Safe and Savvy: The Best Parental Control Software
Utility • Sept.26, 2022
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 threat has expounded greatly.
But not everything is so evil out there. The internet is also filled with good things, and with enough protection and guidance, you can have everything good for your children that the internet offers.
RELATED: How Parental Control Apps Can Help Parents
Parenting in the digital age
Each one of us has our own devices. Going digital is the way forward. Exposing our children to the digital world is crucial for their learning and development. This raises the issue of how much and what access we should give our children. There are also concerns about the effect of digital media and the internet on children.
- Reports show that constant internet use can affect children’s mental and social skills.
- Extreme engagement on social media and online gamesis known to cause several health problems in children.
- There are also positive impacts, such as increased IQ and problem-solving skills.
- Cyberbullying and cyberstalkingare also known to be a significant issue among teenagers.
- India, Brazil, and the US are some of the countries with the highest cyberbullyingamong kids.
With all these issues on the horizon, a parent needs to be proactive on how their kids use the internet and whom they communicate with. Here comes the need for parental control and software to enforce these parental controls and safeguard your children from these harms.
The main reason we need parental control is to check and manage what our child is exposed to on the internet. With parental control software, you can be there to guide your child by installing appropriate boundaries.
Top parental control software to safeguard your children
The built-in parental control features for 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, setting parental controls can be challenging.
Here are some downloadable programs that may be more suited to your particular goals.
- Qustodio: best for multi-platform use
- KidsGuard Pro: best for file access and call monitoring
- Covenant Eyes: best for filtering out adult contents
- Norton Family Premier: best for dedicated time tracking
- Net Nanny: best for advanced web filtering functions
- Bark: best for social media monitoring
- OpenDNS FamilyShield: best for blocking websites on the home internet
Qustodio: best for multi-platform use
Qustodio is becoming the most popular parental control software for its wide range of functions. It provides complete control regarding managing our children’s internet use.
The app is easy to download and available on Mac, Windows, Android, Kindle, ChromeOS, and iOS devices, making it among the few parental monitoring apps with such broad platform support. The recent addition of ChromeOS support shows how much it values its support for multiple platforms. If you use multiple devices with different OS, Qustodio is the way to go.
When you install it on your child’s device, you can hide the Qustodio icon, so your child won’t even know it’s there. You will also get daily updates and alerts on your child’s activity on his device.
It’s also very user-friendly. You can set it up very easily, with the proper support available. However, if you are an iOS user, you might not be able to access all features.
- $54.95 annually and protect 5 devices.
- $96.95 annually and protect up to 10 devices.
- $137.95 annually and protect up to 15 devices.
Features that make Qustodio a great choice:
- You can filter the websites your children visit, the games they play, and their apps.
- You can also manually add specific URLs you don’t want your kid to access.
- Manage the daily screen time for your kid and daily hours. Also, lock Internet use after the limit hours crosses.
- Monitor your children’s web browsing and YouTube video views.
- Monitor your child’s texts and calls, view and manage texts, and block contacts.
- Tracks the location of your child and gives you updates about their whereabouts.
- Panic button for your child to press in need.
- Supports different platforms and devices.
- 3-day trial without card details to check if it suits your needs.
KidsGuard Pro: best for file access and call monitoring
KidsGuard Pro is a popular parental monitoring app for both Android and iOS. You can simply visit their site, create an account and start setting up KidsGuard Pro on your child’s smartphone.
KidsGuard Pro does not need jailbreaking on your iOS or root access on your Android smartphone and tablet. However, even if you have jailbroken or rooted device, it will run smoothly without any issue.
You can monitor the app’s iOS version in two distinct ways, i.e., iOS monitoring and iCloud monitoring. While iOS monitoring will require physical access to your kid’s iPhone for setup, the iCloud monitoring will only require the login details of their iCloud account and two-factor authentication turned off.
The best part of KidsGuard Pro (read our full review here) in both Android and iOS is the ability to access the photo/video files and monitor calls and messages. Although other apps can access files and monitor calls, KidsGuard Pro updates the call logs within 10 minutes. In addition, it gives you sorting and filtering options and color representation for incoming and outgoing calls. The image files can be accessed folder-wise and downloaded if necessary. The video files are sorted from recent to old and can be previewed.
