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Five Free Apps That Parents Of Teens Should Know About…

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Let’s face it, it’s a CRAZY world out there…

And trying to stay on top of it all can be daunting. Between what is seen on the news to what happens to your teen behind a computer, smartphone, or steering wheel, no elixir in the world can alleviate ALL that stress.

Even though technology is often blamed for attributing to the problem, there are some incredible tools that put tech on your side in battling these worries. From family management to enforcing safe driving habits, these FREE smartphone apps put you back in control of your household!

1.) Cozi

iOS | Android

You can’t go wrong with this 3-time Mom’s Choice Award winning app! Have your family’s busy lifestyle simplified by viewing each member’s activities, appointments, shopping lists, chores, and more – all in ONE place in REAL time! Get the basic version for free or upgrade to Cozi Gold for extra features.

What it does:

  • Coordinates and communicates each family member’s schedule
  • Creates and shares lists for chores, shopping, to-do, and more
  • Stores recipes and adds ingredients to grocery lists for easy meal planning
  • Keeps a family journal to share photos and updates with family and friends
  • Allows members to access and update from any mobile device or computer

2.) OurPact

iOS | Android

Making sure your kids aren’t on their phone 24/7 is a full-time job in itself! OurPact makes it easy to set limits on screen time, block certain apps and content, and view what apps are on your teen’s phone. The free download of the app is limited but extra features can be added when you upgrade to their Plus or Premium versions.

What it does:

  • Sets scheduled time for phone use and blocks access once the limit is reached – great for helping put a stop to data overages!
  • Blocks specific content and monitors which apps are installed on their phone
  • Locates family members using their geolocation
  • Allows you to extend or block screen time access as you see fit

3.) Life360

iOS | Android

This app truly gives you a 360º view of where your family members are. By simply downloading the app and sending an invite code, members become linked as a family unit and can see where everyone is located on a map in real time, along with alerts as individuals arrive and depart their location. As with many other apps, in-app purchases are available to add features such a crash detection, nearby crime alerts, and weekly driving reports for family’s with newly licensed teens.

What it does:

  • Shows your private “Circle” on a map in real time
  • Sends messages to your whole Circle or directly to specific members
  • Automatically sends alerts as members arrive or depart designated “Places”
  • Promotes safe driving habits with driving reports, crash detection, Live Driver Support

4.) KidBridge

iOS download available after free trial signup

One of the more insightful smartphone monitoring apps, KidBridge (formerly TeenSafe) allows parents to view texts and online behavior of their teens, along with their physical location. The app was designed BY parents, FOR parents, and has been downloaded by more than one million users to keep teens safe. The app can be downloaded for free after signup, but will incur a monthly fee following the trial period.

What it does:

  • Shows sent and received texts and photos, even ones that have been deleted
  • Allows access to messages on 3rd party apps like WhatsApp and KikMessenger
  • Lists call logs of incoming and outgoing calls
  • Outlines web browsing history
  • Shows teen’s location on a map

5.) Glympse

iOS | Android

Not only does this easy setup app give you the ability to request your teen’s location, but they’ll find it useful when meeting up with friends or giving an ETA of when they’ll arrive back home. Best part – the app is completely free!

What it does:

  • Sends and requests location updates
  • Sets duration of Glympse to expire when location sharing is no longer necessary
  • Allows teens to use the app with friends to coordinate social gatherings
  • No signup or setup required, and app not required to view shared location

On another note, watch out for these Apps on your teen’s phone…

We couldn’t go without warning you of these apps that aren’t quite as innocent as they seem!

Audio Manager

You would think this app is for managing music or volume levels. Unfortunately, WRONG. This is one of the more commonly used hiding apps, able to conceal messages, photos, videos, and even other apps only to be revealed when app icon is pressed and held.

Calculator%

Very similar to Audio Manager – it seems like just a calculator app, though when a button is pressed within the app, hidden photos will appear.

Vaulty

Again, another hiding app to store photos and videos from plain sight. Though this one comes with a catch – when the password to the app is entered incorrectly, a photo is snapped of the person (a.k.a. concerned moms) trying to gain access.

How you can you find out if these apps are on your teen’s phone without checking first-hand?

Smartphone monitoring apps like TeenSafe or OurPact will show any 3rd party apps installed on your teen’s device, though you could also simply talk to your teens about the apps they use and what they use them for. As another way to monitor apps, add your teen to your iCloud account – any apps they download will automatically be installed on your device as well.

