Top-Rated Parental Control Software in 2021

[Compared]

Wish you could keep an eye on your children at any time and from any place? Are you worried about your tech-savvy kid running into the age-inappropriate dangers of the online world? Or do you mainly want to maintain healthy screen time limits? A parental control app that helps you not only track your children’s devices but also monitor their device usage is the answer.

We’re here to help with this review of the best parental control software systems. In this review, we’ll cover:

Our methodology
Reviews of the top 8 parental control systems
How parental control software works
Buyer’s guide for choosing a parental control software
Common workarounds/ways to bypass parental control software
Pros and cons
FAQs

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1. mSpy

mSpy lets you have a complete overview of your kid’s digital activity. Read their texts, look at multimedia files, track location, monitor calls, block apps, and all that without them even knowing the app is there. Full Review

  • Get updates every 5 minutes
  • Can be used without the child knowing
  • Extensive features and monitoring capabilities
VISIT SITE

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mSpy lets you have a complete overview of your kid’s digital activity. Read their texts, look at multimedia files, track location, monitor calls, block apps, and all that without them even knowing the app is there. Full Review

Features

★★★★★ 5/5

Ease of Use

★★★★★ 5/5

Client Support

★★★★☆ 4/5

Cost

★★★☆☆ 3/5

2. FamilyTime

FamilyTime keeps your kids safe and productive: get advanced tracking with alerts when they leave a selected zone, get notified when they’re speeding, and limit their screen activity. All that comes with a small price starting at only $2.25/month per device. Full Review

  • Speeding alerts
  • Very affordable, free plan and trial
  • Allows you to geofence multiple locations
VISIT SITE

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FamilyTime keeps your kids safe and productive: get advanced tracking with alerts when they leave a selected zone, get notified when they’re speeding, and limit their screen activity. All that comes with a small price starting at only $2.25/month per device. Full Review

Features

★★★★★ 5/5

Ease of Use

★★★★☆ 4/5

Client Support

★★★★★ 5/5

Cost

★★★☆☆ 3/5

3. KidLogger

KidLogger is focused on you getting access to everything your kid does on their phone and PC/Mac alike. See their folders, files, and apps, get their location and new images they’ve taken. The free version is available for 5 devices. Full Review

  • Extremely affordable
  • Supported on most platforms
  • Comprehensive monitoring, especially on desktop
VISIT SITE

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KidLogger is focused on you getting access to everything your kid does on their phone and PC/Mac alike. See their folders, files, and apps, get their location and new images they’ve taken. The free version is available for 5 devices. Full Review

Features

★★★★★ 5/5

Ease of Use

★★★★★ 5/5

Client Support

★★★★★ 5/5

Cost

★★★★★ 5/5

4. Mobicip

Mobicip’s main functionalities are app blocking, web filtering, and location tracking. See your kids’ monthly browsing history, and all with a simple interface. The small package has all the functionalities of the bigger ones and works on 5 devices, for only $3.99/month. Full Review

  • Excellent multi-platform support
  • Excellent feedback and reputation
  • Affordable and transparent pricing
VISIT SITE

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Mobicip’s main functionalities are app blocking, web filtering, and location tracking. See your kids’ monthly browsing history, and all with a simple interface. The small package has all the functionalities of the bigger ones and works on 5 devices, for only $3.99/month. Full Review

Features

★★★★☆ 4/5

Ease of Use

★★★★☆ 4/5

Client Support

★★★★☆ 4/5

Cost

★★★★★ 5/5

5. Bark

Bark has some unique features, such as cyberbullying, suicide, and predator alerts. It can monitor 30+ social media platforms, filter websites, provide location check-ins, and manage your kids’ screen time. Sign up for a 7-day free trial and try it out. Full Review

  • Good customer support
  • Advanced monitoring and threat detection
  • Monitors 30+ social media and other platforms
VISIT SITE

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Bark has some unique features, such as cyberbullying, suicide, and predator alerts. It can monitor 30+ social media platforms, filter websites, provide location check-ins, and manage your kids’ screen time. Sign up for a 7-day free trial and try it out. Full Review

