones with all their apps is quite normal for our children, we know that there are great dangers behind them. These dangers are of very different nature:

Major Concerns Why Parents Feel The Need To Control Their Kid’s Internet Activity

1. Social Problems

This includes cyberbullying but also criminal intentions of strangers. Contact with other people via digital media is an area where children and young people need support.

Whether they want to admit it themselves or not. Young people lack the experience to interpret contents and intentions correctly, which can hurt them.

2. Time Management

Children and young people need restrictions on the use of their smartphones or tablets because otherwise they can easily get lost in them. They would neglect other important things in everyday life such as attending family meals or doing homework.

Exercise and sports are also aspects that must be part of children’s everyday life in order for them to develop healthily. It is therefore very important to limit the time of use of iPhone, iPad etc.

3. Mental Development

It also plays a big role which apps children use, because programs that are not suitable for children could negatively influence their development.

And even programs that seem to be made specifically for children can be potentially harmful. A very good example of this is the game Coin Master, a hidden gambling game aimed specifically at children and initially advertised accordingly.

Determine the right Measures to Monitor your Child’s Online Activity on iPhone / iPad

In order to find the right measures to monitor your child’s activity on the iPhone or iPad, it is first of all important how old the child is. Because there are different programs for small children than for teenagers, because the app functions are designed for different needs or intentions.

2 Types of Monitoring Apps

There are generally roughly 2 types of apps that can be used to control the use of devices:

Parental Control Apps

(in this case, the child knows that you have the power and restricts the use of his device because it is obvious)

Secret Spy Apps

(in this case, the child or teen doesn’t know that you can monitor their conversations and online activities for their protection)

How to control Children’s Activity on iPhone or iPad

Monitor a younger Child’s Activity on iPhone / iPad (before Teenage Age)

Let’s start with young children, from infancy to before puberty (teenagers probably have different rules, but we’ll get to that in the next section).

To control children’s use of technology, the most direct and effective way is to implement some alternatives to restrict its use. And the good news is that Apple in particular has provided parental restrictions that favor this goal.

How to set Restrictions on iPhone and iPad for your Child in Detail

iPhone Settings for Parental Control

First of all, the iPhone itself already offers the possibility to restrict the use of the device, at least with regard to downloading or accessing already installed apps. If you use the Parental Control settings on the iPhone, you can decide which apps a child has access to and which not. And you keep control over what new apps the child can install.

Whether they have some use of the iPhone or iPad, children may have access to materials and issues that are not appropriate for their eyes. Also, if we take into account that for them it is a simple game, they can disconfigure their options.

This is why it is better to take control and activate the functions that will make it more difficult.

What can be limited?

Parental restrictions limit unauthorized access to browsing, games, or file transfer features. By activating these restrictions, you must activate a code that removes these barriers.

If you don’t know your password, you won’t be able to activate the device’s features, so you’ll need to ask your permission to use them. It’s like having a padlocked key to keep dangerous things away from them, or addictive sweets.

In these Apple devices, what is easily restricted is the use of the Safari browser, with which they can see anything online, the Camera of the device, in addition to FaceUp, Siri and Carplay. These are the most commonly used applications, which can also put them in touch with any material online. It is also a tool to limit the use of games and other details that can make them addicted to the screen.

The Procedure

The procedure to make this a reality is very simple. You must enter the Settings menu on your iPhone or iPad. Then, go to the General section, and then activate the Restrictions.

When you finish you must choose a password. And like the keys for any online key, try to make it easy for you to remember and hard for them to guess. Then in the allow section, you’ll see a list of applications.

You have to turn off those you want that can’t be easily accessed. This way, when they want to activate, they will be asked for a password and they will have to desist or ask for your permission to use it.

With these 2 basic functions, which the iPhone or iPad already have, you can already cover a lot of things concerning the control of the general usage of the device.


Additionally, there is the app ScreenTime, which is already pre-installed on every iOS device. You can also find it in the settings, where you can activate it. (Settings → Screen Time) With ScreenTime you get a permanent report about how long websites were visited or apps were used.

The practical thing about the app is not only that you know exactly how much time you spend with which application every day, but you can also set limits.

Since iOS 12, Apple’s mobile operating system is loaded with new features, among which “Screen Time” has attracted a lot of attention.

With this new feature, which you can find in the Settings of your device, we can control the screen time of our iPhone or iPad, knowing exactly which applications we spend more time. Another great advantage is that we can set limits to that screen time, something really useful especially if we want to have under control the smallest of the house.

If you’re not yet an expert in iOS 12, today we’re going to explain in a simple way how to control the time of use of the iPhone and iPad by children.

Controlling the screen usage time of an iPhone or iPad has become really simple, thanks to the arrival of iOS 12. First, and in order to have it under control from the same device, you must add the devices you want to control to the same iCloud account. Once you’ve done that, you’ll see them in the list at the bottom of Screen Time, specifically in the section titled “Set Up Screen Time for Family.

