So many parents have all kinds of rules about their kids’ use of the internet:
- Allow use only in the living room, or other visible-to-parents place
- Control time online using tools like the Cisco wireless router, which allows parents to turn off specific devices on the network at specific times.
- Restrict which sites can be visited, enforced by special programs such as Nanny Net.
But with a recent Pew survey showing that 78 percent of 12- to 17-year-olds have mobile phones, and 47 percent of those devices are smartphones, how many of those parents are monitoring their kids online time when they’re not on a computer. (In other words: most of their kids’ time.)
Verizon Wireless has a way – as app called FamilyBase which helps parents keep track of their children’s phone use. FamilyBase allows parents to monitor who their children are talking and texting with, what apps they’re using and for how long, and when all the activity is taking place. Other features include:
- View call and text data, contacts and app usage on all operating systems
- Set time restrictions on a device during school hours or bedtime
- Set trusted contacts the children can call and text
- Remotely lock the phone for up to 30 minutes
Personally, I think that with a family plan, these features should be free, but I guess $5 a month (for up to ten lines – sorry Duggars, nine of your 19 kids won’t be able to get it!) it’s worth it.
Of course, Verizon isn’t the only one thinking about Smartphone Safety for Kids, AT&T has Smart Controls, which allows parents to block certain callers, set monthly limits on data usage and texting and more. If you’re uncomfortable with looking at your child’s texts, (and you’re an AT&T csutomer, rather than a Verizon one) this might be for you.
There are carrier-agnostic options, too, check out these other apps that can help you keep track of your kid, and to keep your kid on track:
Sprint Drive: If you have a teenager who is starting to drive, this app is fantastic. Automatically holds all calls and texts if the phone is going over 10 miles an hour. (so unless your kid is Hussein Bolt, he’d need to be in a car.) Not quite sure how it works if your kid in a passenger…but it’s a start.
MacGruff Safguard: A parental control browser and internet filter (for iOS devices only)
Norton Family: The free version allows parents to track the websites kids visit, or attempt to visit, block access to inappropriate websites
and get an email alerts to notify them when their kids attempt to do something they shouldn’t. The paid version offers even more control – including monitoring of texts and emails.
- Navigating Children’s Smartphone Use in the 2010s (cedailynews.com)