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Verizon’s new parental controls are the ultimate smartphone nanny

Verizon Parental Controls: Smart Family

Verizon has refreshed its parental control service, which is now called Smart Family. By subscribing to the service, which starts at $4.99 a month for up to 10 family members, Verizon customers can track their kids’ activity in painful detail, control which apps they can download, monitor location, and get all kinds of alerts about location or device usage.

The service lets you monitor activity logs of call, text, and data usage, as well as set screen time limits and block out periods for homework or study. The app does have some blind spots — you can’t see activity in third-party messaging services, like iMessage or Snapchat — but it’s a more complete picture of smartphone activity than what you would get from a home Wi-Fi parental control service.

Content filters can be set for apps and websites, letting you filter by categories such as violence or adult content. You can also pause access to data in real time, which is likely to be the most effective tool of all for parents who want to get their kids’ attention.

Location features are part of the more expensive Smart Family Premium plan, which costs $9.99 a month. With the Premium service, parents can track location in real time, as well as set geofenced alerts for location. For example, you can get a notification when your kid arrives and leaves from their friends’ house, or get a notification when they arrive home.

“Being a parent in today’s digital world can be daunting, but it doesn’t have to be,” said Susie Fernandes, senior product manager at Verizon. “We created Verizon Smart Family to give parents the tools they need to help them raise tech savvy kids with a healthy and responsible approach to screen time and content viewing.”