Features

★★★★☆ 4/5

Ease of Use

★★★☆☆ 3/5

Client Support

★★★★☆ 4/5

Cost

★★★★★ 5/5

6. Circle

If your main goal is to limit your kid’s access to specific apps, Circle has the solution. You get to fine-tune which apps have what time limit, set bedtime, and even reward your kid with extra device time. If the main product is too expensive, you can opt for a free, basic app. Full Review

  • No device limits
  • Advanced time limit features
  • Free plan plus 30-day money-back guarantee
VISIT SITE

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If your main goal is to limit your kid’s access to specific apps, Circle has the solution. You get to fine-tune which apps have what time limit, set bedtime, and even reward your kid with extra device time. If the main product is too expensive, you can opt for a free, basic app. Full Review

Features

★★★★★ 5/5

Ease of Use

★★★★☆ 4/5

Client Support

★★★★☆ 4/5

Cost

★★★☆☆ 3/5

7. Qustodio

Block games and other apps, get real-time + extensive reports on your kids’ app usage, and set time limits. Other than app monitoring, there's also a panic button and the option to locate them. The smallest package has all the functionalities of bigger ones, and can be used on 5 devices. Full Review

  • Simple to use
  • Great platform support
  • Useful and informative visual reports
VISIT SITE

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Block games and other apps, get real-time + extensive reports on your kids’ app usage, and set time limits. Other than app monitoring, there's also a panic button and the option to locate them. The smallest package has all the functionalities of bigger ones, and can be used on 5 devices. Full Review

Features

★★★★☆ 4/5

Ease of Use

★★★☆☆ 3/5

Client Support

★★★★★ 5/5

Cost

★★★★★ 5/5

8. NetNanny

NetNanny’s real-time reporting on your kids’ app usage in the form of social media is a breath of fresh air. You can block apps, limit their screen time, look at browser history, and track their location on smartphone, Kindle, and desktop, depending on the plan. Full Review

  • “Pause” child device functionality
  • Instant activity feed for the entire family
  • Great multi-platform support for child/parent devices
VISIT SITE

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NetNanny’s real-time reporting on your kids’ app usage in the form of social media is a breath of fresh air. You can block apps, limit their screen time, look at browser history, and track their location on smartphone, Kindle, and desktop, depending on the plan. Full Review

Features

★★★☆☆ 3/5

Ease of Use

★★★☆☆ 3/5

Client Support

★★★★☆ 4/5

Cost

★★★★☆ 4/5

How We Created This List – Our Methodology

The decision to use a parental control system should not be taken lightly. With so much on the line, it’s important that you size up all the options and make the best decision for the security of your family. With that in mind, we came up with a methodology to pick out the best options for most situations:

✓ Notable features

Not all parental control software offers the same features. The best platforms give access to important parental controls, such as app blocking, website filtering, location tracking, and setting screen time limits. However, we also checked whether the software has any unique/advanced features.

✓ Ease of use

A parental control app can have hundreds of settings for different features and individual apps. It can also report on a huge variety of statistics and information from the child’s devices. For this reason, it’s important that the app is easy to use so that it’s manageable and not too time-consuming. It’s supposed to help make parenting easier, not harder.

✓ Installation and setup

As you’ll probably install the software on multiple devices, it’s important for it to be quick and simple to set up. Creating user profiles and getting to know the system should also not take too long so that you can get it up and running smoothly.

✓ Privacy and security policy

Understandably, to effectively monitor and control your child’s device usage, the software needs access to sensitive information. The safest and top-rated parental control software should have legal and responsible policies on how they handle your data.

✓ Customer support

Because these tools help manage your child’s safety, it’s of the utmost importance that any issues or disruptions of service are handled quickly. Customer support can also make setting up and getting to know a system easier.

✓ Pricing

We took multiple facts into consideration when looking at the pricing. The most important are: features, customer support, and the number of devices it covers. Usually, you pay more for the more devices you want to use while very few platforms limit the features of lower plans. Luckily, many systems offer free plans with limited features so you can try out the overall user experience. Most also have free trials. A refund policy is always preferable so that you don’t risk your money on something you might end up not liking.

