Tablets and smartphones are great tools for entertaining and educating our children. And as a mother of five, I know just how great of a distraction they can be on those long road trips where the only thing the kids want other than food and sleep is to be entertained. I’m sure most parents would agree, however, that whatever their child is viewing on that iPad or Android phone should be safe and age-appropriate. In today’s digital world where, in some cases, kids know more than their parents when it comes to technology, the only way to ensure a safe and age-appropriate experience is by placing predetermined limits and filters on these devices.
A great option here is Ranger Browser. Ranger Browser is a free app that’s available right now in the Apple App Store and Android Marketplace (for some Android devices). The app replaces the standard mobile web browser (i.e. Safari on the iPhone or iPod) and packs much better safety features and monitoring tools. Up front, Ranger Browser:
- Keeps a record of all visited websites so parents can view them later
- Has five different levels of filtering
- Offers both a whitelist and blacklist function that allows parents to allow/block specific websites
- And my personal favorite, the ability to set time limits on Internet access
The Yoursphere Editorial Team tested Ranger Browser on a third generation iPod Touch and found that the application does what it claims to do. Installation and setting up the parent account was all very straightforward and simple, but you can use this short guide to walk you through the entire process.
Step 1 – The first order of business is downloading the app and registering as a parent. You can download all versions of the app at the Mobsafety website.
Step 2 – Once you’ve downloaded the app, you’ll need to make it the default browser on whatever device it’s on. On an Android, the quickest way to do this is by opening the Ranger Browser app > Settings > Set as default browser. If a popup box shows up listing the browsers on the device, check the “Use this action by default” box and then choose Ranger Browser. To set the default browser on an iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad, you’ll need to disable the Safari app through the Restrictions menu, which you can learn to do here. Then, simply put the Ranger Browser app icon in its place.
Step 3 – Once you’ve done that, head back to www.mobsafety.com and log in with the username and password that you set up in step 1. From here, you can access your child’s browsing history and set filters and time limits.
You can also customize each predetermined setting as you see fit. To test the application we set the content filtering to “Medium” and visited several non-child friendly sites. All were blocked as seen below.
What really amazed our team was how the parent dashboard is updated in real time, so you can see what your child is viewing as they’re viewing it on their smartphone or tablet.
The Time Limit function also worked very well, although it would be nice to have a slider that allows you to set more specific time limits. Currently, you can only choose hours and not minutes, so if bedtime is at 9:30, you can only set the Internet access to cut off at 9 or 10.
Overall, the application works wonderfully, and we didn’t encounter any bugs or crashes while testing. If your children use a smartphone or tablet and you’re interested in keeping them safe on the web, Ranger Browser is definitely worth looking into. And best of all, it’s free!
You can download all versions of the Ranger Browser app, here.
And be sure to check out more recommended app and software products by myself and the Yoursphere Editorial Team!