By now you’ve heard about all the latest and greatest apps, from Instagram and Kik to the new 6-second video sharing site called Vine. And you’ve wondered: are my kids using those apps? If you’ve got younger children you might have restricted them from downloading apps, or you’ve set them up with your Apple ID so they need you, keeper of the password, when they’re ready to try out a new game. However, if your kids are older or you haven’t set up these safeguards, it could be anything goes in the App Store. That’s the kind of situation where AppCertain could be your new friend.
What is AppCertain and how does it help monitor apps?
AppCertain is a free app monitoring service that notifies you each time a new app is downloaded onto your child’s iDevice. The service will also let you know some important details about the app:
- Does the app use location tracking?
- Does the app have in-app purchases?
- Does the app have ads? (Many free apps use ads to generate revenue.)
- Does the app have any educational value?
- How much did the app cost?
This is valuable information that you might not detect by just looking at your child’s device and perusing the apps. For example, if an app allows for in-app purchases, you can check to make sure you have set up restrictions to prevent in-app purchases on the device. If the app has ads, are they appropriate for your child’s age group? (I’ve seen ads for dating sites in a popular word game app!)
How it works
When a new app is detected, you get an e-mail. Here’s a sample e-mail I received after installing a few new apps on my iPhone:
Now if this had been something my daughter had downloaded, I would want to take a closer look. Since she is too young (says me) for Facebook and Twitter I’d be sure she was not connected to those services, and find out more about the in-app purchases available in the app.
Multi-device tracking – not yet
Once I tried AppCertain on my iPhone, I wanted to install the security profile on my daughter’s iPod Touch for some further testing (and to get an idea of the apps she is using of course!) Unfortunately the security profile can only be added to one device. AppCertain tells me that this is something they are working on and can hopefully offer in the future.
Monitoring is only the first step
So if you’re looking to get a better handle on the apps your child is using, AppCertain is a useful tool. As with any monitoring tool, it is not a replacement for open and honest communication with your child. (AppCertain or any monitoring service should not be looked at as “spying” – in fact AppCertain suggests you let your child know you are tracking their apps.) But by using these tools you have a great way to get a conversation started about the apps, games and online activities your child is involved in.
How to get AppCertain
As mentioned, AppCertain is not an app; you will not find it in the Apple App Store. Instead, go to the AppCertain website and click the Sign Up link. I also recommend the video on their home page which will walk you through the steps.