Best parental control software

Parental control is not about being overprotective or not letting your children have their privacy.

It is about making sure they stay out of trouble while they are too young and naive to recognize potential predators, too inexperienced to recognize malware and viruses, and too careless to protect their personal information while browsing the web.

No matter how much you trust your child, sometimes you have to take things into your own hands because the kids will not always tell you everything, or the truth. That’s normal, but it may raise some concerns in you.

The parental control software will put you in the know and make you feel more relaxed about your child spending time on the web. These are some of the best parental control software options on the market.

Bark

Bark has taken safety to a new level. They claim that thanks to their partnerships with different schools and many parents, they have successfully prevented many shootings, self-harm situations, and protected more than 4 million children. These are some serious numbers.

This award-winning software is not free, but it’s affordable, and it also has a one-week free trial. The app grants you access to a child’s text messages and over 20 social networks that you can check every time you’re worried about your kid’s safety. Bark covers Facebook, WhatsApp, TikTok, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Chrome, YouTube, Drive, Gmail, Pinterest, and more.

Of course, Bark doesn’t encourage you to pry into everything your kid does online. As a parent who works and has many other daily tasks, you don’t have the time to read every single message.

The software only alerts you of potential threats you actually might need to worry about. These concerns include serious issues such as online predators, depression signs, or cyberbullying, but also “innocent” actions such as accessing mature content you don’t want your child to watch.

Bark works on many devices, such as Androids, iPhones, Kindle Fire tablets, Macs, PCs, and Chromebooks. As soon as something questionable surfaces on your child’s device, you get a notification. You also receive advice from professionals on how to handle the situation.

Pros

  • Covers many social networks and apps
  • Only alerts you of potential issues
  • Professional advice
  • Affordable
  • Monitors an unlimited number of children, apps, and devices

Cons

Doesn’t cover all apps on all devices

NetNanny

Monitoring your children’s online activity is important. That’s why NetNanny gives you a chance to control them while they’re browsing and chatting, but not just that. Thanks to this software, you can limit their screen time and don’t let them neglect their school tasks, as well as protect them from unwanted content or potential dangers.

It is considered one of the best parental control software and is available for Windows, macOS, Androids, iOS, and Fire devices. You can choose between multiple offers, depending on the number of devices you need to cover.

Parental controls allow you to block all pornography and filter other adult content in advance or in real-time. Its Internet filter analyzes websites your child accesses and limits its content, if inappropriate, the instant the page is loaded.

You can also block websites and apps via NetNanny. Blocked websites cannot be accessed at all, while you have the option of turning on the alert for certain websites – this setting won’t block your child from viewing the site, but will notify you when they do.

Kids tend to get carried away while surfing the web, so it’s important to limit their screen time as well. NetNanny makes it easy to schedule the hours when your children will be allowed to use the internet. When you set the specific hours when the internet is off for your kids, they won’t be able to change them from their devices.

Pros

  • Supports up to 20 devices
  • Internet filter checks websites in real-time
  • You can block access to apps
  • User-friendly design

Cons

Doesn’t monitor your child’s texts and calls

Boomerang

Boomerang is a great Android and iOS app that can help you finally win the screen time battle you’re constantly in with your children. You say no, they don’t listen, and now you finally have the power to cut it off. The kids might not like it, but you have to do what you have to do.

Before you opt for one of the options Boomerang offers, you can try the 2-week trial and see if you find the app useful. There are a single device offer and a family pack option that allows you to connect up to 10 devices.

With Boomerang, you can set screen limits for your children on a weekly and daily basis. The daily limit can be different for weekdays and weekends, so they can have a bit more freedom when they don’t go to school. On the days they do, you can limit the use of individual apps and still let your kids use their phones for calls or texts.

If you want to support your kid in using educational and useful apps for learning or reading, you can turn off the countdown feature for these particular apps. When your child wants to install a new app, you can approve it or block it, depending on whether or not you find it appropriate.

The Time-Out setting also lets you pause the whole device when necessary or let your child access an app for longer than usual.

Pros

  • Lets you block or allow newly installed apps
  • Apps can have different settings
  • You can set different limits for weekdays and weekends

Cons

  • Text and call monitoring only works on Androids
  • You can’t block websites

Qustodio

Qustodio is one of the best parental control software options. With this app, you can find out how your kid uses the apps installed on the device, as well as the web browser. You can also control how much time they spend online and what content they can access.

