4 Apps to Help Parents Set Limits on Children’s Cell Phones

Four parental control apps to help protect children on their phones

Kids and phones. It’s a quandary for parents. You want your kids to have a phone so you can stay in touch, but you don’t want your kids using their phone to access sites you find unacceptable or spend every waking hour playing Fortnite.

Here’s a solution: parental controls.

These are apps you install on your child’s phone and your phone (or computer) so you can monitor and manage their activity. They enable you to supervise web behavior, limit screen time and view your child’s activity.

Most of these apps work better on an Android phone than an iOS phone due to Apple’s restrictions on third-party apps. But Apple just announced that iOS 12 (due for release this fall) will include a free feature called Screen Time that will allow you to manage all of a child’s iOS devices. This is in addition to the app-blocking and web-filtering options already in the Restrictions section of the main settings of iOS phones. To learn more about the variety of parental controls for iOS devices – current and future – check out the Apple Families page.

With the right parental control app, you can filter web access and prevent kids from going to certain websites while overseeing the sites they do visit. You can block kids from using particular apps, such as social media or messaging apps. Some parental controls automatically block new apps a child tries to install unless you first approve.

Most parental controls enable you to restrict the time of day and/or the number of hours a child can spend on a device and limit hours of web usage. Most also include location-tracking features that let you see where kids are and where they’ve been. Parental control apps allow you to see who children communicate with and what they say by relaying call and text logs to you. A lot of parental controls let you manage social media activity as well.

Most parental control tools now also enable “geofencing,” which means you can define a safe geographic area for your child and get an alert if your child leaves that area.

Here are 4 of the best parental control tools out now.

Please note: App creators’ views and values are their own and are not endorsed by CREDO Mobile. Before downloading any app, please confirm that it meets your personal standards for corporate ethics and protection of privacy.


Boomerang is mobile-only, which means you can’t manage a child’s activity from a PC or Mac, but this is a solid, easy-to-use app for Android and iOS phones and tablets. It lets you set flexible weekday and weekend schedules to limit screen time. You can choose to shut down certain apps at a specific time of day – or pause a device entirely for all but emergency uses. You can filter web content, review browsing activity and search history, and approve or block new apps before they’re installed. Boomerang’s built-in safe browser automatically filters inappropriate sites. You get regular reports of who is texting your child and who is being texted, with alerts when inappropriate words are used. You can also capture and read all text messages. With call blocking, you can limit incoming and outgoing calls to saved contacts only and review call logs. Location tracking and location alerts are included as well.

$30.99 per device per year for up to 10 devices, $15.99 per year for individual devices. No free version.

Net Nanny

Net Nanny has been around since 1996 and is among the most popular and comprehensive parental control tools. It enables you to filter online content in 18 different categories. You can also control the number of hours kids spend on the internet each day. You can monitor social media activity and even censor profanity on sites while still allowing kids to visit them. You’ll receive alerts when children visit inappropriate websites as well as weekly usage reports. Net Nanny offers preset user profiles or you can customize settings for individuals. It works with Windows, Mac, Android and iOS devices.

$39.99 per year for one device, $12 per year per device for up to 5 devices, $9 per year per device for up to 10 devices. No free version.

Norton Family Premier

Norton is the web security expert, and its Norton Family app has a wide range of features. You can monitor the sites kids visit and block the sites you choose. You can set screen-time limits by time of day or days of the week. You can see the search terms kids are using and what YouTube videos they’re watching. You’ll receive a detailed report of online activity via email or your Norton web dashboard as well as instant email alerts when kids visit blocked websites. Norton also includes social media monitoring, mobile app supervision and blocking, instant device locking, text supervision, and location tracking in real time with 30-day reports. The app works on Windows and Android, with limited iOS and no Mac support.

$49.99 for a 1-year subscription with no limit on the number of devices. No free version.

Qustodio Parental Control

PC Magazine’s top-rated tool, Qustodio, lets you keep track of a child’s phone activity from your own phone or PC in real time. It works on iOS, Android and Kindle devices. It includes web-filtering, screen-time limits and reporting features, as well as location tracking, call tracking and blocking, social media monitoring, game and app time limits and blocking, and text monitoring in which you can see who is being texted and read the messages. There is also a panic button for emergencies.

$49.45 per year for up to 5 devices, $87.25 per year for up to 10 devices or $124.15 per year for up to 15 devices. There is also a free edition that includes web filtering only.

A new phone is an exciting time for a kid. If you’re shopping for a new smartphone for a child now, we have a wide range of choices at the CREDO Mobile. And all phones and plans purchased through CREDO Mobile help support CREDO Action and CREDO Donations.

