It’s natural to want to protect your kids, but it’s not an easy task when they have access to the internet and all the potential dangers that come with it. So how do you find a parental control app that will help keep your child safe online?
There are a host of options available which provide a greater degree of control or monitoring. Your requirements will depend on the needs of your specific child. Co-founders of Klikd, Sarah and Pam, recommend doing a little research to find the one that really works best for you. Most reputable companies offer free trials which are worth taking advantage of to get a sense of whether the products address your specific needs, work with your existing devices, and feel manageable.
Parental control apps: where to start
At Klikd, we recommend installing the free software available on Apple products (Apple Screen Time) or Android (Google Family Link) as a good starting point. They have a decent set of functionalities available and if parents then find that these aren’t meeting their parental control needs, they might then consider one of the products below.
Best for: Location sharing
This is a very simple but brilliant offering specifically for location sharing only. You can track the real tine location of various family members and get notified when they arrive at specific places. Note – this is only for location sharing and doesn’t perform other functions such as content blocking etc.
Best for: monitoring messages without having to physically snoop
If you want the Rolls Royce of Parental controls, we recommend Bark, particularly if you have an at-risk child. Bark offers most of the typical screen time controls but what sets
Bark apart from the others is that is actually scans over 30 social media platforms to monitor text messages, emails, and social activity for signs of harmful interactions and content. Parents get automatic alerts via email and text when Bark’s algorithms detect potential risks, without having to snoop and comb through every post and text.
Best for: YouTube monitoring and detailed usage reports
Qustodio offers a really comprehensive set of features including:
• Detailed reporting on which apps your child has been using and for how long,
• Time limits per DEVICE (some products only offer time limits per child)
• YouTube monitoring (see what your child searches for and watches on YouTube,
• Games and app blocking,
• Family locator,
• Call and text blocking for android, and
• A panic button for Android devices – this adds an SOS button to your child’s Android smartphone that sends you location-based alerts when there’s trouble.
Best for: basic monitoring tools
Mobicip gives you the basic tools you need to monitor your children’s web and app activity including app blocking, screen time limits, location monitoring, blocking certain sites/ apps, view in usage reports. It does not include geofencing capabilities (notifying you where your child is etc.) so you would need to pair this with another tool such as Life 360 which does.
Kaspersky Safe Kids
Best for: most features but less control in some areas
Kaspersky does pretty much everything you might expect from a modern parental control app including app blocking, location monitoring (with geofencing), web filtering, and time management. It doesn’t offer as much control over some of these areas as competitors,
lacks browser-independent web-filtering, and doesn’t have safety extras such as an SOS button for emergencies. There is no limit on the number of devices or profiles.
Best for: multiple devices
OurPact boasts a really comprehensive offering of features including:
• Screen time limits,
• Multiple device management (manage up to 20 devices),
• Setting different rules for different apps – eg. some apps are allowed during study time and others are blocked.
• Setting a screen time budget/allowance
• Location tracking including geofencing (set an alert around a certain area whenever your child arrives/leaves)
• Comprehensive usage report viewing,
• Text blocking, and
• Web filtering
It’s important to keep in mind that our kids will always outsmart us when it comes to technology – you just need to Google “kids bypassing parental controls” to see what we mean. There is no such thing as “set it and forget it”. Parents should not think that once parental controls are set up, it’s all safe and their work is done. The best parental control out there is engaged, connected parents, whose kids know that they can land safely and softly with them.