Smart Phone Parental Controls – Android and iOS. How to keep your children safe.
The internet is not the same place it was when we were kids. In this day in age, with all kinds of new social media platforms, apps, and websites, it is becoming tougher and tougher to keep tabs on what our kids are doing online. Utilizing Parental Controls is the answer.
Here at Clever Technology, more and more we are getting asked questions like “How do I keep tabs on what my child is doing on their phone?” or “Is there a way to see what my child is texting?” The answer to both questions is YES!
When it comes to parental controls, maybe you didn’t know they existed or maybe you don’t know what to use. I would like to share an app with you that we use on our children’s devices and it is the app we recommend to our clients. While there is no perfect solution when it comes to parental controls, we have have found it to be almost the perfect solution for keeping tabs on our children.
*Editor's note: Clever Technology is not affiliated or partnered with MMGuardian. This is an app that we use and recommend to our clients.
MMguardian is an easy to use app you can download from the Google Play Store and the Apple Store respectively. Once installed, you have almost complete control over your child’s device. There are 4 versions of the app available. One is for the parents, another for Android, and the third for Apple, and the fourth is for tablets. All of your devices are covered.
Some of the useful features of this app are:
Set Time Limits
Getting in trouble at school for texting and playing games? Staying up late texting friends? Not anymore!
With this app you can set schedules on when your child can use their phone. You can even lock the phone during certain times. As you can see from the picture above, I have a few different schedules that I have setup for each of my children. During the week, their phones lock at 9pm and don’t unlock until 8am the next morning. In addition I have schedules that are configured for how long they can use certain apps. For example, my son, if allowed, would spend most of his day watching Youtube videos. With MMguardian, I can control how much time he can spend inside the Youtube app and when that time expires, he’s done for the day. (Every app on the phone is time controllable.)
You can use the time limits to control what apps your child has access to or any any access if at all. You can block apps permanently or assign them to time schedules. We use this section to block assess to apps that we don’t deem appropriate for our children to have access to.
Block Websites containing Porn, Adult or other inappropriate content
This is a really nice feature. You can prevent your children from accessing sites with inappropriate content. You can choose the defaults based on presets for age ranges or you can choose manually. Its up to you. In addition, MMGuardian has a built in web browser and allows you to disable access to other browsers such as Chrome and forces them to use the MMGuardian browser thus enforcing the web filters. Bye bye incognito mode and deleting history! The complete MMGuardian Web Filter and Safe Browser solution includes detailed reports, accessible from the parent web portal, about all sites that have been viewed and attempts that were blocked.
Text Message Monitoring
You can monitor the text messages that are sent and received on your child device. You can also click the name and read the actual messages that are sent and received. From the parent portal you can see who they are texting, when, and what they are texting. This is a really nice feature. One thing to note is that by default this is not enabled in the app but turning on the detailed SMS reports is as easy as flipping a switch. Also, you can prevent sexting and bullying by being alerted when a message is sent or received that contains words that you deem inappropriate and have added to the “black list”.
We used to threaten to take away our kids phone when they were misbehaving. I’m sure you’ve been down this road as well. With this feature, with a click of a button, you can lock their phone and render is virtually useless. Time increments are anywhere from 15 minutes to the rest of the day. Same goes for the unlock feature.
Another nifty feature we use all the time. In the parent portal, I can view the last known location of my child, which is accurate up to about 10 feet. The map is interactive and you can zoom in and out. They also include an update location button so if it hasn’t updated in a while you can easily get the latest information. MMGuardian also has a track location feature that allows you to set intervals for location updates so you can see where they were in the past.
Texting and driving is becoming a huge problem. For those of you who have kids of driving age, this will be an invaluable feature. When Safe Driving is enabled, MMGuardian will lock the phone when it detects that it is moving at over 10 mph by using GPS based speed data provided by the phone. Once it is locked, the phone user can only take incoming calls from the Admin number(s). Any incoming text message will receive an automatic response generated by MMGuardian. In order for this feature to work, GPS has to be enabled on the phone. If not, MMGuardian will lock the phone every 30 seconds.
The lock screen
This is the screen your children will see when their phone is locked. There are 3 buttons available.
- Emergency Call – This allows your child to call only the admin numbers that are set up in the app.
- Emergency Text – This allows your child to send a text message to the admin numbers that are set up in the app. In addition to the text message, the parents will receive GPS coordinates and a link to google maps to see where their child is at the exact moment they sent the text.
Now that we have talked about some of the great features of this app, I would like to point out a couple things that this app lacks and I hope they implement in the future:
- MMGuardina requires data/wifi in order to send and receive commands but there is not a feature to controll the data usage of the phone. It would be nice to enforce a policy for data usage so when my child hits a certain point it will shut down the data for the phone (but keep data going for the MMGuardian app)
- GPS Control – I would like to have the ability to lock the GPS function of the phone in the ‘ON’ position. Even though this app relies on GPS info for location services. Your child has the ability to turn off the GPS.
- Picture messages – Even though MMGuardian can show you all the text messages sent and received, it does not show you picture messages. If you suspect that your child is sending or receiving inappropriate picture messages you’ll have to make that determination from the context of the text messages. I’m sure this is this way by design due to the fact the inappropriate picture messages of minors being viewed by adults would constitute violations of all kinds of laws and to which I completely agree with. However, it is worth a mention as this may not cross the minds of some parents initially.
- We discovered this last week when our kids were out of school due to the weather. If you have a schedule set to block certain apps during certain times (i.e. apps during school hours) and you perform a master override to unlock the phone from the portal, it will not override the schedule to block the apps. So you will have to go in and disable the schedule that blocks the apps.
I’ve listed some of the most useful features that are included with this app and there are several more features to explore. If you would like to find out more head over to MMGuardian.com to learn more and sign up for this awesome app. They offer a free 14 day trial so you can check it out and see if it will work for you. After the trial, to continue using the software, there is a $3.99 a month subscription. If you have more than 2 devices that you want to protect then you may want to go for the “Family Plan” which is $7.99 a month and covers up to 5 devices.
Now, if setting up parental controls for your devices is something that you’re not ready to tackle, and you would like someone to take care of it for you. Then head over to our Contact-Us page and send us a message. We’ll be more than happy to get a Remote Support Session started and walk you through your account setup, configuration, and get you ready to go in no time at all.
And as always,
Thank you for being a client with Clever Technology.