Safe and Savvy: The Best Parental Control Software of 2020
Utility • March 8, 2020
More than 90 percent of children between the ages of 8 to 16 have consciously or unconsciously stumbled across online pornography.
When it comes to our child’s safety, stranger danger has taken a whole new meaning. It has now entered the virtual world, and with that, the danger has expounded greatly. Get peace of mind with the best parental control software available.
Parenting in the digital age
The children of today are being raised in an environment very different from the ones their parents were raised in. In our times, having just one computer in our homes was a novelty. It was also a shared experience. Everyone at home shared the same computer. We could snoop in at what the rest of the family was doing.
That’s not happening now.
Each one of us has our own devices. Going digital is the way forward. Exposing our child to the digital world is almost crucial for their learning and development. This then raises the issue of how much and what access we should be giving our children. Here comes the need for parental control and software to enforce these parental controls.
The main reason we need parental control is check and manage what our child is being exposed to on the internet. Children, being children, do not have the mental capacity to judge what’s right and wrong for them. They may not be able to deal with the issues of the adult world. And the virtual world is an adult world primarily. With parental control software, you can be there to guide your child by installing appropriate boundaries.
Another concern when it comes to the increasin use of devices is screen time. Screen time is on the rise as the number of devices in households is increasing. Too much screen time isn’t good for your child. It leads to concentration problems, sleep problems, eyesight issues, posture issues among some others. To deal with this, we need to manage how much time we allow our children in front of screens.
What to look for in a parental control software?
Here are some things to consider before you go shopping for a parental control software:
Why do you need a parental control software? Parental control needs change as your child grows up. You need to decide how you want to manage your child’s device. Look at what the software is promising and does it cover all that you need.
The price. Most trusted parental control software come at a price. These softwares are continuously being updated. They enforce real-time controls. You don’t want an outdated, incomplete system to look out for your child.
What devices does it cover? Some parental control software work well on Android devices and some do their best with iOS devices. Choose a software that is recommended for your child’s device.
Top Parental Control Software
The built-in parental control features for both Windows and MacOS provide a convenient and decent selection of parental controls, but they can’t do it all by default. In the same vein, parental controls can be a challenge to set up. Here are some downloadable programs that may be more suited to your particular goals.
Qustodio is becoming the most popular parental control software for its wide range of functions. It provides complete control when it comes to managing our children’s internet use. The app is easy to download and available on Mac,Windows, Android and iOS devices. When you install it on your child’s device, you also get the option of hiding the Qustodio icon so your child won’t even know it’s there. You will also get daily updates and alerts to your child’s activity on his device.
Qustodio is paid software. But for the features its offering, the price is a great bargain. It has three pricing tiers. The smallest plan is for $39.95 annually and it protects 3 devices. For $54.95 annually, you can protect 5 devices and for $96.95 annually, you can protect up to 10 devices. When you install Qudstodio, you automatically get three days of trial, without having to put in your card details. This means you can try out the software, without having to commit to it from the beginning.
For web filtering, you can choose which websites to allow, disable or put on alert based on categories such as health, educational, technology, gambling, violence, mature content etc. You can also manually add in specific URLs that you don’t want your kid to access. With all the other parental control software out there, Qustodio’s web filtering doesn’t match its competitors.
You can manage the daily screen time for your kid using the Qustodio app also. Select the hours and hit apply. Qustodio also allows you to manage what times your child is allowed to use the app. You can decide what happens when your child reaches the daily limit: lock internet use, lock device or send you an alert.
Qustodio also allows you to monitor your child’s text and call. You can decide how much control you want over the texts. From just setting your text monitoring setting to on to viewing what messages you are getting, you can decide how much you want to manage.
Qustodio also tracks your child’s location, giving you updates on when and where your child accessed their devices. It also has the option of a panic button that your child can toggle to on. In that case, a message will be sent to your email letting you know of your child’s device location until you switch off the button.
Qustodio is an award winning parental control software and for good reason. It might seem pricier than the free or cheap alternatives out there, but Qustodio is a big range of monitoring and control options. It’s also very user-friendly. You can set it up very easily, with the proper support available.
