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How to Build a Parental Control App on Android

a parental control app
Aran Davies
Blockchain Expert | Developer | Writer | Photographer

Interested in building a parental control app on Android?

A BBC report states that half of the 10-year-olds in the UK owned a smartphone. This report indicates that 24% of children aged between 3-4 years in the UK have their own tablets. An NPR report states that over half of American children owned a smartphone before they reached 11. The report also states that 84% of American teenagers owned a smartphone.

Such widespread use of smartphones by children naturally makes their parents anxious, therefore, parents try to help children achieve a healthy balance between the online world and the family one.

A Statista report shows just how much parents are trying to control their children’s activity. The study showed that 48% of American parents had tried to limit the time spent by their children on computers and video games

This is a big market that can be very lucrative. Let’s see how you can invest in it by building a feature-rich best parental control app.

android parental control app

The Features of Parental Control Software

Parents want peace of mind concerning the physical and emotional health of their children. They feel the need to do the following:

  • Monitor the usage of their child’s device;
  • Track the whereabouts of their children;
  • Web filtering to review the content before providing permissions to their children to consume it;
  • Set screen time limits;
  • Help kids with time management;
  • Monitor app usage;
  • Block access to threatening or inappropriate content.

Parental control software products help them do this. This is why there’s a healthy growing market for parental control software.

Examples of Well-Known Parental Control Apps

A screenshot of a parental control app

Check out the following well-known parental control apps to understand what you should offer:

1. Family Time

  • Parents can control the time their kids spend on smartphones and tablets.
  • They can limit device access during study hours or in hours reserved for chores.
  • Children need sound sleep, and FamilyTime helps with this by enabling parents to limit screen time during the night.
  • The app enables parents to lock their kids’ devices during homework time.
  • Parents can block apps and websites with adult content, moreover, they can activate SafeSearch so that kids don’t stumble on the wrong kind of content. The web filter feature allows parents to block kids’ access to specific content categories.
  • Parents don’t want their kids to venture into unsafe places, and FamilyTime helps them with this. The app has a geofencing feature, and parents get alert messages as soon as their kids enter places they shouldn’t visit.
  • FamilyTime enables parents to get a detailed location history of all the places that their kids visit.
  • Social media is incredibly addictive and so can distract children from important aspects of life such as studies or fun with the family. Parents can block social media or games from their kids’ devices using FamilyTime.
  • This app also helps parents monitor the calls and text messages of their kids.
  • The app treats data privacy seriously, for both children and parents.
  • Parents can manage multiple devices with FamilyTime, share the control with partners, and prevent kids from uninstalling FamilyTime.
  • Children can let their parents know where to pick them up, by just pressing one button.

FamilyTime has both free and premium versions, moreover, the app is available on Android, iPhone, and iPad.

2. Qustodio

Qustodio is a comprehensive parental control app. It’s available on the following platforms:

  • Windows;
  • Chromebook;
  • Android devices;
  • Apple’s operating systems like macOS and iOS;
  • Amazon Kindle.

Want to understand its functionality? This app allows parents to do the following:

  • Monitor the online activities of their children;
  • Content filtering;
  • Set screen time limits;
  • Block specific apps;
  • Get reports;
  • Track locations of children in real time.

This monitoring app allows parents to monitor the usage of social networks. On an Android phone, Qustodio enables parents to track calls and SMSs on their child’s phone.

Parents can start with the free version. Qustodio has several premium plans that enable you to track a larger number of devices.  

3. Norton Family

Norton Family is a powerful parental control software. It’s available on Windows, Android, and iOS devices. This monitoring app offers the following features:

  • Parents can track what their children search for online and the videos they watch.
  • They can set screen time limits.
  • Parents can help children with time management by keeping distractions away.
  • They can locate the mobile devices of their children.
  • Norton Family helps with content filtering.
  • Parents can monitor app usage and block specific apps.

Norton Family offers a 30-day free trial.

4. Google Family Link

Google Family Link is a well-known parental control app that runs on iOS and Android devices. Parents can do the following with it:

  • Monitor online activities like social media usage;
  • Content filtering;
  • Block access to specific apps;
  • Set screen time limits;
  • Manage permissions to use devices;
  • Location tracking.

