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Experts: Smartphone Apps Alone Can’t Protect Children

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(Photo credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

(Photo credit: DAMIEN MEYER/AFP/Getty Images)

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MIAMI (CBSMiami) — Some new apps allow parents to use smartphones to protect their children but experts say you shouldn’t rely on technology when it comes to family safety.

Beth Blecherman, founder of TechMamas.com, said there are a growing number of apps that not only track children, but can also restrict which apps kids can use.

“You can actually track your child thru the device. You can put on web filters. You can control access for them not to download any apps at all, you have to approve it,” said Blecherman.

Other apps, such as MamaBear and AppCertain, will tell you what your kids are exposed to online through their phones and who they add as contacts. They will also let you limit their access to the devices.

“With AppCertain, you can actually set curfews for digital devices for the kids and I think that’s really important ’cause kids have a hard time managing their screen time,” said Blecherman.

Some apps monitor kids offline, using GPS to pinpoint their location.

Julia Roberts, a mother, said she wants to know where her children are at all times and counts on a locator app called Life360 to give her peace of mind. The app has other features including one that alerts her to the whereabouts of sexual predators.

“One of the reasons I do it is just so we can monitor their safety,” said Roberts.

But some experts say the monitoring of children can only go so far and when it comes to keeping them safe, there’s nothing more valuable than face-to-face communication.

“No new innovation in technology is going to take the place of those important conversations about ‘what do you do when you’re confronted with a stranger, online, across the street, in the supermarket?’,” said Robin Stern, associate director of Yale University’s Center for Emotional Intelligence.

Experts also say that it’s important for parents and children to agree on the use of apps. Otherwise, children will find ways around them.

Still, Roberts said she is sold on her electronic oversight, adding that her kids think twice about what they do because of it. Her 12-year-old daughter admits that’s true.

“I think of being more careful because my parents would know what I’m doing,” said her daughter, Quinnlin.

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