Norton Family Premier's power and features are ideal for Android and Windows households with many children, offering nearly every feature a parent could want. This service's location-tracking, time-scheduling, and web-filtering and -monitoring capabilities work on both iOS and Android, but time allowances are for only Windows and Android.
App management and text-message monitoring don't work on iOS at all. There's no geofencing on either platform. At that price, getting Norton Family Premier along with Norton's excellent antivirus protection is a no-brainer. Read our full Norton Family Premier review. Location tracking and geofencing work in both iOS and Android, as do web monitoring and device scheduling, but app management is limited on iOS, and the iOS app can't monitor calls or texts at all.
But if you don't need to read your kids' text messages, then Kaspersky Safe Kids is well worth considering. In March , Kaspersky Lab filed an antitrust complaint against Apple for allegedly forcing the removal of some features from Kaspersky Safe Kids. Apple hinted in June that it might relax some of its tighter restrictions on iOS parental-control apps with iOS 13, but we'll have to wait to see how that pans out. Read our full Kaspersky Safe Kids review. Qustodio has software for Macs, PCs. This service's limited location tracking works on both iOS and Android, although there's no geofencing option.
You can manage only a few dozen apps on iOS, as opposed to all Android apps. Web filtering is more powerful on iOS, while monitoring texts and calls works on only Android. Read our full Qustodio review. Once the most powerful parental-control app for iPhones, OurPact was hobbled by an Apple rule change in late that nixed the service's geofencing, location tracking and time allowances on iOS.
At its peak, OurPact was the only parental-control app we tested that could manage or block any iOS app. It can still do so for Android devices. OurPact also gets kids involved in managing the daily allowance of screen time that you give them, and it does a good job of scheduling.
Yet, its website filtering simply blocks porn, and it can't monitor calls or texts at all, even on Android. However, you can block messaging apps, and OurPact remains a joy to use. Read our full OurPact review. Screen Time does an excellent job of managing and scheduling kids' device access.
Unfortunately, this app doesn't do a whole lot else on iOS devices. And it has baffling upcharges for location tracking and web filters, both of which come standard with other parental-control apps. We liked how this service doles out additional screen time for chores or good deeds. But you can't block apps on iOS, and there's no geofencing or call or text monitoring at all. Read our full Screen Time review.
ESET Parental Control for Android sticks to one platform, but it doesn't shine even there, lacking text-message- and call-monitoring features. Keep in mind that some of the products we highlight are mobile-only solutions, meaning that they cannot monitor your child's activities on Macs or PCs. If these platforms are your greatest concern, make sure to check out our roundup of the best parental control software.
The parental control space is always changing—especially on the mobile side of the equation—so we will be updating this roundup as new entries appear and as others fade away. If you use a parental control app that we did not mention and have strong feelings about it one way or another, be sure to leave a comment on the article below.
Your suggestion might make it into the next round of updates. Most parental control apps require you to pay for an annual subscription based on the number of devices you monitor. That said, there are some exceptions. Some services, like Locategy, operate on a freemium model, albeit with some limitations that don't apply to the premium edition. Others, like Kaspersky Safe Kids and Norton Family, do not restrict the number of devices that you can monitor or child accounts that you can set up.
- Best Parental Control Apps 12222.
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Most parental control apps can monitor both on Android and iOS. These mobile apps typically allow you to manage settings and view reports from a phone or tablet itself, though some do not have this capability. The quality of mobile apps can also vary significantly between platforms; stricter design rules on iOS sometimes makes a noticeable difference, as is the case with Locategy. One quick note; parental control software tends to be more powerful on Android than on iOS since Apple locks down app permissions and device access. Most parental control apps for iPhones require you to install a mobile device management MDM profile in order for all of the features especially those related to app management and time restrictions to function correctly.
Apple recently announced Screen Time for iOS 12 , which adds an excellent set of monitoring and restriction tools. Apple's built-in and free solution is also account-based, meaning that it keeps track of data across all of a child's devices. Apple already included a good range of app-blocking and web-filtering options within the Restrictions section of its main settings app.
Taken together, this means that when iOS 12 is released later this year, Apple will have a native and near-complete array of parental monitoring capabilities, which rivals the for-pay offerings of competitors. The hallmark feature of any parental control app is its ability to prevent kids from accessing inappropriate or dangerous websites. The majority of these apps bundle a proprietary browser that makes it easier for the services to manage, track, and control browsing activity. This makes more sense than trying to reverse engineer support for every conceivable mobile browser.
As such, most of these apps instruct you to block every other browser or restrict your child from installing any other apps at all. Some parental control utilities don't force your child to use a proprietary browser on iOS devices. Rather, they leverage VPN technology, running internet connections through a local app to enable content filtering.
You'll see the VPN icon when such a utility is active. Note that this doesn't mean the child's connection is secured by a full-scale virtual private network, nor that the device's IP address is masked. Most of these browsers operate similarly in that they block access to websites that fall under banned categories, including all the biggest offenders, such as file sharing, gambling, pornography, and violence. The best examples have no trouble picking up on HTTPS -encrypted traffic and blocking access to anonymizing proxies.
Some apps, such as Net Nanny, let you create custom web-filtering categories, and the vast majority let you add specific rules for custom domains.
10 Best Free Android Monitoring Apps to Monitor Your Kids
The quality of web history reporting also varies from service to service. Qustodio shows previews of the sites your child visits on a timeline and contextual options for setting rules, while FamilyTime Premium does not support web supervision at all.