5. Microsoft Family Safety

Microsoft Family Safety is a feature-rich parental control app. It works on Windows, Android, and Xbox. While Microsoft Family Safety works on some platforms from Apple, you can’t monitor macOS computers with it.

Microsoft Family Safety offers the following features:

  • Parents can set screen time limits.
  • Microsoft Family Safety allows content filtering.
  • Parents can see reports of the online activities of children.
  • This app allows location tracking.
  • Parents can set limits on app usage.

How to Create a Parental Control App on Android

I will now explain the steps you need to take to create a parental control app on Android, and these are as follows:

1. Define the Android parental control app project scope

I recommend that you include the following features in this Android parental control app:

  • Parents should be able to set time limits on device usage.
  • The app should allow parents to restrict their device usage on specific days, moreover, they should be able to relax these restrictions on holidays.
  • Parents should be able to share control of the app with their partners.
  • They should be able to block certain apps and unsuitable content.
  • The app should allow parents to monitor device usage by their kids.
  • This app needs the push notifications feature.
  • It should have a payment gateway integration that will enable users to easily upgrade to the premium version.

2. Choose the right project methodology

A parental control app could have several more features, as the example of FamilyTime shows. I recommend that you launch a “Minimum Viable Product” (MVP) with the above-mentioned features, and launch the app in one geography to start with.

Later, you can enhance the app based on market feedback, e.g., you can add the geo-fencing feature. Agile is the right methodology for this kind of iterative development, and I recommend that you use it in this project.

Read “Waterfall vs Agile: Which methodology is right for your project” to learn why Agile suits this project.

3. Plan for expanding into other geographies in the future

A parental control app could have a worldwide market, and you should design and develop the app in a manner that makes it easy to launch it in other geographies. There are several best practices for this, e.g., keeping the content separate from the code.

These guidelines fall under the umbrella of “app internationalization”, and you can learn them in “The ultimate guide to mobile app internationalization”.

4. Formulate an Android parental control app development approach

I recommend that you use the following development approach for this project:

  • Use a “Mobile Backend as a Service” (MBaaS) platform since it frees you up from the tasks of mobile backend development and management. This expedites development.
  • Utilize “Software Development Kits” (SDKs) and “Application Programming Interfaces” (APIs) to implement the key features, which saves time.

Read “What is the best development approach to guarantee the success of your app?” to understand the value of this approach.

5. Form a development team

You need a development team with the following roles:

  • Business analysts (BAs);
  • UI designers;
  • Android developers;
  • Testers;
  • A project manager (PM).

I recommend that you use the “Scrum” technique to execute this project, which is suitable for Agile development. Organize your team into small, cross-functional “scrum teams” where developers and testers work together on “Sprints”, i.e., iterations.

The PM should perform the role of the “Scrum master”, and build an empowered team that delivers business value. Consult our guide “How to build a scrum development team?” for more insights. The PM should also use a robust tool like Asana to manage this project.

6. Sign-up with an MBaaS provider

I recommend that you sign-up for AWS Amplify, i.e., the MBaaS platform from AWS, and get the following advantages:

  • You can focus on the UI design and developing the business logic, instead of mobile backend development and management. This way, you don’t need to hire mobile backend developers, cloud platform architects, and infrastructure engineers.
  • MBaaS providers manage cloud infrastructure and persistent storage.
  • There are various mobile platforms and devices, which can complicate mobile app development. Using an MBaaS platform helps in managing this complexity.
  • You can easily integrate 3rd-party APIs, moreover, you can implement user management, security, and push notifications features easily when you use an MBaaS platform.
  • Scaling your app is easier with an MBaaS platform.

You can read “How to choose the best mobile backend as a service (MBaaS)?” for a deeper understanding of these benefits.

7. Get an SDK/API solution to implement the parental control feature

I recommend that you use Allow2, an open-source project that offers parental control solutions, for this Android app development. Allow2 has a patented solution for parental controls, and it offers the following features and advantages:

  • You can add fast and simple parental control mechanisms to your app.
  • App users can enforce parental control on mobile apps, websites, and social media platforms.
  • Parents can apply restrictions, e.g., they can remove privileges.
  • They can also set up days in the calendar when restrictions will apply, moreover, they can relax these curbs on certain days.
  • Parents can share control with their partners.

