When it comes to keeping your child three-finger swiping safely on a phone or tablet, Apple’s “walled garden” may be the first thing that pops to mind. Journalist K.T. Bradford examined the options over at Tecca and came to a somewhat surprising discovery, however: Android is better for kids than iOS.
Why? It’s all about the parental controls. While iOS includes some basic app-blocking and content-filtering options, the protection is largely limited to the software baked into the operating system, like iTunes or Safari. Android doesn’t offer very robust protection out of the box either, but the open-source OS gives developers access to much deeper parts of the operating system than Apple. That’s led to a thriving ecosystem of third-party parental control apps.
The parental control apps found in Apple’s App Store only block web content; Mobicip Safe Browser and K9 are basically just internet filters. Over on the other side of the fence, Android apps like NQ Family Guardian, Kyte, Kids Place and Norton Family Parental Control offer much, much more flexibility and granular protection options that extend throughout the entire OS, not just the web browser.
Depending on the app, parents often have the ability to hide specific apps from their children, block app downloads, schedule when kids can use their phones (and who can call/text them), monitor activity, customize kid-friendly homescreens and, in the case of NQ Family Guardian, even use GPS to set up “safe zones” and check-ins for your kids that send you notifications when they arrive/leave specific locations.
Some manufacturers are starting to bake multiple user profiles and parental controls directly into their Android installations, as well, as seen with the Kurio 7 Kids Tablet and the new Kindle Fire HD lineup’s FreeTime mode. The Nook Tablet has strong ingrained parental controls, as well.
The most effective garden walls are the ones you build yourself, it seems.