- Monthly – $29.95(Android) $39.95(iPhone)
- 3 months – $49.95(Android) $59.95(iPhone)
- One year – $99.95(Android) $109.95(iPhone)
Features that make KidsGuard a great choice:
- Real-time location tracking of your children
- Wi-Fi location can also be tracked
- Geofencing is available
- Monitor the browser history of the targeted phone.
- Track and record phone calls
- Real time syncing of data from target phone
- Hide the app from the target phone
- Deleted data can also be recovered in some cases
- Multiple language support
Covenant Eyes: best for filtering out adult contents
Covenant Eyes isn’t really a parental control software, however, it offers great options when it comes to filtering unwanted websites.
This app is designed to work as an internet accountability software that allows users to live a porn-free lifestyle by appointing the app and their trusted friends as their accountability partners.
Covenant Eyes is basically meant as screen accountability software and the best tool to filter out adult contents and websites on the internet. The idea is to allow someone to monitor and review your device use to prevent you from falling prey to bad habits, i.e. porn addiction on the internet.
If you are looking for complete parental control software, Covenant Eyes isn’t for you. But we like it for the fact that it takes screenshots of your child’s device periodically so we can see what they are actually watching.
Even with all the web filtering, there are so many things your child might be doing on the internet that are inappropriate. So the screenshots give us a clear picture of what’s happening online.
- Individual plan for $16.99/mo (Unlimited devices/10 users)
Features that make Covenant Eyes a great choice:
- Make a separate id for each member of the family.
- Screen accountability report every week for every member.
- Blurred screenshots at random intervals during the time your child is online.
- Check what your children are viewing on their devices.
- Filter the websites your children are accessing.
- URL blocking service, powered by CleanBrowsing.
- Block out porn and other adult websites.
- Easily setup and monitor
Norton Family Premier: best for dedicated time tracking
Developed by the same company as Norton Anti-virus software, Norton Family Premier is another award-winning parental control software. It provides a comprehensive monitoring system with very unique features such as time tracking, web filtering, etc.
Norton is a trusted name in computer safety and security. Even when it comes to parental control software, Norton offers some really great features.
Its web filtering feature is particularly good. If you are looking for software that covers all aspects of parental control, then Norton Family Premier is a good choice.
However, if your child has an iOS device, Norton is probably not a good choice since it doesn’t offer app management and social media monitoring on iPhones and iPads.
- Norton Family Package costs 49.99$ annually
- Norton 360 Deluxe costs 49.99$ annually (Includes Norton Family)
- Norton 360 with LifeLock Select costs 99.48$ annually (Includes Norton Family)
Features that make Norton a great choice:
- Categorize websites in three types: permitted, restricted, and age-appropriate filtering.
- App management is only available for Android users.
- Block and allow which apps your child can use.
- 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.
- Geofence the child’s device and track their whereabouts.
- Get copies of the messages your child sent to his contacts and the calls made.
- Great UI and dashboard with easy navigation.
- Easy setting up and configuring.
Net Nanny: best for advanced web filtering functions
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 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, user-friendly dashboard and easy setup process is one of its kind compared to other apps. So, if you are not a tech-savvy parent then you will be comfortable with this app.
- $39.99 to download it on a PC or Mac.
- $54.99 (5 devices max.) $12 per device
- $89.99 for 10 devices
Features that make Net Nanny a great choice:
- Check what your kids are viewing.
- Control what you want your kids to be viewing and screen time.
- Alert for any inappropriate viewing.
- Select how many hours you want your kid to be spending in front of the screen.
- Create a schedule according to your routine.
- Select different hours for different days.
- Advanced real-time internet filter.
- Net nanny social can monitor your child’s social media usage.
- Allows you to remotely review usage, profile settings, and all other features.
- Fast and simple configuration process.
- Customizable web filters.
- App blocking is available.