Detailed Reviews

mSpy
mSpy

Best for Anonymously Running Parental Control App

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  • Can be used without the child knowing
  • Get updates every 5 minutes
  • Extensive features and monitoring capabilities
  • 24/7 Support and Assistance
  • Limited number of devices
  • Very expensive
  • Must jailbreak the iOS device to use all features

mSpy is aimed mostly at monitoring and tracking your kids via their smartphones. One of the reasons behind its name is that mSpy can run in the background without the child even knowing it’s on their device. This makes it one of the best remote parental control apps if you think the best option is not to tell your kids about it.

You’ll also be able to respond in real time with events being updated every 5 minutes. However, some features can only be unlocked by jailbreaking an iPhone device.

Just some of the things you can do to keep your kids safe are to read their texts/messages, track their location, view multimedia files, monitor calls, etc. You can also be proactive by blocking certain apps and websites.

There are two plans:

  • Basic: $29.99 per month
    • Monitor calls, SMS, emails
    • View media files
    • Current GPS location
    • Browsing history, keyword alerts, bookmarks
  • Premium: $69.99 per month / $39.99 per month, quarterly / $16.66 per month, yearly
    • Monitor instant messaging apps
    • Geofencing
    • Block websites and apps

As you can see, many features are only available to premium customers. It’s also one of the more expensive platforms, although you do get significant discounts for committing to longer terms. All plans are only for 1 device, with up to 3 devices supported with a Family Kit (at $60 per month for 6 months).

That said, one of the things that make mSpy worth it is the comprehensive customer support compared with most other systems.

Time Limits Yes
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS
Free Trial Yes, 7-day free trial
Customer support • 24/7 multilingual email and live chat support
• Paid phone/advanced support
FamilyTime
FamilyTime

Best for Geofencing Capabilities

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  • Free plan and trial
  • Speeding alerts
  • Very affordable
  • Allows you to geofence multiple locations
  • Limited device support
  • Steeper learning curve
  • Limited child devices

FamilyTime is focused on providing a digital parenting experience and helping parents reclaim “family time” as well as keep their children safe. As a result, limiting screen time is one of its core features, whether it’s to encourage kids to study, maintain healthy device usage, or stick to bedtime. In terms of powerful features, it claims to be one of the greatest parental control apps for a family.

Another one of its key features is more advanced location tracking. You can geofence multiple locations to make sure kids stay within the expected bounds. Of course, you can also track their location as well as get time-stamped locations to piece together their movements. You can even set up alerts if they break the speed limit.

All the other typical monitoring and app blocking features you would expect are also accounted for. All premium plans come with all the features and can be used on unlimited parental devices:

  • MyFamily: $2.25 per child device per month ($27 per year), 1 device
  • MyFamily2: $1.46 per child device per month ($35 per year), 2 devices
  • MyFamily3: $1.25 per child device per month ($45 per year), 3 devices
  • MyFamily5: $1.15 per child device per month ($69 per year), 5 devices

All plans are the same, but you get a discounted rate with each extra child device you use. There is a free plan with limited features and you can try any plan for free for 3 days. You also get actual email support which is great.

Time Limits Yes
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS
Free Trial Yes, free plan and a 3-day free trial
Customer support Email support
KidLogger
KidLogger

Best for Monitoring Desktop Computer Usage

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  • Extremely affordable
  • Supported on most platforms
  • Comprehensive monitoring, especially on desktop
  • Relatively restrictive storage limits
  • Outdated interface

KidLogger does exactly what its name implies. It logs almost every single activity that your kids do on just about any type of device. On top of mobile Android and iOS applications, you can also use the parental control software for desktop devices, like Macs and PCs.

KidLogger focuses more on logging activity and behavior with no limiting or blocking capabilities. However, it has much more extensive logging features than most, such as:

  • Keystrokes
  • Clipboard (copy/paste) content
  • USB, CD, and DVD drive usage
  • Used files, folders, and applications/software

It also logs your kids’ usage time as well as monitoring their web browser activity, calls, and most messenger applications. In terms of real-time tracking, you can view their location as well as new images as they are taken.