Allow2 has several SDKs, and you can view them on its developer portal. Use the Allow2 API. This is an open-source product, however, you should check out the licensing guidelines before you use it. You can create a developer account here.

8. Procure an encryption SDK/API solution

You should take appropriate measures to secure users’ data, therefore, I recommend that you use the AWS Encryption SDK for this project. Note the following quick facts about this SDK:

9. Sign-up for a bulk SMS API solution

You need to implement the push notifications feature in your app, therefore, I recommend that you use Twilio, a reputed provider of bulk SMS API solutions. Take the following steps:

10. Get a payment gateway integration solution

At this point, you need to get a payment gateway integration SDK/API solution. I recommend that you use Stripe for this project since it provides fast, scalable, and secure payment gateway integration.

Check out the following resources:

You can find its pricing information here.

11. Sign-up for a test automation aid

There are many mobile devices and versions, and you should test the app on all of these. This isn’t easy with the commonly used open-source test automation frameworks, therefore, I recommend that you use test automation aids from Digital.ai. Sign-up for the following:

12. The UI design of a parental control app for Android

Now that you have arranged for platforms, SDKs, APIs, and frameworks, you can go ahead with the mobile app UI design. You should use the following guides for this:

13. Code, test, and publish the parental control Android app

You can now commence the Android app development, which involves the following steps:

  • Use Android Studio, which is the “Integrated Development Environment” (IDE) of choice for Android developers.
  • Code the app using Java, however, check out the licensing requirements before that.
  • You can read “Build your first Android app in Java” for guidance.
  • Integrate Allow2, AWS encryption, Twilio, and Stripe SDKs/APIs in the app.
  • Use Espresso with the Experitest mobile device lab to test the app.
  • Publish the app to the Google Play app store, by using this guide.

Congratulations! You have developed the MVP.

The Importance of Application Security in a Parental Control Android App

When building a new app for parental control, remember that the app will process sensitive information. This could include activities on social networks, location tracking, calls made to the cell phone of the child, etc.

We can’t overstate the importance of security. Not only do you need to comply with data privacy and security regulations, but you need to provide confidence to users. Only then the parents will even download your app from Google Play Store or Apple App Store!

Do the following:

  • Use modern techniques like MFA (multi-factor authentication).
  • Mitigate key application security vulnerabilities proactively.
  • Review the code of your app thoroughly to find bugs. Test the app diligently so that hackers can’t exploit bugs.
  • Develop native apps instead of cross-platform apps. Native apps make the best use of hardware features and operating-system-specific capabilities of Android and iOS devices. They deliver superior user experience, performance, and security than cross-platform apps.

Planning to Launch a Parental Control App for Android Phones?

The digital world is often risky for children. A report from Kaspersky states that 90% of teens find that online bullying is a problem. The report highlights the risks facing children that post sensitive personal information such as their location online.

A Fortune Business Insights report states that the global parental control software market will grow from $898.5 million in 2020 to $2,159.0 million in 2028. The report projects a CAGR of 11.6% during the 2021-2028 period.

Popular social networks and chat apps like Snapchat enable parental control. Parents can browse instructions on the Internet to implement parental control on their children’s apps.

This shows that the market will grow enormously in the next few years.

Platforms, SDKs, APIs, frameworks, and tools certainly help in developing the MVP for such Android parental control apps, however, developing a good parental control app is complex.

Adding features such as geofencing, app blockers, etc. increases the complexity of your app development, so you should consider taking help from a reputed software development company for this project.

Our guide “How to find the best software development company?” will help you to hire the right development partner.

If you find yourself lacking the skills and experience in your team that you need to create your next-level software product then why not take a moment to let us know your basic project requirements via this link?

One of our dedicated account managers will get in touch to answer any questions that you might have and show you how we can help.

Best of luck with your new application.

Frequently Asked Questions on Parental Control App for Android

What are the best parental control apps?

Kaspersky Safe Kids and Net Nanny are two examples of excellent parental control apps.

Do parental control apps work?

Parental control apps are an excellent way to protect your children’s online time. They allow parents to control the content that their children are seeing to ensure it is suitable.

Where to find developers to create a parental control app?

DevTeam.Space is a community of expert developers with years of experience in developing software solutions such as these. Simply head to the website and fill out a project specification form. You will then be contacted by a dedicated account manager who can answer any questions you might have.

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