Sarah E. Werle Kimmel

Sarah E. Werle Kimmel

Your family technology coach

Healthy Gaming Tips and Advice for Kids & Family with FamilyGamerTV

Join me as I discuss everything from how to protect your kids on video games, and how to enjoy gaming with your kids and family! Learn about gaming in moderation and healthy gaming with your family. Andy Robertson of FamilyGamerTV and author of Taming Gaming literally wrote the book on healthy video game habits – Check out his YouTube channel for more tips! – Resources discussed during the live Board Games: Video Games: Games for Ages: Which Console: Buying a PC:

Epic Games vs Apple and Other Tech Lawsuits with Lawyer Liz

Join me for a discussion on some of the most popular tech company court cases like epic games vs apple and parents vs snapchat and other social media sites.

How much responsibility do tech companies have to protect children? Should tech companies be forced to comply with certain technology standards? Why can’t I purchase digital content outside of the Apple app store or Google play store?

All of these questions and more with Lawyer Liz!

Coparenting Technology with Michelle Dempsey-Multack

Parenting technology is difficult enough, but add divorce and shared custody into the mix, and it gets even harder. Michelle Dempsey-Multack is a divorce coach and has navigated these waters herself. Find out how to coparent technology and what you can do to make coparenting technology work for both parents!

Michelle’s Website –

Buy her book –

Productivity & Time Management

This week I sit down with Erin Woodruff from the podcast “Time is On Your Side”. We talk about the best productivity apps, tips on managing your time, and discuss if those digital assistants and smart home devices are really helping us be more productive!

Home Security System and Solutions for 2022

Join me and the Secure Dad as we discuss the best home security system, solutions, and setup to help you get your home secured! We will talk about the best products, and how to get started with a DIY home security system, and how to protect yourself from having your system hacked.

iPhone vs Android Built-In Parental Controls Which One Should You Choose?

While it’s no secret that I am not a huge fan of Apple, I promise I have the ability to be unbiased. I go where the technology fits ME best. If the features it has fits you best, then more power to you. My goal has always been to get the right information out to people so they can make an informed decision on what is best for them.

Both iOS and Android have free built-in parental controls that can be set, but there are significant differences between the two. While I could go on and on about why I think one is better than the other, in the interest of fairness I am limiting myself to 3 pros and 2 cons for each operating system. Obviously, the “pros” for each could just be the “cons” but I tried to highlight different things for the cons. Just know that each of the pros could also be listed as a con for the opposite device and vice versa.

iPhone Parental Controls – What it does better

While Apple was a little behind the curve when it came to built-in parental controls, what it has released is pretty good. There are 3 features specifically that I wish were available on Android.

1 – Communication Limits

One feature that I gotta give Apple credit for is Communication Limits. This allows the parent to limit calls and texts to only people in the child’s contact list. With all the spam messages and calls these days, it’s a great feature to include to help make a kid’s device a lot safer.

2 – Remove the app store

Another great feature in iOS is the ability to completely remove the app store from the child’s device. This will ensure that apps do not get installed without the parent’s consent. The only problem with this is that apps that are already installed will not be able to be updated unless you allow the app store again temporarily. I would love this ability since my son is CONSTANTLY browsing the Play store for new apps to install.

3 – Disable passcode changes

The last benefit to an iOS device over an Android is the ability to disable the device’s passcode from being changed. If you have a deal with your child that you know the passcode to their device, setting this will make sure that the passcode is not changed without your knowledge.

Android Parental Controls – What it does better

1 – Take back app approvals

If your child uses an Android device, and you approve an app to be installed on it, you can take back that approval. You cannot do this on an iOS device. Once it’s approved, it’s approved forever. In Google Family Link you can “unapprove” that application and then the child won’t be able to re-install the app.

2 – Lock at will

Android devices will completely lock during “bedtime” if you set one. You can also control the device at any time by pressing the Lock Now in the parent’s control app. This will block out the entire device with a “time’s up” screen and will render the device unusable.

