Track your kids' texts in real time

Track your kids' texts in real time »Play Video

Let's face it, kids are typically one step ahead of their parents, but the Problem Solvers uncover a new tool that allows parents to track their kids' texts in real time.

Greer is 12 years old; her sister, Harper, is 10.  Both girls are pre-teens who text.

But when they send or receive a text, their mom gets an exact copy at the same moment. 

How do they feel about that?

"Some good, some bad because sometimes I want to keep it private when I'm texting," says Greer. "Or sometimes it's good when I can't handle (it) or don't know what to say."

"This allows me the peace of mind knowing that if either of my daughters or anyone I have on this (cell) plan gets something that's a little suspicious, I can immediately block it or respond and find out in real time what's going on," says Kim Brechin.

Brechin is a parent and blogger who teaches other parents how to monitor their kids' tech use on her website, The Communications Maven.

According to a 2013 Harris Poll, only 57 percent of parents occasionally check their kids' phones - sometimes with the kids' knowledge, sometimes without.

With bullying and stranger-danger, Brechin says parents need to do better.

"I do trust my daughter, but sometimes it's not just about her," says Brechin. "It's about other people's choices."

Here's one option for iPhone users:

  • Register all your family's phones under the same i-Cloud account.
  • Hit Settings, then Messages and then Send and Receive. Here you should see your family's phone numbers listed and checked.
  • To receive text copies from those phones, check your phone number under Start New Conversation.

You can also set up free parental controls, but no mirroring, through AT&T. Verizon has FamilyBase's Manage What Matters Most. It shows you when and who your child texts but not the content of the text.  The first three months are free. After that, it's $5 per month.

But what about a teenager's privacy?

"I agree to some extent, but in our house - my house, my rules, my phone," says Brechin. "You're here and (phone use) is a privilege." 

Brechin adds that any child under 16 years old should have their phone use strictly monitored.

Greer and Harper admit that when their friends know Mom's getting their texts, too, it puts a stop to a lot of teen drama.

If you're not an iPhone user, you can opt for text monitoring services or apps. Most of them do not monitor in real time, but some do have a deleted text recovery feature. The Problem Solvers recommend Teen Safe for $14.95 per month.