Before doing this review, I was not “with it” when it came to app blockers and parental control app. My son, who is 6, is generally pretty limited on what he does on his tablet – by his own choosing. He can’t spell on his own yet and he hasn’t fully grasped the idea of the world-wide web. But as he’s getting older, I am starting to think it might be good for me to become familiar with these parental control apps in case I need to find one in a hurry.
So, before I sat down to look through Kidslox, I went on the internet and looked up what a typical parental control app does and what they offer. Many of the apps were very similar, each one having their own unique quality that set them apart. I then sat down and wrote out a list of the items I felt were a must for my family, and this is where I base my rating. Here is my list:
- Easy set up
- Individual app blocking
- Total Daily Limits
- Content blockers
- Social media/calling/text monitoring
- Main “control center”
- Multiple devices
- Location monitoring
- Lockdown mode
In terms of my own list of parental control needs, Kidslox fairs at 8/10, but I’m going to add an extra point for it’s ease of use, for a score of a solid 9. I’ll break down this score below:
Easy Set Up
Like I said, I have never used a parental control app that wasn’t included with a device. I was a little concerned about the initial set up and how it worked, but it was actually super easy. Granted, to have it fully set up the way you want it to be, with all the options available, it’s a little tedious but once it’s set up, it’s done. All I had to do was go to the website to register, and then go on each device and download. Once the app was downloaded, I had to do the initial set up from the specific device and everything I did came up with a little pop-up that explained the function of the item, as well as how to use it.
Additionally, in order to allow Kidslox to “take over” your device, you have to access a lot of the background stuff like notifications, camera and so on. But instead of having to go through your phone looking for all these locations you’ve probably never used before, you just press a button and Kidslox brings you right there, you move a little slider, and it brings you right back.
I’ll show you what I mean: In this image, you can see all the areas that need to be modified in order for the parental control to function properly. I had already done all of them before I took this screenshot, but you can see here, when I got to content blocking, Kidslox was asking for my permission to access my phone (I set the Parent “Hub” on my personal phone) functions and storage functions. Like – I don’t know how to do that! But all I had to press was “continue,” it brought me to the appropriate spot on my phone, and I just had to move the icon from grey to blue.
After that, it was just going through the page legend at the top of the page. I went through each page, one at a time and every time I went into a new page, it explained to me what that page was for and how to use it.
Individual app blocking
This was one of the things I liked the most about this because it wasn’t your device or the app deciding what was and wasn’t appropriate for your child, it’s the parents who decided. You can literally go through every single one of your apps and either “lock” or “unlock” to set restrictions on them.
One thing I was a little disappointed about initially was that I couldn’t differentiate “Kids Netflix” from regular Netflix. My son has a little obsession with That 70’s Show, as well as his cartoons, so I wanted him to be able to access Kids Mode, on which That 70’s show is (thank God), but it’s not difficult to change from kids’ mode to adult mode – in fact, he’s done it by accident a few times. One morning, I woke up to him watching his tablet in his room. I thought he was watching That 70’’s Show, only I suddenly realized that I didn’t recognize the voices. I looked down into his tablet and found he was watching….Weeds! I mean…..! Thankfully, he had no idea what they were talking about, and it could have been so much worse, but I didn’t want to find myself in that situation again.
If you look along the side of each app in your phone, it has a minimum age requirement. And if you hover over the age requirement, it will tell you what, for example, a child over under 12 can and can’t access on Netflix. So in other words, if the device is in Kid’s mode, they will be able to access Netflix but won’t be able to access anything that isn’t considered age appropriate.
Additionally, you can block in-app purchases so although your child will still be able to play those free games you downloaded, they won’t be able to “accidentally” select the in-app purchase options and buy 250 diamonds for $62. This is especially nice for someone like my son who can’t yet read and just touches the screen until he gets back to his game. There was a time where he purchased $4 worth of gold for his game – thankfully, it was only $4!
The next thing you have to set, which takes like 5 seconds, are the daily limits. With each device, you’re able to set a total daily limit, as well as daily limits for each individual app.
For example: The parental control app comes with a default daily limit of 3 hours – which means no matter what your child does, they can only access their device for 3 hours total, after which time it goes into Lockdown mode and they can’t access it until 7 am the following day.
But to take it one step further, you can even go into each app and set a limit for that. So, if I only want my son on Netflix for 30 minutes, rather than 3 hours, I can set Netflix for 30 minutes and the tablet won’t go into Lockdown, but he will get kicked out of Netflix.
I like this because I don’t have to argue with him to turn it off even if he hasn’t reached his daily max, and it teaches hi” m how to “regulate” himself. Rather than using all his time up in one sitting, he can learn to save some of his minutes for later on in the day.
The timer function has a few different functions, which I like as well. So let’s say we go to the clinic and my son forgets his tablet at home, but we know it’s going to be a LONG wait. I can take my phone and turn it to child mode. As I switch from parent to child mode, the app will ask me for how long I want it in child mode (which could be separate from a set “schedule” – more on that later) to be on for – anywhere from 5 minutes to 3 hours.
Social Media/Calling/Texting Monitoring
This was the one thing I feel the app is missing. Although I can block access to these modes, and these apps do have age restrictions on them while in child mode, there is no monitoring. For example, if I had a 13-year-old who was just starting to use social media or texting his/her friends, I would like to be able to check, from my “hub” how many texts she’s sent, who she’s sent them to, most of her public activities on social media and so on. Although I can limit the daily use of social media, and I can disable her use of her phone and text messages, there is no real way to “spy.” I have never been a fan of “spying” on teenagers, but I’m not a mother of a teenager yet, so I will get back to you on that one.
