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Android Parental Control Apps

Parental Controls Guide 2011
By

The Internet might be one of mankind's greatest achievements, but it can be a very dangerous place for kids if proper supervision isn't available. We look at parental controls for social networking sites, mobile devices, and your home network.

The Android platform doesn’t come with parental controls like in iOS. The only native functionality is content filtering for the Android Market app to help prevent youngsters from downloading inappropriate apps. By doing some searching first hand I can tell you this doesn’t do the best filtering job, but it’s better than nothing. You can protect the filtering settings with a PIN—separate from the lock screen PIN. This feature was added in May of 2011, so if you have an older device you might have to update the Android Market app.

To set the content filtering, open Market, tap Menu > Settings and then on the top under Content Filtering, tap Set level. You can set a maturity level and then tap the small lock in the upper right corner to set a PIN to protect the settings.

Fortunately, you can add more app controls and filtering with third-party apps:

Trendmicro Mobile Security for Android (Free): This is an anti-virus and web security app that also provides filtering and parental controls. Use Internet content filtering to automatically block inappropriate sites in the web browser regardless of the Internet connection (Wi-Fi or cell), based upon three predefined levels. Includes call and message filtering to block or allow specific and/or anonymous numbers. You can even define an action for blocked incoming calls/messages, such as rejection only or rejection and auto-send a text message reply. You can also view logs of the filtering and call/message blocking incidences. But keep in mind, there is no online portal or control panel, you must configure and view the logs via the app on the monitored phone.

BullGuard Mobile Security ($29.95): This is another anti-virus and security app that includes parental controls. Though it doesn’t offer web filtering, it does include call blocking and lets you monitor and log pictures, messaging, calls, and GPS location. It also offers web-based access to the settings and logs via the BullGuard Mobile Security Manager.

Safe Browser (Free): This is a web browser that has integrated content filtering, regardless of the Internet connection (Wi-Fi or cell). You can choose the site categories to block, such as adult material, weapons, malware, and social networks. You can also add specific sites to allow or block. However, this doesn’t automatically disable the stock Android web browser. You could try to manually remove it (not easy) or use an app locker, like discussed next.

Application Protection (Free): This is an app locker to protect an unlimited number of individual apps with a password or a pattern like the Android system supports. You might use this in conjunction with other filtering or parental control apps. Consider locking the Market so they can’t download apps, Settings so they can’t change the system, or Android Browser if you’re using another one like Safe Browser.

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  • 2 Hide
    oak3 , July 29, 2011 6:44 PM
    Apple's parental controls are nearly worthless for parents. I put a filter setting in for my children's iPod Touches and they can't install, but they can still see the cover art on sexually oriented apps and read the comments on them. Apple has the ability to hide these since the database obviously contains the rating for the app, but instead they choose to let the apps be displayed in plain site by children whose parents don't want them to even know those apps exist. If anyone knows different, please let me know. I'd love for Tom's to explore this and get a response from Apple. I've complained and talked with tech support but to no avail.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , July 30, 2011 7:02 PM
    your all evil this "Parental Control Guide" sounds good at the beginning but after reading all of it sounds like your trying to control your kids lifes why would you do that i know your worried about your kids and you want the best for them but thats going too far if my life was being controlled like that i wouldn't like it and i am shore you all wouldn't either so don't do this to your kids
  • 3 Hide
    Anonymous , July 31, 2011 5:52 AM
    What happened to the good old days of kids just being kids?

    These spoilt children have anything they want thesedays. And then you have parents blaiming companies for the "lack of parental controls". Such Irony.
  • 1 Hide
    someguynamedmatt , July 31, 2011 3:23 PM
    Just Wanted to Say a WordWhat happened to the good old days of kids just being kids?These spoilt children have anything they want thesedays. And then you have parents blaiming companies for the "lack of parental controls". Such Irony.


    Society is now a government controlled hell. That's all there is to it. Won't be much longer 'till shit hits the fan and something breaks down. Once everything breaks loose, who knows what will come out of it... if we're lucky, it will turn back the clock to how things functioned back a couple hundred years ago when people actually had to live to survive, and society didint act as an absolute block to natural selection.

