SmartPhone Parental Control Options Through Your Service Provider - dummies

SmartPhone Parental Control Options Through Your Service Provider

By Amy Lupold Bair

Providing children with their first smartphone can be anxiety-causing for many parents, but you can find many tools available through service providers to help parents protect not only their children, but also their wallets.

Every mobile service provider offers products and services to help parents set limits and protect their children.

AT&T Mobile

AT&T Mobile offers the following options:

  • Content filter: This free product allows users to block sites with mature content and turn off entry to mobile web searches.

  • Purchase blocker: This free service allows you to block premium content purchases, such as games and applications.

  • AT&T DriveMode: Available free of charge, this app sends a customizable auto-reply message to incoming texts letting them know that you are behind the wheel and can reply when it’s safe.

  • AT&T FamilyMap: This fee-based service allows parents to locate family members via your mobile device or PC. You can also set up a Schedule Check to have location information sent to you via text message or e-mail at set intervals or times.

  • AT&T Smart Limits for Wireless: This fee-based service allows you to block specific numbers, limit purchases, set time restrictions on texting, set monthly text limits, and curb data usage.


T-Mobile offers the following safety and plan limit options:

  • FamilyWhere Locate: This fee-based service allows you to locate any mobile device on your T-Mobile account.

  • DriveSmart: This fee-based service detects that the mobile device is moving and directs incoming calls and texts to a messaging system.

  • Web Guard: This free feature allows you to restrict mature web content.

  • Message blocking: This free service allows you to block certain types of messages (such as messages from marketers or specific contacts) and avoid receiving unexpected message charges.

  • Family Allowances: This tool allows you to set up front limits on the devices that are part of your family mobile plan.

Verizon Wireless

Verizon Wireless customers have access to the following tools:

  • Content Filters: Verizon provides free filters allowing parents to only have access to content that falls within a certain ratings category.

  • Usage Controls: This monthly fee-based service allows you to control how much data usage each member of your family is allowed to use each month. You can also use this tool to create time restrictions and set purchase limits.

  • Call & Message Blocking: This free service allows you to block up to five phone numbers from sending texts or making calls to your child’s phone.

  • Verizon Mobile Security: This monthly fee-based service provides virus protection to your child’s data-enabled mobile device.

  • Family Locator: You can use this fee-based service to locate your children via their mobile devices using either your mobile device or your PC.

  • Network Programs & Permissions: This free tool allows you to manage the applications on your child’s phone that want to contact your child, access your child’s personal information, or know your child’s location.

  • Service Blocks: This free service requires your children to receive your permission before adding apps to their mobile phone.

  • Usage Alerts: This free service provides you with text messages and e-mail alerts when any device on your account is near to text, data, or voice limits.


Sprint provides the following options to wireless users:

  • Sprint Guardian: This fee-based service allows you to determine a family member’s location and set mobile controls.

  • Sprint Family Locator: Sprint Family Locator provides interactive maps to help you locate your children through their mobile devices. This is a fee-based service.

  • Sprint Mobile Controls: This fee-based service provides you with a dashboard to monitor your child’s phone usage and set limits by time of day and day of the week.

  • Account Controls: This is a free service for Sprint customers that allows you to block or allow settings by device.

  • Sprint Drive First: This fee-based app blocks phone usage if it detects motion more than 10 mph.

  • SMS and mobile ad controls: This free service allows you to keep unsolicited text messages from being sent to your child’s phone.