child with phone August 8, 2021
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How Can I Monitor My Child’s Phone Without Them Knowing?

Your children are vulnerable online, thanks to a range of threats that continue to evolve as technology does. 

But, it’s not all doom and gloom: you can keep your kids safe online (and maintain your own peace of mind) by monitoring your child’s devices.

It’s incredibly simple and unobtrusive: you can easily stay in the loop as to their online activities,  be aware of their whereabouts, and be alerted if or when something potentially worrying could be in the works, . Whether it is their current location, the last conversations they had, text messages sent, social network posts or even the most recent photos on their phone, you can be in complete control while maintaining your children’s privacy. You can choose to block certain websites, as well as unauthorized online payments, gaming apps, content and anything else you deem as inappropriate for your children to be accessing.

Of course, your children have their own privacy needs, and will almost certainly be resistant to the idea of you monitoring and ‘spying’ on them! That's why a parental control app is a perfect idea: they get their privacy, and you get to safeguard your children, only when it’s necessary. It’s a win-win situation.

Check out our 9 Tips for Parental Control for more information, or keep reading to . see more about how these apps can help you monitor your child's phone without them knowing.


  • mSpy– Discreetly track your child' phone activity 24/7. Grab an additional 20% discount with coupon code: PARENTALCONTROL.

Try mSpy For Free!

  • bark – Allows you to track over 24 social networks including Facebook of course and is very affordable at $14 a month.

Try Bark For Free!

  • Qustodio – Get an additional 10% discount for all plans. Use coupon code: PARENTAL10

Try Qustodio For Free!

  • Norton – Save $50 with Norton's 360 Deluxe 5 device protection package for only $49.99/y.

Try Norton For Free!

What Do You Need to Monitor Your Child’s Phone Without Them Knowing?

Put simply, any parental control app worth it's weight needs to be installed on your child’s device. From then, there are some apps that will allow you to track your child’s phone without them knowing. 

We recommend using this as a talking point with your children, to minimize any potential for resistance, and explain that they will still have their privacy. Most parental control apps alert you only when there is a potential need for parental intervention (such as a keyword you’ve set being triggered in your child’s messaging app, for example). 

The Best Apps for Monitoring Your Child’s Phone

You have the option to monitor as many (or as few) of your child's devices as you like. 

You can also check out our detailed comparisons of all the available apps per device type here: 

Best Parental Controls Apps for iPhone
Best Parental Control Apps for Android

For other devices you're interested in monitoring, check out our best parental control software reviews section, just below.

1. mSpy – 100% discreet

Mspy parental control software

As the name suggests, mSpy is a leading parental monitoring software/app and our top pick  devices without them knowing through your personal smartphone or computer. You’ll have the option to monitor your kids’ text messages, live and past locations, calls, social platforms (including  Instagram, Tiktok and many others). TmSpy is multi-OS (available across iPhone, iPad, and any Android device). It has a user-friendly interface and quick installation, which won it huge points in our books.

* Grab an additional 20% discount with coupon code: PARENTALCONTROL

Try mSpy For Free!

Or read our mSpy Review

2. bark

Bark homepage free parental control app

This is probably the best under $10 solution on the market to monitor your child’s phone. bark starts only $5 a month and after a simple installation process you will be able to monitor iOS, Android, and Amazon mobile devices. With bark’s easy to use dashboard you will be able to closely watch and monitor your child’s texts messages, emails, videos and a range of social networks that your child uses.

Try Bark For Free!

Or read our Bark Review

3. Qustodio

Qustodio homepage

One of the most reliable apps to monitor your child's mobile activity, Qustodio has  many monitoring features, from location tracking to monitoring text messages, phone calls and social networks including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, WhatsApp, and more. A new cool feature that we like is the SOS button (available on Android devices only) that allows kids to click it should they need immediate help, which sends their nearest location coordinates to your phone. Qustodio's app sends parents a detailed daily report of all of their kids’ activities, unobtrusively, allowing you to keep updated – no awkward conversations needed!

Try Qustodio For Free!