KidLogger is another superb option for free parental control software for up to 5 devices (with all features). Here is a breakdown of the various pricing packages:

  • Basic: Free
    • 5 devices
    • 9-day log history
    • 9 MB storage
  • Standard: $9 for 3 months / $17 for 6 months / $29 per year
    • 5 devices
    • 30-day log history
    • 100 MB storage
  • Professional: $29 for 3 months / $49 for 6 months / $89 per year
    • 10 devices
    • 60-day log history
    • 500 MB storage

The main problem is that you may run out of storage fast, especially considering how much info KidLogger logs.

KidLogger does offer ticket support, but it’s not the most available or of the highest quality. They do offer a 10-day refund, but only if the software is incompatible or doesn’t function correctly.

Time Limits No
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS, MAC, Windows
Free Trial No, but a free plan is available
Customer support Email/ticket support
Mobicip
Mobicip

Best for Multi-Platform Support

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  • Affordable and transparent pricing
  • Excellent feedback and reputation
  • Small package has no functionality limits
  • Excellent multi-platform support
  • No live customer support
  • No social network monitoring

Mobicip is another all-in-one parental control software for multiple devices, including Android, iOS, PC, MAC, and even Kindle. It’s got an outstanding reputation and has been highlighted by multiple consumer brands, has massively positive customer feedback, and carries the official kidSafe seal.

You also won’t miss out on any features as Mobicip covers everything from limiting screen time and blocking applications to location tracking and web filtering. Because it started as a safe web browser, blocking age-inappropriate content is still one of Mobicip’s cornerstones, and it saves browsing history for up to 4 weeks at a time.

Setup is also effortless with an incredibly user-friendly interface that extensively makes use of toggles to enable/disable features, blocked apps, etc.

Mobicip’s pricing is extremely affordable and straightforward:

  • SMALL: $3.99 per month for 5 devices
  • MEDIUM: $4.99 per month for 10 devices
  • X-LARGE: $9.99 per month for 20 devices

With no locked features, it’s safe to say most families will only need the SMALL plan, making it one of the most affordable options. There are also custom packages to cover 20+ devices, perfect for schools or other child services. The only surprise is that Mobicip doesn’t offer geofencing, despite all its other advanced features. One of its most useful and unique parental controls is the ability to temporarily lock all family devices.

Mobicip is also one of the few platforms that provide a good standard of customer service, although it’s only available via email/ticket support.

Time Limits Yes
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS, MAC, Windows, Kindle, Chromebook
Free Trial Yes, 7-day free trial
Customer support Email/ticket support
Bark
Bark

Best for Teens/Social Media Monitoring

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  • Advanced monitoring and threat detection
  • Monitors 30+ social media and other platforms
  • Good customer support
  • No free plan
  • Limited child devices

Just like a loyal guard dog, Bark is serious about keeping your family safe from harm. They even claim to have over 5.2 million users and to have helped prevent 16 school shootings and 78 suicides. By being able to monitor over 30 different social media platforms, Bark is one of the most effective parental control software systems for monitoring teenagers because of its focus on social media.

On top of limiting screen time and other activities, Bark’s 24/7 detection also tries to identify cases of predators, drug use, cyberbullying, and other harmful behaviors. Bark’s smart analysis keeps kids safe while saving parents time by automatically detecting and reporting signs.

There are two pricing plans:

  • Bark Jr: $5 per month / $49 annually
    • Manage screen time
    • Filter websites
    • Location check-ins
  • Bark: $14 per month / $99 annually
    • Monitor texts, email, and social media
    • Alerts for cyberbullies, suicidal tendencies, predators, etc.

As you can see, the Bark Jr plan comes with the basics while Bark utilizes the more intelligent analytics to protect against more serious threats.

