Vodafone has launched Vodafone Guardian, a free parental controls app for smartphones running Google Android.

Parents can download the app, which is password-protected on their child's handset, and then either set limits based on age-range or specific features. Restricting which numbers can be dialled and texted, as well as the numbers that incoming calls and texts can be received from, along with limiting internet access from the device at certain times of the day and the sites that can be visited, are among the controls featured in the app.

Vodafone says any unauthorised change to the settings will result in the parent or guardian being alerted via SMS.

"As a mother I can fully appreciate that mums and dads, grandparents and carers want to keep in touch with their children. And they also want them to be safe," said Justine Campbell, Vodafone UK's legal and government affairs director

"Now Vodafone Guardian offers them an easy, fast, simple way to help protect their child from inappropriate content and contact, and gives both child and carer peace of mind."

The app can be downloaded from the Android Market or Vodafone's own app store, Vodafone AppSelect, now. The mobile network has also launched the free Digital Parenting app which Vodafone says "provides parents with everything they need to know about their child's digital world".

Tim Loughton, Minister for Children and Families, welcomed both apps, saying they are "important tools that will help parents to protect their children".

"The apps will also help improve parents' confidence and knowledge of new technology so they are able to talk to their children and warn them of the dangers in their digital lives."