3 – Google product integration

Using Google Family Link, you can set up filters and parental controls for YouTube and Chrome because they are all Google products. Since the majority of kids use both of these products, it is great to have that tight integration with parental controls on these particular services.

iOS Parental Controls – Where it’s lacking

1 – Need an iOS device to control

There is no Android app for Apple’s built-in parental controls. This is a HUGE con for children to have an iOS device if the parents use Android. If you want to manage a child’s iPhone, you have to have an Apple device.

2 – 3rd party limitations

Due to the privacy settings built into iOS, 3rd party parental control applications are severely limited in what it can monitor on an iOS device. Most 3rd party apps will require you to back up the phone to a computer in order to monitor the content from the device since it can’t do anything on the iPhone itself.

Android Parental Controls – Where it’s lacking

1 – Sideload capability

Because Android is a more “open” operating system, it offers the ability to side-load apps. This means you can install apps outside of the device’s application store. You can limit this capability inside Google Family Link, but the ability is still there and could open the device up to bypass the controls you have set.

2 – Google Family Link needs to be installed

Unlike “Screen Time” in iOS which is just located in the settings of every iOS device by default, Google Family link needs to be installed in order to use it. You have to install Google Family Link on both the child’s device and the parent’s device. Some people do not like having to install an additional app.

What parental controls on an iPhone or Android device can do

All of the above-mentioned features are either available on an iPhone or an Android, but none are available on both. However, there are some features that both devices have the capability to do.

1 – Limit time spent on apps

Both devices give parents the ability to control how much time is spent on individual apps. You can set a time limit for Instagram or YouTube or whatever app your child uses most frequently to make sure they aren’t wasting too much time on one individual application.

2 – Time spent on the device

You can also limit the time spent on the entire device. You can set it to turn off at a specific time every day, or just how long the device is able to be used each day.

3 – Content filters

Based on the child’s age, you can limit content from the app stores, and even filter the internet including blocking individual websites from being accessed. The one limitation here on both platforms is that they only filter content for the built-in browser on the device. For Android devices, it will filter Chrome, and for iOS devices, it will filter Safari.

4 – Location

Both devices allow you to track the location of the child’s device based on GPS. You do have to enable this for the child’s device to track correctly. Any time your child puts their device in Airplane mode, or if they go into a special power-saving mode that disables the GPS functionality, the tracking will not be accurate.

5 – Approve app downloads/installs

Android and iOS give parents the ability to control what apps go on their child’s devices. You can set it to send you a request to approve the app download or install. I recommend all parents utilize this function so you know which apps your kids are installing.

I do love that tech companies are seeing more value in offering these kinds of options to parents. I definitely wish they would do even more to help parents, but I’ll take what I can get for now! Hopefully, this list helps you make the right decision for your family. Good luck!

Troomi vs Pinwheel vs Gabb – Which Cell Phone for Kids Should You Buy?

The age that kids are getting phones is getting younger and younger. While it’s been 9 years since I gave my 8 year old a cell phone, that statement is almost common now! Since I’ve been writing this blog for almost 13 years now, I have seen several “kids safe” smartphones come and go.

The market may not have been ready for these options 9 years ago, it is definitely ready for it now, and these companies are seeing some real success. I think we are getting some really great options as well!

There are 3 major players in this space right now. Troomi, Pinwheel and Gabb. So, how do they stack up against each other??

Gabb Wireless

I’ll start with the first of these recent cell phones for kids. This is also my least favorite of the 3, and I actually do NOT recommend it at all.

The benefit of using Gabb is that there is no internet available on the device at all. This means there is no browser and no social media apps. The phone only has the ability to talk and text.

This is where the benefits of Gabb end. The problem with the device is that you are unable to limit contacts to the device, so they could call or text people you do not know. They can also get spam calls and texts, which could be problematic as well.

The other issue with Gabb is that there is no management available for the device. You cannot limit how long your child spends on the device, or when they can use the cell phone. So, if they wake up in the middle of the night and grab their phone, you would not be able to lock it down to prevent that.

