Helping Parents Control Children’s Smartphone Use

Tips and tricks to help parents monitor and manage their children's use of technology.

By on January 23, 2014

According to a Pew Internet Survey, one in four teens accesses the Internet mostly using their mobile phones. Since many teens or younger children may have received their first wireless device over the holidays, parents should be prepared to monitor and manage their use of technology.

At a free Parental Controls workshop held recently at the new Verizon Wireless store in Benton, Ark., representatives shared a variety of tools to help parents protect their kids and provided a parental controls workbook and phone agreement contract for them to use with their children.

“A mother of two teenagers, whom she brought with her, was especially grateful for the information we provided. She planned to share with other parents in her circle the Verizon tools and parental control resources we provided,” said Prentice O’Guinn, a district manager for Verizon Wireless in Arkansas.

FamilyBase is one tool featured in the workshop that gives parents peace of mind by providing insight and control over their children’s smartphone use. The tool lets parents see who their kids text or call most often; what apps are being used most frequently; and how many minutes, texts and data their children are using. FamilyBase also enables parents to remotely disable their kid’s phone for up to 30 minutes.

For teens, texting and driving can become a bad habit, and parents should be the first to set a good example. The Safely Go app can help drivers resist the temptation to text while behind the wheel. The app allows texts and calls from only three VIPs while on the road, and an automatic response is sent to all incoming text messages notifying the sender that the recipient is driving and can’t get to the phone. Calls are directed to voicemail.

The Delphi Connect system, on the other hand, helps parents keep a close eye on their teen’s vehicle. After installing it in the vehicle, parents will receive alerts when a young driver is speeding or has traveled into geographic areas beyond pre-established geo-fences. Delphi Connect will also troubleshoot issues with the vehicle, diagnose the engine’s health, maintain trip logs and track the location of a vehicle.

Similarly, if parents are concerned about what their teen is doing while driving, Canary is another useful app that sends alerts to their phones and emails when their teen is on the phone in a vehicle traveling at more than 12 mph, exceeding speeding limits, using social networks while on the road or heading into geographic areas beyond pre-set boundaries.

With the help of these solutions, parents have the tools to promote smart mobile technology habits from the start.