This is a sponsored post
When giving your tween their own mobile phones, the AT&T SmartLimits application makes it easy to monitor and restrict their mobile device usage. Parents can setup and monitor usage on all of the kids’ phones from the parent phone directly, gaining insight into how much the phone is getting used, and who your children are calling/texting.
Before Emily entered middle school this fall, we decided she should get a phone so she could stay in touch with us in the even the bus was delayed or if she needed to reach us when staying after school for extracurricular clubs and activities. We wanted to make sure that the phone didn’t become a major distraction at bedtime or while at school. AT&T SmartLimits contains a rich set of features to control and monitor your family’s mobile usage.
AT&T SmartLimits Features
With the ability to restrict calls, monitor the number of texts and calls during the day, blocking certain numbers and data, limiting the number of texts and purchases that can be made on your tween’s mobile device, while always ensuring that calls from certain numbers come through, AT&T SmartLimits can be a helpful tool for parents and tweens alike. Here’s a closer look at the features provided through the AT&T SmartLimits plan.
Being able to restrict calls is one of the best features of AT&T SmartLimits. The SmartLimits app allows you to restrict outbound calling during certain times of the day. This allows you to setup multiple times of the day where calls cannot be placed. For example, you can restrict calling after bedtime and also during school hours. The restrictions can be different for weekdays and weekends, giving you the needed flexibility to handle everyone’s schedules.
The SmartLimits app lets you monitor the number of texts and calls during the day. Activity is plotted on a bar-chart showing activity each hour. Below, you can see details to figure out they kept calling, or who kept texting them. Please note that you cannot see the contents of the texts in the SmartLimits app, so you won’t know if someone was explicitly asked to deflate the footballs before the big game.
Blocking Certain Phone Numbers
Whether it’s a frenemy, ex-boyfriend, or a collection agency looking for someone who used to have your teen’s phone number, we have found number blocking to be extremely useful. Not that Emily has ex-boyfriends but you get what I’m saying!
You can use AT&T SmartLimits to limit the number of texts in a month. It seems like a good idea to put some sort of limit on the number of texts but with iMessenger, Skype, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and other services, it may not be very effective against an innovative tween. However, if your plan charges per text, it could be useful. A friend of ours had a high school student who sent 2,000 texts a month making AT&T SmartLimits a perfect tool for this particular family.
This features lets you restrict app purchases to a monthly limit… But be aware that this is not iTunes or Google Play since those are paid with a credit card. This is other pay services that are billed through your AT&T bill, like pay-per-text horoscope services and text-to-donate programs. It’s probably best to set this to $0 since your child probably shouldn’t be using these at all.
The system doesn’t let you restrict data to, say, 1 GB per month but if you start getting bill warnings that you are running out of data before the end of your billing cycle, the app allows you to turn off the kid’s data until the bill cycle renews or to turn off the data indefinitely. This doesn’t affect WiFi usage since that is free.
No matter what restrictions you put on your child’s phone, the AT&T SmartLimits app allows for whitelisted numbers which are not subject to restriction. Ideally, these would be your home phone and other family members. This ensures that even if your child has used all of their texts or if it’d during do not disturb time, you’re able to communicate with them.
Limitations of AT&T SmartLimits
Unfortunately, the restricted calling feature only restricts outbound calls. If you have reasonable trust in your child, you’ll find that what you really need is to restrict inbound calls. I don’t think my child will be calling people during school hours, but I think there’s a greater chance of other people calling her phone during school.
If I could restrict inbound calls, I could setup do not disturb periods for school (Mon-Fri), night time (7 days a week), and even custom periods— perhaps to do-not-disturb for piano lesson time, hours that she’s volunteering, at church, etc.
One of our biggest fears in sending our child to school with a phone is the possibility that they’ll start receiving robocalls and wrong number calls during school. Unfortunately, AT&T’s SmartLimits app doesn’t restrict inbound calls.
The AT&T SmartLimits app allows you to monitor activity on your child’s smart phone even if you never get to physically touch it. Parents can prevent bill shock from over-use of mobile data, texting, and in-phone purchases that are billed through AT&T. Certain phone numbers can be blocked and unauthorized phone use after bedtime and at school can be prevented. However, the use of AT&T SmartLimits should be accompanied by family conversations around responsible device use rather than overreliance of the technology to monitor and restrict, especially as we teach our kids lifelong habits regarding responsible technology use.
This sponsored post was written in partnership with AT&T. All opinions are my own.