We’ve covered a few apps that help with security for children’s phones, but I wanted to tell you about another one I came across called MMGuardian Parental Control from MMGuardian.com. It seems like the age that kids are given phones is getting younger and younger as time goes on. Of course you can give them a dumbphone, but with newer shared plans, it’s not out of reach to go for a smartphone. For some kids it might be an overkill, but a smartphone can give you a lot of features like knowing your child’s whereabouts, and with apps like MMGuardian Parental Control, it gives you the peace of mind you need when you give that shiny new or used smartphone to your child.
I think when it comes to apps such as these, a lot of parents don’t want to bother with them because they think it will be overwhelming and difficult to set up. I think that’s true for a lot of these apps, but nothing could be further from the truth regarding MMGuardian. All you really need to do is install the app on your child’s phone and activate it with your password of choice. Then it’s a matter of going through each area of the app that you want to control. Your child won’t be able to uninstall or deactivate the app without the password.
After you install MMGuardian on your child’s phone, you will be given the opportunity to register your email address and enter the phone number of your phone as administrator. This is where you will also create the password for opening the app on your child’s phone. Administrator phones don’t need the app installed as they will be able to receive SMS text messages from the child’s phone for status updates. Later, in the settings you can add more administrator phones and/or change the password.
The main screen consists of nine choices for setting things up:
This is where you are able to set an Auto SMS text response when the phone is actually locked. You will be able to schedule when the phone is locked from doing anything other than call or text an admin, and this auto SMS response will be sent to anyone who sends a message to your child during those times. Unfortunately there isn’t an option to disable it. I tried leaving it blank, but in my testing, the default message was still sent. I can see how some kids might feel embarrassed that their parents are locking their phone and don’t want to “broadcast” it. The default message is “Thanks for your message, I am not available at this moment.” It doesn’t necessarily say that their phone is locked, but those who receive that message will ask about it. Of course you can make the message whatever you want it to be, but hopefully the developers will add an option to disable it for those that wish to do so.
The Time Limits section lets you set the schedule for when you want the phone to be locked. You can set a number of different timeframes and it’s pretty versatile. You punch in your start and end times and select which days you want. For example, if you know your child does homework every weekday between 7:00pm and 9:00pm, you can set it to lock. You can also set a schedule for just the weekends as well as one particular day of the week. You can always override any of these schedules by sending an SMS to the phone in case your child needs access for whatever reason.
This is a help section that lets you see all the SMS commands that you can send to your child’s phone for controls or requests when they are away from you. You can send commands that will get your child’s location, allow you to lock or unlock the phone, sound an alarm siren, turn safe driving mode on or off, request a daily report, or add a monitor command. All SMS messages need to be sent from an admin phone and any responses will go to the admin phone. Also in this section, you can send sample responses to your phone as well as demo the lock and siren functions on the child’s phone.
This is where you can block or allow apps that are installed on the phone. You have your choice of creating a list of blocked apps or creating a list of apps that you approve of. You can block apps full time or based on a schedule. You can also check the option to receive an SMS anytime your child installs a new app on the phone.
The Track section lets you set a schedule in which you would like to be notified of your child’s location. It has the same kind of versatility as the lock scheduling.
This is where you can block calls from either a contact or by phone number. This isn’t based on a schedule and is full time. You can also check to be notified for any calls that were actually blocked so you’re aware of them.
For this feature, you either turn it on or off. If on, the phone will lock when it detects that your child is moving faster than 10 mph. You can also create override times when you know your child regularly rides the school bus. Additionally you can set up an auto SMS response message to those that send your child a message if the phone is locked because of this feature. You also have the power to remotely disable the safe driving mode by simply sending an SMS to the phone.
This is where you can specify certain words, and you will be notified if they are contained in an SMS message sent to or from your child’s phone. You will not only be notified that the word was used, but you will also get the full text of the message.
This is where you can add or delete admin phones as well as turn on or off the Daily Summary Report or Uninstall Protection. If you choose to get the Daily Summary report, you will get a text message once a day telling you how many SMS messages were sent and received along with how many outbound calls, inbound calls, and missed calls took place during the last day. You will also learn how many web clicks took place. The Uninstall Protection option ensures that your child cannot uninstall the app either via the Play Store or via the built in Android apps menu if turned on
As you can see, MMGuardian is pretty comprehensive, but at the same time pretty simple to use. About the only thing missing is some sort of safe web browser, but hopefully that will be something that is implemented in the future. Now a service such as this isn’t normally Free. MMGuardian is actually Free, but you will need a premium subscription in order to schedule tracking, schedule lock times, block or unblock apps, block calls, and monitor words. The cost is $2.99 per month or $24.99 annually. You can also opt for a one-time license for $39.99. You do get a 14 day free trial when you first install the app so you can see how amazing it is before you commit to anything. If you don’t want to purchase a subscription, you can still utilize the safe driving feature as well as send SMS commands to lock or unlock the phone, locate it, or sound the alarm siren.
The bottomline is it’s free to try, and 14 days will give you a good idea if it’s for you. Check out my hands on video below as well as their trailer, and hit one of the download links to get started. As always, let me know what you think.
- Locate your child’s phone via a simple text message.
- Lock your child’s phone also via a text message.
- Set predefined times to be informed of the location of your child’s phone.
- Set time restrictions to limit use, eg: during school hours.
- Prevent your child texting and driving, without killing their phone’s battery.
- Block incoming calls and texts.
- Monitor alarming text messages.
- Control which applications can be used, and when.
- Receive a daily report on your child’s phone usage.