Austin’s Famigo Helps Parents Police Kids’ Internet, App Browsing

Software to keep the Internet kid-friendly is a big business. One Austin startup wants to bring those guardrails to the app store as well.

Famigo has developed software that outfits mobile devices with a vetted app directory culled from among the millions available on both Apple and Android systems. “It locks down the devices and prevents children from accessing all the bad stuff,” says Q Beck, Famigo’s founder and CEO. “We also leave it open to parents to bring in whatever content they want their kids to have access to. If you’re fine with your kid playing Candy Crush Saga but don’t want them to spend $10,000 on Power Ups, you can control that.”

The software essentially creates a safe zone on smartphones and tablets. Famigo employees review all the apps and videos available through the system to make sure content is age-appropriate.

Other functions available on devices—access to e-mail or the Web—are locked out and only parents can swipe out of the protected-mode, which also keeps kids away from advertising, Beck added.

Parental restrictions already available in app stores and mobile operating systems do not offer as comprehensive protection as Famigo, says Erin Brennan, a company spokeswoman. For example, Google Play does offer parents a way to filter what can be downloaded but Famigo gives parents a nearly “one-click” solution. “Famigo provides a more comprehensive filtering system by age, so that all parents have to do is click one button to select an age-range and never have to worry that kids will see something that isn’t age appropriate,” she adds.

Brennan acknowledges that the Apple App Store does supply age-ratings and password protection against unauthorized purchases. (Tooling around the settings for my iPhone, I see that I can also “hide” apps as well. Good to know for the next time my 9-year-old nephew … Next Page »

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Angela Shah is the editor of Xconomy Texas. She can be reached at ashah@xconomy.com or (214) 793-5763. Follow @angelashah

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