OurPact Parental Control app
I recently saw in internet advert for a parental control app, that allowed you to control the smart devices of your children. Like many families, there can be arguments in our house when the kids should be doing their chores, homework, having dinner or going to bed but they don’t want to stop doing whatever they’re doing. All three of my kids have iPads, plus the two eldest also have an iPhone, so an app that could remotely disable smart devices sounded like a potentially useful parenting tool.
The app is called OurPact, and is available for iOS or Android. Our family’s smart devices are all Apple iOS, so that’s the version I decided to try out. Unfortunately the strict control Apple has over their app eco-system made the job harder for the OurPact developers, and leaves a flaw in the process that is a deal breaker for me. More on that shortly.
OurPact does exactly as it says it will do. When the parent chooses, all non standard apps are removed, leaving only the devices default functionality such the phone, camera and SMS messaging. The parent can set a schedule of times that installed apps are removed, or they can choose the “Until I say so” option. At the end of the restriction time, all of those apps re-appear on the child’s device.
The real beauty of OurPact, is not the control it gives a parent over their child’s device, it’s the conversation it stimulates about responsible screen time. It’s just as well, because my two eldest son’s only took a few minutes to disable the Remote Managment of their devices. Yes, the kids can simply go into their iOS settings and turn this off! The developers address this issue in their response to customer feedback; “Unfortunately, due to iOS restrictions, we are limited in our ability to prevent profile removal. We do notify parents within the app when child profiles are tampered with…”.
Another concern I have, is that Our Pact is a free app. There is no advertising shown within the app, so how do the developers make their money? You have to agree to various permissions to grant remote access to the child’s smart device. I cant help but wonder if those permissions also allow unscrupulous activities. Just sayin.
In summary, the OurPact app is only an effective physical tool to control iOS devices of younger children who aren’t familiar with accessing their device’s Settings. I’ve gone back to having a conversation with my kids about how much phone and iPad time they have, even if we have that conversation over and over again and then threaten to turn off the wifi.
OurPact screenshot from the parent’s device.
Removing OurPact Remote Management within iOS Settings.
OurPact alerts when the Remote Management of the child’s device is turned off in Settings.