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The Online Mom provides internet technology advice and information to help parents protect their kids, encourage responsible behavior and safely harness the power of technology in the new digital world. Social networking, photo sharing, video games, IM & texting, internet security, cyberbullying, educational resources, the latest on tech hardware, gadgets and software for kids 3-8, tweens and teens, and more.

Parental Controls for Cell Phones

By Paul O’Reilly

As the summer break comes to an end and families prepare for the start of a new school year, thousands of parents are bracing themselves for the inevitable urgent demands for a new cell phone. Maybe it’s a fourth or fifth grader clamoring for his first-ever phone, or perhaps it’s a middle-school student wondering why she’s the only one in her class without a smartphone. Whatever the reasons behind the appeals, parents had better be ready!

If you have a younger child and you decide that he or she is ready for that first phone, then you might want to investigate some of the parental controls that are now commonly available. All the main cellular providers have various levels and types of parental controls. Usually, some kind of family plan is necessary but this is not always the case.

Parental controls for cell phones fall into three distinct categories:

  • Content filters
    These allow parents to set filters for what multimedia content their children can download to their phones. While content filters are more important for smartphones with full web access and video download capability, most cell phones now have some kind of browser. However, parents should be aware that content filters are not foolproof and inappropriate content can also be received via text, IM or e-mail.
  • Usage controls
    Usage controls put the parent in charge of a child’s cell phone usage, regulating the number of calls and text messages. They can also block certain numbers or restrict outgoing calls to a pre-approved list, and even disable the phone during certain times of day, like school hours or after 9 pm.
  • Location and monitoring controls
    These can be used to monitor a child’s whereabouts through built-in GPS systems. Some systems can even send alerts when a child’s cell phone moves out of a pre-agreed zone or range.

Let’s take a look at each of the main carriers and see what they provide.

AT&T

AT&T’s main parental control product is AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless™, which allows parents to set limits for the number of text and instant messages; the dollar amount of downloadable purchases (ringtones, etc.); the amount, if any, of web browsing; the times of day the phone can be used; who can call or be called (blocking); and the type of content that be accessed.

With the usage controls, the child receives a warning notification as pre-agreed limits are approached. Once a limit is reached, that particular service will be suspended until the next billing cycle. One drawback with Smart Limits is that you can’t restrict the overall number of minutes, just the volume of calls, which might be a problem with talkative teenagers!
Smart Limits works with any active AT&T post-paid plan and costs $4.99 per month per line.

Sprint

Sprint’s parental controls are less developed and there is no complete package of controls that can be accessed online. Instead, selective blocking features for incoming calls, text messages and content purchases are managed though a user’s My Sprint account. Parents are also able to restrict incoming and outgoing calls and prohibit the use of the camera through programming the phone itself. Internet access can be managed online or on the phone.

Sprint Family Locator allows parents to track the whereabouts of a child’s location through GPS systems. The service includes notifications on specific days and at precise times, and the ability to send text messages from your phone or via the web. Sprint Family Locator costs $5 per month per family, which covers up to 4 locatable phones.

T-Mobile

T-Mobile is perhaps the least sophisticated of the main carriers when it comes to parental controls, which is surprising as they are one of the most aggressive in marketing to families.

Their “family-friendly” features consist of a series of all-or-nothing blocking options and Web Guard, an optional add-on feature that blocks access to certain web sites for safer browsing.  All these features are managed from a subscriber’s My T-Mobile account.

Verizon

Verizon has by far the most comprehensive menu of parental controls, which are organized along the lines of the three main categories listed above. Their usage controls and content filters put the parent in complete control of when and how their child’s phone is used, even syncing the filters with their custom services like V CAST Music & Video.

The Verizon usage controls allow you to set limits for the volume of both minutes and messages during a billing cycle, as well as restrict the times the phone can be used. Full blocking services are also available. Verizon offers age-appropriate filters for multimedia content, with options for 7+, 13+ and 17+ age groups. Usage controls are $4.99 per month per line, while the content filters are free.

Verizon also offers Chaperone, a highly sophisticated tracking and monitoring service. Chaperone costs $9.99 for monthly access and requires a compatible phone.

