New app gives parents remote control of their kids devices


Technology, like everything in life, has its pros and cons. Kids as young as 11 have their own cellphones and tablets and are spending increasing amounts of time in front of their screens.

While technology is great as a communication and learning tool, it needs to be carefully monitored when it comes to access. I don't subscribe to the thinking that kids should be devoid of technology because that is just unrealistic for the world we live in. But I am firmly all about putting constraints and rules in place.

Google has a few products out to help parents monitor their kids' technological habits.

YouTube Kids

We use this for our 3-year-old son. My favourite part of YouTube kids is that you can enable a timer and the app locks once the time is up. This is particularly useful for little ones whose screen time you want to limit because let's be honest, some kids (mine being one of them) would watch videos all day if they could. These settings are behind a parents-only lock so your kid can't change their time limit.

Another great feature of this app is that you can tailor the type of videos that show up for your child depending on their age. You can also turn off the search function for a more controlled experience.

Family Link 

Google's latest app is Family Link. This one is for older kids who are getting their first Android devices. According to their blog, Family Link "lets you create a Google account for them, which is like your own account, and also helps you set certain digital ground rules that work for your family – like managing the apps your kid can use (all apps downloaded need to be approved by you before downloading), keeping an eye on screen time, and setting a bedtime on your kid’s device."

The app is still in beta testing but families in the US can request an invite to help test the app while Google streamlines the experience for public consumption.

This is fantastic to be honest! How many times have kids spent under the covers, chatting to their friends into the wee hours of the night? How about we just remote lock that phone then?

This obviously leads to a larger conversation though about rules surrounding your child's phone usage. Back in 2013, Janell Burley Hofmann's post about her cellphone contract with her 13-year-old went viral. 

In her 18-point list she covers things such as parental access to the device and behaviour when using the phone. It's something every parent should have a look at.

Would you feel better about your young child having a device if you could have this amount of control over it? Send your thoughts to and we could publish them.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Zama zama crackdown: What are your thoughts on West Village residents taking the law into their own hands?
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Authorities should bring in the army already
10% - 1291 votes
Illegal miners can't be scapegoated for all crime
51% - 6426 votes
What else did we expect without no proper policing
35% - 4480 votes
Vigilante groups are also part of the problem
3% - 433 votes
Rand - Dollar
Rand - Pound
Rand - Euro
Rand - Aus dollar
Rand - Yen
Brent Crude
Top 40
All Share
Resource 10
Industrial 25
Financial 15
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.