US carrier Verizon offers a basic suite of parental controls for customers in the form of FamilyBase, and that suite is now being overhauled with more features and rebranded as Smart Family. Starting on April 19, Smart Family will be rolling out with a wider feature set and an app that's been redesigned to be more appealing and easier to use. The suite allows users to check up on kids' activities with their phones, set screen time limits and content filters, and even remotely turn mobile data on and off. The premium option even allows you to track kids' locations by harnessing their phones' location data. The normal package will run customers $4.99 per month, while the premium option is $9.99.
The app's main screen shows a map view with names of family members at the top of the screen, if you're in the premium package. Otherwise, the map view is gone, but the overview is otherwise the same. Alerts when kids come and go in and out of a designated area are also limited to the premium package. In any case, tapping on a name will bring that person up in the overview, showing their battery life, and giving you the option to go into the various management menus for that person. In those menus, you can put limits on screen time, monitor what apps they install, and set content filters based on categories. You could, for example, turn off games for a chronic procrastinator while enabling violence in the filter for a young history student whose studies involve researching why swords were swung or guns were fired and what happened when they were put away.
Verizon is a member of the Family Online Safety Institute, which helped to inform the company's development of its new Smart Family system. The carrier also hosts a podcast called Up To Speed, where the CEO of FOSI recently laid out a few tips for parents in the digital age. Verizon's solution is fairly similar in function to Google's Family Link, albeit a bit more comprehensive and self-contained. All things considered, Verizon's new Smart Family system is one of the better all-in-one parental control solutions on the mobile market right now.