AT&T customers are getting a new parental control app just in time for holiday season gift giving. For $7.99 a month, any parent can monitor up to 10 lines, and the plan includes not just location tracking, but purchase prevention.
Through the Secure Family plan, parents can receive messages when their children arrive at destinations like school or extra curricular activities and monitor what apps are downloaded through the App Store or Google Play. Parents can even set time limits on devices that set constraints on what apps can be used at certain times.
Secure Family is replacing AT&T's Smart Limits plan, which the company said will shut down on November 26. AT&T said the new app is an upgrade from the older apps, with better location tracking on interactive maps, tougher content filters, and purchase prevention.
"AT&T Secure Family can monitor devices that are on the same AT&T postpaid wireless account and have a SIM card with a unique 10-digit phone number. All devices must be able to send and receive texts. That way, Secure Family can send messages, such as the invitation from the parent app to the child's device," the company said in its explainer on the change. "Secure Family won't work with feature phones or Wi-Fi only smartphones."
Surveys have found that parents are increasingly worried about what their children see on the Internet and how much they use devices on a daily basis. This fear is not without merit, as a University of Michigan Medical School study released late last month "found high rates of mobile advertising through manipulative and disruptive methods."
"These results have implications for advertising regulation, parent media choices, and apps' educational value" researchers wrote, adding that of the 135 apps they reviewed, 95 percent contained at least one type of advertising aimed primarily at fooling children into clicking on them.
Major AT&T competitor Verizon did a similar app switcharoo earlier this year, replacing its FamilyBase app with a new and improved Verizon Smart Family app that provides many of the same functions as Secure Family.
Major companies across the tech industry are pivoting toward providing parents with more robust options when it comes to controlling the things their kids see and use on a daily basis. Google recently teamed up with the National Parent Teacher Association to create grants as well as toolkits designed specifically to address best practices for Internet usage.
Google went so far as to create a video game last year called Interland that helped teach kids about Internet safety.
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- AT&T is shutting down its parental control app on November 26 and replacing it with a new app named Secure Family.
- The app will allow parents to monitor what their children see, how long they can use devices, and other services like location tracking and purchase prevention.
- To help teach kids internet safety, Google is teaming up with parents and teachers
- Android kids' app study finds widespread manipulation tactics, sketchy ads, and more
- 'Bark' internet safety app uses AI to help parents protect kids from bullies, predators, and more
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