For those looking for free alternatives to some of the features offered in Sprint Guardian, Life360 Family Locator is a free Android, iOS, and Blackberry app which performs some of the same location services as Sprint Family Locator if there’s an active GPS signal. Google Latitude also offers location reporting service for those willing to opt in. Check here for a list of other location service apps for both Android and iOS. All are subject to the same limitations in that the target phone can only be located if it is turned on. Life360 Family Locator does periodic GPS updates in the background even if the app is not running. To get the a current location, the target phone cannot be in standby mode. To locate the target phone at anytime, the target phone will have to run the Life360 app but running an active GPS will will burn up battery life. Sprint Family Locator has the advantage here as it can operate with the target phone in a passive GPS mode falling back to cell tower triangulation when necessary. Safely Go is a free Android app which serves some of the same functions as Drive First. In fact, it’s from the same developer. Finally, MMGuardian Parental Control is a freemium Android app that offers some of the same basic features as Sprint Guardian. Scheduled locate, time limits, application control, call clock, text monitor require a $3/month or $25/year subscription while locate the phone via SMS, lock and unlock the phone via SMS, safe driving mode, and SMS command to sound siren/alarm are free after the trial period. Joel Holl, Co-Founder and COO of Pervasive Group Inc., creators of MMGuardian, said “MMGuardian is also capable of protecting against a factory reset. MMGuardian is capable of dis-allowing the use of the Settings option, using our Application Control feature, which means the child would not be able to even gain access to the Factory Reset option, which resides within the Settings option menus.” However, that option is only available in the paid version. The free version can be defeated by performing a factory reset although MMGuardian will send a daily report to the parent phone which will alert the parent the child phone is no longer running the MMGuardian app.
Parent and child’s perspective
Leah is a parent of 11-year old Drake. When asked what she finds most useful about Sprint Guardian, she said “I think the mobile controls would be the most useful to me right now. When he’s older, the locator tools would be very useful.” She didn't find the locator feature too intrusive although she may change her mind when Drake is older. Parents I surveyed already use electronics grounding as a discipline tool and noted that children generally respond well to this form of discipline. Although Drake is not yet driving age, he did express some annoyance that the phone would be disabled even if he was a passenger. Another parent Tanya finds the Drive First feature the most appealing to her when her son reached driving age. Regarding the locator feature, she said “I do not think finding a minor under 18 to be too intrusive. I think it would be the same as calling the ‘house’ phone to check in on them or calling a friends parent to make sure they are actually hanging out with them. Or say the kid has an attendance problem, this could be a way to check to make sure they are there.”
This is part 3 of a 4 part series. Read the other parts by following the links below.