When you give your child a cell phone, there’s a great deal of responsibility that goes along with it. We all know kids aren’t using phones to just make calls. They’re searching the web, texting their friends, and downloading as many apps as they can. Patrick Quinn, parenting expert at Brainly tells Parentology that the best apps for a child’s phone are those which include active moderation and allow for parental access.
Here are several free apps you may want to look into installing on your child’s cell phone.
Qustodio is an app that allows you to monitor your child’s phone activity as well as set usage limits. It works on both Android and Apple devices. No matter which type of device you’re using you can see:
- Incoming and outgoing texts and calls
- Your child’s location
- Browser and search history
- Time spent on apps and social networks
You can also block explicit content and set screen limits. As of right now, you can only monitor text messages on Android devices. Just download Qustodio for a free trial to decide if you want to enroll.
If you know your child is going to be spending time on social media, you may want to look into the Bark app. Bark scans social media and messaging apps for keywords that could be red flags concerning online behavior.
Parents get alerts when Bark sees something that may indicate online predators are at work, or signs of depression or cyberbullying. Bark is free to download for iOS and Android devices and offers a free 7-day trial.
TikTok has been the source of much controversy in the past so you may wonder why you should install it on your child’s phone. If your child is 13 or over, there’s a good chance they’re going to do it anyway. You can be proactive and install it yourself.
In case you’re unfamiliar with Tik Tok, it’s a free app that lets kids create 15-second videos to share with their followers. While kids are supposed to be 13 to create an account, many kids underage manage to do so too.
If TikTok is installed on your child’s phone, you should make sure your child’s account is set to private. Also, access the Digital Wellbeing feature that allows you to set time limits for the app and allows you to enable the restricted mode to filter inappropriate content. You can also decide who can interact with your child’s video to reduce the chance of predators seeing them.
The company just recently released new parental controls you’ll want to know about.
Google Family Link
Google Family Link is another app to consider if you want to keep an eye on what your child is doing on their cell phone. This free app is compatible with Google, iOs, and Android. It allows you to keep track of your child’s Google account and decide which apps they are able to download.
There are also options for screen time limits, location tracking, and locking the phone for family time. You can also block calls and view text messages.
Parents can limit access to certain apps, filter websites, and enable GPS monitoring with the OurPact app. It allows parents to schedule screen time and block internet and app access when they want.
There is a free base plan that offers one schedule, five blocks, and unlimited grants for one device. You can upgrade to other plans for more options for a small fee.
Besides apps to monitor your child’s online usage and protect them from predators, there are many other educational apps that can come in handy.
Brainly is an app that connects students with expert peers so they can get the help they need with their schoolwork. Quinn tells Parentology that Brainly’s interaction is focused on 24/7 homework help.
“We take safety very seriously and provide users with the guidance, tools, and support they need to protect their accounts and keep their information safe, says Quinn.
Brainly also features a dedicated platform for parents.
“This allows for family members to track their student’s account to better support their activity and progress,” Quinn adds.
When your child can’t get to the library, the Libby app lets them access thousands of eBooks. They just need to have a library card. There are fiction and non-fiction titles to choose from in a variety of areas. It can be downloaded for Android and iOs devices.
Older kids can take advantage of this app if they need to take notes for class or project. It allows them to take notes efficiently and search for them across multiple devices. There’s a free version that many kids have raved about.
Tallo is another educational app aimed at kids who are applying to college. It allows them to find college scholarships to help them pay for tuition, textbooks, and more. Tallo helps students ages 13 and older create a career pathway. They can showcase their talents and skills in their profile where educators can look at them as they recruit top talent.
As you look at these educational and monitoring apps remember that you’re a big part of the puzzle.
“Online learning and education apps have been created to help kids and like anything else online, generate the best results when parents participate, “ says Quinn.
When it comes to apps for your child’s phone, always be sure to keep an eye on what’s being downloaded and take an active role in their online communication.