Now, you will be able to select the screen limits you want to set, for which you must follow the following steps;

Select from the list of devices, the one you want to start controlling. You should see all the devices that are built into your iCloud account.

Now you should focus on the “Enable screen time” option. Once you’ve activated it, you’ll see the following message

“Screen time. Get a weekly report with information about your child’s screen time and set limits and restrictions for applications, content, and privacy settings.

click on the “Configuration with parental control” option

– Now you will have to select an inactivity time, creating a start time and an end time. During this time the calls, messages and some very specific applications can continue to be used, so that the device is not totally inoperative, but you will not be able to visualize notifications, nor will you be able to use the applications that anyone, and of course, your children use recurrently.

– In the next page we will be able to see the “Limits of the applications”. From here we will be able to establish the limits of use for the categories of applications. Once you reach the usage limit, you will need our permission to continue using that application. We have the possibility to limit all the applications and categories or the games or social networks. It is also possible to further customize the limits, but almost certainly with the first level of limitation you have more than enough.

Finally, we’ll come to the “Content and Privacy” screen where we can restrict explicit and adult content on iTunes, the App Store, or on websites.

– Now, all we need to do is set a password, which should be four digits, and which will be necessary to make any changes or to allow more screen time.

It is necessary to remember, once again, that at the moment only the first beta version of iOS 12 is available so there are still many details to polish throughout the operating system, and especially in this new option of screen time.

IF as we have already installed the new version of the operating system, you will surely be encountering many bugs, but do not worry, with the passage of time and especially with the arrival of new updates we will see how everything starts to work perfectly.

More comprehensive Parental Control Apps

In addition to the free functions that Apple has already pre-installed, there is of course a whole range of Parental Control Apps that come with a much wider range of functions. There are some things to consider here, as the functions of the apps are aimed at different parental concerns.

List of the Best Parental Control Apps for iPhone/iPad (iOS)

Here is a list of the best Parental Control Apps (for kids before teenage age) and their main features:

What you might want to monitor in detail with your teenager:

  • browser search requests
  • social media app usage
  • time spent with each app
  • Message content (chat, SMS)
  • GPS location
  • limiting device usage


Key Functions: GPS Location, Screen Time

With this free app parents can manage their kid’s screen time and track their locations. The app lets you block or allow access to any app, including texting apps. The locator functions lets you set alerts when your child arrives at or leaves certain places (school, home, etc.).

Check App Store Preview:


Key Functions: Family communication & Location tracking

This app is also available for free, but there are many functions that cost extra, so they’re hoping for you to make in-app purchases, which you’d have to in order to really get access to important features. This app comes with a location tracker and a family news messenger board. Parents also get access to the social media accounts of their kids. The app also informs you about new contacts of your kid and provides couple of shortcut buttons, e.g. a panic button or a “come get me” button.

Mamabear even has a secret function: It notifies you when your child is sitting in a card that is driving too fast, e.g. with a friend that has just made it’s driving license or in case your kid is a driving beginner itself.

Check App Store Preview:


Key Functions: Social media safety & Internet browsing

Qustodio is an app available for many operating systems, including iOS. The basic version is again free and you can upgrade to get access to more functions. With this app you can monitor your kid’s browser and search engine usage, track logins to Facebook, Twitter etc., control hours of use, monitor chat messages, SMS and calls. Location tracking of course is also included (in premium plan). All in all they have a very comprehensive functionality, basically they have it all.. This app is one of the best-rated and most recommended throughout the internet. Yearly plans are reasonably priced.

Check App Preview:


Key Functions: Web content filtering & Screen time limitations,
especially for families with multiple kids

This software can be used on up to 10 iphones (or other devices such as desktop computers, notebooks, android mobiles etc).

One of the key features of the program is their smart content filter based on your children’s different ages. The program is able to mask inadequate contents on websites which the child is allowed to visit apart from those contents.

The screen time is a useful standard feature of parental control apps. NetNanny lets you make sure that your kid won’t miss dinner, doing his/her homework or bedtime.

Check App Preview:


Key Functions: Screen Time, Content Filtering, Location tracking, App Control / App Blocker

The company calls their app the “world’s most powerful Parental Control App”. This statement is possibly true, as they haven’t left out any functionality. There isn’t anything this app can’t do, that’s why they enjoy excellent ratings and recommendations by many big magazines. Parents keep track of their kid’s app usage, phone calls, contacts and any kind of text messages. The app provides a smart internet filter according to the child’s age, and, as said, you will always know where your kid is currently located. The even has short cut buttons such as an SOS emergency button or a PickMeUp button. A family talk area is also included. Once you’ve got used to all those features, you won’t want to give them up anymore.

