Best Parental Controls for Mobile Devices
by Jeremy Cleland
When it comes to keeping your kids safe and teaching them how to be responsible on their mobile devices, nothing can replace a trusting relationship and a set of family Internet rules.
Khai Tran, a father of two tween girls who also works in Silicon Valley, says the best safeguard is always trust and communication.
“We let our girls use the Internet freely, meaning they can use a Web browser to Google search anything,” he said. “I've seen parents try to limit the content from YouTube, for example, and this doesn't really work well — smart 8-year-olds find ways around the filter. We do change the password to our iTunes account, which prevents the kids from downloading new apps. They know if it's free, it's normally OK with us — they just ask us and tell us what they're downloading.”
That said, just as mobile devices open up new safety concerns for kids, the same technology can also provide safeguards to improve your peace of mind. Here are some parental safeguards you can put in place to institute digital boundaries:
If your family is all about Apple devices, you can use iOS Restrictions — aka parental controls — for an iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch to prevent access to specific apps such as Safari, Camera or FaceTime. You can also block websites, music, podcasts, movies, TV shows, or even books that you feel aren’t age appropriate. You can also allow content based on the content ratings system for your country.
You need to create a Restrictions passcode to use this iOS feature. If you forget this password, according to the Apple site, “you'll need to erase your device and then set it up as a new device to remove the passcode.” Restoring the device won't remove the passcode.
Cost: Free for Basic, $39.99/year for Premium (more features and allows use on up to five devices use on up to five devices)
If your kids are browsing the Internet across multiple family devices, this might be the best app for you. Mobicip can be used to filter Internet content, set web usage time limits, or to monitor web browsing on iOS, Android, Windows, or Mac mobile devices, as well as Chromebooks, Kindles, or Nooks. You can set up and enable Mobicip on your family’s mobile devices and then remotely manage your settings and monitor Internet and app usage from an easy web-based monitor dashboard, according to the service’s website
You can receive alerts when content is blocked — or allowed — and even override the decision instantly via the app.
For Android users, Kids Place, created by Kiddoware, is a “child lock” that can set web usage time limits and prevent your kids from downloading new apps, making phone calls, texting, or performing other actions that either cost you money or that you feel are not age appropriate.
You will have to create a PIN when you first set up the app, and it is required to exit out of the app.
On the one hand, your kids can find some of their favorite education programs on YouTube — but the site is also teeming with inappropriate content. The YouTube Safety Mode feature is an opt-in setting that enables you to filter out potentially objectionable content via your Account Settings and based on the service’s age restrictions.
Settings advice Scroll to the bottom of any YouTube page and click the drop-down menu in the "safety" section and select "lock safety mode on this browser.”
Jeremy Cleland has been a spokesperson for several Silicon Valley startups, like Tesla Motors, and spearheaded global stories about technology featured in media like Vice, Time magazine, Forbes and Wired.com. He’s also the dad to a 5-year-old who is already more tech-savvy than him.
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