Spying on your kids - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Spying on your kids

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

Parents use to be able to snoop around their children's room, rummage through their drawers, take a peek in their diary and maybe find out what's going on in their lives but there is technology to track your child's every step.

Is there really a fine line between parental responsibility and just a nosey mom or dad?

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram...social media is a BFF to most teens. It means freedom from the eyes of parents ... or does it?

Sixteen-year-old Ashton Mitchell got the shock of his life, busted by his own mother, quickly figuring out the free in freedom comes with consequences.  "My own phone, I was so happy I was like, 'yes, can't nobody stop me, I can do whatever I want.'  For her to come and say uh, uh I'm tracking your phone, I'm watching your moves and all you're saying .... 'cause I was like hold up, did I do something wrong, am I in trouble, are you going to punish me."

Kati Thomas started tracking her son Ashton two years ago and her older son Langston when he was a teen through a surveillance system called ABeanStalk.com. It's a parental intelligence system, which notifies a parent if their teen is engaging in risky behavior.  "When I started getting alerts on my phone about cursing, it just let me have a conversation with my son. I also found out my son was participating in illegal marijuana usage with his friends that was alarming," according to Kati.
Her son Langston Thomas agrees, "I might have a kid, I might be getting in trouble with the law, a number of things."  

The software is designed to track emails, text messages, contacts, pictures, etc., alerting a parent if their child or any direct contact is using phrases associated with drugs, alcohol, guns, bullying, gangs or any other illegal activity.  For most teens, this would be nothing more than an invasion of their privacy.  

Langston says, "I felt like she didn't trust me at all or with what I was doing, but what I was doing wasn't very trustworthy."  

"There is no privacy issue when it comes to the parents monitoring their underage child's activities, see there's implied consent because a child can't give consent; they're not legally adults yet," according to Joe Everson. Everson owns I-Spy.  He says more and more parents are relying on this type of software, not to track a child's every move, but to encourage their child to make better choices when it comes to what they say or certain pics they may post on their phones.  "Even though you may have deleted it from the phone, it's still there, it's in the hard drive of the phone, it can be obtained, it can be accessed, it can be posted without your permission or knowledge," according to Everson.
Kati understands. "They live in your house, you pay the bills, you provide them with the smartphones and technology and you have a responsibility to protect them and nurture them and guide them to be healthy and make wise choices."
For some this would be crossing the line but Thomas says it's a tool to engage in conversations with her children about the consequences of their actions.  Ashton responds saying, "It makes me make smarter decisions, because being a teenager, being around your friends the smallest mistakes can be the worst mistake in your life."

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