Parenting & Family

Monitoring teens devices

  • Last Updated:
  • Nov 7th, 2017 10:01 am
[OP]
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Aug 24, 2016
36 posts
6 upvotes

Monitoring teens devices

Normally this is something I wouldn’t consider but, considering the circumstances, I feel this is needed for my sons safety and well-being.

My 13 year old has mental health conditions. Recently, those issues have increased drastically and he’s not in a good place. He recently began cutting. He’s very depressed and is not sharing much right now. We are seeking help for him but wait lists are ridiculous. I am pretty positive that the conversations he’s having on his iPod, iPad, Facebook messenger, FaceTime, etc will help me learn what the source or triggers for his cutting are. But if he knows I’m monitoring, he’s going to filter what he says and that may not help me identify the source. I know there’s apps and software out there that can monitor this but I’m not very IT advanced. Can someone give me a suggestion as to a good product or app that will allow me access to the above mentioned communication means. It would need to be something that I could use in the moment. A report with access a week after the conversation took place is not going to help me.
21 replies
Deal Addict
Nov 22, 2015
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Melissa7791 wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 2:57 pm
Normally this is something I wouldn’t consider but, considering the circumstances, I feel this is needed for my sons safety and well-being.

My 13 year old has mental health conditions. Recently, those issues have increased drastically and he’s not in a good place. He recently began cutting. He’s very depressed and is not sharing much right now. We are seeking help for him but wait lists are ridiculous. I am pretty positive that the conversations he’s having on his iPod, iPad, Facebook messenger, FaceTime, etc will help me learn what the source or triggers for his cutting are. But if he knows I’m monitoring, he’s going to filter what he says and that may not help me identify the source. I know there’s apps and software out there that can monitor this but I’m not very IT advanced. Can someone give me a suggestion as to a good product or app that will allow me access to the above mentioned communication means. It would need to be something that I could use in the moment. A report with access a week after the conversation took place is not going to help me.
I'm sorry but this is not the right place for this... your son needs a psychiatrist/psychologist and not a surveillance app. If doctors aren't taking you seriously, you need to escalate and express your concern that he may be mentally unstable/suicidal.

If you are truly concerned for his well-being, sitting on the sidelines and monitoring his activities is not the way to show it. I'd also reach out to United Way.... they can help in ways that doctors may not be able to.
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Melissa7791 wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 2:57 pm
My 13 year old has mental health conditions. Recently, those issues have increased drastically and he’s not in a good place. He recently began cutting. He’s very depressed and is not sharing much right now. We are seeking help for him but wait lists are ridiculous.
I just wanted to say that I'm very sorry to read this, and I hope he receives the help he needs. I'm not sure where you're located, but perhaps contacting a crisis centre would help to discuss the best way to proceed?
https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
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[OP]
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Aug 24, 2016
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superfresh89 wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 3:11 pm
I'm sorry but this is not the right place for this... your son needs a psychiatrist/psychologist and not a surveillance app. If doctors aren't taking you seriously, you need to escalate and express your concern that he may be mentally unstable/suicidal.

If you are truly concerned for his well-being, sitting on the sidelines and monitoring his activities is not the way to show it. I'd also reach out to United Way.... they can help in ways that doctors may not be able to.
We have psychologists, paediatricians, support organizations already involved. Even our MP and provincial officials are involved as advocates for quicker treatment. He’s on a wait list for residential treatment and stabilization. It may sound crazy (and it is!) but we’ve been to the ER 3 times for suicide concerns and have been sent home 3 times. I’m doing everything I can. So many people are involved. But the youth mental health system is very broken. This is a desperate attempt to keep him safe while we fight for a quicker access for treatment.
While I realize my post will automatically create judgement, I can’t stress enough that I am doing everything I can. But restrictions in the system creates challenges that I have to work around. This is one of them. I know he’s in danger. But when forced to wait for treatment and all possible available supports are already in place, what do you suggest I do? It’s easy to judge if you haven’t experienced mental health issues of a youth first hand nor the broken system on how to get help.
[OP]
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Aug 24, 2016
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Webslinger wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 3:24 pm
I just wanted to say that I'm very sorry to read this, and I hope he receives the help he needs. I'm not sure where you're located, but perhaps contacting a crisis centre would help to discuss the best way to proceed?
https://suicideprevention.ca/need-help/
We do use crisis centres already in desperation. We also use the police. As I stated in my post above, it’s a very broken system. I understand it’s hard to comprehend how it’s possible to not simply get him help. But this is the reality of our mental health system. The idea of monitoring his interactions through electronics is only an desperate attempt to keep him safe while we fight the restrictions of the system.
We are in southern Ontario, Canada.
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Nov 22, 2015
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Melissa7791 wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 3:28 pm
We have psychologists, paediatricians, support organizations already involved. Even our MP and provincial officials are involved as advocates for quicker treatment. He’s on a wait list for residential treatment and stabilization. It may sound crazy (and it is!) but we’ve been to the ER 3 times for suicide concerns and have been sent home 3 times. I’m doing everything I can. So many people are involved. But the youth mental health system is very broken. This is a desperate attempt to keep him safe while we fight for a quicker access for treatment.
While I realize my post will automatically create judgement, I can’t stress enough that I am doing everything I can. But restrictions in the system creates challenges that I have to work around. This is one of them. I know he’s in danger. But when forced to wait for treatment and all possible available supports are already in place, what do you suggest I do? It’s easy to judge if you haven’t experienced mental health issues of a youth first hand nor the broken system on how to get help.
I wasn't judging you at all! I'm sorry if I came across that way. I have not experienced mental health issues with specifically a youth, but I can certainly relate. The system already sucks for adults, so I can only imagine what it's like as a parent...

