What's the Best Parental Control App?
Okay, time for a little honesty. How many of us have tossed our phones to our kids for a much-needed distraction without really monitoring what they are watching? It happens. In fact, research shows that an astounding 75% of children under the age of 8 are using mobile devices, and that is just reflecting mobile devices. What about all of the other devices kids can surf unmonitored? This is why you might want to consider using the best parental control app.
What is a Parental Control App?
This is where parental control apps come into play. Technological innovation is happening at warp speed (from clunky car phones to sleek, intelligent iPhones in a matter of years), leaving a gap of an unfiltered internet age and the exposure to young children.
Parental control apps are critical for kids because you do not want them to stumble on violent or inappropriate content when they have not even graduated kindergarten. These apps monitor, restrict and manage your kids’ activity on digital devices, whether that is on a phone, computer, or streaming service.
These control apps will help you learn what your kids are doing online so you can better educate them about online safety. It’s important to note that these apps, though well-designed, are not foolproof. Nonetheless, it is better to have a parental control app activated than to let your child wander the net without some supervision. Additionally, you can set time limits with some apps and track locations.
Best Apps for Mobile Devices
1. Net Nanny
Net Nanny is top-rated across multiple review sites, earning its reputation thanks to its intuitive design and web-filtering abilities that analyzes webpages and allows parents to make their own unique filters. There is a cost for Net Nanny, putting it on the more expensive end of parental control apps. For five devices, it costs $54.99 per year, and for 20 devices it costs $89.99 per year.
- The iOS Net Nanny version allows parents to block up to 100 apps on their children’s phones and the Android version has limitless app blocking abilities.
- Offers content screening on social media apps, like Instagram, TikTok and YouTube, allowing your kids to still use these apps appropriately instead of completely blocking them.
- Net Nanny can track your child’s location and display their location history.
- The app lets parents build schedules and set time limits on both Android and iOS versions.
2. Norton Family
Norton Family is ideal for Android and Windows households because of its superior compatibility with these platforms. It has numerous features, but remember it won’t work on Macs. The service is $49.99 per year.
- Norton Family can location track and geofence.
- It has strong web filters that can monitor programs, like Hulu and YouTube.
- There is a unique School Time feature that keeps kids on track during remote-learning classes.
- If you buy Norton’s antivirus software, you can get Norton Family for free.
Best for Multiple Platforms and Devices
Available for iOS, Andoid, Macs and PCs, Qustodio is a catch-all parental control app that can be used across multiple digital devices — not just phones. You can purchase one of its three-tiered premium plan: Small at $54.95 per year, Medium at $96.95 per year, or Large at $137.95 per year.
- Qustodio, like other apps, can location track and geofence, but the perk is that you can see all of your kids’ locations at once with the Family Locator feature.
- Allows you to manage nearly 6,000 apps on both iOS and Android.
- It is one of the only apps out there that can log texts and calls, view the content of messages and block phone numbers.
2. Kaspersky Safe Kids
Kaspersky excels at monitoring and controlling activity on multiple devices: smartphones, PCs and Macs. It’s a paid app, but one of the best in terms of bang for your buck, and you won’t be sacrificing features with this bargain.
- Like other parental control systems, Kaspersky has location tracking and geofencing features that work well cross-platform, on both Android or iOS.
- You pay only $15 (with a seven-day free trial) for unlimited devices, but if you opt for the free plan, you will still be able to set screen-time limits and filter websites and apps.
- There’s a feature that lets you block certain types of YouTube searches and review YouTube watch history.
Streaming Services With Parental Control Features
It makes perfect sense that Disney+ is among the superior, kid-friendly streaming services, but that is mainly thanks to its streamlined parental controls. Although most of the content on Disney+ is PG-13 and below, parents can still set limits for each profile.
- A four-digit PIN number lets parents set profile rating limits for all the profiles.
- The platform creates age-appropriate content based off of these limits.
- An added layer of protection is the Kid-Proof exit feature that stops kids from sneakily switching shows on other profiles.
- An added bonus is that Disney+ is add-free and only $8 a month.
Parents may want to steer clear of Netflix because of its massive spectrum of content that includes gruesome true crime to dark thrillers, but the opposite is true. Netflix has a surefire parental control system in place that protects kids from its more mature content and instead makes sure that kids only have access to age appropriate shows and movies.
- Netflix has an unrivaled database of movies and shows that are perfect for young age groups.
- Like Disney Plus, Netflix has PIN-protected profiles that allows parents to set age limits.
- Parents can also set rating limits within the profiles.
- There is an option to disable auto play.
- You can view a profile’s watch history.
- There are also settings in place to prevent kids from switching shows using other profiles.
Paramount+ follows the same features as Netflix and Disney Plus. It lets parents create kids’ profiles by activating a designated Kids Mode and the ability to specify between older kids and younger ones.
- Subscriptions only cost $5 (with ads), or the premium version is $10 and ad-free.
- Paramount Plus hosts Nickelodeon and Nick Jr. content, so there is plenty of kid-friendly shows and movies.
- There are similar child protective features that will adjust age appropriate content based on your setting selections.