Or read our Qustodio Review

 4. Norton Family Premier

Norton is one of the most trusted security brands in the world globally. What people are less aware of is that they also have a great parental control software that is available for as low as $49.99 per month with the Norton 360 Deluxe for 5 devices. After a short and easy installation you will be able to set time limits (mainly on PC and Android) and get email reports when your kids are connecting online.

Try Norton For Free!

Or read our Norton Family Premier Review

For as low as $2.25 a month, you can enjoy the basic version of this parental monitoring app which can be installed without kids knowing but only for one device. The app offers some great features and works both on Android and iOS. Although the basic plan allows you to monitor only one device it does let you enjoy all the powerful features of the app. It can monitor calls and texts, some social media activities, and emails. We liked the PickMeUp feature that is pretty much like the regular whatsapp share location but lets kids tap on a button on their FamilyTime app and the parents immediately get a notification on where to pick them from.  Other basic features like web and app blocking are also available.

Visit Family Time

Or read our Familytime Review


Whether it is getting your kids away from online predators, prevention of cyberbullying, and managing inappropriate behavior, this parental monitoring software can be helpful. It can be installed in just five minutes and there is no rooting required on the target device. Texts, calls, photos, app usage, website visits, and location history are some of the things that you can do with this software. There is a money-back guarantee. As for the price, the licensing fee for the use of this app is $99.95, which is quite high.

Visit WebWatcher

Or read our Webwatcher Review


From its set-up to its use, KidLogger is known for being user-friendly. It is also cheap. There is a free plan available, although the features are limited. For the paid subscriptions, the cheapest is $29 for one year, which is affordable for most of you. This surveillance software has powerful tracking options, including chats and photos. You can even listen to phone calls and view the typed keystrokes. Also, when you send a message that says “where are you,”, you can receive a reply containing your kid’s current location.

Visit KidLogger

Or read our Kidlogger Review

So, Just How Can You See Everything On Your Child’s Phone?

It might not be the easiest thing to request, or the most comfortable conversation, but you'll need your child’s device and physical access to their phone

• Once you have it in your hands, you can now download your choice of software or app, including those that have been briefly mentioned above.

• Make sure that there is enough battery to finish installing the app and setting it up. You will also need to create an account for ease of monitoring.

• After completing the previous steps, you will need to connect the phone being monitored and the phone that will be used for monitoring, i.e. parent phone. Take note that the process can vary depending on what software you will use.

We highly recommend you approach this from a place of openness and honesty, rather than confrontation. Your child is unlikely to be happy about handing over their device, so take the time to explain how the technology works (it is non-intrusive and will alert you only if there is potentially something to worry about), rather than keeping you updated on their every online move! 

Read our guide on How to Monitor Your Child's Activity Online for further instructions on how to keep your kids safe online.

Why You Should Consider Monitoring Your Child’s Phone (Without Them Knowing)

In the age of ongoing digital evolution, so too must our parenting evolve to the digital sphere;  it's our job as parents to create the best possible environment for our kids to grow up in. Parents need to monitor their kids in order to keep them safe but also for your own peace of mind

The right monitoring software or app will help you track your kids’ online activities, as well as their location and much more. . Get more information on the best monitoring apps here and make sure you read the reviews on the updated features and prices.

How to Monitor Your Kid's iPhone

Apple is known for making highly secure devices, so monitoring an iPhone can be quite a challenge. Nonetheless, there are still some parental control apps with the promise of robust monitoring. Alternatively, you can use the iPhone's built-in features. For instance, you can set restrictions on your child’s device’s content and privacy. To do this, 

  1. Go to “Settings”, choose “Screen Time”, then choose “Continue”. 
  2. Choose “This is My Device” or “This is My Child’s Device”. 
  3. Tap “Content” and “Privacy Restrictions”. 

Take note, however, that these features are only for controlling what your child can access. There is no way to see the exact content that they are accessing unless you use parental control software.

If you are looking for the best parental control app for iPhone monitoring, bark is one option that is worth considering.

Start Monitoring Your Child’s Device

How to Monitor Your Kid's Android Phone

Like iPhones, Android phones also have several built-in features that will come in handy for monitoring. 

