We all have smartphones – we can’t function without them. Now, the majority of children have them too. In fact, by age 12 69% of kids have their own smartphones and that number keeps on rising. For children, smartphones mean YouTube, TikTok, and Discord, but for parents there are real concerns about what else is out there. Not only is there inappropriate content all over the internet, but children also have to face cyberbullying and child predators. However, none of that stops kids from telling their parents how much they want a smartphone – especially if their friends have one already. So, if you feel like it’s the right time to give your child an Android or iPhone (or if you’re concerned about their activity already) we recommend using parental controls to make sure your kids stay safe.
Recommended Parental Control Apps for Android
Millions of families use Bark to help keep their children safe online. That might be because Bark is one of the most advanced parental control tools on the market with artificial intelligence analyzing messages, audio, and images to alert you to any dangers. Bark isn’t the easiest software to install on an Android device, but once connected it immediately begins looking at SMS messages, contacts, apps, photos, video, and browser history – even checking retrospectively. Where Bark really shines is its social media monitoring with Snapchat, Discord, Twitter, and many other networks covered. The software also takes advantage of Android’s GPS location, so you’ll know exactly where your child is. To top it off, Bark is one of the cheapest parental control solutions on the market.
Billing itself as the best free parental control app, Qustodio certainly makes a great case. It’s particularly impressive on Android, allowing parents to block apps, websites, calls, and even read text messages. When it comes to looking more in-depth at your children’s online activity, Qustodio uses Web of Trust to check whether a website they’ve visited is appropriate. Parents can also tackle excessive screen time by using Qustodio’s scheduler. The software even uses the device’s GPS to give kids a panic button they can press when they’re in trouble that gives you their exact location. Although you can get Qustodio for free, it only covers a single device. To cover more you’ll have to pay, and it can get pricey if you want to use it for a large number of devices.
There are many different kinds of parental control software, and KidLogger is a unique service. As you may guess from the name, the software focuses primarily on keylogging – essentially allowing you to read everything your child writes. That’s not the only thing the software logs, though. KidLogger also monitors what websites your child visits, time spent on each app, and overall time spent online. As well as logging what’s written, you can set up KidLogger to take screenshots when certain words are typed and track your child’s location with GPS. It’s possible to get KidLogger for free, but parents can pay to upgrade to cover more than five devices and store bigger logs.
Smartphones for Kids
It’s natural to be cautious when giving your child their first smartphone, especially when you consider all the potential dangers. But there are upsides too. One of the main benefits is that you’ll be able to stay in touch with your child when they’re out of the house and they’ll easily be able to contact you in case of an emergency. Not only that, but you also don’t have to worry about them nagging for a smartphone anymore.
For your kids, it’s a big deal to get a smartphone, as they’ll have access to everything at their fingertips. There’s a huge amount of child-friendly content online, like educational apps and games aimed at every age level. Regardless of their age, they’ll probably spend a lot of time on YouTube and Netflix, which are full of age-appropriate content. No doubt they’ll be interested in using social media too. And although social media is a potential danger, with guidance and even using child-friendly social media platforms you can rest assured your kids are safe.
How To Set up Parental Controls on Android
Android devices already come with useful tools to restrict kids’ activity and to help them stay safe when using their smartphones. You may have come across similar things if you ever used an iPad with your kids before. You can start by setting a limit for the amount of data usage – this will prevent your child from spending too much time online and downloading too many apps or files.
If you have younger kids and they’re ready to use a smartphone, you can use screen pinning. This enables you to keep just one app open at all times and the only way to exit the app is by inputting a password. However, these Android settings aren’t the easiest things to set up, and since they’re not designed to work as parental control software you won’t get in-depth monitoring.
The Google Play Store has its own method of helping parents too. Apps and games on the Play Store have content ratings to help parents understand what they should let their kids use. Ratings go from Everyone (E) to Adults Only (AO) and are maintained by the ESRB. The Play Store also allows you to choose what content ratings can be downloaded from an account. While this is a great help, it only works when downloading apps and doesn’t affect anything else.
Other Ways To Monitor Your Kid’s Phone
You don’t have to rely on your phone’s settings to keep your kids safe, and there are other things you can do. One of the most important things is to discuss how to use a phone safely with your child. Let them know about the potential dangers out there, outline and set boundaries of what they can do and when, and give them some internet safety tips. It’s best to be as open as possible and work together so that you’re both on the same page. If you have a younger child, make sure you don’t leave them unattended while they’re using their phone.
The most comprehensive way to keep your child safe on their phone is to use parental control software. With these tools, you can monitor their every activity by logging texts, analyzing pictures, tracking their GPS location, and more. Or you can be more relaxed with parental control software, just setting it up to alert you when something is a potential issue. So, whether your child is just getting their first phone or has had one for years already, there’s a perfect solution for you.