Smart Phone Parental Controls – Android and iOS. How to keep your children safe.

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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

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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

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.)

 

Block Apps

blocked apps

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

web filter

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

text messages

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”.

 

Lock/Unlock

lock-unlock

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.

 

Locate your children
location

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.

 

Safe Driving

safe driving

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

mm1

This is the screen your children will see when their phone is locked. There are 3 buttons available.

  1. Emergency Call – This allows your child to call only the admin numbers that are set up in the app.
  2. 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.

Emergency 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:

  1. 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)
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

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Windows 10 Tips and Tricks

Category : Windows 10

 Here at Clever Technology, almost daily,  we have receive questions and have conversations with our clients about Windows 10 and some if it’s new features. In this article, we have put together a list of the 5 most commonly asked about features and how to make them work.

 

 

2016-01-16

1. Cortana – Your virtual assistant.

Many people don’t realize that one of the most powerful new features of Windows 10 is Cortana, Microsoft’s answer to Apple’s Siri. Originally only available on mobile devices, she has finally made the jump to the desktop. Cortana is now your new search companion and can enhance your everyday tasks. What can she do for you? She can set reminders, ask questions, get directions, search the internet for information, track your packages, manage your calendar, and tell you jokes to name a few.

However, if you truly want to make her your personal assistant, you need to be able to talk to Cortana. By default, she does not listen for your voice commands.

If you’d love to be able to bark commands to your computer, click the white search bar in your taskbar, and when Cortana opens, click the cogwheel to to open the settings.

From there, turn on the option “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts, and more“. Once enabled, Cortana will walk you though setting up the voice recognition. Remember, you’ll need a microphone for all of this to work.

The nice folks over at Lifehacker.com have put together a comprehensive list of commands that you can use to control your new personal assistant.

 

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2. Customize your Start menu

Lets get crackin’ on making that start menu yours. In Windows 10, Microsoft brought back the traditional Start Menu but also incorporated the Live Tiles from Windows 8. You can right click on any of the Live Tiles and choose Resize to change its size to one of your choosing just like you could in Windows 8.

In addition, if you can’t stand the look of the live tiles, when you right click the tile, you can choose the option to ‘unpin’ the tile and make it go awayBefore you know it, you can have your Start Menu looking just like it did in Windows 7.

After you’ve removed apps from your start menu, you can replace them with any app that you so desire. Its as easy as ‘drag & drop’. Click ‘Start’ and go to ‘All Apps’, from there you can simply grab the app you want on your start menu and drag it over to the live tile area and drop it anywhere your heart desires. Customization was never so easy as it is now.

 

 

4. Turn off the Quick Access View in File Explorer

One of the very first things I noticed when I upgraded to Windows 10 was the change to how files were displayed. When I first opened File Explorer I was lost and it took me a couple of minutes to figure out what I was looking at. Microsoft made it easier than ever to find your most recently used files. When you click your folder icon in the taskbar, this is what you see. As you use your computer, the most commonly used files and folders will populate here. As mush as I love it, some people do not. If you would like to revert the look back to a more traditional feel, its pretty easy to do.

Open File Explorer, then select View > Options from the Ribbon. A Folder Options window will open. Click the “Open File Explorer” drop-down menu at top, then select the “This PC” option. Click OK and you’re done!

 

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5. Move Windows across Virtual Desktops

Probably my all time favorite new feature of Windows 10 is Virtual Desktops. This new feature allows you to have multiple desktops, all with different content. Basically you can segregate your apps into different ‘desktops’ on your computer. Lets say for example, on one desktop you could have all of your Internet browser windows while on another desktop you could have all of your Word and Excel apps open. The possibilities are endless. It really gives you the feel of having multiple computers.

To move apps from one desktop to another is fairly easy. you can use the ‘Task View’ button that is in your taskbar (Right next to Cortana) or you can use Windows key + Tab. Once the vitual dekstop view is opened, just use your mouse to grab the window you want to move and drag it to the desktop of your choosing.

 

And as always, thank you for being a client with Clever Technology!