How to use Smart Family: From their first phone to their first drive

By: Neil Mitchell

The parental controls in Smart Family can support each stage of your child’s digital development. Here’s how parents can use the app’s controls as kids grow and earn more freedom.

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Parental Controls For Smart Family App From Their First Phone To Their First Drive

For today’s kids, the “firsts” look a lot different from those of the last generation: the first phone, the first string of nonsensical emojis, the first social media handle and so on.

As they grow up, the tech changes up. And for parents of kids at any age, this means the digital safety tools need to change, too. A recent Verizon-supported study conducted by Magid found that 79% of parents use some form of digital safety features on their kids’ phones, such as content filters, privacy settings or data, and Wi-Fi time restrictions. But many parents may not know how to recalibrate these parental controls as kids earn more independence. Fortunately, Verizon’s Smart Family app has specific features that address each of these stages.

Here are the most essential Smart Family options parents need to know about as their kids reach these digital milestones.

The first phone

Getting a smartphone is a big first in a child’s life. Make sure that the first app to go on their phone is the Verizon Smart Family companion app. All the parental controls can be applied and adjusted from the Smart Family app on a parent’s phone. The companion app allows parents to apply content filters, block apps and get a general view of how kids are using their phones—without actually looking at those phones. 

Parents can make the companion app—and keeping the app active—part of the responsibility of owning a first phone.

Here are a few more things parents will want to explore right away.

Manage new contacts. Parents should set age-appropriate boundaries with kids about who can qualify as a contact. Then, from the Smart Family app, parents can block certain numbers or add them to the trusted contacts setting so kids can only call or text friends and family during restrictions.

Pause access to data and Wi-Fi access on the phone. That first phone can be an awfully tempting time-waster. With Smart Family, parents can set Wi-Fi and data time restrictions to restrict phone use during school hours or after bedtime. Parents can also create custom time limits, or simply turn off Wi-Fi and data access on the phone until homework or chores are finished.

Filter content. Parents can also set content filters to help manage what type of content kids can see and access on their phone—blocking both off-limits apps and inappropriate websites.

The first social media accounts

Once kids turn 13, they can legally access most social media apps. And ideally, parents and kids are having ongoing conversations about what these teens are sharing about themselves online. Outside of those conversations, there are a number of ways that Smart Family can help parents check in to make sure kids are using the phone responsibly as they gain more independence online and outside the home.

Web and app activity. As kids start to use more social media, parents need to keep an eye on how much time kids are spending on their phones. They should also watch for changes in their preteens’ emotional behavior after using certain apps. The Smart Family app can help. From the Smart Family app on the parental phones, parents can monitor web and app activity and use it as a prompt for a conversation about how long kids are using an app and why, how the app is making them feel, and how they could modify using it if necessary.

Location alerts. Preteens and teens are spending more time on their own, hanging out with friends or going to school events. With GPS tracking in the Smart Family app and a Premium subscription, parents can keep an eye on where they are, set up geo-fences, and get alerts if preteens and teens enter or leave those boundaries.

Pick Me Up. From the companion app on the phone, preteens and teens can ask for a Pick Me Up and drop a pin to their exact location, with an option to schedule a Pick Me Up alert that automatically pings parents when it’s time to catch a ride home.

The first drive

As kids navigate high school and begin to be more self-sufficient and self-reliant, the driving insights in Smart Family and a Smart Family Premium subscription can provide a view into your teen’s driving habits and help ease the minds of parents as their kids are driving on their own for the first time. Here are two examples of the driving insights parents need to know about.

Trip monitoring. Parents can confirm that teens are driving responsibly by viewing trip activity after a trip is complete. From the Smart Family app, it’s possible to view insights on speed, hard braking and sharp turns. There’s also an option to select “passenger” to check the driving behavior when your teen is riding with friends.

Crash detection services. Should a potential crash be detected while the child is driving a vehicle, safety alerts notify the parent about the incident. However, the crash detection feature will not detect all crashes and will not contact emergency services.

Smart Family helps families stay safe as they hit milestones from first phone to first drive—so by the time kids reach the big milestone of graduation, they’ll have a strong foundation of digital habits that will carry into the next phase of their lives.

Get the parental control app that grows with your kids—Smart Family.

About the author:

Neil Mitchell is media consultant, focused on digital and online safety. He has been working with Verizon on online safety issues for over a decade.


Verizon's Parenting in a Digital World Portal publishes articles from a diverse set of authors with expertise across the digital safety spectrum. Contributors to the Portal are compensated by Verizon for their work.

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