FAQ

What is ParentShield

ParentShield is a new breed of mobile telephone service, designed to help parents and guardians protect children and vulnerable people from the risks that are associated with them having their own phone. Our service provides parents and guardians with the ability to listen to all calls, read all texts and limit the internet access through an online portal. This service works in the same way as a normal SIM would for the child or vulnerable person, but provides important safety benefits.
The end user is not presumed to have any authority to change settings, billing profiles or authenticate in any way. When balance gets low it’s the Parent’s phone that is alerted. PIN numbers are never sent to the phone and the phone user can never place orders or make topups. With a normal mobile phone contract this is far too easy to do!
ParentShield will also never install offer or advertising Apps on your child’s phone. Some phone networks do this and will promote adult services to the phone such as gambling and alcohol. ParentShield data connections do not target advertising at the phone user.
For a fixed monthly cost Parents have the assurance that their child can always call and text home without the fear that they will use all their credit, or run up a big bill, and then be unable to call home.

Who is ParentShield for?

ParentShield is a service designed to be ideal for parents and legal guardians of young or vulnerable people. ParentShield provides far better safety and control than a normal mobile phone network.
The network is ideal for all children who have the need for their communications to be monitored or better controlled. Also for older users with special safeguarding needs.

Does a ParentShield user have to be a child?

In most circumstances, yes. Our typical user is under 14 years of age, or has other special requirements that make a normal mobile service impractical.
Because our network allows you to record calls and sms to and from the phone, it is not suitable for normal adult public use.
We do have procedures in place to accommodate customers who have users with special needs. Please make a note on the order page.

Do you have coverage in my area?

Our SIM cards are Roaming SIMs and can be set to connect to the strongest major UK network in your area.
Our preferred networks for technical reasons are Vodafone, Three and O2. What network (or networks) we use for your particular SIM will depend on many factors. You can specify a network, or full roaming at Checkout. If you have connectivity concerns, Call Us on 03301221180 for a chat.

How do the home numbers work?

Each account has “Home Numbers“, which are unlimited for all SIMs associated with that account to contact, via calls or SMS.
Even if the user has used up all their allowed credit, Home numbers will always work, and always be free.
These numbers normally contain the mobile or landline number of the child’s mother & father or a close family member.

How do the Word Alerts Work

The new “Word Alerts” allow the account holder to be alerted when the user uses a certain word or phrase. As soon as an SMS text containing an alert word or phrase is detected, the account holder will receive a text, containing the word that has been used & a link to the portal so necessary action can be taken as soon as possible.
You can set alerts for as many words as you need to, which can be added in your online account under the settings section.

How does Time-Restricted mode work?

The Time-Restricted Mode has been designed to give you, as a parent total control over when your child can use their phone. You have the ability to block all communications to and from the phone between your chosen hours, such as after bedtime or during school hours. This can be done in the settings in your portal.
During the restricted time period, the Phone can only be used to contact, and be contacted by the two “Home Numbers” and of course, the Emergency Services

Is it possible to completely block Internet Access

It is possible to block your child from accessing the internet through mobile data. Although we don’t have the power to block internet access through a wifi connection, your internet provider should be able to give you the option to use appropriate parental controls, to ensure that your child will always be protected.

How long do you keep the recordings?

The information recorded by the ParentShield SIM will be stored in your online portal for 6 months after the record was created. If you wish to keep any of the records for a longer term than 6 months, you can download the records to keep as potential evidence. If any of the records are of no interest to you they can be simply deleted to make it easier to manage the information.

Can I block and unblock numbers?

Yes you can block as many numbers you feel necessary. This can be easily done in the online portal by finding the number that you would like to block in the call history and simply clicking block. This number will then be blocked from calling or being called from the ParentShield SIM until you, the account holder, unblock the number.

Will ParentShield monitor WhatsApp ( or other internet-based chat )

No.
These applications are encrypted and designed to be private. That’s why WhatsApp has a 16 years minimum age.
If a user tries to install age-restricted applications like WhatsApp or Snapchat we block the setup ‘Handshake’ SMS and place that in the portal so the parent knows what is happening.
The Age controls on these apps are simply circumvented by lying about your age of birth on setup. ParentShield will protect against this.

What age should a child have a phone (UK)?

Using a monitored and safe service like ParentShield there is no minimum age. Users as young as five and six can safely use a mobile phone because their parents or guardians can control who can be called and texted, and who can call and text the phone.

Will my child be able to be contacted by withheld numbers?

You can choose whether to allow withheld ( anonymous ) callers or not in the account’s settings.
Your child will be unable to be contacted by withheld numbers when Ultra Secure Mode is turned on, but they will be allowed when Ultra Secure Mode is turned off, if that is what you want.

What about Facebook, Instagram, Youtube etc?

These services are internet based and so can’t be monitored or controlled by any service provider. Because they can’t be monitored these providers and organisations such as the NSPCC agree that they are not suitable for children under the age of 13.
Here is a list of popular applications and their ages: protecting children from age restricted apps

Do you have a shop? Can I collect?

We don’t ( yet! ) have any shops but we want to.
You are more than welcome to visit our offices – either just to say hello or for a cup of coffee – or to pick up a SIM card.
Email us at: hello@parentshield.co.uk to arrange a collection.

I’m a programmer. Can I control or query a SIM programatically?

Yes – We have a fairly comprehensive API that will allow you to do most things that you can do via the Portal.
Download a copy of the documentation at: https://parentshield.co.uk/em_rest_api_1_1.pdf

What will I see as the network name at the top of my phone?

