As children get smartphones at an earlier age, the floodgates are opening up with dangers ranging from inappropriate content to texts from strangers. On Monday, Sprint announced a new subscription service, Sprint Mobile Control, to help parents manage their kids’ smartphones. The add-on service is free during a 30-day trial on Sprint’s Android phones and costs $4.99 per month after that. Sprint says it will offer the software on BlackBerry devices in the future.
Sprint Mobile Control is part of the Safely product suite offered via Location Labs, the same company that’s behind Sprint’s Family Locator service. Sprint customers that opt for Mobile Control can manage and limit their children’s Android phones in these ways among others:
- Monitor voice and text usage in a dashboard.
- Set usage limits by time and day of week.
- Build a trusted contact list for incoming texts or calls from a specified group of phone numbers.
- See what apps are being downloaded to the handset.
- Set three apps for use when the device is locked.
Sprint notes in its news release that more than 75 percent of children between the ages of 12 and 17 have a smartphone, and as a parent I can see the need for such a tool on a phone. Or on an iPod touch, for that matter, which I’d expect more younger kids to have over iPhones and their monthly contracts. I don’t see any news out of Location Labs indicating an iOS solution, however.
With the growth of smartphone ownership at younger ages, there seems to be much activity in this space. MobiFlock, a similar service in beta, presented its solution at our Mobile event in September and it was impressive. I anticipate more solutions like this to emerge, especially as more of our activities migrate to connected devices and kids grow up never knowing what life without mobile broadband was like.