If you follow my recommendations on this site you’ve got some sort of monitoring software installed to allow you to see what your kids are doing on their devices. This is important because you can’t help you children navigate the digital world they’re growing up in if you don’t know what they’re doing online. Every now and then, though, a super cool new update comes out for our phones, computers, or tablets that will undermine the goals you have for monitoring your kid’s devices. Android’s “Instant Apps” is one such update.
Instant apps is a great idea. It’s a really cool way to share new apps and a great way for app developers to give brief access for someone who wants to see something that’s been shared but doesn’t want to download an app to see it. Usually when you see a cool post on social media or someone sends you a link in a direct message you have to use a browser to see the mobile website version of what they’re sharing, Instant Apps makes it easier to see the what’s being shared. For example if I’m creeping Amazon and see the Blu Ray for that super cool movie we saw together and want to share it with you. I can text you a link and when you open it the product will open in the “instant” version of the Amazon app. This will provide you with a much easier and smoother transition to possibly purchasing that product. The instant app permissions won’t allow it to run in the background and will disable some features that would be available if you downloaded the full app but it’s a cool intro to software you haven’t installed yet. Cool idea, yes, but maybe not for our kids.
What Parents Should Know
Being able to see content from an app that isn’t even installed could be troublesome for parents who are trying to monitor their kids online activity. If you have uninstalled apps from your kids’ devices to keep them from seeing what is shared in that app you aren’t going to want them to be able to see the content in instant apps. I recommend disabling Instant Apps in on your kids’ devices if they have it. If you can’t find anything about Instant Apps in the settings of their phone or tablet then it isn’t available for their device and you don’t have to worry about it. If you do see it, follow the steps below to turn it off.
Whether you’re using an accountability software like Accountable2You, a filter like NetNanny, or monitoring the entire device with something like Mobicip, the Instant App feature could give your child access to the very content you are trying to keep away from them. Be sure to give yourself opportunity to look over their phone or tablet whenever possible and check for the Instant App option. There aren’t very many apps developed with the feature yet but it has been opened up to most developers. More and more apps will be using Instant Apps to allow folks to share content in the near future. Turn it off now and get ahead of the game.