Bark: best for social media monitoring
Bark is one of the advanced monitoring apps that use technologies such as Machine Learning and Statistical Analysis to keep your child safe from potential harm in the digital world. This app has one of the best web and content filtering tools, which stops any harmful content exposure to your child. In addition, there are various features included in the app.
Although bark is a little bit pricey, its feature, such as access to all family member devices, an easy-to-use interface, and a seamless setup process, makes it one of the best parental monitoring app on the market. However, if your kid uses an iOS device, you may not get all the functionalities you get on Android.
Speaking of social media monitoring, Bark boasts support for more than 30 different apps, including Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Kik, TikTok, and many others. Not only can you block entire apps, but Bark also lets you set up schedules for the screen time, put up location alerts, and more.
You can try Bark, and hopefully, you would like it more than other similar apps. It is the overall best monitoring app on the market.
- Bark Premium – $14/months $99/year
- Bark Jr. – $5/months $49/year
Features that make Bark a great choice:
- Content monitoring on your child’s device
- Managing their screen time and limiting it.
- Filter individual websites and website categories
- Location tracking with great precision
- Monitor 30+ social networks
- 24/7 monitoring
- App blocking and filtering
- You can add unlimited kids
- Great interface which is easy to navigate
- Separate packages for Younger and Older kids
OpenDNS FamilyShield: best for blocking websites on the home internet
OpenDNS FamilyShield is not exactly a parental control app. You can install it on a device or your home internet connection. Once installed, you do not have to do much as there is not much customization available. It starts to filter out websites your children should not be seeing. This DNS service replaces your internet provider’s DNS and filters out unethical websites, proxies, and phishing websites.
You can add more websites to the list, and OpenDNS will constantly update the list. As the name suggests, it is much of a family shield from harmful content.
Although this is a list of parental monitoring apps, OpenDNS FamilyShield is included here as it acts as one. The best way to implement this family shield is to use it over your internet connection rather than on a device. Then, it will start to filter harmful websites on its own, and you do not have to check on it now and then.
However, this app will not serve you well if you want strict control over your kid’s online behavior. But if you simply want your kids to be away from harmful content and do not want to spy on them, this app you would love to use.
Features that make OpenDNS a great choice:
- Filters contents by default
- Fast internet than your ISP despite separate
- Updates the proxy list for restricted websites frequently
- Free of cost
- Do not have to rely on spying to protect your children
What to look for in a parental control software?
Here are some things to consider before you go shopping for parental control software:
- Advanced Monitoring Tools
Most parental control apps do provide reasonable protection against harmful online content. Some of the apps employ Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning algorithms to block dangerous apps and websites, while others let you add the URL to block manually. It is always better to look for apps that use advanced technologies to do their job. This will help you minimize the attention you need to give to setting up controls and also get new and upcoming ways of monitoring.
Parental control needs to change as your child grows up. It would help if you decided how you want to manage your child’s device. The best parental monitoring app would be the one that is flexible enough to accommodate the monitoring needs as the child grow and also adapt to the new and latest tech. Look at what the software is promising and does it cover all that you need.
- Device It Covers
Some parental control software work well on Android devices, and some do their best with iOS devices. However, not every parental monitoring app is good on all platforms, so choose a software that is recommended for your child’s device.
- Data Security
Whenever you grant permission to monitor your child’s device, the app can also use the data from the device to update it on your dashboard. This means that all the apps have a certain level of access to your child’s data. This access can turn into misuse. So, always read how they handle the data before purchasing the monitoring app.
- Ease of Use
An easy-to-use, easy-to-set-up, and easy-to-navigate monitoring app can save you a lot of time and effort. So while choosing your monitoring software, do look at the ease of use and navigation.
Most trusted parental control software comes at a price. They enforce real-time controls. You don’t want an outdated, incomplete system to look out for your child. Do you? So, always look for an app that provides value for money.
Parental Control is becoming crucial nowadays from toddler to 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 parental control software, you can keep tabs on your children.
All the parental control software reviewed above offers very similar features. Each has its strong suit. We recommend you go through your online parental control priorities before deciding on the best software to protect your child online.