For instance, using Google Family Link, you can monitor the location of your child’s device. Start by setting up the app. 

  1. Go to the “Family Link” app and choose your child’s account. 
  2. Click “Manage Settings” and tap “Location”. 
  3. Turn on “See Your Child’s Location”. 

Aside from managing the location, you can also view their app activity, which is crucial in guiding them to form online habits.

While Google Family Link is a great way to monitor Android phones, it has pretty basic safety monitoring features. You might want to explore more powerful parental control apps for Android, such as mSpy.

Start Monitoring Your Child’s Device

How to Monitor Your Kid's Computer

To monitor your kid’s computer, there’s no two ways about it: the only real way to do so is via a parental control app. The right choice will depend on your specific needs, such as whether the computer is Windows, iOS, or other operating systems.
All that you need is to install the monitoring software and you can monitor your kid’s activities remotely through a parental control app. The specific functionalities may vary, with most offering the capability to track web activity, set web filters, track their social media activities, and monitor emails.

While there are many options, Qustodio is our top recommendation, which is compatible with a wide array of platforms, including Windows and Mac.

Start Monitoring Your Child’s Device

How to Monitor Your Kid's Text Messages

This depends on your child’s device’s OS: In iOS, there is a feature that will let you view text messages through iCloud. All that you need is to sync the device with an account that you can access. You just need to know the Apple ID and password of your child’s device so that you can easily monitor their incoming and outgoing messages.
, for both Android and iOS devices, there is an option to use text message forwarding. This means that you will receive all incoming messages.

Nonetheless, the best way to monitor text messages is still with parental control software. Among others, one option that stands out is mSpy.

Start Monitoring Your Child’s Device

How to Monitor Your Kid's Snapchat

One of the most popular social media apps used by kids and teens, Snapchat recognizes the potential dangers associated with its use.
That said, it has developed built-in parental control features.
You can set up privacy controls by – Clicking the red gear icon on the app’s top-right corner “Who Can”, and choosing from the available options, such as Contact Me, View My Story, or See My Location.

Some parents, however, may find that the built-in parental controls are not enough. If you are one of them, then you might want to try third-party apps, such as mSpy.

Start Monitoring Your Child’s Device

How to Monitor You  Kid's iPad

Like with iPhone and Mac, iPad also has built-in features that will help parents regulate the online activities of kids. You can set content and privacy restrictions, prevent explicit content, and prevent App Store purchases, among other things. Another great way to monitor your kid’s iPad is to activate the sync feature of their iCloud accounts, but you must know their account details. With this, you can receive messages on your device while your kid receives them as well.

If you would like to monitor an iPad using a parental control app, bark is one option that you might want to consider.

Start Monitoring Your Child’s Device

How to Monitor Your Kid's Email Accounts

Similar to the other things above, the best option for monitoring your kid’s email accounts is by using a parental control app. The latter will let you read all sent and received messages, including details about the other party. Plus, you can view email attachments. This way, you can quickly intervene when there are lewd contents that are being shared through email. It is easier for parents to intervene when necessary.

Looking for a great parental control app to keep track of your child’s emails? mSpy is a great pick. It allows parents to monitor emails to prevent identity theft, phishing, bullying, and sexual harassment, among other potential problems.

Start Monitoring Your Child’s Device

The Bottom Line on Monitoring Your Kids’ Devices Without Them Knowing

If you have always been curious about how to monitor my child’s phone, we hope that you now know what to do. Consider the programs or apps mentioned above, and you will never go wrong. They will make you one step ahead in terms of monitoring your kids, making sure that they are safe and sound while they enjoy the online world.

     1. mSpy – Discreet 24/7 live tracking of all incoming, outgoing, or deleted text messages, calls and GPS location.

     2. bark Best value for money, monitors 30+ different social platforms, text messages, YouTube, emails.

     3. Qustodio User Friendly, limits screen time, games, social media activities, blocks inappropriate content.

     3. Norton Full online security suite, limits screen time, block and filter inappropriate content.

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