    On a less apocalyptic note, some of you people need to stop sheltering your children. I'm gonna put this in all caps so it gets through your likely thick heads: IF YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR KID LIVE CUT OFF FROM THE REAL WORLD FOR HIS WHOLE LIFE, YOU SHOULDNT HAVE BOUGHT HIM AN IPOD. MULTIPLE ONES, AT THAT. I see that as sheer ignorance on your part - you buy your kid an overpriced MP3 player/video recorder and then start whining to no end because your 'parental controls' don't work they way you feel they should. Either don't get involved with it at all, or suck it up and let your kid see what life is like outside of home.
  • 3 Hide
    amk-aka-Phantom , July 31, 2011 9:41 PM
    Quote:
    Keep in mind there are always ways around parental controls and filtering. Most solutions aren’t necessarily weak but there’s only so much they can block. A tech savvy kid could, for example, connect to a neighbor’s Wi-Fi to bypass OpenDNS filtering, use a proxy or VPN program to bypass filtering, or insert a Linux Live CD into his or her computer to bypass program and usage restrictions. Plus when they’re out and about they could use someone else’s PC or mobile phone.


    And that renders all the "parental control" BS useless. In 90% of the families I've met, kids control the PC and what goes on it, 'cause most of the parents don't even know what a DNS or a user account is. Serves them right - never had any "parental controls" on my PC when I was a kid, but was smart enough myself to stay out of trouble on the net. I say, to hell with parental controls - let the internets challenge the kid. If he can't manage his virtual life, he won't do well IRL, either.
  • 0 Hide
    pwrhamr , August 3, 2011 1:36 AM

    Quote:
    IF YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR KID LIVE CUT OFF FROM THE REAL WORLD FOR HIS WHOLE LIFE


    Making sure your 7-11 year old kid doesnt watch porn or go to sites you dont approve of isnt hiding them from the real world. Actually I cant remember the last time I went to the doctors office and had a threesome.

    Quote:
    What happened to the good old days of kids just being kids?
    These spoilt children have anything they want thesedays. And then you have parents blaiming companies for the "lack of parental controls".


    Who's blaming anyone?
    And having access to the world isnt spoilt, its exactly what National Geographic has done forever. My kids, when online are not just staring at a TV. They are learning and problem solving through games and reference sites.

    Quote:
    I say, to hell with parental controls - let the internets challenge the kid. If he can't manage his virtual life, he won't do well IRL, either.


    Bullpucky. Kids will do just fine. Computers are only a portion of what a child learns. Parental Controls just give us the ability to help guide them when online.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 16, 2012 1:03 PM
    We use openDNS, and allow our 9 year old daughter to roam YouTube.... But we do monitor her emails and talk abotu some of the nastiness that she's already been exposed to:
    1) Her cousin thought it would be funny to send on a porn link that someone else had sent her. Thank goodness it was just a login screen, and the iPod couldnt render the rich flash background that accompanied it on a PlayBook or PC.
    2) A chain letter was circulated, containing some vicious and disgusting consequences it it weren't sent on immediately. We had conversations with the other parents (she sent it on because she couldn't get a response from my wife or I within the expiry), and I emailled some debunk links to the hundreds of addresses (bcc) on the chain, reminding them that some of those email addresses are school children. Surprisingly, I only got two snarky comments back.
    We talk about healthy choices, and stuff that's on the internet that's appropriate, silly, tasteless, or just plain wrong, and to close the browser if you end up at something inappropriate.

    Scary, but they do need to learn self-control at some point... Given some of the conversations that I've heard about from the school yard, Grade 4 is already a scary place.

    My 2 cents....

  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , January 26, 2012 11:07 AM
    Hello, i've been using ParentalFlux platform for some time, you can check them at www.parentalflux.com. In the past i tested 3 parental controls tools and some are not working or is easily surpassed by my child's. ParentalFlux have nice plans and a good support team. Also the features are ok for the price. They have a very nice widget for panic alerts. Useful in case of an emergency.

