uKnowKids distinguishes itself in the crowded parental control market with its single minded focus on communication and social monitoring. The mobile-only product offers integration with a few different social media engines – facebook, instagram, and twitter to be exact – and aggregates all messages, wall posts, friend adds, and photos into their dashboard for monitoring by parents. Inbound and outbound call logs and text messages are also aggregated, though third-party messaging services like skype and whatsapp are not yet integrated into the service.
uKnowKids is thus designed for older children, providing tools which can help parents identify signs of cyberbullying or behavioral problems, on the part of either the child or his/her friends. uKnowKids does not offer any time management or web filtering services, and so parents of preteens should probably look elsewhere.
Additionally, we identified a number of issues with the product during testing. Our brand new Lenovo Yoga continuously froze when attempting to pair uKnowKids, when attempting to run social scans, and even when just navigating among different sections of the dashboard. Only closing the uKnowKids windows restored the computer to its proper functioning. While we tend to blame our own hardware for such performance issues, we experienced performance issues on a second computer as well.
However, when things were finally set up, the social monitoring was very useful and about as comprehensive as possible on iOS devices. And this is really the one good reason why a parent would choose uKnowKids – a pretty unparalleled monitoring capability on iOS devices.
How to Set Up uKnowKids
uKnowKids bnique monitoring capabilities are due to a much more involved device pairing mechanism, using either icloud or iTunes.
uKnowKids recommends the iTunes integration, which requires downloading the uKids relay app onto the desktop where iTunes backs up. While this is a more involved process, it is considered superior to using the icloud method because your child or apple may make changes to icloud which prevent uKnowKids from accessing the device. With iTunes, you have access regardless.
Simply download the relay app and copy the pairing code displayed. Paste the pairing code in the set up screen, as shown below:
You will next be instructed on how to backup your child’s device on iTunes; information provided by uKnowKids on your child’s web behaviour is gleaned from these backups. With iTunes, you may schedule backups as regularly as you would like, but with neither iTunes nor iCloud will monitoring information be in real time.
If you choose the iCloud method, you must sign in with your child’s apple ID; once done, you will receive a confirmation number to input into the uKnowKids interface.
Once paired with either icloud or itunes, download the uKnowFamily location tracking app onto their phone. The setup wizard will also walk you through the steps required to begin monitoring facebook, instagram, and twitter. uKnowkids will then run a social scan, which attempts to uncover “secret”profiles your child may have set up, and voila, your child’s account should be set.
The type of monitoring available with uknowkids on Apple – and we stress Apple because this is really where uKnowKids is unique – is not achievable with most mainstream parental control applications, thanks again to the involved pairing process. Apple backs up tons of communication information, and this is all accessed and displayed on the uKnowKids dashboard.
See above the Launchpad, the main dashboard aggregating both communication and social media data. New contacts, top contacts ranked by volume of communication, recent social activity, location, as well as data summaries are presented. Text messages, pictures, and incoming and outgoing telephone call logs, are recorded and displayed. Click on any particular message for more information, including some limited biographical data on the sender (name and previous messages, for instance).
Search functions allow scanning for a phrase or keyword amongst text messages, but like a lot of functions, this often freezes up, making it difficult to use (at least when we were testing).
You may also drill down into the different social networks, which offers more granular and specific information on a similar dashboard.
All new contacts, comments, wall postings, and image uploads from facebook, twitter, and instagram are conveniently displayed, and contacts are tagged as new or most active. A click on any of the social icons drills down and shows only all activities from the relevant account. Check direct twitter messages, translate your kids facebook wall postings with uKnowKids handy slang legend, and see exactly when, and how much, your child is active on social networks.
Uknowkids aso provides a “Social Scan” tool meant to identify secret accounts your child might have opened without your knowledge. Search by name, email address, school, or nicknames your child might use, and uKids will send any potential matches.
Available only for Android devices.
uKnowKids is available for both android and iOS users, and allows pretty impressive monitoring features due to the pairing mechanism. Location is only available for Android devices.
You have the ability to closely monitor all phone installed apps and monitor the leading social networks (more in the social section).
Some of the features that are avialble on Android and iphone are:
phone calls made, received and missed
installed mobile applications
uKnowKids is not cheap, with an annual price tag of $140, plus a one-time $50 Apple fee. For an extra $100, you can have a lifetime membership, which makes sense if you plan on using it for more than a year.
Thankfully, there is week long free trial, which is crucial for this product so that new users can set up a device, make the first backup, and then see whether they are comfortable with how the product works, or if they can get it working properly.
uKnowKids is a monitoring-only product meant for older children who have more active social networking, and who independently communicate often with friends. This is not a product meant for web filtering and time management – if this is what you are after, you would be much better served using Norton Family Premier or Qustodio – for about ⅓ of the price.
Much of what uKnowKids does is possible with other platforms on Android; and so most uKnowKids customers will be looking for an iOS solution – which makes that extra $50 fee a bit frustrating. However, if this is what you need, uKnowKids is a robust solution. We highly recommend taking the week long trial to integrate the product and see that it works as it should for you.
Watch this uKnowKids parental control software review to learn more about how to set up uKnowKids