Verizon FamilyBase Lets Parents Give Kids' Phones a Timeout

It's never easy deciding whether Junior is ready for a cellphone, and Verizon Wireless hopes to make the transition easier with FamilyBase, a new service shown at CES 2013 that's coming this spring. Using a special app loaded on both the parents' and child's handsets, Mom and Dad can monitor everything from calls and texts to even what apps the child is using. Or they can give their kid a digital timeout.

As you'll see in our video demo, FamilyBase offers a fairly straightforward dashboard interface. Instantly capturing your attention is a big Lock/Unlock button that allows you to lock down that phone remotely, should you want your child to stop texting while in class (or at the dinner table). The youngster will see the following message at the top of her phone: "Phone can be used again at" along with the time. Parents can decide how long the timeout period should be.

FamilyBase gives parents a lot more data they can use to have a conversation with their child about the most appropriate way to use their phone. You can see who they're calling or texting, as well as which apps they're using. You can even see how long they've been using certain apps. 

Some parents may see a service like this as digital snooping, but the child will likely be clued in from the get-go about what FamilyBase can do. The service is really a tool for parents who need all the help they can get. We don't know the pricing for FamilyBase yet, but we expect a lot of parents to sign up.

Mark Spoonauer
Responsible for the editorial vision for, Mark Spoonauer has been Editor in Chief of LAPTOP since 2003 and has covered technology for nearly 15 years. Mark speaks at key tech industry events and makes regular media appearances on CNBC, Fox and CNN. Mark was previously reviews editor at Mobile Computing, and his work has appeared in Wired, Popular Science and Inc.