Lastly, you are also not able to monitor the messages on the device. So, your child could send inappropriate or concerning texts, and delete them before they get home, and you would never know it was sent.

Pinwheel vs Troomi

These two devices are very similar, but there are definitely distinct features that you will need to evaluate which ones are more important for you. Let’s start with where they are are similar though

Both devices allow for contact approval, which means you will be able to approve who can call or text the device. They also both have message monitoring, so you can see the text messages your child is sending and receiving.

Troomi and Pinwheel also both have GPS tracking, and use very similar Android based hardware. In fact the highest cost device on both Troomi and Pinwheel are the same Samsung A32 device.

The great thing about both services is the curated app store. Troomi and Pinwheel have selected various apps that should be safe for kids to use, however you can still choose to allow the app to be installed on the phone from the parent portal in each service. Pinwheel displays warnings on the app if there are things that could be concerning inside the different apps.

Benefits of Pinwheel

Since Pinwheel has been around a bit longer, the curated app store has more options at the moment. As of the writing of this article Pinwheel has 288 apps available to install on the kids cell phone, while Troomi has 56.

Pinwheel also has the ability to create various “modes” that allow different categories of apps during different times of the day. For example, during school hours you can set it so only educational apps are available, or during bedtime, only music apps are available. This allows you to create a highly customized profile for each day that will allow your child access to the applications they need to use, and reserve the more fun applications for other times.

These modes also feature a routine feature. During the specific mode like “homework time” you can create a checklist for your child to complete. This makes the tasks they need to complete easy to find. Every morning it can show tasks like “brush teeth” and “make bed”. At night it can show things like “read a story”.

Even though there is no social media available for Pinwheel, and you can view all of the text messages that have been sent and received, you can add Bark monitoring to the Pinwheel phone to get alerts about concerning content.

Another benefit to Pinwheel is that it is carrier agnostic. This means you can add the Pinwheel phone to your current cell phone plan to make sure your entire family is on the same plan. You do have to pay a fee to Pinwheel for the software and the parent portal. This is a $15/month charge. If you think of it as just paying for a parental control program, it’s on the more affordable end of the parental control options, and there is less of a chance that your child can circumvent the controls like they can on a standard iPhone or Android device.

Benefits of the Troomi Cell Phone For Kids

As Pinwheel is carrier agnostic, Troomi is it’s own cell phone service. There are 3 monthly service options. The first is $15/month and includes calling and texting only. This makes it very similar to Gabb, but has the added ability to limit the contacts and monitor the text messages. The next option is the $20/month plan that adds the ability to send photo messages and particpate in group text messages. The third plan is $25/month and includes the kids safe app store so you can allow any of the available apps.

One huge benefit of Troomi is the kids safe web browser. This allows for parents to specificially allow various URL’s to be accessed. With this safelist only browser, the child’s cell phone will not be able to access any websites that have not been specifically allowed. Why this is important is with Pinwheel there are apps that have a back door to the internet. There are warnings on these apps that will notify you of this possibility. So once you get access to this back door, the entirety of the internet is opened up. With Troomi, if they find their way to a browser, it will still limit the browsing to the websites you have specifically allowed instead of the whole internet.

While you can approve contacts on both platforms, Troomi takes it a step further and gives you a few options on this. You can choose to have contacts blocked until you manually approve them, or have contacts in a moderated state that allows contact for 72 hours. If the contact is not approved within 72 hours, the contact will be blocked. The third option here is just the ability to allow anyone to contact the phone.

Final Recommendations

As I mentioned, the only one I absolutely do not recommend is Gabb. Even worse would be a flip phone. Most flip phones also have internet capabilities, so it doesn’t have the management or monitoring, plus an open window to the unfiltered internet. I like both Pinwheel and Troomi. Take the differences into consideration and decide which features are more important for your family.

During February, the code FAMILYTECH will get you the A12 device on Troomi for FREE. After February, you will still get a discount with that code, but the phone will not be free. You can also get a discount on Pinwheel by using this link.