The first thing Qustodio takes care of is your child’s safety. The online world is full of different threats that can harm your child, from cyberbullying coming from classmates to online predators who use the internet to prey on their victims. That’s why it’s important to monitor your kid’s activity and be alerted of potential issues before something bad happens.

This app also allows you to manage your child’s screen time. You can limit how much time they can spend online every day and what apps and games they can access during that time. You can also block pornography with Qustodio’s real-time filter.

Qustodio also tracks your kid’s calls and texts, and check their location to make sure they’re safe at all times. This feature is, however, only available for Androids and iOS devices, and you still can’t monitor the child’s route from one place to another or get notified when they leave or arrive at a place.

Another newly added feature, YouTube monitoring, is only available for Android, Windows, and Mac.

Pros

  • Panic button for your child’s Android
  • Different products available for families, schools and businesses
  • Individual limits for different apps
  • Supports various platforms

Cons

Features work differently on different devices

Screen Time

Screen Time allows you to manage the apps your child installs, control the content they browse and access online, and track their GPS, so you know where they are at any given moment.

Just like similar apps, Screen Time lets you set a limit on the use of the internet or individual apps to avoid your kid going overboard with online activities. But what makes this app one of the best parental control software options is the fact that it’s not only about control, but also about encouraging good habits and rewarding your child when they respect your boundaries.

What does this mean? Screen Time lets you set daily tasks that your children will complete and win a reward – additional time for apps and games. In case they’re not cooperating, you can “freeze” your child’s device instantly, especially if they’re postponing something they need to do.

Schedules let you organize your child’s time so they can easily prioritize homework, sports, and family time. It’s a particularly useful feature when it comes to getting your children to bed at night.

When you decide your kids have deserved some free play, you can easily choose the Free Play setting instead of changing all the previous settings manually. This feature disables the usual setup for a chosen period and lets your kids enjoy their “free time” for a while.

Pros

  • Can block particular websites and website categories
  • Has a to-do list and a reward system for the kids
  • Alerts you when your child changes their location
  • Free Play overrides previous settings for a specific period

Cons

  • You can’t control calls or texts
  • Additional features can cost more

Family Time

Family Time promises to make parenting in the 21st century not just easy, but also fun. Can monitoring your children be fun and efficient at the same time, without damaging your relationship? Family Time says yes. This software is, of course, not a substitute for meaningful parenting, but it’s a great aid.

And smart! One of the best features of this app is the fact that it has the panic alert that immediately lets you know your child might be in danger or needs your help. What else can this app do?

It can limit screen time for your kids. Whether it’s time for bed, or they need to do their homework, but won’t log out of Facebook, you can control their devices and lock them until it’s playtime again. And when it is, you can also monitor what your kids are watching online.

Family Time allows you to block pornography, even from search results, by banning websites with the inappropriate content and by turning on the SafeSearch feature. If this isn’t enough for you, you can even block specific categories from appearing in search results.

The same goes for apps: You can allow them or block them, depending on whether you consider them appropriate for your kids or not. That can be a temporary measure, just until they do the homework, for example.

If your teenagers try to lie to you about where they’re going, turn on the geo-fence feature and easily track their movement. It isn’t just about trust between you and your kids, but more about their safety. If they get in trouble, you’ll be able to react immediately – you get notifications when your children appear at or leave a place.

Pros

  • One account for the whole family
  • Your kids can’t uninstall the app
  • You can access your kids’ location history
  • It has an SOS button

Cons

  • Trial period only lasts 72 hours
  • Can get expensive if you have more children

 

Safety Comes First

These are some of the best parental control software options out there, and they all offer amazing features that could make you worry less.

It’s a tough choice, but we’ll go for Bark here. It can limit your kid’s screen time, send you notifications if they’re chatting about something suspicious, and make sure they’re doing their homework and go to bed at decent hours. What more could a parent ask for?

Bark has so many pluses, and its only downside is the fact that not all devices support all the features it offers. However, you can enjoy maximum protection for your child even if there’s a feature missing on your Android or iOS.

On the other hand, you may find Screen Time more interesting because of the schedule and daily to-do lists for your kid. By doing chores or finishing their homework early, your children can earn some extra time for surfing on the web. You can still monitor the content they access, although you can’t see who they’re calling or texting.

Finally, it’s up to you to organize your priorities and choose the app that offers what’s important to you. You know your child best, so you know what will work best in their case. These might be parental controls, but finding a bit of fun in them will make being a family in the digital age much easier.

 

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