It’s that time of year when many users, particularly kids have new devices in their pockets. What this means for parents who’ve just moved to the world of connected kids is concern over what they may be accessing.
There are a number of options available across the Android platform to help you keep tabs on your kids’ digital lives, and today we’ll take a quick look at a few.
Google Family Link
This is the obvious option given its part of the Android ecosystem. You set up the parental app on your device/s and your kids then require permission to install apps. The other controls include:
- Visibility on their location (providing they have an active data connection)
- Visibility of their app usage
- Control over their daily screen time
- You can see what devices — including smart speakers — your childs account is active on
Being a Google product the big bonus here is that (for now at least) the service is free. There are some drawbacks though, a big one that a number of parents are encountering is the inability to allow your kids to access YouTube.
There’s also the requirement to share more data with Google which some parents may be uncomfortable with.
Fortunately, there are a number of other options available.
FamiSafe: Parental Control App & Location Tracker
FamiSafe is an app that has pretty good ratings on the Play Store, particularly for a paid app.
The feature set is extremely broad including:
- Location tracking, including geofencing to track when kids leave a designated zone
- Monitor phone usage, including time in individual apps and installed/uninstalled apps
- Schedule total screen time, or limit use of individual apps
- Web filter capable
- Suspicious activity detection and alerts focussing on photos and messages (through multiple platforms)
- Recently they’ve also added driver tracking: Speed, drive time and potential incidents such as hard braking.
Unlike the Family Link offering from Google, FamiSafe is a comprehensive, cross-platform offering. This covers Android, iOS, iPad OS, PC, Mac and even Kindles. This comes at a cost though, $35.99 per year for up to 30 devices being covered.
Norton: Family Protect
Coming in at US$39.99 per year, this is another cross-platform offering with offerings on Windows, iOS and Android. As with the others, you’ll find a comprehensive feature set that will set the minds of most parents at ease.
- Web activity (including “School time” to only allow educational need sites) and time control to ensure your kids aren’t visiting the wrong places online.
- Supervision on apps like YouTube where you can see what they’re watching.
- Check what apps your kids are installing, uninstalling and the option to require permission from an adult to do so.
Parents can choose to get alerts via the app immediately, via email or both when something (of your choosing) occurs. This can range from a child attempting to access a blocked site to installing apps and their location being somewhere unexpected or unwanted.
There are dozens more available via the Play Store, or if you search the web for Parental Control Apps. The decision to make is if you want a free or paid option and whether you want cross-platform functionality or just something to monitor mobile usage for younger kids.
What features would you want to help you monitor and control your children’s online activities?