Cell Phone Parental Control Options
The Question of Cell Phone Parental Control
For some, the idea of monitoring a kid's cell phone is wrong. It's too controlling. It's equivalent to spying and that flies in the face of trusting your kids. For some, it seems that cell phone parental control is a crutch for not taking the time to develop the relationship you need with your child and teaching them the skills they need to be safe.
For many others, however, the ability to monitor and perhaps restrict cell phone use is merely good parenting. It's the equivalent of checking attendance at school, the completion of homework, meeting your child's friends, and knowing their social schedule. Cell phones have taken much of a child's social interactions out of the reach and awareness of parents; parental controls and monitoring applications bring it back.
Why Would a Parent Want to Monitor or Control Cell Phone Use?
Some reports show that as many as 69% of kids between 11 and 14 have their own cell phones while over 30% between 8 and 10 do. The issue of using parental controls is, therefore, an issue for most parents to consider.
Certainly, any tools used have to suit an individual's parenting style. However, the argument for at least some degree of control is fairly compelling for most parents, at least until a certain level of responsibility and maturity has been demonstrated.
- For some parents, just being able to place limits on text messaging is critical to stay within a budget. Younger and younger kids are using cell phones. Many of these kids don't yet have a good grasp on the economics of the situation.
- With nearly all of the traditional cell phones having web browsers, this means that many kids have unrestricted access to most of the content on the web.
- In most instances, these phones also give kids a camera and the ability to send, receive, and post picture messages, even if they aren't appropriate.
- Many phones also give kids access to buy things; apps and more with just a click.
- Certainly, news stories have spelled out the lure and dangers of "sexting". Many kids don't fully understand the implications of sending out revealing pictures and can live to regret such errors in judgment. Any embarrassing or inappropriate text or picture messages are particularly harmful because they are so easily broadcast to large numbers of others so quickly. It can be deadly.
- Another frequent media report is regarding cyberbullying. It's so easy for bullies to target a child when that communication is silent and hidden from adults.
- Then, of course, there are the predators. They lurk around, they know how to befriend children, and how to lure them when no adult is watching.
- Finally, there is the issue of teens phone use when beginning to drive. If the good decision making and reliability aren't there yet, parents have reason to worry about the safety of their kids on the road.
There's no doubt that cell phone parental control software and downloads can't substitute for educating kids about cell phone etiquette and the risks. However, like any skill, it might be best to teach, monitor, correct, and only then turn kids loose.
Education Is the First and Most Important Safeguard
Regardless how one feels about the use of parental controls, the first thing a parent needs to do with young children is to assure they know how to use the phone safely and responsibly. Of course the same is true with the use of tablets and computers.
At a minimum, kids need to know:
- Usage and spending limits. Most downloads cost and they need to be particularly wary of recurring payments.
- If and when they should use WiFi.
- If there are texting or calling limits, or times of day when their phone is not to be used.
- Not to respond to unknown callers/numbers.
- To avoid posting videos and photos of others without their permission.
- That you should be notified if they are bullied in any way or if unknown persons are contacting them.
- That any texts and photos they send could potentially be made public.
Parents need to think through what the rules and limits will be and then make sure their child is aware of those limits.
Parental Controls for Younger Kids
Parental Controls for your kid's phone is often all about the apps. Here are a few ideas to keep young kids safe.
- Some phones have built-in parental controls. The Kurio Smartphone, for example, has GPS to keep track of kids, allows you to set up safe web surfing, and allows parents to monitor calls, messaging, contacts, and more.
- A basic phone without browsing capabilities can help assure your kid won't access bad content. The Nokia 130 is an example.
- Android phones have available to them a great parental control app. Kids Mode allows parents to limit usage and content. It also offers access to plenty of fun and safe game content. It's PIN protected so your kids can't disable it.
- For kids with an iPhone, parents can go to Settings and enable Restrictions via their own passcode. They can disable apps, limit access to certain types of content, adjust privacy settings, disable multiplayer games, and more.
- Of course, there are quite a number of Parental Control apps out there. MMGuardian allows parents to set time limits, block apps, texts, calls, filter access to web content, locate their child via GPS, set up alerts and more.
- Apps like Qustudio and Net Nanny Social give parents more control and monitoring of social network activity to help prevent problems with predators, cyberbullying, and so forth.
- NetSanity allows parents to block apps and certain types of web content, block texts and calls, remotely lock the screen, set data limits, time limits, set up GPS location, and more.
Parental Controls Regarding the Use of Cell Phones When Driving
There are several products that work to eliminate dangerous cell phone use, both texting and calling while driving.
- One option is Drive Safe Mode. It blocks cell phone use (while allowing emergency calls) and sends alerts to parents if it is shut off. It works with both Android and iOS.
- Another product is Cell Control. It can block phone use while driving. It also provides speed alerts and reports routes, feedback based on harsh braking and cornering, speed, and more. It works with both Android and iOS and is a monthly subscription.
Cellular Providers Offer Some Control
Of course, most cellular service providers also give parents tools that can help protect their kids.
- AT&T offers SmartLimits. It allows you to block cellular data, limit phone use to certain times of day, set purchase and text limits, block numbers and more.
- Though Family Allowances, T-Mobile allows parents to set allowances for minutes, messages, and downloads and set up Never Allowed numbers to restrict calls and next. They can even block certain times during the day to block all calls and texts.
- Verizon has FamilyBase which gives parents the power to set data usage limits, schedule when calls, text, and data can be used, monitor use and set alerts to see who is connecting with their kids. In addition, they can block unwanted contacts, apps, and web content.
- Cell phone parental controls from Sprint provide the ability to block/restrict web access, block unwanted numbers, block downloads, and restrict incoming and outgoing calls completely or from a list.
Do You Use Any Type of Parental Controls for Your Kid's Phone?
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2009 Christine Mulberry