Gabb Phone vs. iPhone Parental Controls

Words by
Jackie Baucom

NOV 22, 2023

Gabb Phone vs. iPhone Parental Controls

Let’s get it out of the way. I love iPhones. The first iPhone came out while I was in college, and became my first smartphone after my beloved Zoolander sized flip phone. I have been loyal to the brand ever since. I love how easy it is to use, the camera quality is always top notch, and it seamlessly integrates with my other Apple devices. 

And I’m not alone in this mentality. iPhones account for 54.32% of North America’s mobile device market share. 

But as much as I love my iPhone, it’s not a device I would give my young children.

Sure, I have quite the collection of old iPhones in a box, but these mobile phones are created with adults in mind, and are not entirely kid safe. As recently reported in The Wall Street Journal, even when applying Apple’s parental controls, kids are still able to access dangerous content through an iPhone.

Let’s take a look at how those controls can be useful and whether better options exist.

Common Tech Concerns

Parents who are contemplating giving their child a smartphone may have a few concerns. These can include mental health and safety concerns that stem from excessive screen time, becoming targets of cyberbullying, and accessing pornography and other explicit content.

As the dangers of smartphones have become better understood, the demand for solutions has grown. A variety of solutions have arisen to abate parental worries.

The most common features aimed at protecting against those dangers include:

  • Screen time limits
  • App store restrictions
  • Messaging features
  • Web browser limits

Whether you’re considering handing down an old smartphone to a child or shopping for a brand new device, it helps to know just what you’re about to put in the hands of your child.

Each family has different wants and needs, and each child is unique. Our aim here is to help parents decide which device will provide the best protection by comparing iPhones (with parental controls) to Gabb devices in terms of the features listed above.

It’s worth noting that some controls can be set on iPhones through Screen Time (found in Settings). However, these configurations can be changed at any time by the child. For that reason, the more effective option is to set parental controls through Family Sharing. This means an Apple ID will need to be created for the child. But it also means better parental controls protected by a passcode. 

All discussion below focuses on iPhones with controls set through Family Sharing.

illustration of phone with hourglass icon

Screen Time Limits

Screen time limits are a predetermined time allocation to help parents control the amount of time spent on devices. It can also give a summary of time spent on individual apps.

According to Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of eight hours and 39 minutes daily on screen-related activities. And that doesn’t include school related usage. Studies show that excessive use of screens leads to trouble sleeping, increases symptoms of depression, and negatively alters brain development.


Parents can set up a screen time limit through Family Sharing on a child’s iPhone by following these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings icon
  2. Tap Screen Time
  3. Tap “This is My Child’s iPhone”
  4. Follow the prompts and create a passcode

When activated, specific limits can be added to certain apps. Once the time limit is reached, a message pops up telling the user that the limit has been reached for the day. If the child has access to the passcode, they are able to deactivate the time limit alarm.

Gabb Devices

In line with Gabb’s tech-in-steps philosophy, we offer three devices that were designed to give kids a gradual introduction to technology: Gabb Watch 3, Gabb Phone, and Gabb Phone 3 Pro

Gabb Watch 3 and Gabb Phone protect against excessive screen time by not allowing social media or addictive apps on the device in the first place. 

Gabb Phone 3 Pro allows for Gabb-reviewed-third-party apps to be added only after being approved by the parent through their own device. Social media apps and any dangerous apps are not available for download. This device offers more freedom for teens who may need certain apps for school or extracurricular activities. 

Screen time limits can be enabled on the Gabb Phone 3 Pro from the child’s device by following these steps:

  1. Tap the Settings icon
  2. Tap Digital Wellbeing & parental controls
  3. Scroll down and select app timers
  4. Tap the desired app
  5. Set a time limit
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App Store

An app store is a digital marketplace on devices where users can discover, download, and install software applications (apps). Apps serve various purposes, such as communication, productivity, and entertainment. Some are free, some require a one-time charge, others work on subscription paid monthly or yearly, and some allow for in-app purchases.


Apple’s App Store contains over one million apps. It’s no surprise their slogan is “There’s an App for That.” 

Apple’s Review Guidelines warn developers to keep apps kid-friendly, since kids download from the store. Once apps are submitted to the App Store, Apple employees review them prior to allowing it on their store. They claim to have standards that won’t allow apps that contain graphic content such as violence and nudity, but as other outlets have observed, the App Store shows apps containing exactly that. 

Some of the riskier options available include social media apps such as TikTok, Snapchat, and YouTube

Dr. Vivek Murthy, the U.S. Surgeon General, released a warning regarding the dangerous effects of social media on young people. Social media platforms can be breeding grounds for cyberbullying, can spread misinformation, and expose children to mature content.

Parents can remove access to the App Store by selecting the preferred configurations by clicking Family within Family Sharing.

Gabb Devices

Gabb Watch 3 and Gabb Phone have no access to any sort of app store. This ensures no additional apps are ever added to these devices.

