Two Apple shareholders are calling for the Cupertino brand to stop iPhone addiction among kids, but it's not ideal to just sit back and wait for a solution.
That said, you can do your part by setting up parental control apps to monitor your children's smartphone usage and keep them in check.
Now what you should be looking for in such software can be boiled down to how easy is it to install and configure, how much does it cost, and what features does it come with, particularly in terms of filtering online content, managing apps and texts, and tracking location.
If you come across one that delivers all those qualities well, then you just struck gold, but to save you time from scouring the internet for one, here are some parental control apps — that aren't necessarily exclusive to iPhones — to help you get started:
Norton Family Premier (iOS/Android/Windows Mobile)
Arguably the best among the current brood, Norton Family Premier brings a slate of features to the table at an affordable price point.
First of all, setting up restrictions and filtering web content on it are easy. It can even block apps one by one, and on top of that, it can track your children's location accurately, which is what makes it stand out from the competition. One drawback is that you can't set time limits on apps.
It's available for $49.99 a year.
ESET Parental Control (Android)
ESET Parental Control offers just about anything you'd expect from a parental control app: app- and website-blocking features, time limits, and a location tracker.
There's even Parental Message in the mix that allows you to send a message to all of your kids, where they have to respond first before they can continue using their phones.
It starts at $29.99 a year.
This one provides what you need and then some. FamilyTime lets you set a variety of limits, including but not limited to homework and bed restrictions. Aside from a tracker, it also comes with geo-fencing, which will notify you when a phone — your child's, perhaps — leaves a designated area.
All these features come at a cost, though. It has a pretty steep learning curve before you can leverage on all of its capabilities, and at times, it might get confusing.
The app is available in three plans: MyFamily that covers one child device for $2.25 a month or $27 a year, MyFamily 2 that supports up to two child devices at $1.46 a month or $35 a year, or MyFamily 5 that, you guessed it, supports up to five child devices at $1.15 a month or $69 a year.
PhoneSheriff has been around since way back when, and it's simple in a sense where you just have to install it on your child's phone, go through the steps to configure it, and monitor their activity on your device.
It's got the usual as well, from blocking calls and monitoring texts to time and app-specific limits and location tracking. If necessary, you can even lockdown a phone completely.
Probably the only problem with it is its price, as it'll hold you back by $49 for every six months or $89 a year.
The Bottom Line
Smartphone addiction has harmful effects, including brain imbalance and even self-harm, according to studies. At that, it's important for not only Apple to implement measures to combat against it but also consumers themselves to take the initiative.
For the record, the Cupertino brand has its own built-in parental controls, but they're not exactly packed with features to comply with what the investors are demanding.