    Best regards,
    Anna.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , April 3, 2012 12:17 AM
    Wow, some harshness towards responsible parents that want their children to experience the advantages that technology provides with out needlessly risking their exposure to the unfiltered adult world.

    I am using "Kids Place Free" on my 5 year old daughter's Galaxy Player. It is basically a glorified app drawer that is locked with a PIN. I choose the apps she can use. Very simple, effective.

    I am not trying to control a teenager while driving them to find new and creative ways to thwart me. I hope that my children will have learned enough by then to know how to handle themselves. Basically, they will be able to view the unfettered internet, they just won't have credit cards :)  Not being ignorant, I got into just about anything you could imagine, and quite a few you probably can't. Doesn't mean I want my kids to, doesn't mean I don't think they will find their own trouble, but I will provide a safe environment for them to learn.

    Thanks for the reviews, I will check out the Trend Micro.

  • 0 Hide
    android4john , April 28, 2012 11:37 PM
    Well, parental control or not parental control will always be a good topic for debate. I think each child is different, and each parent is different too. I personally want my kids protected before they become adults, particularly for mobile devices. It is not like PC, at least you can see what they are doing. Once you give a smartphone or a tablet to your kids, you have no idea what are happening. I have two kids and I have tried many parental control softwares for Android. I would highly recommend Funamo. I have only used it for one week and already loving it. It block out porn sites and inappropriate youtube, support safesearch. You can add black list for facebook, twitter. You can also set time slots for apps, for example, games. Really cool stuff. You can download it from Google play. https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=funamo.funamo or check their website http://funamo.com

    Happy parenting :-)
  • 0 Hide
    android4john , April 28, 2012 11:53 PM
    By the way, agree that apple's parental control is useless.
  • 0 Hide
    Anonymous , November 10, 2012 12:12 AM
    "On a less apocalyptic note, some of you people need to stop sheltering your children. I'm gonna put this in all caps so it gets through your likely thick heads: IF YOU WANT TO HAVE YOUR KID LIVE CUT OFF FROM THE REAL WORLD FOR HIS WHOLE LIFE, YOU SHOULDNT HAVE BOUGHT HIM AN IPOD. MULTIPLE ONES, AT THAT. I see that as sheer ignorance on your part - you buy your kid an overpriced MP3 player/video recorder and then start whining to no end because your 'parental controls' don't work they way you feel they should. Either don't get involved with it at all, or suck it up and let your kid see what life is like outside of home."

    That's just stupid logic. It is perfectly feasible and possible to buy an iphone/ipad/ipod for a kid and then set restrictions and limits for him/her which he/she can't cross. Why can't you get that through your think head? If the kid broke those boundaries, then the thing to blame is definitely the software not the parent.
  • 0 Hide
    mabarkerof2 , December 1, 2012 4:05 PM
    I love some of these comments because I choose to enforce parental controls. I should just let porn flow freely on my 12 year old sons iPod and give him a fist bump when he saves a real 'sweet piece'. Should I just light him a joint too? This line of etiquette and what's appropriate is disappearing. This is why rotten crappy kids talk back to way they do with zero respect for adults. They are treated like adults when they should be raised, disciplined, and taught like the children they are. I don't agree with the bubble mentality but I would never treat my child like I treated my 40 year old friend... why would you as a parent? So as I choose to stay involved in my kids lives and make every attempt to raise a well rounded ethical contributor to society, you can just have back and blame society later for wronging you.
  • 0 Hide
    docbadwrench , May 22, 2013 6:44 PM
    Also, please bear in mind that some parents (like me) have a child with impulse control issues. He knows it. We know it. And, during adolescence, when his brain is being rewired and he's coming into adulthood, it's important that parents respond to the reality of their child's situation, not just a 'one size fits all' approach.

    Cap'n all-caps might be fortunate to know (or have) a child that can properly regulate their behavior. However, all kids are different. This is merely a *tool* - among many - to help them. I might also add that THE most bone-stupid parenting advice I have received is a) from the childless, and b) from any given comment thread.
  • 0 Hide
    Ryan Park , September 25, 2013 11:27 PM
    Or take a look at the only parental control app that motivates kids to do chores! http://goo.gl/5KL2BI
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