They are exactly what they sound like, applications or software that allows a user to spy on someone else using the tool that the software operates on. In the case of spy apps, that tool is often a computer, tablet or cell phone.

Whichever the case, the spy app is designed to either capture the data in a recorded file for later retrieval or to take snapshots of the information for spot review. Some Spy Apps actually transmit a running copy of whatever activity is occurring to a separate file and then server connection if the program can get access to the Internet behind the scenes. In any case, these programs are essentially used when one person doesn’t trust another and wants to monitor what is being done electronically. That, of course, creates all sorts of problems in relationships, both personal and professional.

When it comes to parental protection, however, worrying about an emotional reaction to being spied on is not necessarily an overriding challenge. Parents can and sometimes should justify their actions to protect their children, and that includes monitoring their children’s activities in the electronic world with the use of Spy Apps. Part of the issue boils down to psychology – while children and teens are far more willing to take risks, they don’t have the fully developed logic to think through ramifications. No surprise, young people then are far more willing to take risks than mature adults, and it needs to be restrained to avoid those same young people from getting in too deep with what can harm them.

Because electronic devices don’t automatically come with their own free cell phone spy app that automatically provides everything that has occurred on a device, spy programs become a necessity. And everyone knows teens aren’t going to tell their parents everything they do; no one did themselves when they were teens. So it’s a parent’s job to find, monitor and check proactively. This is where spy programs and Spy Apps come into play. Here are a number of Spy Apps options.


For those who may be in Asia, the app ThaiSpy is easily available and functional. This app works on a subscription basis with a cost of $30 a month and tracks everything a person does on a cell phone or tablet having to do with social media, contacts, skype and video phone calls, and texting. Even more advantageous, the app does not require any operating system changes or jail-breaking (i.e. taking it off of a given service) to make the app work. While the program’s home language is Thai, a slight upgrade can include an English translation feature as well.

Couple Tracker

The software was originally designed for partners to spy on each other and make sure they were staying loyal to each other. However, it can also be used on a child’s tool or PDA. By ensuring that the device to be monitored has been set to be consistent with the spying, the program will digitally track what is happening with phone calls, texting, social media activity and GPS locations. All of this can be collected remotely. There are limitations to the program, however. The data collected only includes the first 30 characters of text messages, and the GPS locations are caught in 30-minute cycles. So the data collected may seem disjointed.

Find My Kids—Footprints

Just like the title says, the program is designed to help parents locate their children electronically. The app provides real-time monitoring of a child’s location via GPS and electronic devices. The tracking is automatic and continues as long as the app is working. The data will send a location at any time of the day, including current locations versus just the last one on a cycle update. Unfortunately, the app doesn’t do much else in terms of tracking other activity on a phone or tablet. However, the program will send out a notification if the monitored device leaves a specific area preprogrammed as the desired location. Known as geo-fencing, this features essentially alarms an observer as soon as the device goes astray. This can be particularly useful with teens who say they will be in one location, like a friend’s house overnight, and end up travelling elsewhere.


This one is the professional grade level of a spy phone app, at least in terms of what is available to retail customers. The program will access a target device’s contacts, phone messages, Skype activity, photographs, logs, texting, videos, and even the browser activity. Further, the app can be used to block unacceptable material, which is a neat way of making sure teens aren’t looking at the content they’re not ready for age-wise. It also helps block digital gambling as well. Even better, the program is now available in a bundled form, so a parent can literally buy and provide a teen a phone with the app already integrated into the hardware.

In Summary

In legal terms, it’s important to remember that adults need to consent to be monitored. Otherwise, the observing parent can trigger felony criminal laws in some states. California, for example, can sentence a person up to years in jail and thousands of dollars in penalties for unauthorized digital monitoring. So even being a parent is not a carte blanc permission to spy, even on your own child. Make sure to know the law ahead of time before doing so with an 18-year-old, which is the age of adulthood in most states.