Coolpad has been busy at work developing FamilyLabs, a way for parents to track the location of their kids, limit what apps and sites they're using, and keep their screen time under control. We've been playing with early builds for the last few weeks, and so far it's shaping up to be a helpful tool in the modern parent's arsenal.
Setup is pretty straightforward. Parents start off with their own account, authenticated over SMS. They can add one another to share control over their kid's device. Then they shoot invites to their kids and select which permissions they're going to need, and it's a healthy list.
- Daily Time Limits
- Restricted Times
- Apps & Games
- Calls & SMS
- Alarms & Reminders
- Set Geofence
- Lock Device
- Web Filter
This really gives parents the full spectrum of control over their kid's phone. Yeah, you can go all-out and limit just about everything on the phone, but most parents will probably opt for a lighter touch. After all, a part of giving a child their own phone is to foster a degree of independence, right?
Daily Time Limits on its own has plenty of utility. During the week, you might want to set a general overall cieling of screen time, so FamilyLabs will handle the timer and lock down the phone after that daily time limit is hit. If you're finding your child is a little too distracted during dinner, you can also set Restricted Times.
Say 6:00 PM to 7:00 PM every weekday, you can set that as "no screen" time. Of course, you'll want to hold yourself to the same standard, too. If there are times outside those windows you still need your kid's undivided attention, it's possible to remotely lock their phone.
Parents also get a ton of control over communication with FamilyLabs. They get to see every contact in the kid's address book and can approve or deny each individually. For other kinds of messaging, parents have full control over which apps can be installed and run on the child's phone. Don't think Snapchat is an appropriate channel for a 13-year-old? It's easy to lock it down.
Along that vein, there's also web filtering to block access to certain sites. This kind of granularity is super useful for concerned parents.
Parents can communicate plenty to their kids through FamilyLabs as well. They can set reminders and alarms for chores, and initiate calls and messaging through the app itself. When things get hairy, you can send an SOS alert which overrides volume controls and sounds an alarm on the remote device. If they aren't answering, you have a clear view of the device's battery status to ensure they're accessible at all.
Geofencing keeps parents up-to-date on where their family is on an ongoing basis. So you can know when they get home and when they get to school thanks to notifications. The main screen gives recent location information, so you can check in manually, too. All of this is equally helpful for following your own mom or dad in case they need help once in awhile.
FamilyLabs is still a work in progress, but the vision and promise is significant. The current digital landscape is daunting for a parent to navigate, so the more tools at their disposal to guide their children through it, the better.