Not sure if the apps on your teen’s phone are appropriate? Check out Common Sense Media, a website dedicated to digital media safety through reviews and expert ratings on app that teens are using.


What are your thoughts on monitoring apps? Helpful or invasive?

Let us know what you think in the comments. Please remember – start a conversation, not a war 😊

Join The Discussion

Comments 66

  1. Denise

    Wondering if anyone knows this answer – I did not see the answer on the app – do both people have to have the same type of phone – IOS to IOS or Android to Android to use Family Locator – GPS Tracker – have a kiddo who will begin driving soon but I have an android and she has an iOS. TIA 🙂
    And on the question of monitoring apps – I think they are wonderful – if my kid is thinking about doing something that is questionable – hopefully if we have these apps installed they think twice – just my opinion – so thank you for this awesome post 🙂

    • amy111

      I’d like to know too. I noticed when driving my teen to/from work his iPhone will not work as it’s in a safe mode (and I’m the one driving). Does anyone know more about that? I asked him to put it in the glove compartment until I find the right app. Thank you so much, Collin.

      • Laurie

        The last upgrade automatically goes to a Driving Mode (can be disabled in settings)

    • bdubs

      See below also… LIfe 360 works between platforms. I use it more to make sure my kids have arrived (how our parents always said “call when you get there!” or if they are on their way home, etc. DD has an iPhone and I can always see her travel routes. I’ll double check if she’s putting it in safe mode or just leaving it in her bag.

    • Jenn

      My daughter, niece, and I all have iPhones and my husband has an android. We all have the app and have had no problems using it. It’s a great app if you have a teen.

  2. SeeBeeShop

    I love life360 For monitoring where my teenager is at at all times. I also have TeenSafe installed on her phone and pay $15.99 a month for it. I have to say I am highly unsatisfied with this app as it only lets you download data once every 24 hours and it only shows the data that has been recently backed up. So if your teen is not plugged in, connected to Wi-Fi, and currently backed up you do not have access to what is currently on their phone. I’ve never been able to use to map feature either.

    • Amy

      Thank you for that info. That was very helpful!

  3. bdubs

    Life360 works on both. I have android and my child has apple. We didn’t pay for the add-ons but have good things to say about the basic free app.

  4. Ma

    Thanks! Helpful & great info! I will track my kids when they are older!!

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome!

  5. Chrissy Goff

    How do you all find the room on your phone for all these apps. My phone can’t even update cause I have to many apps on it. LOL

  6. Jacque

    Love Life360! Although, it is a battery zapper, so my hubby deleted it off his phone.

    I’ve also tried the Bark app on my teenagers’ phones. It worked great, but could not scan SnapChat “chat” feature. If anyone knows of an app that can monitor SC, I’m definitely interested in learning more!

    • Carrie O.

      @Jacque….I’d be interested in this too. Seems like kids aren’t on Facebook, but they’re all over SnapChat.

      • Rob

        I have Snapchat and I think more people use it for things they should not be saying or even nude pics because it has a feature that auto deletes snap chat messages and also you can select the amount of time someone sees a picture (my nephew is in high school he fills me in on this stuff)

    • CAROL

      I had disney circle and ourpact. Each had their own pluses. Now I’m trying to do the same as Jacque and find something to monitor SC and instagram! Both have undesirable sides to them and lots of porn!! UGH

  7. Shantel

    Please post this once or twice a year. We aren’t quite to the teen/phone age yet but this is good info and would love to see it in the future.

    • Amy

      I agree!!!

    • CJ

      Yes I agree!

    • Sarah

      I’m hoping this too!!

    • Elsa

      Another agree here!

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Thanks for the feedback! I will for sure pass this along to the team!

  8. Carrie O.

    Thank you so much for this list! I hadn’t heard of most of these.
    My personal feeling is that my husband and I have the right to install whatever app we want on our children’s electronic devices as long as they live in our home. The truth is I’ve come to pretty much despise all of the social media and electronic stuff with kids. It takes up so much time and energy on the part of the parents (basically becomes a part time job)….. for what seems like a never ending “battle”.

    • Shannon

      This is so true! Sometimes I’m just too tired to go through my kids phone all the time. I have his social media passwords and he knows that the rule is we can look through the phone anytime. The way that kids text is a lot of nothing. They basically text for 2 hours and haven’t had a conversation. 🤷‍♀️ it’s a huge time waster to read through it all!

      • Amy

        I totally agree. It’s a lot of hey, what are you doing, gtg, hey, gtg….over and over! I still feel like I need to scan through just to make sure there’s nothing worse than that!