So when should children have their first phone? The average young American gets a smartphone at the age of 10 and spends over 4.5 hours a day on it, not including texting and talking. But there is a lot of evidence to indicate that all this screen time is not good for young brains.

But saying no to a young person who’s adamant for a smartphone is not easy. If you find yourself in that situation, look into the Wait Until 8th campaign, which advocates keeping kids off smartphones until they reach the eighth grade. It has a lot of helpful advice for parents on how to talk to children about smartphones.

And if you find that your child really does need a cell phone before eighth grade, we hope this parental control information is helpful to you.

Defund the Agencies that Are Incarcerating Immigrants and Terrorizing Communities of Color

We all felt our hearts drop and fill with horror as we listened to the audio of children detained at the border crying out for their parents.

For many immigrant families living in the United States, the sounds and sights of these horrors aren’t new.

For decades, many of us have been affected by our country’s inhumane and racist deportation agencies and immigration policies.

Immigrant youth have had their loved ones, mothers and fathers, detained and deported. After a recent workplace raid in Tennessee, 550 children missed school the next day because their parents or guardians had been detained.

Other undocumented children like Rosa Maria, who has cerebral palsy, are being taken from hospital rooms and locked in detention camps.

And now, thousands of children are being kept in cages in detention camps across our country or in tent cities in the desert.

Many are wondering: How did we become a nation that is unabashedly hunting, locking up and deporting millions of people?

It is important to remember that this is not new: our nation has been committing these atrocities before the current administration took over. Congress, both Republicans and Democrats, has continuously pumped billions of dollars into the Department of Homeland Security’s deportation force and has given it and the Department of Justice unchecked powers to target and criminalize immigrants for years.

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (and Customs and Border Protection are  politicized, armed police forces charged with removing people because of the xenophobic impulses of a handful of politicians and allowed to get away with it because of the complacency of too many others.

The separation of children from their parents isn’t the sole effect of one policy, but rather a product of the systemic problems in our country’s immigration system. Those problems started long before Trump was elected president and he handed Jeff Sessions his sick dream job of hurting as many immigrants and people of color as possible. Under the Trump administration, however, the cruel and abusive treatment of immigrants and communities of color has been amplified. Read More

Victory: Scott Pruitt Resigns

Thanks to the activism and unrelenting pressure by CREDO members and our allies, scandal-plagued, anti-environment EPA chief Scott Pruitt resigned.

A corrupt, fossil fuel industry hack like Scott Pruitt never should have run the EPA in the first place. The fact that Pruitt wasn’t fired over his blatant corruption and outright incompetence long ago shows that Trump’s only priority is loyalty – to himself and to the fossil fuel industry.

But the overwhelming grassroots pressure by nearly 150,000 CREDO members and other activists across the country was finally too much even for this administration.

This is a victory for everyone who cares about the environment, public health and stopping public corruption.

Unfortunately, we have no doubt that Trump will appoint another fossil fuel industry stooge as Pruitt’s replacement.In the meantime, acting EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, a former coal lobbyist, will undoubtedly continue Pruitt’s legacy of subverting the agency’s mission by putting corporate profits ahead of public health and the environment.

But CREDO members and millions of others will continue to fight back against whoever is next in line to rip up our environmental protections. And we will continue to push for a rapid and just transition to renewable energy for everyone.


Tuesday Tip: Raising and supporting activists in the age of Trump (with 5 book recommendations)

Raising and supporting activists in the age of Trump (with 5 book recommendations)

Here at CREDO, we know how important it is to raise an activist child, especially in the age of Trump. We also know how difficult it can be to figure out how to talk to children about the cruelty that is happening as Trump targets our families, friends, and communities – from family separation to the criminalization of people of color, the Muslim ban, attacks on the LGBTQ community, and more.

We found some articles we thought were helpful in thinking about how to approach these conversations in ways that are developmentally appropriate but don’t shy away from the real issues of racism, bigotry, and misogyny that are at the core of Trump’s agenda.

We also asked around the office for recommendations from a few CREDO staff members who have kids for books to help raise an activist. Here are five of their top picks.

A Is for Activist by Innosanto Nagara

Firefighter, doctor, pilot. This ABC board book teaches children that to be an activist is also a good goal in life – that causes like environmental justice, civil rights and LGBTQ rights are worth fighting for. The alliteration, rhyming, and brightly colored illustrations make the pages engaging for kids while they come to understand progressive themes like community, equality, and justice. Nagara was born and raised in Jakarta, Indonesia and moved to the United States in 1988 to study zoology at University of California, Davis. He’s a founding member of Design Action Collective, a worker-owned design studio in Oakland, California dedicated to serving the movement for social change.

