How does Verizon Smart Family work?

By: Molly McGinn

Learn how the Verizon Smart Family app makes it easy to use parental controls, monitor your child’s location, receive alerts from your child and help ensure their safety online and off.

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Parent Using Verizon Smart Family App

As kids get more independent and curious, it's natural for parents to want to keep them safe. The challenge is learning how to do that without hovering—online and offline. That's where Verizon's Smart Family app comes in—it’s designed to help you find a balance between freedom and oversight.

Verizon Smart Family includes GPS monitoring, so you can see your child’s location in near-real time, view their location history and even be alerted when your child may have been involved in a car accident. Plus, the app lets parents set time limits for internet use, filter content and get updates on device battery levels. And when you need them to focus on homework, you can use the app to limit data and Wi-Fi but keep their phone operable to call or text in an emergency.

That said, finding a way to use a parental control app so the tech disappears and the parenting stays front and center can be a delicate balance. We asked Sarah Werle-Kimmel, founder of Family Tech, how she uses the Verizon Smart Family app to parent her two kids: Maddie, age 16, and Michael, age 13.

How does Verizon Smart Family work?

In short: It’s a way to monitor and control your child’s mobile device. Install and set up the app on your device and the companion app on your child’s mobile device, and you can check their location at any time, set limits on screen time, shut off data and filter out age-inappropriate content and manage trusted contacts. You can adjust these settings from the Verizon Smart Family parent app on your phone; if your child tries to uninstall the app to keep it from tracking their online behavior, you’ll get a notification about that, too. Even if the child does not set up the companion app to provide a more precise location, parents can still access their child’s network location.

Verizon Smart Family GPS Location

If your child leaves an area where they’re supposed to be, Verizon Smart Family can send you an alert. If your child tries to access a website that’s off-limits, Smart Family can block the site. Another benefit: While kids can jump between different Wi-Fi networks, it does not impact the parenting controls.

One of Werle-Kimmel’s most-used Verizon Smart Family features: pausing the internet access on her kids’ phones. “They can still call and text, but they have no more data,” she says. “Which is so fun.”

Parent tip: “I actually pause internet access most every morning; when they’re done with chores, I resume their internet,” Werle-Kimmel says. “That way they’re not on Instagram or YouTube when they’re supposed to be doing something else.”

How to use GPS and location tracking on a parental control app

Why is GPS tracking important in a parental control app? Sometimes it’s just about getting everyone home for dinner. But it’s also about nudging them toward better device habits, Werle-Kimmel says. For example, a parent can tap open the Verizon Smart Family app and:

  • View location history

  • Navigate to a child’s location

  • Send location check-ins from the child’s app. (Kids can also send a request from the app for a parent to pick them up.)

In the Verizon Smart Family app, the GPS location also displays when the location was last updated. Part of Werle-Kimmel’s parenting strategy is to send Maddie and Michael outside for an hour of free time. If the hour goes by and the kids aren’t home yet, she views their location from the app.

Parent tip: Keeping an eye on battery life can help you stay in touch when they need a reminder, too. “Once I was looking at the (Smart Family) app and saw that Maddie’s battery was at 2%, so I sent a quick text and said, ‘Hey, be home by this time,’ because I knew her phone was dying.”

Setting up geofence alerts and location notifications

Geofencing triggers certain notifications when a user enters or exits a designated area.

Verizon Smart Family Geofence Alerts

In Verizon’s Smart Family app, parents can set the location such as school, work or a friend’s house and get a geofence alert when their child enters or exits that designated area.

“It’s very intuitive,” Werle-Kimmels says. If the device picks up that you’re visiting a certain location a lot, it can also suggest setting up an alert around a new area.

How to set up geofencing:

  • From the Verizon Smart Family app, scroll down to the bottom

  • Tap “Add location alerts”

The same technology can also provide Driving Insights, whether the child is driving or in the passenger seat. Parents can use that information to encourage better driving habits. Among the Driver Insights benefits:

  • Know when kids arrive at their destination and set arrival and departure alerts

  • Get driver insights, such as speeding or hard braking

  • Provide an alert—with a button to call 911—to the parent and child if a potential crash is detected.

How much does Verizon Smart Family cost?

Smart Family costs $4.99 per month. Upgrade to a Premium account to use location services, which costs $9.99 per month, and enjoy the first 30 days for free.

Digital parenting today isn’t about intuition—it’s about embracing technology to parent smarter. And any time you can keep up with your tech-savvy kids, it’s a win.

Try Smart Family Premium for 30 days for free ($9.99/mo after).

About the author:

Molly is an award-winning tech and child development writer for Parenting in the Digital World.


The author has been compensated by Verizon for this article.

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