Kaspersky Safe Kids (for Android)

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Most modern parental control applications let parents monitor and control their children's online activities on both desktop and mobile platforms. However, it's not uncommon for configuration to be available only on the desktop, or on a Web-based console that's tough to use on a mobile device. Kaspersky Safe Kids (for Android) doesn't have that limitation. You can install it in as a mobile parental control app on your kid's device and use it in Parent Mode on your own, which is convenient.

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For $14.99 per year, you can create as many child profiles as you like, and install the app on every device your kids own. That's quite a deal. Most similar products limit the number of child profiles, number of devices, or both. Norton Family Parental Control (for Android) is one of the few that doesn't impose limits, and it costs quite a bit more, at $49.99 per year.

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You do still need a My Kaspersky account to use the product, and it's a lot easier to set up that account on a desktop, PC or Mac. But once you've done that, you can go totally mobile.

The Android edition reviewed here isn't truly a separate product. You can extend the full protection of Kaspersky Safe Kids to every device used by any of your kids. That being the case, I direct you to my review of the full product for a plenitude of details. Here, I'll focus on the Android edition. Note, too, that I've separately reviewed Kaspersky Safe Kids (for iPhone). If your household swings both ways, you'll want to read that review as well.

Getting Started
As noted, it's easier to create your My Kaspersky account from a desktop. Once you've done that, download the app and install it in Parent Mode. In the process, you define a four-digit passcode to lock the app, so your kids can't meddle with the settings. You can use the app to add profiles for your children and optionally choose a predefined image or one of your own photos. Now install the app on each child's device, in Child Mode, and associate the device with one of your child profiles.

Norton and ESET Parental Control (for Android) also use the same app for parent and child. FamilyTime Premium (for Android) and Mobicip (for Android) also offer an app for parents, but it's distinct from the child app.

In order for Safe Kids to control the child's app, you must configure it as a Device Administrator. That's not uncommon. Familoop Safeguard (for Android) and FamilyTime Premium (for Android) both have the same requirement. However, a child could remove either of those two by removing Device Administrator status. Trying to remove Safe Kids that way doesn't work. Doing so triggers a request for the My Kaspersky password.

Content Filtering and Social Networks
Safe Kids configures content filtering based on the child's age, setting each of 14 categories to Allowed, Warning, or Forbidden. You can use the parent app to tweak this configuration, of course. If the child visits a site marked as Warning, Safe Kids displays a warning that includes a small link to visit the site regardless (and trigger a parental alert). On a desktop, the blocking window for a forbidden site includes a link that allows parents to suspend filtering for a time. That link is absent in the mobile editions.

Safe Kids includes the option to monitor your child's social media activity in Facebook and in the VK social network, which is very popular in Europe and in Kaspersky's native Russia. Monitoring requires the child to install an app in the network; you get an alert if the child disables the app. Since the monitoring occurs in the network account itself, it's totally platform-independent.

Here's one area where you must interact with the My Kaspersky account online. There's no provision to configure social media tracking under Android, nor does the Android app report on your child's posts.

Time Limits and Application Control
Safe Kids has an extremely flexible mechanism for tracking and controlling your children's use of their devices. You can set it to just track usage, to limit the number of hours used on each day of the week, or to set a weekly schedule of times when the device can be used. And you can set it to actively block device use when time's up or to simply send a warning (and alert you if the warning is ignored). However, you can't configure this feature from the parent app. You have to go to My Kaspersky online.

When the time limit is approaching, the child gets a one-minute warning. If it's set to block access, any attempt to launch an app after the time limit has expired is blocked.

You can configure the program's application control from the parent app, fortunately. This includes blocking use of apps based on several kinds of age-related ratings, and blocking use of all apps matching 14 categories, among them File Sharing, Games, and Online Shopping.

Safe Kids has the ability to block or allow individual apps, or to set a daily limit on the hours spent using any app. However, to configure this feature you must use the online console. Any attempt to launch an app that's forbidden, or whose time limit has expired, gets a stern warning from Safe Kids.

Safe Kids can only block apps that it has seen operating. Net Nanny (for Android) lists all apps on the child's device and lets parents block any of them. It can also block access to the App Store, and block new apps by default. Safe Kids does at least notify you when it sees a new app. Mobicip can block apps or apply a time limit.

Where Is My Child?
If you want to check on your child's location, you want that information right away. The Safe Kids parent app makes it easy to get that information. Just tap the Where Is My Child link at the top center of the app. This gets you the current location, but there's no location history like that offered by Familoop.

You can also define any number of Allowed areas, along with the times when the child is supposed to be in that area. For example, you might draw a circle around the school, configuring that to be the allowed area during school hours on weekdays. If the child leaves or enters the allowed area, you get a notification. FamilyTime has a similar feature, but it must be connected as the child crosses the border. It doesn't work with devices that only have Wi-Fi connectivity. In testing, this feature worked fine. I haven't seen this kind of time-based geofencing in other products.

Call and Text Monitoring
Only the Android edition of Safe Kids includes monitoring of phone calls and texts. If you turn on this feature, it will maintain a phone number list of all incoming and outgoing calls and texts. Going deeper, you can put specific phone numbers on the monitor list. Any call or text to or from listed numbers triggers an alert. I could not actively test this feature, as all of my Android test devices are tablets, not smartphones.

It's worth noting that some competing products take this feature quite a bit farther. Norton and Qustodio Parental Control (for Android) in particular don't just warn you if some creep phones your kid. They let you block all calls and texts to or from specified numbers.

Alerts and Reports
Many different events generate parental alerts: trying to visit a naughty website; using the device outside permitted hours; leaving the allowed area; and more. You can choose to receive alerts via email, push notification through the parental app, or both. If the alerts get overwhelming, you have a very fine-grained ability to turn some of them off.

A tap on the Alerts icon brings up a list of all current alerts, just as it does in the online console. Geofencing alerts include a button to view the child's location. Online, alerts about attempts to access restricted sites include a button that lets parents tweak permissions for that site. The Android app doesn't include that option. The online console also lets you click away individual alerts, or mark all pending alerts as read; that's not present in the Android parent app.

Also absent are the activity summary and detailed reports found in the online console. With the parent app you do see all alerts as they happen, but if you want more detail you simply must log in. You can do that from your Android device, of course, but the console is much better suited to the bigger screen of a Windows or Mac desktop.

A Nice Choice
Kaspersky Safe Kids is a nice choice for the Android-oriented family, as its app functions both to control the child's online activity and report to the parent. And of course you can also install it on your children's iOS, Windows, or Mac devices. In fact, its iOS edition is an Editors' Choice for parental control on that platform.

Norton Family Parental Control remains our Editors' Choice for Android parental control. It includes some useful features Safe Kids lacks, such as blocking unwanted calls and texts. But you won't go wrong choosing Safe Kids instead.

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