FutureFive NZ - App of the Week: Vodafone Guardian

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App of the Week: Vodafone Guardian

This free Android app is a great little tool for controlling your child’s smartphone use. Once installed Guardian lets you limit what apps can be used and when. It’s a simple case of choosing between  allowed and not allowed and in some cases putting in a time frame, the idea being you should be able to stop your youngsters from abusing phone privileges or from being the victims of text bullying.

The app is easy to install and for the main part easy to operate. While it’s not quite a case of one tap setting everything up, given that you want it to be secure this is not necessarily a bad thing.

I do have a couple of reservations about the app though. The first is that most kids I suspect will be able to sidestep it simply because they are a lot more tech savvy than we give them credit for. So be sure to find an obscure enough password that they can’t figure it out - but even then, don’t be surprised if they find a way around it.

There are three age settings on the app -  7-8, 9-10 and 11-12 - and leaving aside my reservations about a child this age having a smartphone in the first place, I do have some concerns around a system that encourages us to not actually teach our children how to manage these devices. Rather we simply install an app that gives us a sense of control; a sense that may or may not be justified.

All of that said, if combined with some sensible conversations with your child around using their phone and about being safe, this is a great app to install. You will be able to lighten or tighten control based on how your child behaves and any outside input, so should you get a whiff of bullying - or you suprise your child playing games at 11.30 at night instead of sleeping (it happens, trust me) you can do something concrete to prevent a repeat occurrence.

The other really good thing about this app is the ability to block the purchase or download of apps and the making of calls. For the sake of your bank balance this could be a very handy feature indeed.

Just don’t underestimate your child’s ability to work with the app as well.

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