I don't think that you'll be able to monitor all his devices in an efficient way without him finding out.... Please look into United Way... they have a number of crisis programs with dedicated youth workers to help you through this.
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Melissa7791 wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 3:32 pm
I understand it’s hard to comprehend
I understand. I was merely offering sympathy and a small suggestion; I wasn't judging. My apologies.
I wish you luck.
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[OP]
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Aug 24, 2016
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Thank you for your suggestions. And thank you for taking the time to clarify the judging. It’s so hard when everywhere I turn, everyone I seek help or support from automatically judges at first. It happens so often I may have my guard up to much. I do applologize for assuming.

I have not accessed United Way. But will look into it to see if there’s a resource I have not yet accessed.
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Aug 16, 2010
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Melissa, I'm sorry that I have no suggestions for you. I just read your post and my heart just got stuck in my throat. A 13-yr old doesn't deserve what he's facing. I sincerely hope you and he successfully work through these problems and find happiness!! Just offering small words of support...
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Jun 8, 2008
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I'm so sorry you're having to deal with this.

I don't have it but I've heard here and in other places that Net Nanny is a good option - https://www.netnanny.com/ - seems to offer social media monitoring. Might not be the cheapest option but might be the one you want to go with right now. Definitely look into it.

I just have my kids' passwords and log in to their phones on occasion - is that an option?
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Apr 9, 2010
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Melissa7791 wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 2:57 pm
Normally this is something I wouldn’t consider but, considering the circumstances, I feel this is needed for my sons safety and well-being.

My 13 year old has mental health conditions. Recently, those issues have increased drastically and he’s not in a good place. He recently began cutting. He’s very depressed and is not sharing much right now. We are seeking help for him but wait lists are ridiculous. I am pretty positive that the conversations he’s having on his iPod, iPad, Facebook messenger, FaceTime, etc will help me learn what the source or triggers for his cutting are. But if he knows I’m monitoring, he’s going to filter what he says and that may not help me identify the source. I know there’s apps and software out there that can monitor this but I’m not very IT advanced. Can someone give me a suggestion as to a good product or app that will allow me access to the above mentioned communication means. It would need to be something that I could use in the moment. A report with access a week after the conversation took place is not going to help me.
He's 13 years old for christ sakes, he can't have that many things to be depressed about if his situation at home is normal...

It might sound harsh and you may feel judged but here's a game plan for you if you wish to switch approach :

1. The problem is almost certain to be from peer pressure or bullying at school so get him off the social media crap. (He doesn't need that in his life.) Make sure he has no access to smart devices or a data plan. Be firm and explain to him that you're doing this for his own good and that he'll understand why in the future.

2. It's proven that any form of exercise helps depression and the absolute best thing you could do for him is enroll him into Brazilian Jiujitsu or Muay Thai after school. Not only will it improve his physical health and mood but he'll be able to defend himself if he needs to.

3. Don't put him on any anti-depressants. Make sure he eats a proper diet that is not high in processed foods and sugar. Try to give him a low to medium dose of 5-HTP to see if that helps him, I personally know some people in the same situation who have benefited from this supplement.

4. Lastly, have a talk with his teacher and school counselor and explain the issue to deal with things ASAP.


I'm pretty sure everything will be ok if you do the above.
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kenze wrote:
Nov 5th, 2017 8:59 pm
He's 13 years old for christ sakes, he can't have that many things to be depressed about if his situation at home is normal...

It might sound harsh and you may feel judged but here's a game plan for you if you wish to switch approach :

1. The problem is almost certain to be from peer pressure or bullying at school so get him off the social media crap. (He doesn't need that in his life.) Make sure he has no access to smart devices or a data plan. Be firm and explain to him that you're doing this for his own good and that he'll understand why in the future.

2. It's proven that any form of exercise helps depression and the absolute best thing you could do for him is enroll him into Brazilian Jiujitsu or Muay Thai after school. Not only will it improve his physical health and mood but he'll be able to defend himself if he needs to.

3. Don't put him on any anti-depressants. Make sure he eats a proper diet that is not high in processed foods and sugar. Try to give him a low to medium dose of 5-HTP to see if that helps him, I personally know some people in the same situation who have benefited from this supplement.

