uKnowKids: Not Worth Your Time
At one time, we reviewed a great monitoring service called uKnowKids. We gave it four and a half out of five stars. But two and a half years later, we decided to revisit the app and see if it still deserves the praise. Unfortunately, it does not. Trying to set up uKnowKids was such a headache, we can no longer recommend it to our readers.
According to their site, uKnowKids will provide you with a parent dashboard where you can see all of your kid’s incoming and outgoing texts, their location, their Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram activity, as well as activity on other social media sites, any pictures they’ve uploaded, and analytics on their hourly smartphone use, including who they’ve been talking to. It also claims that it can find any online accounts you may not know about by simply entering their email address and usernames they’ve used in the past. It even provides definitions for slang and abbreviations used in their texts. You can see all of this in a demo dashboard before committing to a payment plan of $5.75-$8.25/month.
Now, if only their service worked as well as their demo. The editorial team started running into problems from step one. When we started the free trial, we were asked to associate my child’s Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts with the dashboard. It gives you a warning that before you hit “login with Facebook” you should log out of your own account, but it’s very easy to miss. If you’re still logged in to your own Facebook account, even if you click “cancel” when Facebook asks you to authorize uKnowKids, you cannot change which Facebook account is associated with the app later. Keep in mind, however, your child doesn’t need to have an account on one of these social media apps for you to utilize the monitoring software. But, as we found, it doesn’t work, regardless.
The biggest issue came when it asked for a phone number. The software needs a phone number so it can send you a registration code that you can enter into the app when you download it. However, the site thought that every phone number we entered was already associated with our child’s account. We took it a step further and collected phone numbers from the office staff and all of those numbers were already associated with their service, as well. Clearly this was a huge problem. Without a working phone number, it wasn’t possible to set up the uKnowKids monitoring app. Unfortunately, we couldn’t investigate the service any further because, without the monitoring app on the device, there was no way to use it. The average parent wouldn’t have patience for any of this.
Because the demo looks so impressive, and we gave it such a high rating in 2012, we were expecting to see that it was still a quality product, but we started to have our doubts when we saw that some of the definitions they provided for slang and abbreviations were entirely off. For instance, the demo defined “troll” as “a slang term for LSD and MDMA.” The most common definition of a “troll” is someone who leaves annoying and/or offensive comments to provoke other people online. While the definition referring to LSD and MDMA appears to not be entirely false, it is so obscure that if you came across the word “troll” in your kid’s texts, you should not assume they are talking about drug abuse.
It was extremely disappointing to see that this service failed to do what it promised. Sadly, uKnowKids was a flop. We’re optimistic there will be a service we can recommend. Stay tuned!