The age when kids are given their first phones is getting younger and younger. Surprisingly, the average age is about eight years old when a child gets his first smartphone with full data plan.
Even though the children might be technically capable of using an Android phone or tablet, there’s still some things out there on the web that kids shouldn’t see at that age. Not to mention there’s a potential for the youngsters to spend a lot of money if there’s a credit card attached to the Google Account being used on the device. This leaves a need for parental control on Android devices.
Android Apps to Add Parental Controls
A good place to start when looking to add parental control on Android devices is to add an application to limit what they can and can’t do. Also, being able to monitor the web activity and what is happening when the child is on the phone or tablet can be good information to have.
Kaspersky Parental Control (Free)
Kaspersky makes some pretty great computer security software. They took their knowledge of protection and applied it to parental control on Android devices. One feature a lot of parents will really like is that the app cannot be uninstalled without a code. The code is something the parent can create and keep in case the application does need to be uninstalled for legitimate reasons or changes need to be made to the settings. This app will allow the blocking of websites and also block the usage of applications. When the application is installed by the user or installed over the air from the wireless carrier, a code needs to be entered to allow the application to be used.
SmyleSafe: Parental Controls ($2.97)
SmyleSafe is a pretty new parental control app for Android. Some pretty usable and unique features are all packaged together as one application. For example, Geofencing is fantastic for parents who like to know where their children are at all times. You can set up a geographical area and be notified if the child leaves this area. Another great feature is the option to set time restrictions to prevent your child from browsing the Internet during school hours or bedtime. Parents can log into a web-based dashboard to see each and every activity your child performs. If they try to go around the age-based filtering, you’ll know what they tried to do.
Other Ways to Add Parental Controls
Sometimes it’s not necessarily what the children are doing on their Android device that worries parents; it might be the potential to spend a bunch of extra money or download applications that aren’t allowed. Here are some ways to limit how they can access applications.
New Google Account and a PIN
When first starting out with an Android device, you are asked to add a Gmail address. Instead of adding a currently active Google Account, you could simply start up another free Google Account. By starting up a brand-new Google Account, you won’t have to worry about the children ” accidentally” buying applications, songs or movies on your credit card. If you choose to, you can always add a credit card and/or Google Play gift card to this account so they can purchase applications or other media.
Another good way to limit access to the Google Play Store is to add a PIN number to be able to see or download apps based on their ratings. When attempting to purchase an application, it can be required to enter the PIN number for each purchase. This setting is in the Google Play Store app under the Settings tab. You should see the option to create a PIN. Once it is created, you will be able to limit the content and purchases.
Prepaid Credit Cards/Gift Cards
Adding a prepaid credit card to the Google account can be a great way to limit spending. When I say prepaid credit card, I don’t mean one of the gift cards with a predetermined amount from a specific store such as Target and Walmart. The prepaid gift cards often carry the VISA logo and can be purchased at many different locations such as gas stations and large chain stores like Walgreens. These cards are reloadable and act just like a debit card but do not require a bank account. Keep an eye out for the fees charged by some of these cards though; they can nickel and dime you to a zero balance quickly with the various fees.
For some reason there isn’t an abundance of options for parental control on Android. I would think there’d be more but was actually surprised at how few good options are out there. As with most things in parenting, a little creativity can go a long way in making sure your children are safe from things they just aren’t ready for.
How do you make sure your kids don’t get into things they aren’t supposed to on their Android devices?