Today’s smartphones offer near limitless access to information, but they also access porn, violent imagery, and other disturbing content your children might not be ready to see. And then there’s the very real possibility of addiction to the device’s entertainment. But, rest assured, with the rise of these devices’ ubiquity has come a number of parental control devices and apps that help you do everything from block problematic sites to set weekly screen-time limits. These seven apps in particular are excellent tools for not only monitoring your kid’s usage but also setting parameters on what they’re able to see.
Best All-in-One Parenting App: OurPact Parental Control and Kid Tracker
A continual parent favorite, the OurPact Parental Control and Kid Tracker is our pick for best-in-show when it comes to a little bit of everything. Control screentime, block apps, locate, track, and shut down texts, this one does it all and does it well. With more than 18,000 reviews in the Apple App Store, it’s no surprise that this one consistently makes our list.
Best Parental Control App For the Gamer: Azoomee
For the question of what to do for the kid that chews through every game put in front of him or her, the parental answer is Azoomee. This curated app includes over 1,000 games, puzzles, and activities, all of which have some kind of educational component. Sometimes the easiest way to keep an eye on the kid is to trust the environment itself. ($6.50/month; $58/year)
Best Parental Control App for Practicing What You Preach: Covenant Eyes
As the old saying goes, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander, and if you’re restricting what your children see, you may consider placing the same restrictions on yourself. Covenant Eyes blocks porn from all connected devices from your children to your own. Once installed it bleaches content from search engines (including when said search engines are accessed through other sites) and YouTube. Should an attempt to gain access be attempted, a report is sent to a pre-determined individual who can call either yourself or your child to account.
Best Parental Control App for the Android Family: Google Family Link
As fathers, we want to trust our kids with their own devices, and that’s why Google Family Link is so important. For children under 13, the app manages the apps on their devices, controls screentime, and establishes a bedtime, all while still allowing for installed apps to update. There are two caveats, however. The first is that GFL, while able to be monitored from your Apple device, is only able to control a child’s Android device. The second is that while it would prevent new music apps from being installed, its control is limited as to what they listen to on services already present. (Free)
Best Parental Control App for Bands of Roving Children: Kaspersky Safe Kids Family GPS
True, Kaspersky Safe Kids Family GPS offers some of the features you’d expect from a parental control app, such as customizable website blocking, safe search, remote permission granting, app and device usage, and more. But it’s the premium service that distinguishes it from its peers. With its paid service, parents can drill down into their child’s location. Should your child leave his or her “safe space”—as designated by you—you’ll receive an alert. You’ll also be able to track location and receive alerts for suspicious activity, along with social media monitoring of new friends. Android users receive the bonus of text and call monitoring. (Free; Premium for $12/year)
Best Parental Control App for Multidevice Protection: Mobicip Parental Controls
Mobicip covers laptops. It covered desktops. And Mobicip Parental Controls covers smartphones. In short, if your child is using anything short of a library book for research, this app is tracking, filtering, and protecting them. Customize by age, establish a time limit, filter YouTube, and, at the end of the day, receive a report on activities. Since it’s based in the cloud, kids can’t simply go to 4LTE to escape its safety net. (Free)
Best Parental Control App for the Next Generation of CEOs: Greenlight Debit Card for Kids
Financial responsibility starts now for your children, which is why we love Greenlight Debit Card for Kids. Simply transfer their allowance into the app and designate where kids can spend it. Powered by Mastercard, think of it like a debit card to which you’ll receive statements. When the money’s gone, it’s gone, providing the perfect opportunity to discuss budgeting, saving, earning, and other fiscal building blocks. (Free)