With the growing prominence of technology, parents have become more concerned about their children's online safety. As much as the internet offers various advantages, it can also expose children to inappropriate content and online predators. Parental control apps have become a popular solution, enabling parents to monitor their child's online activity and block access to harmful content. In this blog post, we have compiled a list of the top five parental control apps in 2023 that are guaranteed to keep your kids safe and secure.
Qustodio stands out as a versatile and comprehensive parental control app compatible with a wide range of devices including iOS, Android, Amazon Fire tablets, Macs, PCs, and Chromebooks. Notably, it allows parents to set time limits for individual apps and devices, thus ensuring a balanced use of technology. Its location tracking function is top-notch, working seamlessly on both iOS and Android platforms, with the added benefit of geofencing and a Family Locator feature that displays your children's whereabouts simultaneously.
One unique aspect of Qustodio is its capacity to manage nearly 6,000 iOS apps and all Android apps. Surprisingly, it's one of the few apps we've come across that logs a child's texts and calls, allows for viewing the contents of text messages, and blocks phone numbers—though this is limited to Android.
However, keep in mind that to access these features, you'll need to sideload a special version of the app from Qustodio's website. While Qustodio's web filtering could improve on both mobile platforms, its pros outweigh the cons, making it a valuable investment for your child's safety. The only major downside is its price—it can cost up to $138 per year for 15 devices. Yet, if these features align with your needs, Qustodio might be the perfect choice for you.
2. Norton Family
Norton Family emerges as a powerful contender in the realm of parental control apps, especially for Android and Windows users in households with multiple devices. The app is packed with rich features designed for child safety, including the newly-integrated geofencing technology. Its capabilities extend to location tracking, time scheduling, and robust web filtering and monitoring, all of which function seamlessly on iOS and Android.
However, it's worth noting that Norton's time allowances apply only to its Windows and Android software, and iOS users may find app management features somewhat lacking. Despite these limitations, Norton Family's web filters remain impressively strong, even on iOS. It also extends its monitoring capabilities to popular platforms like Hulu and YouTube, ensuring a comprehensive oversight of your child's online activity.
Adding to its appeal is a unique feature known as School Time, designed to help children stay focused during remote learning sessions. One of the most enticing aspects of Norton Family is its cost-effective availability—it comes free with some of Norton's premium antivirus suites like Norton 360 Deluxe. Often available at discounted prices as low as $50 per year.
3. Net Nanny
Net Nanny, a pioneer in the sphere of parental control apps, offers a remarkable blend of features on both iOS and Android platforms. Uniquely, it excels at maintaining feature parity across both systems, a feat not easily accomplished by many in this niche. Net Nanny enables you to keep up-to-date with your child's whereabouts, revisit their location history, and institute time allowances and schedules with the same proficiency on either platform.
One of Net Nanny's standout features on iOS is its ability to block more than 100 apps on your child's device. On Android, it steps up the game by providing the option to block all apps, a testament to its comprehensive controls. Equipped with an inbuilt App Advisor, this app alerts parents to potential red flags among new apps, adding an extra layer of safety.
Where Net Nanny truly shines is in its adept content screening within social media platforms, including Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube. This allows for a more nuanced approach, enabling content regulation within these apps as opposed to an all-or-nothing approach. However, it's worth mentioning that Net Nanny cannot monitor calls or texts on a smartphone, a limitation shared by many apps on iOS, though a few still manage this on Android.
FamilyTime is a feature-rich parental control app applicable to both iOS and Android, with the added advantage of location tracking. One unique aspect of FamilyTime is that it allows for the creation of driving zones—geofences where parents can set speed limits and receive alerts if their child exceeds them. On Android, you can even monitor your children's calls and texts, though this feature is absent on iOS for now.
Also noteworthy is its ability to block inappropriate websites and apps, as well as regulate children's screen time with the help of predetermined schedules or allowance limits. Its web filters are reasonably comprehensive and you can even receive notifications when your child attempts to visit an age-inappropriate website.
The only significant downside to FamilyTime is its limited app coverage on iOS, which fails to match up with other parental control apps.
5. Kaspersky Safe Kids
Kaspersky Safe Kids presents itself as a perfect blend of user-friendly design and advanced features applicable across a range of devices. It offers excellent web filtering, allowing parents to block more than 20 different categories of websites. One noteworthy aspect of Kaspersky's filtering is that it works across all platforms and browsers, including Safari, Chrome, and Firefox on both iOS and Android.
It also excels at app management—not only can you block or allow certain apps but you can even set time limits for each app used on a child's device. Moreover, you can also control your child's location with the help of the Family Locator feature and even limit their online gaming time.
Kaspersky Safe Kids also provides an in-app search history to monitor children more closely. That said, Kaspersky doesn't offer geofencing or social media monitoring features, though these are minor cons considering its other impressive features.
In conclusion, the internet can be a dangerous place for children, and parental control apps provide a solution for parents who want to protect their kids. The apps mentioned above are the top five parental control apps in 2023, and they all offer unique and useful features that cater to different parental needs. Investing in a parental control app may be one of the best decisions you can make for your child's safety online.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do parental control apps violate my child's privacy?
Parental control apps are meant to protect children from inappropriate content and potential online threats. As a parent, your primary concern should be your child's safety. However, it's important to have open conversations with your children about why these measures are in place.
Can parental control apps monitor social media activity?
Many parental control apps can monitor social media activity. However, the extent of this monitoring can vary from app to app. Some apps may only provide a summary of social media activity, while others can filter content within these platforms.
Are parental control apps effective in blocking all inappropriate content?
While parental control apps are sophisticated and generally good at blocking inappropriate content, no system is perfect. Some inappropriate content may occasionally slip through the cracks. Therefore, these apps should be used in conjunction with regular, open conversations about internet safety.