Gabb Phone 3 Pro is an Android phone that allow access to a modified version of the Google Play Store, where they will see over 100 Gabb-reviewed apps. These apps have been requested by parents and kids, and reviewed by Gabb. Parents must enable them before a child can download them on their Gabb Phone 3 Pro.

The number of apps available will continue to grow as we receive feedback and requests. We avoid apps that are for mature users, including those that contain explicit violence, drug and alcohol related features, and salacious content. 

No social media apps have made it to our store, and they never will. We want to help parents protect their kids and keep them away from the harmful effects found in social media platforms.

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Text Messages

iPhones and Gabb phones both allow users to send text messages. Digital messages are a convenient way to convey information quickly, and at any time. However, many parents worry about what their children are sending and receiving. 


Through Family Sharing, parents can control a few aspects of messages such as managing the child’s contacts, and have messages scanned for nudity.

If nude photos are received or about to be sent, they will be blurred and a warning is displayed about the sensitive content of the image. The warning offers the child various ways to get help, including access to online safety resources, blocking the contact, leaving the conversation, and contacting a trusted adult. However, the child also has the option of ignoring the warning and seeing or sending the image anyway. Parents are not notified of these exchanges.

iOS does not have a feature that prevents kids from deleting text messages. Parents also don’t have access to the child’s messages, and can’t see who they are messaging. 

Apple provides the ability to filter messages from unknown senders into a different folder within messages. The child can still access these messages, and interact with the sender, with no warning to the parent.

Gabb Devices

Gabb Watch 3 only allows messaging to and from a list of 100 parent-approved contacts so parents can ensure only trusted contacts can communicate with their child.

Gabb Phone and Gabb Phone 3 Pro come standard with Gabb Messenger—a custom messaging app designed specifically to keep kids and teens safe.

Gabb Messenger uses smart filtering to automatically flag (send an alert to parents) or block objectionable content, depending on the severity of the content and whether or not the child is communicating with a known contact. For flagged content, parents are immediately notified of any concerning communication through the Gabb Messenger for Parents app.

Gabb Messenger’s safe video calling enables one-on-one video calls exclusively with contacts that use Gabb phones or with parents or guardians who use Gabb Messenger Parent and are paired with a Gabb phone. Through smart monitoring, if nudity is detected, the call will end, the video calling feature will be locked, and parents will be notified through the Gabb Messenger Parent app or via email.

Gabb Messenger was built on two crucial principles: prevention and autonomy. 

Prevention is far better than damage control so by automatically blocking the most dangerous communications parents are saved from having to repair damage already done.

Autonomy is essential for kids to develop safe digital communication skills so the Gabb Messenger for Parents app only shows concerning communications. The rest stay private on the child’s phone.

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Web Browser

A web browser allows users to access and navigate the World Wide Web. On smartphones, it can be accessed through a web browser app, or through embedded web browsers—browsers found inside apps. 


All iPhones come with Safari, Apple’s own web browser, installed. Users also have the option of downloading additional browsers from the App Store, such as Firefox or Google Chrome. 

Parents can limit which website kids can or can’t visit through the Family settings.

Many of the apps available on Apple’s App store also contain embedded web browsers, some of which are not influenced by the controls enabled in Family Share settings.

Gabb Devices

Gabb Watch 3 and Gabb Phone have no internet browsers and no apps with embedded browsers. 

Gabb Phone 3 Pro does not come with an internet browser or allow for the download of web browser apps (e.g. Google Chrome).

Among the list of Gabb-reviewed, parent-enabled apps are several that contain embedded browsers. Parents should be aware that this provides the potential for indirect internet access. Our App Guide clearly identifies whether an available app comes with an embedded browser so you can make intentional decisions about providing that option to your child.

Side by side comparison of safety features on iPhones vs Gabb phones

Parents Can Decide What Works Best

Making the decision about which kid’s phone to get, and when, is a big deal. We have a chart comparing all the Gabb devices to help you make an informed decision.

iPhones are wonderful phones. However, they are not made for kids. Gabb phones help parents protect children every step of the way by restricting some dangers, and eliminating others. 

With a Gabb device, kids can always be located with GPS tracking, and are just a call away on the nation’s most reliable network. 

Compared to Apple, we may be a small company. But as the leader in kid-safe tech, we are successfully tackling big issues that larger corporations have failed to solve. Give Gabb a chance and reap the benefits of a safe tech environment for your child to learn and thrive in.

Are you currently a Gabb customer? What are your favorite features? Any features you’d like to see in the future? Please comment below! Together we can make Gabb even better, and continue on our goal to protect a million kids.


  • Tobias Marlon Gibson French on Jan 28, 2024 06:17 PM

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  • Noe Rivers on Jan 30, 2024 11:26 AM

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  • Snapchat is Still Social Media and AI is Up to No Good on Feb 08, 2024 03:00 PM

    […] The data confirms the pressure many parents feel to give a teen a device they might not be ready for. […]

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