Verizon has announced that, starting today, its parental controls product, FamilyBase, will be upgraded and renamed. The new parenting controls app, called Verizon Smart Family, will allow parents to manage aspects of their kids’ smartphones like content filters and screen time limits.
Up to 10 family members can use the app, which provides a variety of ways for parents to monitor how kids are using their phones. Content filters let you block objectionable websites and content in categories like violence and drugs, alcohol, and gambling, or restrict access to certain apps. Parents can also block unwanted contacts, view their child’s text and call history, and check on how much battery the phone has left.
Limits can also be set on phone use in a number of ways. The app allows the device’s Wi-Fi to be instantly paused or for data targets to be set. Time restrictions can also be instituted, if, say, you wanted to set aside uninterrupted time for homework in the evening. Other customizable limits include minutes used for calls, number of text messages, and monthly purchase amounts.
Lastly, there’s location tracking, which not only shows you where a child is via the location of their phone, but can send a push notification to the parent if they leave a predetermined area.
Many of these features, like time-based usage blocks and data limits, were already part of Verizon’s FamilyBase controls. Location services and the ability to monitor individual apps appear to be the biggest additions. The app has also gotten a visual design refresh.
Several home routers already have parental controls built in, like Eero and Google Wifi, but of course, these controls would only apply if the child was at home using the network on their phone. Meanwhile, companies like Apple already have some parental controls built in for moderating and restricting content and use. The company says it plans to make these existing controls “even more robust” in the future.
Though Verizon’s Smart Family app is technically free to download, if you want to use its services, the base subscription fee is $4.99 a month, and it includes everything except location tracking and alerts. Those features are included in the app’s premium subscription, which is $9.99 a month.