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Customizing phones to protect your children can be done through apps

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(WFSB file) (WFSB file)
HAMDEN, CT (WFSB) -

It can be hard keep a close eye on what children are doing on a smartphone.

However, tech experts said there are things parents can be doing to protect them.

They said there are two categories of apps.

One can monitor what's going on and what apps the child is using.

The other is location-sharing where parents can keep tabs on where their child is.

"To keep up, parents should really focus on the mobile device and putting something on the device," said Brian Kelly, chief information security officer, Quinnipiac University.

If parents want to monitor online activity, Kelly recommended "Mobicip" and "Qustodio."

Mobicip launched back in 2008 and is a parental control service that works on phones.

Parents can customize the filter and block certain websites as well as manage users and devices on their account.

With Qustodio, Kelly said parents can manage everything from a dashboard. That includes social media monitoring, individual time limits for internet use, games and apps and the ability to track text messages and calls.

"Those additional features cost money," Kelly explained. "All of the apps are sort of free to begin with. And the plans aren't that bad. They're relatively under $100 for 10 devices, and I think from a parents' perspective it's a good investment."

If parents want to keep a close watch over where a child is going on where they are, there are apps for that.

Kelly said a great one is "Life 360."

It doesn't only track the location of the phone, it has private messaging within the app so friends and family can communicate in one place.

"When I get to work, it will send a message to people on my app saying 'dads arrived at work,' or 'dad's leaving work,'" Kelly said. "So, that kinda helps us know where they are without having them remember where without having to call/text."

Beyond the apps, Kelly said it's important, especially with the start of the new school year, to have a conversation with children about technology by asking questions.

"What is a new cool app? What are you using? What's going on, on snapchat? What's happening on Instagram? And let the technology expert, your kid, explain to you how they're using it and how they're interacting with people," he said.

Kelly said before using the apps, it's also key to tell the kids about it.

He said let them know it's to protect them, not to monitor and track their every move.

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