However, if you are in iOS user, you might not be able to access all features. Also, when it comes to social media monitoring, Qustodio only monitors one social media platform- Facebook.
Net Nanny is another award-winning web filtering software, developed by Content Watch Inc. It is one of the most recommended parental control software, mainly for its advanced web filtering functions.
Net Nanny is the paid software. You have to pay $39.99 to download it on PC or Mac. For a family pass, you will be paying $59.99 (5 devices max.) or $12 per device. For a bigger family, they have an option of setting up the program on 10 devices for $89.99.
With Net Nanny, you can check what your kids are viewing. You can control what you want your kids to be viewing and screen time. If your kids are searching for anything inappropriate, you will get an alert on your device.
Net Nanny also you to monitor and limit your kid’s screen time. Select how many hours you want your kid to be spending in front of the screen. You can also choose the times when your kid can use the devices. Create a schedule according your routine. Select different hours for different days. Only you as a parent can make any changes to the screen time schedule.
You don’t have to open your child’s device to view their online activity. Net nanny allows you to remotely review usage, profile settings and all other features.
Most parental control softwares depend on the list of white listed and blacklisted websites to block out inappropriate content. But the problem with this is that new websites are being created every new day. This makes the current lists obsolete. Net Nanny has its own advanced internet filter so that each website is filtered in real time every time your child accesses it.
This mean your child doesn’t land onto a pornographic website. Even if there is any adult content on a white listed website, the software masks the inappropriate content allowing your child to view the other parts normally.
Net nanny also offered a Net nanny social to can monitor your child’s social media usage. But recently it is unavailable after Facebook changed its social media policies.
Net Nanny might be a little more expensive than many other options available on the market. However, it makes up for the price by offering so many features in one program and having one of the best web filtering controls in the market. The only thing missing from Net Nanny is location tracking. You can’t check where your child is accessing his device from.
And even though Net Nanny has a lot of features, it isn’t difficult to operate. Its simple interface is quite user-friendly.
Covenant Eyes isn’t really a parental control software, however it offers great options when it comes to filtering unwanted websites. Covenant Eyes is designed to work as an internet accountability software that allows users to live a porn-free lifestyle by appointing the app and your trusted friends as their accountability partner.
You can buy their family plan for $15.99 per month. With the family plan, you can add unlimited family members to your plan. They also have an individual plan for $11.99/mo but that monitors only one device.
With Covenant Eyes, you can make a separate id for each member of the family. Once you do that, you will be getting a screen accountability report every week for every member in the plan. This includes blurred screenshots taken at random intervals during the time your child is online. You can now check what your children are viewing on their devices.
You can also filter the websites your children are accessing. If your children do a lot of search on their devices, there’s a good chance they will access something that’s inappropriate for their age. Covenant Eyes has a blocking service, powered by CleanBrowsing, to block out porn and other adult websites.
Covenant Eyes is basically meant as screen accountability software. The idea is to allow someone to monitor and review your device use to prevent you from falling prey to bad habits on the internet.
If you are looking for a complete parental control software, Covenant Eyes isn’t for you. But we like it for the fact that it take screenshots of your child’s device periodically so we can see what they are actually watching. Even with all the web-filtering, there’s so many things your child that be doing on the internet that’s inappropriate. So the screenshots give us a clear picture of what’s happening online.
KidLogger is an open source monitoring software. It has both a free version and a paid version. The paid version will cost you $9/mo for the standard package and $26/mo for the professional package.
KidLogger isn’t your typical parental control software. It’s more of a monitoring software. It keeps a check on everything your child is doing on his device. KidLogger monitors devices in the following ways:
You can see what your child is viewing on the internet. It covers all browsers including Safari, Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Opera etc.
You can also view the time your child spends on his device. You can see what applications he used and the amount he spends on each application. KidLogger monitors everything your child is doing on his device. This includes chats, messengers and social media apps. It even records the texts and keystrokes your child makes.
You can view his internet browsing history. It also allows you to check which files and folder he is accessing on his device. All the information is sent to you in the form of reports to your email. With the paid version, you can also program the app to take screenshots of your child’s device for real-time monitoring.
