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  • Parental Control software for your child's smart phone

    Posted on MrJimPhelps Comment on the AskWoody Lounge

    Home Forums AskWoody support Connected home / Internet of things Parental Control software for your child's smart phone

    • This topic has 2 replies, 2 voices, and was last updated 5 months ago.
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      • #2036445 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        I was recently informed that my 12 year old step-daughter would be getting a smart phone for Christmas. I knew it was a done deal by the tone in which I was informed, so I decided to do some research to find out the best way to restrict the phone at an age-appropriate level, as well as track the location of the phone.

        iPhone or Android? Pretty much a no-brainer for me, because of all of the spying that Google does continually. But maybe it’s not such a no-brainer, because after purchasing the phone and then researching parental control software, I found to my horror that it is very difficult to do parental control on an iPhone, because of how tightly Apple locks everything down – basically, the apps can’t speak to each other, a basic requirement for parental control software. But there is something called “MDM” which Apple has provided, like an API in Windows, so that some parental control can be done. But in all honesty, if I had not already purchased an iPhone and signed the contract, I might have gotten her an Android, because you can totally control and monitor an Android phone via parental control software, because Android isn’t locked down like iPhone.

        Having said that, there is a parental control program called “OurPact” which specializes in doing parental control for the iPhone. It is reputed to be the best such software for the iPhone, so I decided to try it. More about that in a minute.

        (OurPact also works for an Android phone, but since I don’t have an Android, I was unable to test the Android version.)

        The phone arrived today, and as I was getting it set up for use, I was asked for my step-daughter’s name and birthday. I was reluctant to enter the information, but I trust Apple, so I entered it. To my joy, I was then told that it would have to be linked to a “parent” phone (i.e. my wife’s iPhone)!

        I got her phone all set up, and now it is time to install OurPact. It took almost 45 minutes to go through the entire process:
        * I installed the app on my wife’s phone and then my step-daughter’s phone.
        * I paired the two phones.
        * I logged onto the website and upgraded to Premium ($6.99 per month).
        * I then had to upgrade the app on the two phones.
        * I then had to install the profile on my step-daughter’s phone (providing Mobile Device Management).
        * …and on and on and on.
        At one point in the install process, I had to download and install a program on my computer. You have to have Windows or a Mac for this step; it won’t work in Linux.

        Finally I was completely finished with all set up! If you can hang in there till you get to this point, it’s easy from here on.

        I can now log on to the parent app either on my wife’s phone or on my computer. Once I have done that, I can set up controls on my step-daughter’s phone:

        * Schedules: If you create a schedule, your child’s phone is completely disabled for the duration of the schedule, except that he/she can make phone calls. But nothing else – no texting, no apps, no web surfing. For example, you might make a schedule called “Bedtime”, and define it as 10 PM to 7 AM, seven days per week. You can then turn that schedule on or off. Whenever it is on, your child can’t play with the phone (except for making phone calls).

        * Grants: If you want to override a schedule, you can issue a “Grant”, which is in effect either for a limited amount of time, or until you turn it off.

        * Blocks: A block allows you to disable everything except for making phone calls for a limited time, or until you cancel the block.

        If you are trying to make any changes to your child’s profile (what they are allowed to do or not to do on their phone), you’ll have to unblock the phone while you are making the changes.

        You can block adult content, and you can block or enable any or all apps. You can also disable the ability to uninstall apps (such as OurPact), disable the ability to do a factory reset, and disable the ability to change the lock code.

        OurPact does not allow you to see your child’s text messages, but if you issue a block, he/she won’t be able to do any texting until you cancel the block. More about this in a minute.

        Finally, location tracking is available with the premium version of OurPact – with Location Tracking, you can see where your child’s phone is at any time.

        OurPact is unbelievably easy to use, either from your iPhone or from your computer. And it has a rock-solid feel to it – I didn’t find a bug anywhere – everything worked perfectly. And any change you make (e.g. blocking usage of the phone) happens instantly.

        Now, to the topic of texting. You can use OurPact to monitor your child’s text messages, if your child has an Android, but not if your child has an iPhone. However, I found the following information, which tells you how you can automatically get a copy of each of your child’s text messages via iCloud:
        https://netsanity.net/emast/doc/netsanity-imessage.pdf

        I haven’t tried this yet, but I will post back here as soon as I do.

        Here are a couple of reviews of some of the parental control software out there:
        https://www.tomsguide.com/us/best-parental-control-apps,review-2258.html
        https://www.pcmag.com/roundup/240282/the-best-parental-control-software

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
        2 users thanked author for this post.
      • #2036646 Reply
        Alex5723
        AskWoody Plus

        Parental control is part of iPhone’s iOS.

        How to set parental controls on your child’s iPhone, to limit screen time with specific apps, websites, and purchases

        https://www.businessinsider.com/how-to-set-parental-controls-on-iphone

      • #2036710 Reply
        MrJimPhelps
        AskWoody_MVP

        In the Business Insider article you linked to, there is a picture of a young boy with a smart phone. He is literally absorbed in his phone, and his room is a mess. What an accurate picture.

        From what I have read, Screen Time, the app which comes with the iPhone, is not the best app for parental controls; OurPact is reputed to be the best.

        One of the few missing pieces in OurPact is the ability to view your child’s text messages and iMessages. In fact, none of the parental control apps I looked into had the ability natively to see the text messages on your child’s iPhone; the way they accomplish this is to set up iCloud backups on your child’s phone, and then look at the iCloud backup to see your child’s text messages and iCloud. Supposedly you don’t need an app to do this; all you need to do is use your own Apple ID for your child’s iCloud backups, and then you can see the messages yourself. I never could get this to work. Also, I wonder how quickly this process would fill up the alloted iCloud backup space.

        Another approach to viewing your child’s text messages is to set up iTunes backup on your child’s phone, and then install a program (in Windows or on the Mac) which allows you to extract the messages from the iTunes backup. But the problem is, your child has to plug in their iPhone into the computer in order to do an iTunes backup; this could definitely be a point of contention between the parent and the child each time you want to back up their phone.

        I found a Windows (or Mac) program which allows me to do an iTunes-style backup on my child’s phone whenever my child is home, that is, whenever her phone is connected to the house wifi, and then look through the backup to see the messages; it is called iMazing. I can run a backup anytime my daughter is home, then look at literally EVERYTHING on her phone by looking at what is in the backup I just ran! And best of all, I paid only a one time fee of about $35 for iMazing, rather than monthly fees.

        Since my daughter will be home every night, I can look at her messages, pictures, etc., every night!

        You can get iMazing here: https://imazing.com/

        I downloaded the iMazing free trial, installed it, and then used it to do a backup on the phone. One look at the results convinced me to purchase it.

        Group "L" (Linux Mint)
        with Windows 8.1 running in a VM
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