Don’t forget to remind your child that owning or using a cell phone is a privilege not a right, and continued use depends entirely on their being able to demonstrate responsible behavior. As long as you are paying the bills, you are entitled to call the shots!

   
      



Comments:
Comment by Addie, posted 3/31/2014, 7:21 AM:

Wow, All these people going nuts over phones and gps and stuff. Just buy a basic android, and download "Where's my Droid". Make sure GPS is on, and viola! You know where your kid is, you can take a pic of where he is too, and "scream" the device when he has to come home. If he doesn't come home, give him a whoopin for breaking the rules. I didn't get my first phone til I was 16. I paid for it myself. Phone, bill, everything. Spending $100 to know where your kids are at? Crazy!
Comment by bill, posted 2/20/2014, 7:03 AM:

Emma, You are either a kid trying to avoid parental controls (most likely) or a negligent parent. Teenage brains are still in a growth stage and, despite what they may think, teenagers are unaware of the poor judgements they often make. There is nothing wrong with that, it is what growing up is all about. But it is also why parents have to take responsibility to set boundaris for their kids.
Comment by Emma, posted 1/2/2014, 1:17 AM:

Why would you take away your kids phone time, minutes, or internet access if they haven't done anything wrong to begin with. Even if they have done something wrong at some point it's becoming cruel and unfair not allowing them to prove themselves to you that they learned their lesson. If you say don't text past 10 on school nights and they text until 10:30 don't ground them over it. It doesn't mean they are addicted to their phone. Kids don't just fall asleep right at 10 every night.
Comment by sandy, posted 12/19/2013, 11:55 PM:

If you need a parental control tool, you can search the Internet and find many. Some websites browsers or social networks have parental control functions. If you want to realize parental control on PC,I recommend you to try professional third party software which has functions of site block and time control,etc.I have used parental control program of anykeylogger(www.anykeylogger.com),it works well,you can also find other fine programs on the Internet.
Comment by Christina Fletcher, posted 11/12/2013, 6:19 AM:

I resent having to pay VERIZON for a customer service item. There wouldn't be a need for usage limit if they offered an unlimited plan. Greed will come back at you!
Comment by MRauf, posted 11/2/2013, 6:37 PM:

I can not believe some of the comments I am reading. If you have a child with a cell phone then that's exactly what they are a "CHILD" with a cell phone. Its not a question of privacy or trust for our children, its a question of discipline and behavior we as parents instill in them. If your child is under your roof, then they are 100% obligated to your rules / guidelines. The LAW itself is making parents responsible for the negative actions kids are making. So, get involve, be nosy, BE A PARENT
Comment by Alex, posted 10/21/2013, 12:08 AM:

I agree with nae117, as parents we all have the same concerns with cell phone protection for our children. I found this app to be very helpful since it allows you to have 24/7 location tracker, danger alert system, monitoring photo gallery, Web history monitoring App usage monitoring, texting keyword alerts, phonebook monitoring, Call and texting logs. Here is the link http://tinyurl.com/Cell-Phone-Parental-Control
Comment by nae117, posted 10/18/2013, 9:49 AM:

It is not about whether or not you "trust" your children. It is about protecting them from the ads and vulgar things that can pop up when you are innocently searching for things on the internet. There is too much opportunity for them to happen upon inappropriate content and once those images and things are in your mind you cannot erase them. Parental controls should be on all electronic devices if you care about your children.
Comment by David Crawley, posted 1/16/2013, 8:50 PM:

Excellent twelve yr old as well as she actually is along with run. I believe all of us moms and dads ought to believe in our children and never get into within their personal privacy. I understand the cost is actually lower however truly, reading through their own text messaging as well as obstructing their own cell phone, gps navigation the a lot of for this reason our children possess behaviour To know more click this link http://www.kidsecured.com/
Comment by Elisha, posted 1/12/2013, 6:24 PM:

I have a 12 year old and she is with sprint. I think us parents should trust our kids and not invade in their privacy. I know the price is low but really, reading their texts and blocking their phone, gps its too much this is why our kids have attitudes
Comment by Jackson U, posted 1/3/2013, 7:07 PM:

Excuse Me , but you should trust your kid. and also give your kid a phone at age of 13 and trust them and not use parental controls. infact , if you wanna limit anything they do then don't give them a cell phone or anything electrical if you can't get past your fears. i'm not trying to sound mean or anything but back-then parent's trusted there kids. you could simply make your kid pay the bill and buy the phone he/she wants and have him/her decide which plan he/she wants.
Comment by Rob, posted 12/5/2012, 10:40 PM:

AT&T's "smart limits" is pretty much a joke. If someone blocks their number, they can call into your kid's phone, 24/7 regardless of whether you blocked the number or not, and regardless of the time of day restrictions you set. Also, beware that if the device has wifi, all they gotta do is download a free texting app and they can text through wifi without it showing up on the bill details.
Comment by Allen Dowers, posted 11/20/2012, 10:08 PM:

Kajeet!...If you are wanting the BEST in Parental Control for Kids cell phones....Kajeet! It is, however, supported by the Sprint network ONLY. And no, I am not in any way affiliated with Kajeet. I am simply a dad who is an IT by trade, a geek by passion, and a papa bear protecting my cubs from the crud of this world. I have researched. The best I can find is Kajeet.
Comment by hdboy, posted 11/8/2012, 5:57 AM:

So many parents here are diligent about restrictions on your children's mobile devices, but then handing them cheap Google Android phones that are far more vulnerable to privacy intrusions than the iPhone. All Android phones are designed by an advertising company to allow advertisers and marketers to track all online activities. For the price of what you mistakenly believe to be a cheaper phone, you're selling a piece of your child's future. Android phones simply are not worth this high price.
Comment by sophie, posted 8/1/2012, 5:27 PM:

my partners 13 year old daughter has just moved in with us and she has a blackberry and we just found pornographic photos on her bbm not sure what bbm is but she said she doesnt even know any of these people but not sure if she is lying. we have taking her phone off her and shes banned from using the laptop, my partner is very angry and phoned the police were just waiting for a police officer to call us back. not sure what else we can do now. can anyone help please?
Comment by Paul Smith, posted 7/18/2012, 12:03 AM:

I like to use MMGuardian Parental Control for my kids because it has all the Monitoring features I need to make sure my kids are ok AND lets me control their phone when I need to! You can try it at: https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.mmguardian&hl=en
Comment by amber, posted 7/10/2012, 8:08 PM:

She pays the bill,but as long as you live in my home you will be monitored and controlled. the world is way too dangerous a place nowadays to let your kids be bobbing along unmonitored. No way aint happening here.
Comment by Josie , posted 6/14/2012, 1:20 AM:

Can you parents be ANY nosier? Sheesh learn to listen and trust your child.
Comment by carlyn, posted 5/22/2012, 11:26 PM:

Is there an app that you can both check where your child is at all times even when. They turn their phone off, and one that you can read their text messages. I desperatelyneed one as my child is having trouble with a former boyfriend.
Comment by Marlene B, posted 5/21/2012, 9:45 PM:

I am amazed at the number of parents giving their kids smart phones with full access to the net. What happened to the days of "a basic Tracfone is all kids needed to make calls/text in case of emergency or to make plans"? You can purchase a phone that doesn't have access to the net and give them a limit of $15/month(adequate for a dependent)Their family plans are also really affordable if you have more than 1 child to provide for(as little as $6/add-on). Internet can be accessed on a home PC!
Comment by Dan, posted 5/9/2012, 10:38 AM:

Trust but verify. There's no substitute for talking to your kids and having an open line of communications. But that said, the ability to help your kids make the right choices early on is critical, and monitoring your kids’ text messaging is key. To really get a handle on what kids are doing, while protecting them from cyber-bullying, drug & alcohol use, and simply making wrong choices, check out http://www.txtwatcher.com/ [Android phones only]
Comment by Merrick, posted 5/4/2012, 1:55 PM:

I use an app called MobShield. It can download onto virtually any smart phone in 2 minutes and I am able to monitor everything the phone does (texts, calls, etc) all remotely. The software app also lets you restrict the phone in any way you want which is great for blocking all 3rd party apps, texts and calls. I have been using it on my 13 year old son's phone and my 15 year old daughters phone. http://tinyurl.com/mob-shield
Comment by Anooj, posted 5/4/2012, 10:43 AM:

Kytephone (www.kytephone.com) offers full parental locks that can be adjusted in real time from an online web site. It's completely free and works on any Android smartphone. You can track your kids via the phone's GPS, block all numbers, and create a whitelist of allowed phone numbers, as well as control which apps the kids can use - all from an easy to user interface. You can also monitor how the kid's use the phone in real time. Try it out at www.kytephone.com
Comment by Elisabeth, posted 5/2/2012, 3:44 PM:

www.Refog.com has everything you ever wanted. It has parental controls that are excellent. With permission of my son I put their program on his phone that can show me anything he does. If needed, we can talk about things before they get out of hand. You do need his/her personal permission for putting this on his/her phone.
Comment by Steven Novles, posted 5/1/2012, 12:03 AM:

As a 16 year old, I feel the majority of the people here are over protective. Just tell your child the rules, and if they break them, take the phone away. PS. Any parent reading their child's personal messages are doing a poor job. Instead, try talking to your kid more, rather than being nosey.
Comment by Kathy, posted 4/30/2012, 12:14 AM:

If you kids are using Android devices, smartphone or tablet, I would install Funamo on it rather than these provided by carriers. It is the best parental I have tried so far. My main concern is porn whether it is the on the web or on youtube. Funamo blocks porn sites, filters out them from web search and youtube search. I have been really happy with it. Their web site is http://www.funamo.com and the link to Android market is http://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=funamo.funamo
Comment by liam quinn, posted 4/18/2012, 8:00 AM:

my son has i phone and i asked him not to use i message how can i tell if he is using, i looked at data on bill and it has little data every 5 minutes till he gets home is he using
Comment by sheila, posted 4/13/2012, 12:40 AM:

Covenant Eyes App. FREE
Comment by Philip, posted 4/13/2012, 9:36 AM:

Ingrid, I strongly recommend an internet filter for your child's iphone. My daughter used to have an ipod touch (lost it) and I had an internet filter app installed which allowed me to set limits on everything from internet access times to app age ratings. It's not to be mean, it's to protect our children.
Comment by Ingrid, posted 4/11/2012, 11:58 AM:

with an iphone on VZW, the calling restrictions will shut down smartphone VZW network functions during the times specified for $4.99/month except for trusted numbers, to which calls/texts are allowed. Wifi is unaffected. Also, even if you block a number through VZW, the iphone's "imessaging" app will still allow text messages to go through.
Comment by Really, posted 4/8/2012, 7:08 PM:

Why not tell ur children what they can and can NOT do. Use discipline and consequences if they break the rules. If u attempt to spy on ur children, u are better off spying on yourself as a parent. Get off ur apps and parent ur child!
Comment by Andy , posted 4/3/2012, 1:46 PM:

Looking at all these posts, there are some unique things going on. First, there are not parental controls stronger than your ability to communicate with your child one on one and face to face. Regaining control at a later date appears to be an act of passive aggressive behavior of blocking sites that they will find a way to later access. Second, I've done some searching around, and the only service that seems to have a combination of control and discipline for children to..(cont)
Comment by Robin Hart, posted 4/3/2012, 11:00 AM:

AT&T and iPhone are no good if trying to do any type of parental control. You can set parental controls on the phone to block the web but it doesn't actually block the web, it only removes the safari icon. Any app such as facebook, twitter, instagram are still accessible, trying to apply smart limits also does not work on an iphone you can not block the data, and imessages use data so even if you block text messages imessages still go through. Do not get your child an iphone if youwant control
Comment by Jessica, posted 3/30/2012, 1:50 AM:

Is there an app that will either send texts to my email or not allow them to bdeleted
Comment by Carla, posted 3/28/2012, 10:45 AM:

Having trouble getting help with the mmguardian. My daughter deleted off her phone. Before she did this it worked flawless. I reinstalled and noe it will not locate her and sends the commands directly other phone. This is the best app I have found and gave me such a peace of mind. I really would like to gettin working again. Anyone able to helpme out?
Comment by valerie, posted 3/19/2012, 10:13 AM:

Does it make a difference whether the carrier is prepaid? I keep seeing comments here referring to Sprint, but my daughter's prepaid carrier,Tracfone, isn't carried on that network but several other networks combinded. Also, does the phone's lack of app access make a difference? Her Tracfone, Samsung phone has no internet or app access - she can do the basic calling and texting and that's it. I would hate to have to move her when we have such a good deal with TF, but her safety is most important
Comment by josh, posted 3/12/2012, 9:23 PM:

I am looking for a texting app similar to textfree or textie that offers some sort of parental controls. Even if it will just forward the texts to an email would suffice. Any ideas? Thanks
Comment by Marie Robins, posted 3/10/2012, 6:27 PM:

Does anyone know if Sprint offers a way to read your child's texts without them knowing. Either through your phone or the internet.
Comment by Jennifer M, posted 3/1/2012, 7:46 PM:

I thought I had the iphone pretty much locked down with restrictions set (no safari, adding/deleting apps, etc.) and the Mobicip safe browser installed and then I find out he's viewing inappropriate content through Facebook...the Google Chrome FB page allows access to the web through a browser! Any fixes for this? As it is, he won't have a phone until he goes off to college. In this day and age, there is no such thing as parental controls. There always seems to be a way to access the internet!
Comment by David Gregory, posted 2/27/2012, 9:27 AM:

Has anyone come across the Mobiflock Parental Control APP? Someone mentioned that it is new to the market and available for free download, but is it any good. It seems to offer the most functionality of any product, having looked at their site www.mobiflock.com. However, with all these new apps, how do I know whether they will be around in twelve months time. Has anyone out there tried the product?????
Comment by Philippe Maillard, posted 2/27/2012, 5:28 AM:

Does anyone know of a good APP, which will allow me to restrict what sites my son visits on his phone. I have heard that Vodafone are launching a product, although I can't see it on their site. Has anyone encountered bullying via texting and knows of any software which could restrict unsolicited texts?
Comment by Wendy White, posted 2/23/2012, 2:10 PM:

I want to let you know about our new and improved app for an android smartphone; Parental Time Control.


It is designed for a parent to download their children’s smartphone to provide some time away from the phone.


We have added the ability to have more than one timer in the same day.


This means that the child’s phone can be locked during overnight hours and also during school hours in the same day.


For example the phone can be locked during overnight hours from 11:00pm to 7:00am and then locked again from 9:00am to 3:00pm during school hours.


As before, the hours are chosen by the parent and are password protected.


Here is a link directly to the app in the android market if you want to take a look at it.

https://market.android.com/details?id=com.phone.lock&feature=search_result

Comment by Jackie, posted 2/21/2012, 8:58 PM:

Is there a way to limit text messaging and Internet on iphone. Or to set times when u can or cannot use them???
Comment by Billy James, posted 2/7/2012, 12:59 AM:

Try Stealth Genie http://www.stealthgenie.com. Its probably one of the best parental control products out there with a host of features at a very affordable price. Its available on all android, blackberry devices.
Comment by Becky, posted 2/2/2012, 11:30 AM:

Is there a app for pre-paid phones ( Motorola Android - verizon) that block bad sites.
Comment by Zannah, posted 2/1/2012, 11:48 AM:

Why don't you buy your children basic phones? They dont need androids and Iphones. My phone until I was 16 was a Tracphone with 100 minutes a month. Now i'm 18,and I have an Android.
Comment by tony, posted 2/1/2012, 5:42 AM:

does anyone know how to limit 4g phones on at&t smartphones? Is it possible for others to get phones info and be able to use your data usage?
Comment by Greg, posted 1/30/2012, 7:19 PM:

You can go on http://puntalo.com and install their application on the phone you want to track. You can try it for free and if you like it you can purchase a family security plan. It works with any operator and supports a big variety of phone models.
Comment by Concerned mom, posted 1/27/2012, 9:22 AM:

My daughter currently has a Samsung Character phone. At no cost to me, the phone has a setting which allows only calls and texts from the approved contact list to get through. This has been perfect. My husband would like to switch providers; does anyone know of another phone which will do this? I don't want to block specific numbers. I want all numbers except those on the contact list blocked. Thanks!
Comment by AnnaRafy, posted 1/26/2012, 6:11 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. Anna
Comment by linda, posted 1/24/2012, 5:49 PM:

If you have kids/teens with smartphones (droid), you should check out BipperKids, its in beta, but its free. My brother can get report over my niece phone use, block apps, and control who she can communicate with.
Comment by Chris, posted 1/16/2012, 4:25 PM:

I have been using Sprint's newest mobile controls product. It is simple and gets the job done. I can lock my kids phone on demand and even schedule the locks so they can't text late at night. I only pay $5/month for peace of mind.
Comment by Cheryl Lyons-Schmidt, posted 1/10/2012, 12:55 AM:

I have been using Kajeet for years. Great parental controls. BUT I am now changing b/c of continuous problems w/phones & customer service for 5 YEARS. I am BEYOND fed up. Phones-both cheap & expensive-do not work or break w/in weeks, even with careful use. They will not replace, only return. They will not allow you to purchase new phone at the price you just paid. They promise to call back and don't. The frustrations are endless. AVOID KAJEET!
Comment by Joann, posted 1/7/2012, 1:01 PM:

The only company with good parental controls is Kajeet. It actually allows the parent to control who the child can text. I had verizon for awhile, but it did not allow me to control who texted my daughter and who she could text. I feel so much safer with Kajeet.
Comment by Scott, posted 1/4/2012, 8:03 PM:

Very important: the Verizon usage controls only apply to billable minutes; NOT to non-billable (I.e. M2M, Friends & Family, etc.). So, those "usage controls" for minutes are really not adequate. Trouble is, where is there a company that does any better? My niece now has 490 non-billable minutes used, compared to 21 billable... That tells you how "controllable" the minutes are. :-(
Comment by Nora, posted 1/3/2012, 12:50 AM:

My child is alays on her phone texting, constently! Is there any controls I can put on it for her to have a limited admount?
Comment by robert, posted 12/26/2011, 9:39 AM:

IS there a monitoring device for sprint 1 phone 4s that anyone is aware of?

Thank you
Comment by Fred, posted 12/8/2011, 6:51 PM:

there is an android app called 'MMGuardian'that is perfect for parental control. it can prevent text and drive, set time restrictions and get location etc. it is from www.mparenting.com
Comment by jen, posted 12/4/2011, 5:58 PM:

Here is some info on new mobile control feature from Sprint. http://mobilecontrols.sprint.com/welcome.htm
Comment by Annette S., posted 9/19/2011, 1:44 PM:

I agree with Shelly, I wanted to control the data usage on the phone with using the Smart limits, but it doesn't work, the phone itself cannot be a Smart phone for the Smart limit. I thought that this was considered false advertisement because of how the sales representative described it. Actual it is just another useless piece of service that is being offered to gain your dollars. Also,the data ATT receives is not in real time so you really don't know how much you have used.
Comment by Shelly, posted 9/1/2011, 10:07 AM:

We currently use Smart Limits with AT&T and we are not happy with it. You are only able to have 15 allowed numbers and 15 blocked numbers. If you put a time-of day restriction on (which we often do for 24 hours a day) it will allow calls and text to work with the 15 allowed numbers and will not allow our daughter to call or text out to anyone else, however it does not block any calls or texts coming in (unless the incoming calls are from the 'blocked' list). This was the main feature we wanted
Comment by Joe, posted 8/31/2011, 9:05 PM:

My Mobile Watchdog is the way to go!! It blows any of these other parental controls out of the water. You can also print texts and mms's It is the best on the market!!
Comment by El Gibbens, posted 8/22/2011, 9:46 AM:

@ Lorie Cunningham...this is the best parental controls I've seen yet. I'm curious if you have used it personally? I agree with other comments about AT&T...if the caller dials *69 they are anonymous and their call comes right through! Useless. I'm very interested in Kajeet. Any addtional comments from personal usage?
Comment by TheTechDad, posted 8/22/2011, 8:25 AM:

You should be able to adapt most carriers' parental control features to block all texting and set up a limited database of approved numbers. Verzion and AT&T probably offer the easiest solutions. The best thing is to go into a store and tell them exactly what you want to do and they will outline your options.
Comment by TeresaBass, posted 8/20/2011, 8:31 PM:

We want to disconnect texting all together and be able to have a trusted/approved list of numbers for incoming and outgoing calls only. This phone is to be used in place of a land line for safety only. Nothing else is needed. Is there anything out there like this?
Comment by tod, posted 8/17/2011, 7:11 AM:

On T-mobile, you can control # of texts and block times of use, BUT YOU CANNOT block facebook messaging once child has established a discussion. T-mobie calls it a third-party texting that they cannot control; one thing you are not billed for any of it either, so why pay T-mobile when you can get free texting through facebook. The only way to stop this circumvent is to turn off texting in the facebook account which the child can promptly turn back on.
Comment by Joe Parent, posted 8/5/2011, 4:23 PM:

Verizon....content filtering does not work on 4G phones. Would have been nice of them to disclose this after I got my son one. Also, all the Parental Controls offered for Android can easily be defeated / disabled with a little knowledge. I'm returning my Thunderbolt to Verizon this week because I don't want my child exposed to this, and also don't want my child to be the cause of any OTHER child being exposed to this. Recommendation...do not get your child a smartphone.
Comment by carmen, posted 7/17/2011, 8:50 PM:

t mobile... is there a way to disable internet access completely during night so that my son sleeps instead of facebooking?
Comment by SKE, posted 6/9/2011, 12:09 AM:

I just got my daughter her first phone and while I'm extremely pleased with all the available parental controls I would really like to block her Mobile IM. Does anybody know how I do this 'cause I can't figure it out.
Comment by kirbytwin1, posted 6/1/2011, 10:24 PM:

Does anyone know if there is a way to see what text messages are coming in and going out on verizon?
Comment by sjack, posted 5/14/2011, 7:20 PM:

my 12yr old is screaming for a phone!but he only wants 1 to text....what i am searching for is a text ONLY plan & an app that ONLY allows me to delete incoming and outgoing text.any help would be greatly appreciated...thanks!!thelanejack@hotmail.com
Comment by Jasa, posted 5/1/2011, 6:47 PM:

Bill, I know that there is a Blackberry app that keeps the phone from sending or receiving calls/texts while the car is in motion. I haven't used it though so I don't know how effective it is.
Comment by Liz, posted 3/29/2011, 12:10 AM:

Warning: even though Verizon says they offer these great parental controls, they do not work correctly in my case. Even though I have set the controls regarding number of minutes and time restrictions, the controls do not work properly. They used to work fine, so I know how to set them online correctly, but now my son can place & receive calls and texts even during the hours I have service blocked, & I have had to resort to taking up his phone. Many calls & emails to Verizon and no results.
Comment by Not thrilling, posted 3/27/2011, 11:56 PM:

I'm looking for a 2 tier allowed numbers system. The upset poster above, regarding ATT restrictions - yes, way too easy for others to call in, which is the more invasive of our time. Yet only ALLOWED 15 numbers? 1) I want to block ALL numbers, EXCEPT those I allow - more than 15 though! (conversely, I can't know all #'s I don't allow).. AND, I would like 2) a master set of allowed numbers that can call/be called at all times (ex mom dad) then - allowed, but still with restrictions of times.
Comment by Mimi, posted 3/27/2011, 1:01 PM:

I wish the prepaid company I chose for my daughter, Straight Talk, offered more out and out "parental controls" even though the service is carried on the Verizon network. I added her to the company along with myself and my partner since it was much affordable then trying to start a family plan up with Verizon and that would be well over $190 a month with limited minutes. In this way, I made Straight Talk work for us and put her on a much more limited plan in terms of usage than myself.
Comment by Angel, posted 3/3/2011, 6:45 PM:

AT&T Smart Limits is TERRIBLE and a total waste of money! It will not stop strangers from calling! I've changed my daughter's numbers a few times and still they receive phone calls at all hours of the day and night. ONLY 15 restricted/allowed numbers! SAD! Not that these 15 numbers matter because all the 'restricted' person has to do is call from another number or hang up and *69 and they get right through! How does ATT even consider this limiting ANYTHING! My girls listen, stranger's don't!
Comment by Thea, posted 2/22/2011, 10:09 AM:

It's funny that I never really looked into or even considered parental controls with contract carriers - I just went straight to a prepaid company since I figured it would offer me the most control without taking a contract. I choose a company I saw often at Target, Net10, since the phones seemed well priced and I researched the network and found the coverage in my area was the best value. Since its prepaid, I am and continue to control how many minutes she has and no contract to hold her.
Comment by Amanda Gillespie, posted 2/3/2011, 9:01 AM:

Verizon has wonderful usage controls. for $5 a month I can set times my daughter can and can not use it. I have it set to turn off at 9:30 pm on school nights and during school hours. You can choose the days and times and you can also change it by going to the website and changing times and turn it off and on. Such as if she does not have school because of holiday, I just turn it on for that day. Love it. Thanks Verizon! Only wish I have is they would have a monitoring program to print texts
Comment by Leonard Musta, posted 11/23/2010, 9:47 AM:

Verizon Wireless is very pleased to be recognized for having "by far the most comprehensive menu of parental controls." Thank you very much Paul. We just re-launched Verizon Family Locator, perhaps you could be the first to review it? Let me know if you would like me to send you a test phone.
Comment by MPen, posted 11/8/2010, 4:04 PM:

Actually, T_Mobile has a pretty solid suite of controls. They let you set limits on minutes, messages and downloads, and only for $4.99 per month for the entire account.
Comment by jw, posted 10/10/2010, 11:29 AM:

In regards to cell phones and driving..
my mobil watchdog and mobil spy are 2 to look at. another resource is your carrier itself. You can restrict usage during certain times with Verizon I know. If you can change it dailiy or instantly I do not know.

Parentalsoftware.org has numerous choices for internet saftely.

Certain GPS devices will alert iyou if the car is going over a set speed...
Comment by kim, posted 10/2/2010, 8:43 PM:

on att, if there are time of day restrictions, and my child receives a message during the restricted time, will it block that number until the next billing cycle?

can you set it up that way?
Comment by g-deuce, posted 9/8/2010, 12:15 AM:

I just got my daughter a verzion phone, and they told me that the phone itself has call and time restrictions. It think he lied a bit. The phone does have call and text restrictions in the settings section but no time restrictions.
You set up a password and you can edit incoming and/or outgoing calls to the contact list only. So there are some controls without paying the $4.99/month, which I agree is ridiculous.
Comment by donna Sullivan, posted 8/16/2010, 2:31 PM:

Love your website!!! You are filling such a huge need! THANK YOU!!!
Comment by Jeanne, posted 7/19/2010, 10:10 PM:

I want to restrict hours on my kids cell phones and Verizon's 4.99 per line is outright thievery. Are there any free apps that can just disable a phone?
Comment by Deidra, posted 5/20/2010, 8:06 AM:

Does anyone have any information about parent controls for Verizon's Droid apps? I see how to filter the internet but there are some really nasty apps I can't seem to filter or block.
Comment by Lorie Cunningham, posted 3/10/2010, 5:43 PM:

There is a phone service which gives you great paretnal controls and it uses sprint towers so you have good reception. Kajeet's parental controls allow you to only have you child's phone turned on when you think it should be on. It restrits who can call and who they can call. I think you would be very happy with it. I am including a link where you can also get 15% off a handset .http://www.kajeet.com/kajeetStore/landing.do?lp=Mom&c=B142&
Comment by Bill Schaeffer, posted 1/21/2010, 7:01 PM:

With a 16 year old and just starting to drive you would think at least one carrier would offer a text restiction during times when they have the car. If any one knows of this please respond.
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