You’ll see the brand of the Network you’re currently attached to, so if you’re in an area where Three provides the best connectivity, you will see “3 UK” at the top of the phone. ParentShield is never mentioned so as to provide the most ‘normal’ experience possible.

Can the user of a ParentShield SIM bypass the recordings?

No, the user of the ParentShield SIM can’t bypass their activity being recorded while using an ParentShield SIM card. The user will be unable to tell any difference from using any other mobile network.

Will the SIM card work with all types of mobile phones?

Your ParentShield SIM will work with any mobile phone and unless you specify otherwise we will configure the SIM for a 3G, or 4G mobile phone. If you have a basic feature phone that is 2G only – let us know in the order notes.
Don’t worry though. When you get the SIM we can still reconfigure it ‘over the air’ if necessary. Our new generation of Roaming SIMS are a 3-way design, so simply press out the size that you require. The surrounding plastic can be kept and used as a converter should you ever need to change from a Nano to a Micro or Standard SIM.

Will my [child’s] phone need to be unlocked to use a ParentShield SIM?

Yes, in order to use the ParentShield service, you will need an unlocked mobile phone, so that it is open to all networks. If you already have a locked phone you are wanting to use , you can easily get it unlocked by contacting the mobile network it is locked to.

If I use a ParentShield SIM, can I still use iMessage as well?

Yes, ParentShield supports iMessage. We recommend having some data allowance to give you the best possible experience. But if data is unavailable iMessage will fail over to SMS if the phone is set up to do so.

Can we block 999 calls?

Blocking 999 calls is not possible. These are handled in a different way to normal calls and will even work from a phone with no SIM card active.
We encourage providing a phone and giving proper education about its use and the importance of knowing what is an emergency and what isn’t.

Can you do a calls-only SIM card?

Yes, we have built a high degree of flexibility into ParentShield and can configure a SIM for Calls Only or even SMS Only if necessary for Safeguarding purposes.

How does this comply with Data Protection and Privacy Laws?

We have taken a large amount of time to ensure that our service complies with these laws.
Normal public mobile telephone services aren’t built from the ground up with protection in mind, like ParentShield is. ParentShield has all the necessary policies, procedures and safeguards in place to ensure that the service can provide necessary protection to our customers while respecting the rights of everyone using the service.
In practice, our service is the same as a parent monitoring the websites that their child visits, which is recommended by large organisations who deal with safeguarding, as guardians have a legal responsibility to protect vulnerable people in their care.
Calls are stored securely, can only be accessed using the most secure SSL encryption protocols, and ONLY by the account holder. Calls and SMS messages are deleted securely when required. The network also provides notification to third parties calling in with a voice announcement stating that the call will be recorded securely before the call is connected.
All Data is hosted securely encrypted in the UK, and is destroyed securely after 6 months.
Only minors or those requiring supervision and monitoring of this kind are allowed to use this service. For details see our special requirements page: https://parentshield.co.uk/special-requirements/
For Situations where recording and monitoring would be unacceptable, ParentShield offers a no-recording mode and a mode with the provision of an unrecorded ‘third home number’ that can be allocated to a responsible person such as a natural parent, advocate, or legal representative who needs unmonitored access to the user. These are provided free of any extra charge.
More information can be found here: Call recording and privacy

You’re an MVNO. Which Network are you on?

Yes, Phone Engines and Engine Mobile ParentShield are a full MVNO – A Mobile Virtual Network Operator; but we’re not totally virtual!
We produce SIM cards that are true UK roaming and we own and control our own telephony infrastructure. The Engine SIMs will connect to whichever mobile network is the strongest, wherever you are. This gives you the very best signal and network available. Especially in rural areas.
We are telephone system developers and programmers and proudly own and secure our own interchange hardware that links to the other networks. That’s how we can cram so many features into our service. We have two UK data centres at present linked to the UK’s major Internet Peering points in both London and Manchester. Our NOC is at our offices in South Derby.
All our numbers are in-tariff with every major carrier in the UK so will be treated just like any other mobile number as far as other carriers are concerned. However please check with your mobile company to make sure as we’re not in control of what other companies charge.
If you have technical questions about the service, or are interested in peering with us, please feel free to email the development team directly:
technology@parentshield.co.uk
We will soon be announcing peering relationships with some overseas networks to take ParentShield into other countries.

Children in care modes?

If you require a ParentShield SIM without recording of Calls, SMS or both, contact us to have your SIM placed in this mode.
ParentShield can also provide a third unrecorded ‘home number’ with unlimited calls and SMS for the secure use by a trusted adult.

Can a child overspend?

No. Never.
No matter what the phone user does, it’s only possible to use up the monthly allowance plus any extra funds that you have chosen to pay onto the account in advance.
All international, premium rate, or text shortcode numbers are blocked permanently.

How does automatic rebilling work?

You will be billed the price shown on the monthly plan that you have chosen, once a month on the anniversary of the date that you ordered your SIM.
If you are paid 4-weekly and would prefer a 4-weekly billing cycle, with slightly reduced payments, just email hello@parentshield.co.uk and let us know along with your next pay date and we’ll sort that.
If your child has reached their monthly usage limit and has no additional funds, they will only be able to contact your chosen Home Numbers for the rest of that month.
You can add more funds for additional usage within your account.

Can I switch to a different tariff at any time?

Yes, of course. Just call us on 0330 122 1180 or email hello@parentshield.co.uk and let us know.

I want to buy a SIM for my Granddaughter, how will this work?

Not a problem. We can create a “Benefactor Silens” account allowing someone to pay a bill on the account controller’s behalf, but without Portal access. Please contact us to arrange this.