We live in an age where we are connected to practically everyone in our lives via gadgets and devices. So, it is hardly surprising that we need to think about security and safety for our children in this digital world.
A couple of days ago, I had written about the need for caution when sharing pictures of our kids online. In that scenario, it is very clear that the onus of responsibility lies in our hands. But what happens when your child is open to cyber security risks such as pornography, bullying, sexting and more? As much as I would like to believe that I am an empathetic parent, there is a high chance that my daughter won't be sharing everything with me as time goes by. And, to be honest, I am fine by that, because she needs space to grow as an individual. However, if we can monitor things such as inappropriate websites or track our kids when they are out alone late at night, I am sure we'd all sleep a bit better in our beds.
I am a heavy smartphone (Android) and app user myself, so I was pretty delighted when Blog Adda and eKavach Pro reached out to me to review their app on my site.
The eKavach Pro requires two Android phones (version 4.0 and above) for it to be installed and work effectively. The first app is downloaded onto the Parent's device and is called the eKavach Parental Control App. The second app is downloaded onto the child's device and is called the eKavach Parental Control Child. Before downloading the app, I read a few reviews that mentioned the phone's performance was lagging after installation. I am currently running Android version 5.1 on both devices that I used for this review and found the performance to be rather seamless, finding no lag whatsoever.
Let me first describe the Parental app, followed by the Child app and then highlight the salient features.
On the parent device, clicking on 'New Family Registration' enables you to create an account using either your Facebook login, your Google+ account or an email address. This will be the single point login used for both the parent and child devices.
Once your login credentials are verified using an SMS from eKavach, you will be prompted to complete the registration process and fill in your profile details.
After this, you get a confirmation that the Parent account has been created:
This is followed by the prompt to download the child app onto your child's device.
Finally, step 3 asks if you would like to add another Parent device to your dashboard:
Installing the child app is even simpler. For starters, the login credentials are the same as the parent app, so there is no secondary set up to be done. But, there is an important step called 'Certificate installation' which monitors Internet activity on the child's device.
Once the credentials are confirmed, the Parent app gets notifications on its Dashboard, based on preset rules. You can now view all account details on the parent device's dashboard as below:
Salient Features which I loved
Emergency SOS button:
This is a single touch button that, when pressed on the child's device , sends an instant alert to the parent device. Very useful to track the child's location in an emergency.
Send Message Feature:
This enables the child to send a text message to the parent. It only requires a Network connection and does not mandate the use of a SIM card.
Child's Device Heartbeat:
Site Filtering on Child Device via Parent Device: With the threat of predators online growing by the day, this is a very useful feature indeed. You can input specific URLs that you would like blocked on your child's device. In addition, you can also filter broad categories such as 'Adult', 'Aggressive' and more, to tighten the filters further.
Concerns I had
The keyword filter option that is built into the app is pretty good, but it seems to have a few bugs. For instance, when I type in the word 'Sex' it blocks the browser from displaying any data. However, when I type in the word 'Sexual', it displays Wikipedia entries and other facts regarding sexuality. I did not check all the search results, so I am not entirely sure how foolproof the filter would be.
Just to be sure, I typed in 'Hot Dosas' and it blocked the browser with the message below. So, there are definitely some kinks that need to be ironed out.
Then, there is the idea that my child or any child, for that matter, may consider this app to be rather intrusive on their privacy. After all, if you have a teenage child, you have enough adolescent hormones to deal with, anyway. Currently, my child does not have a phone and only uses an Android Tab for sketching and gaming on weekends. But there will come a time when she will ask for a phone.
In this scenario, I think the best approach to take would be of trust with responsibility. You are the best judge of your own child. Keeping this app as an option for safeguarding the child, instead of a device to monitor his/her every move will go a long way to enable the relationship between parent and child.
No app is fool proof, of course. But this is a small step we can take to ensure that our children are, at least, within our scope of comfort and just a button's push away in an emergency.
Thank you to eKavach and Blog Adda for giving me the opportunity to do this review.