Thinking of giving your child a smartphone soon? Here are the best parental control apps to keep tabs on what they’re up to.
Smartphones have become ubiquitous in our daily lives. Everyone has one. They’re great for communicating with loved ones, curing boredom, and having the entirety of the Web at our fingertips. For our children, growing up in this day and age means having to deal with the advent of smartphones in their daily lives from a tender age.
Naturally, we as parents have reservations about our children’s exposure to technology. The Web is a great resource for knowledge, but it also harbours information that may adversely affect our little ones. Not to mention, the influence of social media on kids can result in cyberbullying and other nefarious consequences.
Having said that, we’ve to realise that it’s inevitable our children will end up with a smartphone. Instead of trying to prevent the impossible, it’s best we take precautions to keep them safe while they explore the capabilities of technology for themselves. Here are the best parental control apps that’ll allow you to monitor what they’re up to on their devices.
1. Family Time
Family Time is an all-rounded app for the modern parent. You’ll be able to limit your child’s screen time throughout the day – no more sneaking on their phone when they’re supposed to be in class or asleep! Family Time also allows you to filter content on the Web, including entire categories and search phrases. You’ll also have access to an app blocker, allowing you to prevent them from accessing games or social media when they’re studying for a test.
Family Time excels in the area of location tracking, too. Their geo-fence technology means you’ll be alerted whenever your kids enter or leave predetermined areas. Real-time location tracking also ensures you’re kept aware of where they are at all times. Plus, through Family Time, you’ll be able to monitor everything that goes on on your child’s smartphone. From their call logs to messages and app usage, you can keep tabs on everything they’re up to.
Price Free download with an in-app subscription purchase of US$69/year for up to 5 devices
Available On iPhone, iPad, and Android devices
Qustudio is designed to supervise, manage, and protect your child’s devices on the go. It allows you to block inappropriate sites on the Web, preventing them from viewing dangerous content. You’ll also be able to set time restrictions on their phone usage as you please. Decide on a set schedule daily, or increase their time limit anytime. You can also set time limits on apps and games, or block them altogether during exam time.
The best part? Qustudio sends you a daily activity report via e-mail, including the time they’ve spent on apps, their browsing history, and even their social media activity. See who your child calls or texts, read their messages, or set a list of blocked contacts if you wish. Qustudio’s location tracking technology also means you’ll have access to their location 24/7.
Price Free download with an in-app subscription purchase of US$55/year for up to 5 devices
Available On iPhone, iPad, Android devices, Windows, and Kindle
3. Norton Family
You’re probably already familiar with the Norton brand. A leader in cyber security, Norton Family is their take on helping your kids enjoy their connected world safely. With their very own Norton browser, you’ll be able to block unwanted content on the Web. It even allows you to track your child’s watched videos, so you can take action should they come across anything inappropriate.
Norton Family’s location tracking ability also allows you to track your little one’s location throughout the day. Find the peace of mind by knowing they’re safe. This app also allows you to teach your child to develop healthy and balanced habits when it comes to their device. Set them limits and restrictions for when they can surf the Web or access games.
Price Free download with an in-app subscription purchase of US$49.99/year
Available On iPhone, iPad, Android devices, and Windows
OurPact is much more than just a parental control app. It’s an all-in-one family locator and screen time management solution. You’ll be able to schedule your child’s screen time during specific times of the day. Block their access to their smartphone at night, or when they’re in school. You can also budget their screen time allowance according to their behaviour. You’ll also be granted manual block and grant access. Approve or deny your child’s access to their device while you’re the go.
The app’s location tracking services notifies you whenever your little one enters or leaves a geo-fenced location. You’ll also be able to track their whereabouts in real-time with the app’s location tracking abilities. Their web filter also means you can block undesirable sites from your child’s browser. Not to mention, OurPact allows you to block texting altogether or limit their iMessages and SMS abilities, too. No more chatting into the wee hours of the morning!
Price Free download with an in-app subscription purchase of US$1.99/month or US$6.99/month
Available On iPhone, iPad, and Android devices
ScreenLimit allows you to give your children time digitally as a reward. Control their access to their devices based on how good or bad their behaviour’s been, or if they’ve completed their chores. There’s also a countdown timer to alert your child to how much time they’ve left on their device. This allows them to budget their allocated time, and maintain balance even with smartphone usage.
You’ll also be able to send messages directly to their screens, alerting them when it’s time to come home or gather round the table for dinner. ScreenLimit also allows you to manage apps on your child’s phone. You can even block them altogether when they’re not supposed to be on social media or playing games.
Price Free download with an in-app subscription purchase of £29.99/year or £75 one-time payment
Available On iPhone, iPad, Android devices, laptops, and desktops
6. iOS12 Screen Time
If you’ve updated your iPhone software to iOS 12, chances are you’ve noticed their new Screen Time function. By setting up your child’s phone with the “parent” option, you’ll be able to monitor their phone usage for your very own device! Screen Time tracks how much time they spend on their phones, including how many times they pick it up in a day.
You’ll also be able to set daily time limits on certain categories of apps, such as social media. However, in order to ensure your child doesn’t simply “ignore” the time limit, put a passcode lock for their Screen Time settings so they can’t change them. Downtime, another new function of iOS12, allows you to mute notifications on their phones during bedtime, too.
Price Free with iOS12 update
Available On iPhone and iPad
7. Android Screen Time Limit
Those with Android devices will be pleased to know that they too can set time limits for their kids’ devices! Create a Google Account for your child using Family Link, which will enable you to control their device. This way, you’ll be able to set screen time limits on their android devices and Chromebooks.
The Android function also allows parents to lock their child’s device; this means no access to their phones during bedtime or while they’re studying. Similar to the iOS version, you’ll be able to set daily time limits for your kids’ devices. There’s also a bedtime function, to ensure that they don’t receive notifications while they’re supposed to be asleep.
Price Free with Android devices
Available On Android devices
It’s natural to be cautious when it comes to giving your child a smartphone. We don’t want them to become addicted to having their device with them at all times. Plus, it’s our duty as parents to keep them safe from predators or bullying on the Web.
However, it’s only a matter of time before our child has to get a phone. It’s just natural for the time we’re living in. We’ve to keep in contact with them throughout the day, and it’s also good for them socially to connect with their friends and loved ones. With these parental control apps, you can have the peace of mind even if your little one has a smartphone. Monitor their activity and talk to them about online safety, but allow them the freedom to explore, too.