The biggest drawback against KidLogger is that it only monitors your child’s device activity. With the paid version, you can also take screenshots at different intervals. However, it won’t block any websites or software. KidLogger keep a check on all aspects of device use, from browsing to messaging.
K9 Web Protection is award-winning parental control software. It’s free to use, though you do require getting a license for every device you use.
You can block website according their categories. There are 70 categories you can protect your child from. These include porn, violence, hate, gambling, drugs, and phishing. It offers real-time web filtering services, which means web content is continuously being checked for inappropriate content. K9 also allows you to block and easily unblock (using password) web pages. You can enforce Safe Search on your web browser.
You can manage what times your child can access the web. You can put in time limits during these times to control how much screen time your child gets daily.
For every device, you will get reports of what and when your child accesses the internet.
The best part of K9 Web Protection is that it’s free to use. Plus, it offers similar features and controls as the other paid software.
You might find it limiting in some aspects. For instance, K9 Web Protection doesn’t control your child’s use of emails, games, and messages. It only filters web content. Plus, you can’t create different users on the same device. So if your child uses the same device as yours, the same controls will apply to both of you.
Note: K9 Web Protection has been bought by Symantec, the same company that operates Norton Family Premier. K9 Web Protection discontinues after June 2019. Existing users can continue with Norton Family Premier after that.
Developed by the same company as Norton Anti-virus software, Norton Family Premier is another award-winning parental control software. Initially Norton Family Premier had a free version, which is no longer available. Families can buy from any of three packages: Standard Package costs 32.99$ annually (covers 3 devices), Deluxe costs 44.99$ annually and (covers 5 devices) and Premium Packaging costs 59.99$ annually (covers 10 devices).
Web Filtering is perhaps the best feature of Norton Family Premier. You can categorize websites in three types: permitted, restricted and age-appropriate filtering.
App management is only available for Android users. In this feature, you can block and allows which apps your child can use. If you both share the same devices, app management can be very useful.
Like most other parental control software, Norton also allows you to set time limits on your child’s device use. You can decide how much and what time your children can access certain apps on their devices. When the time limit is reached, the apps cannot be opened. When it comes to time tracking, Norton is a little rigid. You will find it difficult to extend time limits.
With Norton, you can also keep an eye on who your child is contacting with, though you may not be able to control these interactions. This means that you get copies of the messages your child sent to his contacts and the calls he made. You cannot block who is calls or sends messages to.
Norton is a trusted name in computer safety and security. Even when it comes to parental control software, Norton offers some really great features. Its web filtering feature is particularly good. If you are looking for a software that covers all aspects of parental control, then Norton Family Premier is a good choice. However, if your child has an iOS device, Norton is probably not a good choice since it doesn’t offer app management and social media monitoring on iPhones and iPads.
Kaspersky Safe Kids is parental control software developed by an anti-virus company. You can get Kaspersky Safe Kids for $55.95 annually. The good part is that you can try out the software for 30-days since there’s a money back guarantee for those 30 days. There’s also a free version that allows you to just manage time and monitor web activity.
Kaspersky Safe Kids also offers similar features like the other parental control software. These include:
– Web filtering and monitoring – Facebook and VK social media monitoring – Contact Management (Android users only) – Time Management and Control – Location Tracking
Kaspersky Safe Kids offers a comprehensive overview of your child’s device use- from the apps he accessed and the places he accessed them from.
Surfie is another parental control software, developed by Pure Site. You can buy it for $59.90 annual fee. Surfie offers the following features:
– Web Filtering – Time Management – Social Media Monitoring – App Management – Location Tracking
Surfie covers all the features of a good parental software. It is particularly good if you suspect your child is a victim of cyber-bullying. The app monitors your child’s social media and sends you an alert if certain keywords or phrases are used that indicate some kind of problem.
Parental Control is becoming crucial nowadays from toddler to the teenage years. You don’t know what your child is being exposed to in the digital world. In some ways, it’s worse than the real world. With a parental control software, you can keep tabs on your children.
All the parental control software reviewed above offer very similar features. Each has its own strong suite. We recommend you go through your online parental control priorities before deciding on a software.