Surfie is not one of the biggest names around when it comes to cell phone parental control apps (opens in new tab), but this upstart app from Israeli company PureSight offers a decent range of features alongside low pricing – it costs $4.99 a month or $49.99 for an annual subscription. That makes it half as expensive as some of its rivals. However, it is missing a handful of key features that some parents may find useful.
This app takes a proactive approach to cyber-bullying by using customisable keyword and key phrase systems. Parents can configure Surfie to deliver alerts when certain topics are breached using a conventional filtering system, but parents can go further than this by using pre-set lists of key words and phrases and adding their own words or phrases – if the app detects that these are used in chat logs, then communication is shut down, alerts and transcripts are sent to the parent device and the parent can evaluate the situation and either let the child continue or block the apps and people responsible.
Surfie uses text monitoring algorithms to detect slang, and to also determine if children are substituting characters for numbers, deploying phonetic spelling, or using character omission to try and get around filters. No matter what is being said, Surfie will likely detect it and let you know.
Surfie’s chat-monitoring abilities are extensive and powerful, so this app is a great option if your kids spend plenty of time chatting online in apps like Instagram, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp.
Elsewhere, this tool offers a conventional and decent range of features. Like most other parent control apps, it has filters that monitor content in key categories – there are eighteen in total, including common subjects like alcohol, gambling, sexual material and hate speech. Parents can choose to allow or block content or apps when Surfie detects potentially inappropriate material, and the app uses artificial intelligence to detect material and identify new threats.
This parental control app includes search engine monitoring, and it has solid GPS-based options – like many other parental control software it has location tracking and geo-fencing, so you’ll get an alert if your children leave designated safe zones. Unlike Kaspersky Safe Kids, though, it doesn’t give alerts if your children’s devices are about to run out of battery power.
Surfie has a solid set of time-management options, too. Parents can set schedules for their children – kids can have a certain amount of screen-time available every day, more time available on different days, and parents can also restrict the amount of time that children can spend in individual apps – so they can have unlimited access to educational tools but only a certain amount of time in games, for instance.
Surfie: Parent options
Reports can be delivered that examine how much time children are spending on their apps and devices, and Surfie’s reports also give parents lists of their kids’ top ten websites – so parents can monitor their habits and preferences to encourage good behavior and tackle any issues before they become serious. Surfie also provides a family dashboard that serves up an instant look at what everyone is up to on their devices, so parents can quickly monitor their family situation. Each child can have a different account, so they can have age-appropriate access and schedule options – so that all-inclusive family feed is a welcome addition.
The feature set is rounded out by several other solid options. Children’s internet access can be disconnected by pressing one button, and parents can access their children’s contact lists and block contacts. App access can be easily restricted, and parents can create a blocklist to prevent access to particular websites.
As with most parental control tools, though, Surfie also comes with its own set of caveats. It works on Windows, mac OS, Android, and iOS, but it’s more restrictive on iOS, where fewer app monitoring options are available. It doesn’t monitor text messages on any platform, and it doesn’t work with as many social networking apps as a tool like Bark, which is a specialist option for social media.
Should you use Surfie?
Surfie is one of the cheaper parental control options out there, though, especially when compared to tools with prices that range into the triple-figures – and it does have great options for preventing cyber-bullying, managing your children’s online time, and preventing your kids from accessing harmful content. Those location options are welcome, too. It might not be perfect, but Surfie is a decent option for looking after your kids on the internet, especially if they’re keen communicators.