  9. Shannon

    Find my friends app!! Our family uses it all the time to keep track of each other. We travel a lot around the state due to sports and work so it’s helpful to know where everyone is!

    • Denise

      I have heard of this app too – can you use between Android and IOS? TIA:)

  10. DebY

    Unfortunately, there is not an app that can monitor Snapchat.

  11. SANDRA

    Thanks for posting this,I have two teenage daughters. I always fear for their safety times are changing and sadly for the worst.

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome Sandra! SO glad you found this list helpful!

  12. Bethany

    We use parental board for Android. I have an Apple my 13 year old has an android. The app is available for both, but you can’t monitor the Apple phone like an Android. (we tried it on my 17 year olds iPhone) but it works great for Android. I can see who she is calling, sending and receiving texts, where she is, how much time she spends on which apps and sites and set limits on time of day and how long she can use her phone. This app gives me peace of mind. It’s 13.00 a year and WELL worth the money.

    • michele weaver

      How is the Apple one different?

  13. 50ShadesofLipstick

    Find my friends and find my iPhone can both be used to locate someone. Definitely get it if you have teenagers.

  14. EB

    Thanks for this list! I have two teenagers and an app I use is Unglu. It’s like unpact. You have to have the same iOS on your phone as your kids though. Fortunately I do and I love the app!

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re so welcome! Thanks for sharing!

  15. An G

    Watch out for teen safe I had to cancel my subscription after months of not being able o get in. Kept having to do a new iPhone password for my kids phone because of the security so it didn’t work. Was a nightmare to everyone in the family. Hopefully they will get fixed.

    • Kristy

      I hated TeenSafe as well. Made me change passwords every time I entered. Data was missing and hard to read. I would definitely suggest not purchasing this!!!!

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      Oh darn! Sorry to hear that! Thanks for the warning!

  16. StephR

    I do have Life360 installed on my teens phone. He is a big outdoorsman! He loves walking the nearby river and lake here to fish and hike around. it’s nice to be able to check his location every once in awhile and make sure he’s doing ok. There was one time that he wasn’t home when he said he was gonna be,and he was in an area of the lake that didn’t have good cell service, so my texts and calls weren’t going through. I used the app to see he’s last location, and me and my husband found him near there, stuck up in the mud with his truck! So it’s def a good app to have.

    • Dee

      We were able to help our teen son find his tour bus in the middle of an unfamiliar city, when he left a stadium out of a different door and started walking the wrong way. He called in a panic and with his phone battery dying. I was able to see the path the bus had taken earlier that evening and tell him to turn around and head the other way in time to catch his bus.

  17. Mama6

    Thank you! This is very valuable information.

    • Amber (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome!

  18. Laura

    Thank you for all this valuable information! Absolutely love Life360. All of our family have it on our phones. Great for when someone in our family goes on a bike ride too. Commonsense Media is a go to in our family for movies, books, and apps. Huge spoiler alerts, but they list every swear word, incident of drinking, smoking, sex, etc. When our kids want to go to a movie, we read Commonsense and talk about it with them and can make a pretty informed decision. Do a search for the movie Screenagers. Our school just showed it last week, and it was a great eye opener. Many schools around have been showing it at night to parents. They should list on their site if there is a school near you that is showing it. It was made by a pediatrician as she navigated the use of screens in her own family. It presents a lot of research about the use of screens and how it affects the brain.

  19. becky2333

    We are also big advocates of Life360. After the 3rd or so time of my new driver not relaying when she got to school, we went ahead with this on all of our kids phones. Right now I can see my oldest is an hour away from home, also that she’s moving. I paid the $39.99 annual subscription to be able to add more than 2 places as alerts. I can see when they leave and arrive school, work, their boyfriends house. It’s especially a relief when it’s bad weather, or they’re coming home late. The kids appreciate not having to tell me every time they arrive and leave each place.

  20. jane

    We downloaded Norton on all of our devices and it allows me to monitor my daughters cell phone, texts, location, new downloads, it allows me to set limits on her usage, to not allow her to visit certain sites, etc.. so far we have been pleased. It is an overwhelming process to try to keep our children safe. The best way to monitor your children on Snap chat is to join yourself:)

    • michele weaver

      We have Norton. How do you see the texts?

  21. amanda

    This is great, thank you! We are just entering into the teens/pre-teens phase and cell phones are a big parenting issue. I think that everyone needs accountability, especially teens who are just learning to navigate their independence.

