Verizon Smart Family brings parental controls to phones

Verizon's FamilyBase is getting something of a relaunch today. Citing a need for increased parental controls when it comes to kids and smartphone usage, Verizon has launched a new subscription service called Smart Family, which is says is an evolution of the old FamilyBase. It sounds like Smart Family keeps many of the parental controls FamilyBase offered, only it expands on them to include new features and capabilities for parents looking to manage screen time.

Smart Family is offered as an add-on subscription that costs $4.99 per month. With this basic subscription, you'll have access to tools that allow you to pause the internet connection to your child's device, regardless of if it's a WiFi or mobile data connection. You'll also be able to check the battery level of your child's phone and browse a summary of who they've been texting and calling.

While a summary of call and text data is available in your monthly bill, Smart Family offers it up in a mobile app that you can check at any time. Verizon has taken this opportunity to revamp its FamilyBase app for the launch of Smart Family, promising a redesign that features "a fresh new look and easy-to-use controls."

As with FamilyBase, you can use the Smart Family app to limit screen time and set content filters so your kids can't visit the darker corners of the internet on their devices. If you want more in-depth controls, you can instead pay $9.99 per month to subscribe to Smart Family Premium, which gets you everything the basic subscription comes with plus some GPS-focused features. With Premium, you can track the GPS location of your child's device and even set up geofencing boundaries, which will send you a notification when your child leaves the area you've designated.

While Smart Family may not make for the most exciting announcement from Verzion, offering parents some degree of control over how their children use smart devices is a good move for the company, especially if it wants to sell customers on the idea that everyone in the family should have a smartphone (and trust me, it does). Smart Family is going live today, so if you're a FamilyBase subscriber, be on the look out for the transition.