App lets parents control internet use anywhere, any time


Controlling how and when children use the internet at home is one thing, but how about when they are away from watchful parental eyes? A new app developed in Western Australia may be just the answer.

Curbi lets parents tap into their child’s mobile devices, no matter where they are. Parents, via their own iPhones, iPads or computers, can control and monitor their children’s internet use, block access to all or certain websites, and limit the amount of time they spend on their iPods, iPads or iPhones.

The app can be used to control up to five Apple devices. It has a timeout feature, which instantly blocks all internet access on the device at the tap of a finger. A rules feature lets parents choose what to block, and when – for example, at bedtime, study time or meal times. It can even disable the phone’s camera, photo stream and Siri, and block iTunes Store purchases, in-app purchases, screenshots and app installations. It allows parents to permanently block content, such as adult, TV and video sites or social media sites. The app can also email parents lists of which sites and apps have been visited and for how long.

curbi screengrabs

Justin Magraith, product director of Curbi developer Systemic, says while there are already products that let parents restrict internet access when mobile devices are on a home network, this is believed to be the first app to work across all networks and on roaming internet. “Whether the device is on a home network, mobile data or free wifi, Curbi is active and enforcing parents’ online rules,” Mr Magraith says.

Parenting author Maggie Dent says parents need all the help they can get to manage their children’s use of smartphones, tablets and iPods. “Families have been hit with a tsunami of technology in recent years and it is becoming increasingly challenging for busy parents to ensure their children’s usage of devices is safe, appropriate and not excessive,” she says.

Systemic worked with child psychologist Vanessa Gent and a local school to develop the app, which is available for Apple products using iOS6 and iOS7 software. The developer says it is working on an android version.  It is available to download from iTunes for a free 14-day trial, then $50 for an initial one-year subscription.

Michelle Rose

Michelle Rose

Michelle is a journalist and mum to two girls who are obsessed with dinosaurs, fairies, pirates and princesses in equal measure. She lives in Melbourne's east with her husband, daughters and a giant, untameable labradoodle. Michelle loves all things vegetarian, wine (it's a fruit) and online shopping.

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