How to Put Parental Controls on Your Child’s New Smartphone

Child with a smartphone

It’s finally happened: your child is old enough to have their own smartphone. From the age of 11, half of all young people in the US have a cell, and your first thought after making the purchase will probably be how you are going to set up parental controls for keep them from wasting too much time on the thing and seeing things they shouldn’t see (you know, everything you do).

The good news is that Android and iOS have gradually improved to offer built-in parental controls, so you don’t have to panic too much when it comes to what your pre-teen stands up for. How you’re going to manage when they reach the age when it’s time to remove those parental controls is another matter, but you don’t have to worry about that just yet.

How to configure Android parental control?

The first step in setting up an Android cell phone for your child is to make sure they have a Google account linked to yours. It is best to do this through the Google Family Link app on your phone: it is available on both android and iOS, and you will be prompted to create a child account the first time you run it. Other children can be added by pressing the + (more) in the upper right corner of the main screen.

With the new Google account for your child now created, you can use it to log in on the Android device you got for him. During the initial setup process, login using the details you just created and verify that you are a parent by entering your own credentials (just make sure there is no chance that your child guesses your password). You can then manage everything through the Family Link app on your own device.

Screenshot of Google Family Link

Google Family Link is free and easy to use.
Screenshot: Google

You’re able to block apps, set screen time limits, and see the current location of your child (or rather, your child’s phone). Other controls let you manage Google Search filters, Google Chrome websites, and certain limitations on the Google Play Store—so no apps can be installed without your explicit permission, for example. If you want to let your child loose on YouTube rather than YouTube Kids, there are some limitations you can also configure through the Family Link app for this.

Suppose you want to manage which websites your child can access through Chrome on Android. In the Family Link app, select your child, then choose Manage settings and Google Chrome: You can choose from Allow all sites (except the ones you specifically block), try blocking explicit sites (an automatic filter keeps your child away from unhealthy stuff), and Allow only approved sites (so you must specifically authorize a particular site before your child is allowed to visit it).

How to configure iOS cropfinal checks?

As with Android, if it’s an iPhone your child owns, you’ll need to create an Apple ID for them and link it to yours through a service called Family Sharing. This gives you control over everything from App Store purchases to filters on the web to what you can search using Siri. Family Sharing also offers benefits like the ability to see the locations of your loved ones and the ability to share subscriptions to services like Apple Music and iCloud storage.

To create a new child account from your iPhone, go to Settings, then tap your name at the top of the screen. To take Family Sharing, Add a memberand Create an account for a childthen press Continue and follow the on-screen instructions. Your child will need their own email address for this, so you’ll need to create one for them if you haven’t already. The new Apple ID you created can then be used to identify your child on the new iPhone.

Screenshot of iOS Parental Controls

iOS built-in parental controls include web content filters.
Screenshot: Apple

After that, it’s time to put some restrictions in place, which you do on the child’s handset rather than your own. screen time (from Settings) is a good starting point: on the first screen you see, to take Continuethen select This is my kid’s iPhone (you can enter a password to prevent any of these options from being changed). In Screen Time, you can control time limits for apps, total time on device, access to specific contacts, and availability of explicit content in terms of music, movies, and podcasts.

All of the options are pretty self-explanatory and give you a lot of control over your child’s device. To block certain websites in Safari, for example, from screen time to take Content and Privacy RestrictionsSo choose Content Restrictions and web content: You are then able to block known adult websites, or approach it from another angle and only allow access to websites that you have specifically approved and added.

Other Smartphone Parental Control Apps

There are additional apps and services you can turn to for even more control, although they tend to be more effective on Android, as Apple is more restrictive in terms of the hooks that third-party apps can fit into the app. operating system. It’s also worth browsing through the settings of the individual apps your kids are likely to use the most.

Qustodio is one of the most comprehensive options, covering laptops, tablets and e-books as well as smartphones. You can set content restrictions, specific apps and screen time limits, and get reports on what your child is doing, all through a clean and intuitive interface. Pricing starts at $35 per year for coverage for up to five devices, though you can try it out for free.

Screenshot of Qustodio

Qustodio is one of the most comprehensive third-party options.
Screenshot: Qustodio

Microsoft has its own parental control offering in the form of Microsoft Family Safety, and it’s a particularly good choice if your child is going to be spending a lot of time on Windows, Android, and an Xbox (iOS is also covered, but it’s a bit more limited). Many basics are available for free – they include screen time limits for apps and games, and content filters for web and search – but there are a few premium features you can access for $10. per month.

As for these in-app controls, apps, including TikTok, have themand they are apparently soon available on Snapchat. Instagram just launched its own options earlier this year: you can find them by opening Instagram on your child’s phone using your child’s account. From the profile page, press the menu button (top right) then Settings and Surveillance– you can then send a supervision request to your own Instagram account and set limits on Instagram time and followers.

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