Check App Preview:


Key Functions: Protection From Cyberbullying

This app has a clear focus on online safety regarding possible cyberbullying and real threats. Conversations get analyzed and potential threats get detected. Bullies can get blocked and parents get informed. Abuse can be documented so you can keep records for potential legal actions.

Bark covers more apps than any other Parental Control program. So it monitors text messages of any app, social media, youtube, emails and sends automatic alerts to parents.

Bark’s user interface is award winning. Overall ratings are excellent, so this app is really really useful, especially regarding kids of school-age / Teenagers.

Check App Preview:

Youtube Kids

Key Functions: Safe / Controlled Use of Youtube

This app is from Youtube itself, it’s their safe kid’s version. This means that children only get shown videos suiting their age. The app allows you to create custom profiles for your kids, so the content they get access to is tailored to their interests and age. The app also allows you to block videos or entire channels. You can even decide if they may use the search function or not, and you can set screen time limits and more useful stuff.

Check App Preview:

Here are even more App we want to mention for completeness:

  • FamiSafe
  • Bouncie
  • DinnerTime
  • RespondASAP
  • Checky
  • NortonFamily

Monitor a Teenager’s Activity on iPhone or iPad

With teenagers, the issue becomes a little more complicated. Maybe your child has had his own iPhone for quite some time now and it would be strange if you suddenly started to equip it with an obvious parental control app. This could be a breach of trust for the teenager, and he or she could be looking for other ways to evade your control behind your back.

Or, your child is just entering teenage years and was already used to you controlling his or her iPhone with a Parental Control app, so the continued use of such an app would be normal for him or her. However, you want to expand the functionality and may need a different app than before, depending on what you want to do.

For example, you might want to have location tracking and be able to read chat conversations with others in an emergency. This is just an example of the changing needs as the child grows older.

Now the question arises whether one can or wants to use an obvious Parental Control app, or whether one wants or needs to covertly monitor the online activities of one’s teenager based on the child’s personality and individual circumstances. As a parent, you have this right or opportunity legally, unlike adults.

Depending on your needs, you can use one of the apps listed above for your teenager. Or you can choose one of the “secret” programs if you don’t want your teen to know anything about it. What is better, or better serves the purpose of protection, is for everyone to decide for themselves.

Here is a list of the invisible (“spy”) apps and their most important functions.

List of Secret Spy Apps (– Invisible for your Kid)


Key Functions: App Usage, Text messages, GPS location, phone calls

This secret spy app covers a broad spectrum of things you might want to monitor. You can monitor text messages, with whom your kid has phone calls, where he/she is located at any time, what apps your kid uses and more. You get access to all of this secretly in the background.

Check app preview:


Key Functions: App Usage, Call logs, Browser History, Instagram, Messages, Location Tracking

As you can see, Spyzie’s key functions are also comprehensive. The app covers everything you might want to monitor on your child’s iphone. They call their app the most professional one, compared to all the others. It’s definitely true that besides the comprehensive functions the app design / user interface is very appealing, modern, clean and clear. You feel like a professional agent when using this app.

The app even features alerts concerning SIM card changes, keywords, or deleted files (e.g. SMS, Images, videos)

Check app preview:

The Spy Bubble

Key Functions: App Usage, Text messages, GPS location, phone calls

SpyBubble offers the same broad spectrum of features as mSpy. Btw, phone call tracking means that in this case you get notified about who was calling whom and how long they were talking. The call itself isn’t getting recorded. Other than text messages – there you get the entire message to read. You even get access to messages your child or the other person has deleted in the messenger app.

Check app preview:

There has been couple of other Spy apps, named PhoneSheriff, SniperSpy, TeenShield and Mobile Spy, all from the same company. After their servers had been hacked couple of times the company decided to give the this business up and shut down their services in this field.

Attention: Secret Hidden Apps

Nowadays, it is a fact that children in general are better acquainted with the new technical devices such as smartphones etc. than their parents. For example, they may use secret apps to hide pictures and files.

Such secret hidden apps can be so-called vault apps. These digital safe deposit boxes look like a harmless calculator app or a music manager app, but are designed to hide photos and files in an encrypted form. So if your child uses an app like this, you won’t find certain photos and files when you check your child’s phone. But there’s a way to find out if your child is using one. Go to “Settings → System Apps” to find all the apps you have installed, including those that are not otherwise visible.

The good new is that with Parental control apps you can prevent the download of such secret hidden apps in advance or determine their use.

Conclusion: The Secret is to Know

In other eras, this kind of knowledge was held only by the youngest. Parents could not even have an opinion or a limited idea of what their children were doing in front of the computer.

This is possibly an overwhelming reality in many cases. But if you want to make a difference and really control what your kids do with technology, it’s best to inform yourself and apply these options.

Take control and help them make better use of their freedoms.