And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson

This is the touching true story (yup, really) of Roy and Silo, two male chinstrap penguins at the Central Park Zoo who raised a daughter. Roy and Silo do everything together. They sing, swim and, in 1999, built a nest and patiently began trying to hatch a rock. The zookeeper, Mr. Gramsay, noticed and brought them an extra egg from another penguin couple who would not be able to care for it. Roy and Silo hatched the egg and went on to raise the chick, named Tango. This is a marvelous tale that teaches children a happy, healthy family – whatever it looks like – is a natural family.

Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Peña

Last Stop on Market Street is a winner of multiple awards, a #1 New York Times bestseller and a celebration of cross-generational relationships that’s perfect for grandparents and grandkids. Every Sunday after church, CJ, a Black boy, and his grandmother take the crosstown bus back home. Along the way, CJ gazes out the window at the bustling, radiantly illustrated cityscape and wonders why his family doesn’t have a car and why he has to get off the bus in the dirty part of town. Grandma patiently answers all CJ’s questions with positive explanations and encourages him to see the beauty and enjoyment in his life and the world around him.

The Magic School Bus and the Climate Challenge by Joanna Cole

Children, even very young ones, understand existential threats and feel anxious about them, like climate change. Kids learn about it in class, hear about it in adult conversations and see the frightening fallout – floods, hurricanes, and wildfires – on TV. The Magic School Bus, the best-selling science series of all time, presents the topic with Cole’s trademark humor and wit. In terms that are not too scary, 4th-grade science teacher Ms. Frizzle explains why our planet is heating up and suggests ways kids can help reduce the effects of climate change and feel empowered at the same time. The lively and animated color illustrations by Bruce Degen easily move the story forward.

The Paper Bag Princess by Robert Munsch

A girl-power classic. Written back in 1980, it’s one of the first – and still one of the best – feminist princess books. It arrived long before studies began describing the “Disney princess effect,” which makes young children more susceptible to gender stereotypes. Brave and smart Princess Elizabeth is all set to marry Prince Ronald when a dragon wings in, destroys her castle, kidnaps Ronald and burns all her clothes, forcing her to put on a paper bag. Clad thusly, she tracks down the dragon and Ronald and rescues her fiancé, who, to her surprise, tells her to go away and come back when she looks more like a princess. Elizabeth rejects him and dances into the sunset to live her own life. The illustrations by Michael Martchenko are vivid and artfully drawn with an old-school familiarity.

The long days of summer are a great time for reading. If you’re looking for a book to read after your kids go to bed, check out our summer reading list.

Our June grantees thank you for your support

Each month, CREDO members vote on how we distribute funding to three incredible organizations. Those small actions add up – with one click, you can help fund groups fighting for reproductive freedom, battling climate change and defending transgender rights. In June, 70,000 CREDO members voted to distribute $150,000 in donations to NARAL Pro-Choice America, Rainforest Action Network and Transgender Law Center.

These donations are made possible by CREDO customers and the revenue they generate by using our services. The distribution depends entirely on the votes of CREDO members like you. And for that, our June grant recipients thank you.

NARAL Pro-Choice America
“Thanks to CREDO members, NARAL is mobilizing our 1.5 million member-activists who fight to protect and expand reproductive freedom – including access to abortion and birth control, paid parental leave, and protections from pregnancy discrimination.” To learn more, visit prochoiceamerica.org.

Rainforest Action Network
“Thank you for your support of Rainforest Action Network! CREDO members like you support RAN’s mission to protect people and the planet by addressing the root causes of climate change, deforestation and exploitation within these industries.” To learn more, visit ran.org.

Transgender Law Center
“TLC extends our sincere gratitude to CREDO’s members. Your support means the world to us and is a powerful stance for the dignity and leadership of trans and gender nonconforming communities. Now more than ever, we cherish fierce supporters like you.” To learn more, visit transgenderlawcenter.org.

Now check out the three causes we are funding in July and cast your vote to help distribute our donations.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile, the carrier with a conscience.

Tuesday Tip: 7 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Phone Photography

7 Tips to Improve Your Landscape Phone Photography

Ansel Adams once remarked that “landscape photography is the supreme test of the photographer—and often the supreme disappointment.” And he wasn’t even using a smartphone camera with a lens – he just cleaned on his shirttail.