  22. Heather S

    We downloaded and installed Norton Family. It’s not expensive (I can’t remember how much) but worth it. It sends me alerts if the boys try to download something or look at a blocked website. And you can watch texts, calls and set limits.

  23. Tracey

    I was just talking about finding an app to limit what my son can do on his ipad. I have parental controls on it and blocked out youtube and restricted browsing but would like him to be able to get youtube but not the more mature content. Also thinking about getting him a phone since he’s 12 so this was very helpful.

  24. Sharon

    Great post!!! Life 360 changed our life. Our daughter was in a auto accident 3 weeks after she got her license. 100 percent the other persons fault. After i put this app. On her phone. Let’s me know when she stops driving and gives me a piece of mind. I have Android and she has Apple and it works just fine but there is a slight delay sometimes might just barely added to the towers. I think you should also do a feature on the Snapchat in ghost mode to warn all the parents that watch your site about putting that Snapchat at into ghost mode for their kids so they are aware that other people can see where their children are down the street number. It’s really scary too. Thanks so much for all you and your team do!!!

  25. Sandy

    This is much needed info thanks for posting!

    • Holly (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You are very welcome!

  26. linda

    Thank you for this great post! We aren’t quite there yet with cell phones for our kids but it will happen one of these days soon. I am kind of dreading it. This was really helpful. Like a previous poster requested, please repost with updates every so often.

  27. Sami

    I’d loved this hear opinions as to when it is appropriate to stop monitoring. When they turn 18, when they go off to college, etc.?

  28. laK

    We use MMGUARDIAN, it’s 3.99/month can be cheaper if you do a yearly payment. I think it’s great. Tells location, apps used, Internet history, call, and texts. It also doesn’t allow them to delete history or anything. Plus you can allow or not allow certain categories& websites.

  29. Bologna

    I love this post ! I really needed this. Thank you!

    • Holly (Hip2Save Sidekick)

      You’re welcome!

  30. MrsFelix1004

    Totally off topic but I got to thinking the other day about Amazon Prime being discounted for SNAP receivers and I came across a site called EveryoneOn.org that will let you know if there is a discount internet provider in your area and I also found out that AT&T Access is a program that is offered in 21 states and gives internet for $5-$10 for 5-10 megabits per second. Which 10 Mps is good enough for one device to stream. This program is offer to people receiving SSI or VA pension or disability pay as well and certain income guidelines. I emailed Collin and I would love to have a post with everyone’s input on discounts for SNAP or SSI because these people need a hand up and not the hate that people give bc they “shouldn’t” get a discount. I appreciate everyone’s help and you never know you might need it.

    • Allison

      I agree Mrs Felix

  31. Mena

    This is so helpful. I’ve never heard of these things. At this point just trying to manage what’s in the home with laptops. Kids are too young for a phone.
    We do have Circle by Disney which cost. How is this different from the filtering apps you mentioned? So confusing. 🙂

  32. Michelle

    Don’t always trust parental control. There are apps that kids can download on their phone that allows them to go “behind” the parental control. All they have to do is Google “how to get around parental control” and the information is right there….

  33. Kristen

    Thanks for the post, this is great! I have heard of Circle too but haven’t tried it yet, not sure how it compares…

  34. Olivia

    Thank you for this! My teen is one who needs monitored and as such, has lost the privilege of calling it invasive while doing so. I didn’t know about these and plan to use them. Thanks!

  35. Nicole Westmoreland

    We have Samsung galaxy phones/verizon and have the Life 360 app (free version) on all our phones. I LOVE this app! It is easy to use, and you can set certain locations to alert you when someone reaches or leaves that location. We have a teen driver, and a Jr. High student (who has accidentally left her phone on the bus and a couple friends who accidentally took her phone home with them!) You can pull up the location and find it so easily! It is nice to be able to find a child who isn’t answering their phone for whatever reason! It will connect to any available wifi to help, too! You can choose who you want in the “group” as well!

  36. Ssh

    Keep these posts coming. New apps are coming out daily and it’s hard to keep up. We had circle but it screwed up our whole internet and wifi. Total disaster!

  37. CarolynMom

    Thanks for posting this! We’ll likely need to give our oldest a phone for next school year (to text when leaving the house a little bit after me) and we’re in the planning and researching process for that now. 🙂

  38. Jan

    I work as a Privacy Officer. Make sure you read and understand the Privacy Policies to any app before downloading it to your phone. Especially one that tracks your or your teen’s location, calendar, texts, photos. Make sure you understand with whom that information is shared. In many cases, you would be shocked.

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