Cell Phone Monitoring- The Legal Uses

cell phone monitoring pictures video

A fairly hot topic continues to be the conversation around cell phone monitoring.  Every now and again, an article floats around that discusses ways to spy on your spouse if you suspect them of cheating.  The reality is that this is very illegal.  A general rule of thumb to consider is that you have no control over your partner’s actions, inactions, decisions, etc.  So, you might ask, “What is the purpose of cell phone monitoring if I can’t use it to spy on my spouse”?  Let’s review some good benefits of some of these programs.

cell phone monitoring

Cell Phone Monitoring for Parents

Still rather controversial, there is little specific regulation (at this time) addressing issues with parents spying on their kids.  You do have to own the phone that your child is using (so don’t let them buy their own if you want to spy on them).  Some parents feel they need to know and control the activity of their children.  Other parents do not worry about it.  Of course, whether you worry about your children actually needing to be monitored or not, there are still benefits of cell phone monitoring software on your child’s phone.

  • Review call logs for incoming and outgoing calls- some cell phone companies still list all of the phone calls on the cell phone bill each month, but this is not always up-to-date. A great benefit of a software program is access to the call logs on a whim and not reliant upon the cell phone company.
  • Block calls from certain numbers -this feature sounds like it is worth the program cost alone since blocking numbers through the cell phone company is often difficult and cost money.
  • View sent and received text/mms messages- great to see who your kids are texting and when! Ever wonder why they seem so tired in the morning despite going to bed early? Perhaps they are texting at night.  With many of these software programs, you can now see text messages sent and received to your kids’ phones.cell phone monitoring gps
  • GPS location tracking- this feature has popped up on a few apps, but generally as an isolated feature. With cell phone spy software, you can combine your GPS tracking with your other monitoring activities and know exactly where your kids are at any time.  Of course, this feature assumes your child has the cell phone with them at all times.  From what I have seen, that doesn’t seem to be a concern as I have to pound on the door to get one of them out of one bathroom and the other out of the other bathroom because they sit in there playing games on their phone.
  • Monitoring of popular chat apps. Not all of the software programs have this, but one of the better ones I have seen on the market does allow monitoring of WhatsApp and SnapChat.  Cell phone monitoring software that does not monitor other activities on the phone may not be as useful without this since many kids have converted to these apps instead of text.

cell phone monitoring pictures video

  • Monitor photos and video- this is another feature not available on all cell phone monitoring software programs, but it is very useful in monitoring activity. Just because your kids are at school does not mean they are not getting into trouble.  Are they taking video of fights and posting them on YouTube?  Are they taking pictures of girls in the bathroom?
  • Read emails- all too often our kids get inappropriate emails and choose not to tell us. Perhaps it is because they are embarrassed, or even scared to tell us about them.  Regardless, this is no longer an issue with cell phone monitoring software.  Just don’t critique their grammar unless they want you to (if they are anything like my step-kids, they will not believe you are correct anyway).
  • Monitor internet use- one of my main concerns when my step-kids had cell phones was that they were viewing inappropriate content on the internet. Unfortunately, we did not own the phones and had no control over this, but when my daughter has a cell phone in a billion years from now, we will definitely want to know what she is viewing.  Keep in mind that kids these days are exceptionally savvy with phones and mobile devices, so they know how to delete the history and cover their tracks if they know you might be looking at their phone.  Most cell phone monitoring software is installed on the phone, but you view the information from your phone or computer.
  • Review of calendar and address book- this is another feature not found in all cell phone monitoring software programs, but can be quite useful. Especially for the address book.  Not all kids use their calendar (I know a lot of adults that do not use the calendar feature), but the address book is the heart of kids’ cell phones.
  • Control apps and programs- review the apps and programs installed and monitor/control activity of those apps and programs.cell phone monitoring apps
  • Remote control over the phone- there are many apps that allow you to track the phone if it is lost or stolen, but most of them do not let you lock the phone or wipe the data. This cell phone monitoring software allows you to do just that!
  • Run reports- yes, if you are into running reports and seeing patterns, some cell phone monitoring software allows this very function. Now you can color code activities, and ultimately produce charts.  This could be a very fun real-world teaching experience with your kids and how to analyze data (if you are into that sort of thing).

There are other features for different cell phone monitoring software programs, but these are a few of the better features available.  This is very beneficial for the parent that wants to help keep their kids on the right track (sleep, no skipping school, ect.).

Cell Phone Monitoring for the Employer

cell phone monitoring employeeWith ever-increasing regulation and tax clarification for businesses, cell phone monitoring provides a unique opportunity to document legitimate business activities.  With GPS tracking, employees taking their phone with them in the vehicle can help provide proof of vehicle use for business (you need more than this to prove it, so talk to a tax professional for more details), show employees using the cell phone for business interactions, and help minimize the use of the work phone for personal business (if your company has a policy against this).  All of the same features listed above apply to the employer, but here are a few reasons why cell phone monitoring can benefit the employer:

  • Businesses have a high risk of employees abusing social media. For the most part, someone spending too much time on Facebook is not a big issue, but when they are posting company secrets or revealing company strategy, this can turn into more than just an “issue”.  Monitoring activity can help supervisors learn who needs coaching on company policies, or identify concerns with morale.
  • I have worked for more than one employer that would need to know where I was at a given moment. They mostly needed to know if I was in the building or out on a job.  Considering the sensitive nature of some of my work over the years, it was problematic to get a phone call at times just so they could find out where I was.  GPS tracking lets you know the location of your employee.  Useful for the wandering employee and the one that’s supposed to be out and you just need to know their current location.
  • Much like children, some employees need to have limitations on the apps downloaded on the work phone. Controlling apps and programs is a useful feature for employers to help keep employees focused on work tasks and less on social apps or even buying apps.

Many of the other features listed are self-explanatory, so I will leave the list at that.  While these software programs are beneficial, keep in mind that there are steps you should take to ensure your kids or employees still maintain the necessary level of trust.  For employers, if you plan on implementing this for one employee- you should implement it for all employees.  While you may not technically break the law targeting one employee, you could still see civil violations if you are not careful.

For both employers and parents, keep in mind that state laws may limit monitoring of cell phones in some circumstances.  If your child is over 18, it’s a good time to stop monitoring.  For employers, the law is currently vague on the issue- but tomorrow is another day.  Check with your lawyer and implement a policy so employees are aware of the monitoring.  While you can do a google check for cell phone monitoring software, here is a great resource I highly recommend.

-The Private I on Cell phone monitoring