For us weekend “phonetographers,” the challenge is incrementally harder. But fear not. Follow these tips and your landscape photos will be scenic – perhaps stunning – souvenirs of the time you spend outdoors this summer.

Straighten out the horizon
Your eyes always see a level horizon, even when you tilt your head. So when people see an off-balance horizon in a photo, the image just doesn’t compute. Make sure the horizon in your landscape shots is level as can be, and they won’t clang in the consciousness of their viewer.

Focus on the foreground
Ah, those majestic peaks, radiant in the distance. What a great shot they’ll make! But don’t forget the foreground. It’s the details in the foreground, humble as they may be – a tree, a rock or an old fence on its last legs – that add depth and interest to your landscape photos. Better still, aim for the trifecta. Include elements that catch the eye in the foreground, middle distance and background, and you’ll capture truly engaging photographs.

Look for diagonal lines
Diagonal lines pull the eye into and through a photograph. They add depth, perspective and energy. Studies have shown that people naturally view images left to right, so a diagonal feature that begins at the bottom left and travels to the top right can be powerful. Consider a river running diagonally across your frame. Or, if your primary object of interest is at upper right – say, a lighthouse – try to position another object of interest at lower left, like a seagull perched on a piling. This will balance the composition and draw the eye to multiple dimensions.

Use HDR mode
Most quality smartphones these days come with high dynamic range mode, or HDR. HDR makes for better pictures – automatically. When enabled – in some phones it’s on by default – it shoots multiple images at different exposure values, then combines them into one. One photo might be set for shadow, one for midtones and one for bright light. They’re snapped in quick succession, then the HDR software blends them into the best possible result. Details lost in the shadows of the more exposed image are added from the less exposed image, while details blown out in the more exposed image are supplied from the less exposed image. The result is a photograph with enhanced color and detail across a wide range of the spectrum.

Try a tripod
HDR works better when your phone is held absolutely still as it shoots the multiple photos that will combine into one. Tripods also help immeasurably when you’re shooting in low light. There are all sorts of smartphone tripods on the market these days. Many will fit in your backpack, and some in your pocket.

Add scale
A camera – any camera – tends to take the wind out of breathtaking vistas. Cliffs don’t look as epic, trees don’t look as tall and pounding ocean waves calmly lap the shore. To offset this shortcoming, find ways to emphasize the true scale of what you’re shooting. Include people and make them small in the frame (not standing right in front of you). Passing birds also work well. If you’re shooting a dramatic mountain valley, for example, place a flower in the foreground to indicate the majesty of the view.

Don’t zoom
When you use your fingers to spread the screen and zoom in on a distant object, you’ll degrade the detail in your photo. Instead, walk closer to your subject, if you can. Or, crop the photograph later.

Looking for a summer destination where you can snap awesome landscape photographs? Try a national park. We have six suggestions here. See you out there!

Vote for these three progressive groups this July

Each month, CREDO members vote to help us distribute $150,000 in donations to three great progressive groups. This month, you can help support groups fighting for civil rights, climate justice and racial equality by voting for the ACLU, Amazon Watch and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund.

American Civil Liberties Union
A long-time CREDO ally, the American Civil Liberties Union fights vigilantly to make the promises of the Constitution real for all people in the United States.

In the era of a hateful administration undermining the civil rights and civil liberties of Americans, immigrants, Muslims, women, CREDO funding will give the ACLU the flexibility to take advantage of new advocacy and litigation opportunities and respond to emerging crises.

Amazon Watch
Amazon Watch campaigns to defend the Amazon rainforest and advance indigenous rights by challenging resource extraction and promoting indigenous led alternative solutions.

Funding from CREDO members would enable Amazon Watch to hire a field organizer in Brazil to strengthen our advocacy campaigns against the new wave of industrial expansion taking place in the Amazon, largely in indigenous territories. Or, it could help the organization scale up its solar program in the Amazon to provide power to a school in U’wa territory of Columbia and support solar powered boats for the Ecuadorian Achuar to provide them with fossil free transport within their territories.

NAACP Legal Defense Fund
The NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, Inc. (LDF) is the country’s foremost civil rights law organization, working to achieve racial justice, equality and an inclusive society.

In today’s turbulent political climate, LDF’s goal is to prevent what could otherwise become a multi-generational loss in civil rights gains and protections. CREDO support will help ensure that LDF has the resources to carry out its core operations, while also engaging in rapid response activities in the face of countless new assaults on civil rights. Through litigation and advocacy, LDF will work to eliminate discriminatory voter suppression tactics and educate the public on their voting rights.

Your vote this July will determine how we divide $150,000 in donations among these three progressive causes. Be sure to cast your vote to support one, two or all three by July 31.