4. Lastly, have a talk with his teacher and school counselor and explain the issue to deal with things ASAP.


I'm pretty sure everything will be ok if you do the above.
Wow, what awful advice.

1. Bullying at school happened long before social media. You don't seem to understand clinical depression. If someone is only depressed because they have a good reason to be depressed, that's not clinical depression, that's normal behavior. Clinical depression exists, and you have no reason to think that we're talking about a normal, healthy child here. It's pretty clear that this child isn't well.

2. Nothing wrong with more exercise, but getting a 13 year old to do it isn't as easy as registering them.

3. Follow whatever your doctor advises. They're the experts, not someone with superficial anecdotes.

4. This isn't something that teachers and school counselors are going to be able to help much, and I'm quite certain they're aware given the resources that OP has already listed that she's taking advantage of.

___________________________________________________________________

And to answer the original question,

You can download a free program called a "keylogger" that will allow you to capture his facebook password. It's a program that sits on the computer and logs every key in a text file. After he signs into facebook on that computer, you'll be able to look at the logs and figure it out. If he uses mobile devices exclusively, you may need to confiscate them for a short time to force him to use the family PC.

I don't know if there's a similar program for iphones or ipads, but it's quite likely that his passwords will be the same for facebook and apple. I'm not too familiar with apple stuff, but imessages show up both on my wife's phone and her ipad, so if you can get another device signed into his account, you'll see everything from imessage as well.

I don't know of any hidden ways to record the content of facetime conversations, but hopefully imessage and facebook messenger give good enough insight.

It would be a good idea to test all this out with a your own equipment and a friend, to find verify that it's undetectable.

There could very well be better methods out there than this, it's not my area of expertise.

Not that my thoughts should be any less unwelcome than anyone else, I don't think that a 13 year old, especially one struggling with significant issues, is entitled to complete unquestioned electronic privacy. In normal circumstances, parents should be upfront with kids, so they know what level of privacy they have. But this isn't normal circumstances. Without being front and center, I'll leave the particulars to the parents.
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Apr 9, 2010
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i6s1 wrote:
Nov 6th, 2017 1:56 pm
Wow, what awful advice.

1. Bullying at school happened long before social media. You don't seem to understand clinical depression. If someone is only depressed because they have a good reason to be depressed, that's not clinical depression, that's normal behavior. Clinical depression exists, and you have no reason to think that we're talking about a normal, healthy child here. It's pretty clear that this child isn't well.

2. Nothing wrong with more exercise, but getting a 13 year old to do it isn't as easy as registering them.

3. Follow whatever your doctor advises. They're the experts, not someone with superficial anecdotes.

4. This isn't something that teachers and school counselors are going to be able to help much, and I'm quite certain they're aware given the resources that OP has already listed that she's taking advantage of.
It's awful advice to you. Personally, I found some of your arguments to be laughable.

1. Bullying happened before social media, but social media brought bullying outside school. There has been several cases of teens who decided to suicide in part because they were exposed to it all day and night.

I most likely know more about being clinically depressed than you do, but I won't get into the why's because that's not something I wish to discuss.

2. So basically because it takes some effort it's not worth considering? Come on, give me a break.

3. Most doctors are not experts on the matter. They will only prescribe anti-depressants which cause plenty of side effects.

4. It's a good thing if they are already aware. The more resources, the better.
[OP]
Newbie
Aug 24, 2016
36 posts
6 upvotes
Kenze...
You have no knowledge of depression or mental illness, do you?
This is what I’m referring to when I say my guard is up due to judgement by others. If it were as simple as you suggest, do you not think we would have done that? This is a complex situation with many factors, none of which are as simple to fix as you describe. We have been working at this for years. Mental illness is a thing. A thing he was born with. A very difficult thing at that. It goes beyond simple teenage sadness. Quick fixes don’t exist. I am doing my best. I am doing lots. But I have to say I feel you are completely ignorant about the topic. I hope you never have to deal with this as I’d fear for the safety and sanity of a child with mental illness in your care. You need to educate yourself.

To everyone who has offered support and suggestions, I thank you.
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Apr 9, 2010
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Melissa7791 wrote:
Nov 6th, 2017 2:19 pm
Kenze...
You have no knowledge of depression or mental illness, do you?
This is what I’m referring to when I say my guard is up due to judgement by others. If it were as simple as you suggest, do you not think we would have done that? This is a complex situation with many factors, none of which are as simple to fix as you describe. We have been working at this for years. Mental illness is a thing. A thing he was born with. A very difficult thing at that. It goes beyond simple teenage sadness. Quick fixes don’t exist. I am doing my best. I am doing lots. But I have to say I feel you are completely ignorant about the topic. I hope you never have to deal with this as I’d fear for the safety and sanity of a child with mental illness in your care. You need to educate yourself.

To everyone who has offered support and suggestions, I thank you.
That's very rich, telling someone whom you know absolutely nothing about that they are uneducated on the matter... If only you knew lol

Anyway, I wish your son the best of luck.

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