The signup process is incredibly straightforward, and Bark offers an award-winning interface that’s one of the easiest to get to grips with. Unfortunately, Bark’s parental control software is only for iOS and Android. However, you can download the parent version on Windows. Although support is only available via submitting an email ticket, issues do seem to be taken seriously. Bark representatives are also very active on social media.

Time Limits Yes
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS, Windows (for the parental app only)
Free Trial Yes, 7-day free trial (payment info required)
Customer support Email tickets
Circle
Circle

Best Customer Support

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  • Free plan plus 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Live chat and other support channels
  • No device limits
  • Advanced time limit features
  • No desktop versions
  • Pricier
  • Pause feature only for internet

Circle is one of the smartest choices for a parental control app for iPhone, Android, and Chromebook devices. Circle’s time limits are also not universal for each device but can be fine-tuned for particular categories of apps or by specific apps. On top of that, you can set “off times” for regularly scheduled appointments and set “bedtime” that will repeat on selected days.

Another unique gamification aspect of Circle is the Rewards feature that enables you to reward your child with extra device time for good behavior. This device usage history timeline is also a user-friendly way to digest what everyone has been up to.

Circle HomePlus ships with an actual device that picks up all Wi-Fi connected devices at home and manages them according to the settings on the parental control app. For the same controls while on the move, you’ll need to install the child device apps on each device (does not apply to Chromebooks). It costs $69 for 3 months, $129 for 1 year, and $299 for a lifetime subscription.

The Circle app costs $99 per year or $9.99 per month. It works in a similar way but doesn’t come with the parental control software router. There is also a free plan, called Basic, for the app version with limited features.

Circle offers different customer support depending on what solution you have. Circle on NETGEAR customers will get free support via NETGEAR. Other customers get support 7 days a week, with limited hours, via email, and live chat.

Time Limits Yes
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS, Chromebooks
Free Trial Yes, 30-day free trial for the app only. A free plan is available
Customer support Live chat, email, and NETGEAR support
Qustodio
Qustodio

Best for Free Parental Control Software

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  • Free plan and 30-day money-back guarantee
  • Useful and informative visual reports
  • Simple to use
  • Great platform support
  • Some small bugs/loopholes
  • Relatively expensive paid plan
  • Less advanced features

Qustodio is much more than just a child monitoring system. It monitors how devices are being used in real-time, allowing parents to see what their kids spend their time on. Parents can promote healthy habits with usage controls, like limiting screen or game time and blocking inappropriate content. Qustodio also provides free parental control software with limited features on a single device – great for families with one child.

Qustodio also offers large-scale solutions for schools as well as businesses.

Generously, all plans come with all Qustodio’s premium features, but you unlock more devices with the higher plans:

  • Small plan: $54.95 per year – Up to 5 devices
  • Medium plan: $96.95 per year – Up to 10 devices
  • Large plan: $137.95 per year – Up to 15 devices

By far the majority of families won’t need more than 5 devices, making the small plan the best option for most people. Some of the system’s premium features are:

  • Visual reports/breakdowns of device usage
  • Setting time limits
  • Blocking/limiting games, apps, and inappropriate content
  • Locate family members
  • A panic button and more

The interface is extremely user-friendly with beautiful graphics. As a parental control software for nearly all devices, you also don’t have to worry about a device not being supported. The only issue is the odd bug that when used across time zones, a VPN can bypass the content filters. Another disadvantage is that there is virtually no support aside from help documentation. However, a 30-day money-back guarantee should give some peace of mind.

Time Limits Yes
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Kindle
Free Trial Yes, there is a free plan with limited features
Customer support For school or business customers only
NetNanny
NetNanny

Best for Instant Updates on the Entire Family

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  • “Pause” child device functionality
  • Instant activity feed for the entire family
  • Great multi-platform support for child/parent devices
  • Remote control
  • No free plan/trial
  • Some claim weak internet filtering
  • Not so friendly UI

Despite the name, NetNanny isn’t just about protecting your children as they explore the net. It also comes with all the other features you would expect from top parental control apps, such as app blocking, time limits, location tracking, and browser history.