The best cell phone monitoring programs allow you, the parent, to blacklist We let our kids have their phones and watched what each app. mSpy is the top used cell phone tracking app worldwide, according to TopTrackingApps. Its main selling point is that you can monitor multiple.
One area in which most mobile parental control solutions excel is in their ability to prevent children from using selected apps. This can come in handy for parents looking to prevent their kids from using social media apps, messaging services that are difficult to monitor, or browsers that get around the defined web filters.
5 Apps To Spy On Your Kids Without Them Knowing
Still, it can be difficult to keep track of every new app that your child installs. Better yet are those services, such as Boomerang, that automatically block new apps your child installs until you explicitly approve them. App blocking works differently on iOS. You can block access to system apps such as Safari, Camera, and Siri, if you wish. You can also disable the iTunes Store and App Store, and ban in-app purchases.
Some parental control apps can ever remove app icons completely from the home screen, so there's no chance your kid can access them. Time restriction is another major feature of parental control apps. Some services, like Norton and FamilyTime, let you specify how many total hours or minutes a day your child can spend on any given device as well as a schedule for when it is ok to use it.
Net Nanny takes a slightly different approach and applies these time limits to internet usage. Still others, such as Qustodio, offers a mix; you can set up usage schedules for specific apps and device usage, as well as specifying a total time allotment for your child that applies across every piece of hardware they use to access the internet. A mobile parental control app should at the very least be able to keep track of a child's current location and some historical location data, too. It's also important for them to offer some level of control over notifications and the frequency of location reporting, to avoid bombarding the parent with useless data.
Both Qustodio and Norton Family offer these features. Some services, including Locategy, Boomerang, and FamilyTime, go one step further, letting you construct geofences around a location. For the uninitiated, geofences are digital boundaries around a physical location that help parents keep track of when a child arrives at or leaves a given location.
Kaspersky Safe Kids even lets you add a dimension of time to a geofence, so you can easily make sure a child stays where they are supposed to be throughout the day. Boomerang offers a unique feature, in that you can draw custom geofences on a map; others just create a circular radius around a point you define. The best parental control applications let you record and monitor who your child communicates with and what they talk about in said conversations. Keep in mind that this capability is almost exclusively limited to Android. The implementation of this feature varies from service to service, of course.
FamilyTime Premium, for example, copies a child's entire SMS history and call log for parents to review. Norton and Boomerang take a less invasive approach and let you specify which conversations to monitor and log. Still others, like Locategy, only display the phone's call log. The best parental control software also lets you manage your child's social media activity, though in most cases this is limited to Facebook.
Net Nanny used to offer a service dedicated to tracking social media accounts, but it is no longer available at the time of this writing. One last feature worth mentioning is an SOS button. When a child presses this button, it sends out an alert to the parent and any other trusted contacts. The notification includes time and location information and will in some cases keep broadcasting said data until either the child deactivates the alarm or the parent disables it from their own account.
We especially liked the colorful reports in Qustodio. Most programs let you choose from a variety of reports, including monthly or hourly reports with graphs, lists of frequent contacts, browser history, newly installed apps, message history, calendar events, pictures taken, GPS location and keystrokes. You can set a window of time when your child can access apps and the browser and adjust it whenever needed. Some of the apps we tested allow you to remotely unlock the phone for a few minutes of open access if your child requests it.
It's essential that the parental control smartphone app you choose lets you restrict access to other apps and the internet. Choosing an invisible app can make it more difficult for your child to bypass the restrictions on their phone. Though these apps support most common smartphones and carriers, not all are compatible. It's important that you double-check the brand and model of the phone you want to monitor so you don't waste money on incompatible software.
Most developers have extensive lists of compatible devices on their websites. Each of the apps in our comparison works on Android and iOS devices. Features are generally more limited on iOS than Android because Apple maintains strict control over the operating system. You need to have physical access to the target device to install the software, as none of them can be installed remotely.
But hey, what do I know? Teens know much more than you think, also, the icloud based apps do not actually work for the most part and the apps that are installed locally usually require a jailbreak, jailbreaking is a very bad idea because it opens your phone to viruses and could potentially brick the phone. This monitoring program includes time controls and provides very detailed reports about what your child does online. She continues saying she's only worried for me and for about 5 minutes, the entire conversation was her asking if it was me or if anyone else had my phone, to me telling her I didn't do it, I'm scared what are you talking about, I swear to GOD it wasn't me! It just keeps my last logged location as my current location. Answer: You don't.
Some features require a rooted Android or jailbroken iOS device. Because of the inherent risks that come with either of these processes, we do not advocate doing so. Jump To:. Mobicip Versatile, powerful and trustworthy, Mobicip is the best in class. Reasons to Buy Includes 30 filter categories plus app filters. Reasons to Avoid No text alerts. Read the full Mobicip review. Qustodio The best value cell phone monitoring software on test.
Reasons to Buy Is a good value.
How We Tested Cell Phone Monitoring Software
Read the full Qustodio review. Norton Family Norton Family is the best choice for mobile app blocking. Reasons to Buy Can block all installed apps. Reasons to Avoid Slows the monitored phone down. Read the full Norton Family review. Surfie Surfie is your best parental control software choice for tracking and notification. Reasons to Buy Sends text alerts. Read the full Surfie review.
Net Nanny Net Nanny is the best monitoring software for masking or blocking profanities online.
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The app is ostensibly intended for legal monitoring use, and there are certainly legitimate reasons to install the software. Companies, for instance, could inform their employees that they’re surveilling company phones for security purposes