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Cellphone Parenting

Should I buy parental controls from my wireless carrier?

There are pros and cons to purchasing parental controls from your wireless carrier. These services let you do everything from filtering inappropriate content and blocking phone purchases to locating your kid on a map. The main "con" is cost. Some of these features can be expensive, and you may be able to find cheaper alternatives through the phone's built-in settings or through third-party apps. But on the "pro" side is necessity. Although we like to think our kids will be completely responsible, some will resist your rules. If your kid is risking safety, privacy, and money, it might be worth looking into these services. Here's a sampling of the parental controls available from some of the largest U.S. national carriers:


AT&T Secure Family, $7.99/mo (Learn more)
Offers a full suite of parental controls in addition to letting you disconnect devices. Requires two apps: the AT&T Secure Family app which you download onto your phone and the Secure Family Companion App which you download onto your kid's phone.

Comcast Xfinity XFi, Free (Learn more)
Allows you to pause the internet whenever you want as well as schedule a time for the device to disconnect from the network. You can also remotely manage access to other content, for example videos.

Verizon Smart Family, $9.99/mo; included with Verizon Smart Family phone plan (Learn more)
Offers an array of parental controls. Requires two apps: the Verizon Smart Family which you download onto your phone and the Smart Family companion app which you download onto your kid's phone.

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