Interestingly, NetNanny updates you on what your family members have been up to using a news/social media-like feed. While this is a nice way to get various updates on different aspects of device usage, it won’t be very user-friendly for everyone. However, real-time reporting is extremely helpful to parents who want to stay ahead of things.

NetNanny has three packages to choose from:

  • 1 Desktop: $39.99 per year
    • One Mac or Windows computer
  • Family Protection Pass (5 devices): $54.99 per year
    • Up to 5 devices, including smartphones and Kindles
  • Family Protection Pass (20 devices): $89.99 per year
    • Up to 20 desktop, smartphone, and Kindle devices

All packages come with all the features included. If your kids don’t have smartphones, the 1 Desktop package is a cheap and handy solution to protect the family computer but isn’t good for much else. All in all, the prices are still relatively on par.

Support is only via email/tickets although NetNanny does provide pretty serious tech support. Reviews from previous customers on consumer sites are mostly positive, although there are one or two above-average scores. Unfortunately, there is no free trial or plan but you can request a refund within the first 14 days.

Time Limits Yes
Location Tracking Yes
Platforms Android, iOS, Windows, Mac, Kindle
Free Trial No, but there’s a 14-day refund policy
Customer support Email/ticket support

2021’s Best Parental Control System at a Glance

  • mSpy: Best for anonymously running parental control app
  • FamilyTime: Best for geofencing capabilities
  • KidLogger: Best for monitoring desktop computer usage
  • Mobicip: Best for multi-platform support
  • Bark: Best for teens/social media monitoring
  • Circle: Best customer support
  • Qustodio: Best for free parental control software
  • NetNanny: Best for instant updates on the entire family

How Does Parental Control Software Work?

Parental control apps work on a very basic premise: you install child device software versions on your children’s mobile phones, tablets, or desktop computers (if supported). You then install the parental control version on the adult devices. Usually, there is no complicated setup or installation required. All you need to do is create accounts for each child and adult.

Different platforms have different limits on the number of devices. Usually, parent devices aren’t limited and child devices are usually limited in increments of 5 up to 20 devices.

Parental controls usually include blocking apps, limiting screen time, messaging history, filtering age-inappropriate content online, etc. It also usually comes with certain live activity tracking, such as location, social media posts, etc. Some apps provide reports to parents summarizing their child’s activity over a certain period.

On top of keeping children safe, the time controls are also useful for identity theft prevention or for parents who want to stop their kids from developing addictive behaviors. Using time limits, they can enforce bedtime, undistracted lessons/studying, and outside playtime without being present 24/7. Parental control software for desktop usually has limited features because a computer is usually stationary and not always connected to other devices.

Buyer’s Guide – How to Choose a Parental Control App

Not all parental control apps have exactly the same features and capabilities. As you can see from our reviews of the greatest parental control software in 2021, many platforms also focus on a specific aspect of digital parenting. Follow these steps to choose the best platform offering parental control services for you and your kids:

✓ Ask yourself what you want

As mentioned, different parental control apps are better for different things. Do you want to:

  • Track your kids’ whereabouts in live mode?
  • Make sure they don’t venture out of safe bounds?
  • Do you want to monitor their social media usage?
  • Do you want to limit their screen time, mobile gaming, etc.?
  • Do you want to block certain device features? For example, certain apps, games, etc.
  • Do you want to monitor their internet/browser history? Or, filter unsafe websites?
  • Do you have concerns over more serious threats? For example, online predators, school shootings, suicide markers, etc.?

✓ What features do you want?

Based on the answer to the above questions, start browsing for a platform with all the features you need. Some apps focus on limiting screen time, while others focus more on live remote reporting. Different apps are also better at certain things than others.

✓ What devices do you need to cover?

Not all systems support all types of devices. Almost all options support Android and iOS for mobile phones and tablets. Desktop support is harder to come by. However, you can even find some that support Chromebooks and Kindle devices.

✓ What is your budget?

On average, a parental control app costs around $1 per device per month. However, you may need to pay for more even if you don’t use them, depending on the provider. Also, be aware that some apps lock features for lower plans. Many companies offer free plans for an unlimited period, although the features are limited.

