Expert tips for using the Verizon Smart Family app | Featured News Story

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Part of my job as a parent is keeping my kids safe. But as soon as I get something in place, my kids will find a way around it. Like it’s their job. This is never truer than when trying to put parental controls on a kid’s phone.

I’m an IT professional and digital parenting coach, and I still get notifications that my kid has removed a content filter that I applied using Verizon Smart Family. While the app does a great job of helping parents set data limits, block contacts and track their kids’ location, some kids will always try to bypass restrictions. Fortunately, Verizon knows about smart kids. Here’s a few ways the app can help you keep those parental controls—in your control.

What is the Verizon Smart Family app?

Verizon Smart Family is a service that gives you controls to help you manage your kids’ smartphones, as long as they’re all on the same Verizon account as yours. Using its app, you can filter content, limit and monitor calls and texts, monitor web and app activity, and even track locations.

Alerts keep you notified if kids remove the Smart Family app.

Verizon Smart Family enables a Virtual Private Network, or VPN, on the child’s device. This forces the device to connect to a special protected network which allows the app to manage screen time and filter Web sites.

As with all apps, kids can uninstall the Verizon Smart Family Companion app from their phone, which will remove all of its controls as well as its VPN. But if they do that, you’ll get a text message notification, and you’ll see a big banner display in your app dashboard saying that the filters, activity tracking and location services aren’t working.

See what apps they’re using.

Smart Family will show you a list of apps your child is using and how much time they’re spending on them. Kids may try to use a separate VPN app to bypass a parental control app. Make it a habit to check this list of active apps to see if they’re using a VPN app. The letters VPN may be in the title, but maybe not. If you’re unsure about an app, just do a quick search online to confirm. As an added layer of prevention, you can set up content filters in Smart Family to automatically block apps, or manually block websites where kids could access a separate VPN.

An in-app dashboard lets you easily see if their location settings are turned on.

Want to see if they’ve turned off GPS and Location Services? Simply tap “refresh location” and Verizon Smart Family will let you know where the device is in near real time. Check the timeframe for the latest update: If it’s more than 5 or 10 minutes, they may have turned it off on their device. Also, look at the app’s permission settings on their device and make sure Smart Family has permission for the app to access their location.

What if your child resets the phone?

A factory reset restores a phone’s original settings—just like when you pulled it out of the box. This can wipe any parental control app from their phone. Periodically check the Smart Family dashboard to see what apps they’re using and confirm that the Companion App is still installed. If they did a reset, simply install the Smart Family Companion App again.

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