Main Control Center
When you initially set up your account, generally, you would set this up from your phone. You can either choose to “share” your phone with your child and set “schedules” on when your phone will be in Child Mode, Parent Mode and Lockdown (I mean – let’s face it, parents, Lockdown mode wouldn’t be so bad for us either!), or you can keep on your phone and just control everything from there. From there, you can monitor, make decisions, change schedules, timers, modes and so on right from your phone.
So all I would have to do here is click the device I want to control, and my usual menu will pop up with modes, restrictions, daily limits, and schedules. I wouldn’t ever have to pry my kid’s device form his hand to change some of the settings, and he doesn’t even have to know he can access the app at all if I keep it in the background apps rather than his immediate screen (we have Samsungs).
As I mentioned above, this app has the ability to “control” multiple devices. In fact, you can control a total of 10 devices from one main hub, which I think it pretty awesome. For people who have more than one child, who each have their own tablets, as well as their own phones, this is a nice feature to have. Even if you have three children, that’s only 6 decives, so there is ample opportunity to control as many devices from one platform as would be necessary.
In doing my research of other devices, one thing I found on many of them was “location monitoring.” Since my son is only 6 and doesn’t take his tablet with him anywhere he goes, this isn’t something I would use often; however, if this was a feature on the app, I may consider putting it in his backpack. This is something I would have liked to see, but isn’t a deal-breaker.
This was one of my favourite features on Kidslox. Once you’ve set the daily limit and that limit is reached, everything shuts down. No matter what you try to do, none of the apps will work and every time your child tries to open something, it will send a special message to your child informing them that it is currently in “Lockdown” mode. While in this mode, no notifications will be sent out informing your child that their Tom Cat now needs to be fed, so there won’t be any anxiety over being able to see notifications but not being able to access anything.
- There were some bonuses on this app that I didn’t include in my list since I didn’t even know they were an option. One of them was “scheduling.” You can set up multiple schedules that can put the device into “Lockdown” mode at specific parts of the day. So although the device has a daily limit, if you want the device shit down for 45 minutes for supper, or for two hours to do homework, you can set these times up in the device. For example, if you want Homework to be done between 4:00 and 6:00 every day, you set the schedule times and name it “Homework.” At 4:00, the device will get a notification that it is in Lockdown mode until 6:00. You will then receive a notification that Lockdown mode has now been disabled. Likewise, you can set a “bedtime” schedule which will Lockdown at night. The device has a default bedtime set for 8 pm until 7 am. You can even set the days, so from Monday to Friday, homework time is from 6 to 8, but on Saturdays and Sundays, it doesn’t exist. The only thing I would have liked with this was a little pop-up or something that showed up on the screen saying something like: “Homework time! Kidslox is now going into shutdown mode!”
- The content blocker is a dual controlled section. Kidslox is always uploading new URLs they feel are unsafe or inappropriate for children and these are automatically blocked, so Mom and Dad don’t need to go through the World-Wide Web copying and pasting porn sites (cause that would be super…uncomfortable). Automatically, website containing adult content, chat rooms, gambling, cults, drugs, violence and so much more is already blocked and it’s continuously updating. On top of that, parents can go into the content blocker and enter their own URLs they feel are not conducive to their family’s lifestyle.
All in all, I really liked Kidslox. I liked how easy it was to set up and that the app basically sits behind the scenes and acts as a “parent” when it comes to which apps work and when. When in Lockdown mode, the only way to get back into the device or to switch modes is to have a password. So as long as Mom or Dad pick a password the kids could never figure out, then there is no way they would be able to get into it and override the system. I love the scheduling more, because although the daily limit thing is awesome, if I want my son doing homework between 4 and 6 but his tablet is available, it becomes a distraction. But if he knows there is no possibility of him using the tablet during that time, then he won’t be fixated on it.
And lastly, I really liked that even though it would be in Lockdown mode, if something happened, I could still get into it by just putting in my password. In fact, when I initially installed it on my phone, I woke up one morning to a notification alarm but I didn’t check it. While I was on the bus, I wanted to check something on the internet and I couldn’t get into my phone – it was frustrating me so much. And then I realized it was because I was in Kid’s mode. Once I figured that out (I hadn’t yet had coffee), I was easily able to switch to parent mode. So although it was initially frustrating, it was proof that the app works!
COULD BE BETTER
I do think that this app is better for younger children; kids who don’t quite have the hang of technology and don’t yet use social media. There is no way to add exceptions or specifications for social media apps with Kidslox, it’s either they can or can’t use it.
And the only other drawback I found was that I wasn’t able to differentiate Netflix Kids from regular Netflix, and the age requirement seemed a little high for me, since my child is only six. In this case, if you feel your child is able to access shows on Netflix you would rather he or she didn’t, you could simply copy the URL and paste into the content blocker. Also, there is a special YouTube function so it blocks everything on YouTube except the kids version.
All in all, I very much liked it and I would definitely recommend it to parents who are looking for a more thorough parental control app for their kids. Not to mention, at $79.00 for a lifetime membership, or $39 for a year, the price isn’t so bad either! You can also get a limited version of the app for FREE, if you’re looking to test it out!
For more info on this amazing app, you can check out their website or follow them on their Twitter or Facebook pages! They also have excellent email and phone customer service if ever you need someone!