CREDO members who use our products are the reason why we are able to make these donations each month. Learn more about CREDO Mobile, the carrier with a conscience.

Free Posters to Download for Families Belong Together March on June 30

Donald Trump doesn’t care about immigrant children, and his recent executive order does nothing to help children still separated from their parents and families who are being detained and jailed at the border.

The massive outrage over Trump’s inhumane family separation policy has put Trump and his Republican lapdogs on the defensive.

That’s why, on June 30, CREDO is supporting massive Families Belong Together protests in Washington and in cities and towns across the country to increase pressure on Republicans in Congress and the Trump regime to abolish ICE and stop criminally prosecuting immigrants and detaining families.

If you’re attending a protest, we have free posters for you to download, print, and bring with you.

Download your free posters

Download ICE: Inhumane Cruel Evil (PDF) – 18×12 in.

Download Familias Merecen Estar Unidas (PDF) – 18×12 in.

Download Freedom for Immigrants (PDF) – 18×12 in.

Download Abolish ICE (PDF) – 12×18 in.

Download: Families Belong Together and Free 18x12in.

CREDO and UltraViolet are fighting Google’s deceptive “crisis pregnancy center” ads

In the age of Trump, the fights for women’s rights, reproductive freedom, equal pay and equal treatment have become extremely difficult.

Trump and his sexist administration have emboldened anti-women Republicans in Congress and in state legislatures across the country. These cruel and craven lawmakers have advanced policies that would block women’s access to affordable birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, prenatal care, breast exams, and safe, legal abortion.

And it’s not just members of the Trump administration and right-wing lawmakers who are attacking women’s health and rights. Some corporations are making it even harder for women to access the care they need.

Right now, Google is allowing crisis pregnancy centers (CPCs) to entrap women on its platform. CPCs are fake health clinics that do not provide health care and spread lies about abortion to scare women into carrying unwanted and life-endangering pregnancies to term. They use deceptive Google ads to steer women away from trusted health care providers like Planned Parenthood, which offers medically accurate health advice and safe, legal abortion. Right now, misleading CPC ads appear above Google Search results and in Maps results when women use the platform to look for information about abortion in more than 20 regions across the United States.

CPCs infringe on women’s ability to freely and safely access medical care. That’s why CREDO has teamed up with our friends at UltraViolet to expose Google’s continued promotion of fake health clinics and demand that it stop now. Read More

Brands, take note: The LGBTQ community needs allies all year, not just in June

You see it every year – brands like Miller Lite, Abercrombie and Fitch and McDonalds slap rainbow flags on their products in June in hopes of attracting a lucrative demographic through their support of Pride.

And it’s no surprise. A recent Gallup poll finds that more than 11 million Americans self-identify as LGBTQ. Companies go where the consumers are.

But this once-a-year, superficial approach strikes us as opportunistic, especially at a time when marriage equality and LGBTQ rights are under increasing threats by a right-wing Supreme Court and extremists at the highest levels in the Trump administration.

We believe brands can and should embrace Pride Month, but they should extend their support for the LGBTQ community throughout the entire year.

Some companies have tried to get it right, especially at the state level. In 2015, Salesforce and Angie’s List announced boycotts of Indiana when then-Gov. Mike Pence signed anti-LGBTQ legislation into law. IBM, PayPal and Google did the same in 2016 when North Carolina passed anti-trans legislation. And corporate pressure helped defeat anti-LGBTQ bills in 2017 in Texas as well.

But too many corporations still donate to the Republican Party or to Republican politicians who are relentless in their attacks on LGBTQ equality. And attempts to capitalize on Pride by simply changing a Facebook profile image or sponsoring a Pride parade or slapping a rainbow flag on a french fry box come off as simply another gimmick on the marketing calendar.

If brands want to support the LGBTQ community, they should do so authentically and all year-round, starting with the understanding that Pride Month was founded on resistance, and it isn’t a once-a-year party that corporate America can crash.

Here at CREDO, supporting LGBTQ rights is at the core of who we are as an organization. We not only speak out when we see discrimination, we actively campaign against it. We’ve been fighting for marriage equality and LGBTQ rights for decades. And with our monthly donations program, our members have voted to donate more than $5.7 million to progressive organizations fighting for LGBTQ rights, like the National LGBTQ Task Force and the Transgender Law Center, who you can vote for this month.

With the constant attacks by the Trump administration and right-wing conservatives on their civil rights, the LGBTQ community needs allies all year, not just in June. We hope other brands who are cashing in this month remember that.