✓ Do you want your kids to know?

The majority of apps are visible, just like any other app on your kids’ devices. However, some, like mSpy, run invisibly in the background. This is a good option if you suspect your child may try to bypass the app or when you have more serious concerns.

✓ How many devices do you need to cover?

The number of devices you want to install parental controls on usually affects the price. Most offer plans for anywhere from 5 to 20 child devices. If you’re looking at this type of software as an educator or other type of adult guardian with many children under your watch, you might want to look at a school or custom package. These are usually reserved for 20+ devices with many of the same features.

Parental Control Workaround Methods

Even the best and safest parental control apps could potentially be bypassed by tech-savvy children. Digital devices have so many features and capabilities that it’s impossible to cover every angle. However, you can look out for certain workarounds that may indicate your child is trying to compromise the parental controls:

  • Using different networks: As not all systems monitor all networks (Wi-Fi, data, cellular), you may be able to bypass the system by using a specific network. Certain messaging/social media apps might also not be supported, such as Telegram. As calls cannot be recorded, unusual call activity to/from unknown numbers might be of concern.
  • Using a VPN: A virtual private network hides/changes the device’s IP address and location. This may confound web filtering and location tracking tools. The top parental control apps can detect when a VPN is used and alert/filter web results.
  • Using a friend’s device: If all else fails, the child may use/borrow a friend’s device to completely bypass the parental controls.
  • Using private browsing: Most browsers have a “private” setting that doesn’t save browsing history, searches, or cookies. For example, the “Incognito” mode on Chrome. The perfect parental control software can block this type of private browsing or at least alert parents that it was used.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Using a Parental Control System

Like any technology, parental control systems can have its pros and cons depending on how you use it. Parenting is an emotional and often challenging process. A parental control app should be used to help you implement your parenting style, but it shouldn’t replace your presence as a parent.

Advantages:

  • Know where your kids are: Almost all parental control systems come with real-time location tracking. You can now know where your kids are at any time. More advanced apps also allow you to set up safe geofence zones and will alert you if your child leaves the area.
  • Protect them from harmful behavior: Certain monitoring tools can auto-detect possible signs of violent, suicidal, or predatory behavior on your child’s phone. By looking for certain search terms, message texts, etc. it may even detect drug use.
  • Enforce good device usage habits: Children today spend more time than ever on their electronic devices. It can not only be unhealthy, but downright addictive and affect their schoolwork, extracurricular activities, and even sleeping patterns. Setting time limits allows parents to control this behavior.
  • Block age-inappropriate content: Most apps come with web filters to block unsafe content, like pornography, violent content, etc.
  • Monitor your child for danger signs: You don’t just have to trust the software to pick up dangerous behavior. A good parental control software will also provide parents with messaging, browsing, and other behavioral data that they can look over for inappropriate behavior, danger signs or child identity theft.

Disadvantages:

  • It may erode trust/encourage bad behavior: Some children may believe their parents don’t trust them and act out on purpose. That’s why most companies recommend parents discuss using the app with their children so that they understand why it’s necessary.
  • Being complacent: Not all software is foolproof. Not even Google has a 100% effective safe web filter and there are methods to bypass parental controls. Parental control software can help avoid a lot of obstacles, but it isn’t a complete replacement for parental responsibility and vigilance.
  • Fake parental control apps: Because of the high privileges these apps have, they can wreak havoc on your device. They can steal data like messages, media, finances, and even take control of your phone to some degree. Almost make sure you install the safest parental control apps from trusted sources.

Key Takeouts

Parents of kids of all ages can benefit enormously from using the list of top-rated parental control software in 2021. If kids are using their devices more and more, parents are also busier than ever. These tools can help you keep track of what your kids are doing by setting your own limits on how much and what your kids can use their devices for, where they are at any given time, and what they are up to thanks to an activity record.

We’ve put together this review of the most trusted parental control software systems to give you a variety of options for safe, secure, and effective parental control tools.

FAQ

What websites should parents block in 2021?

There are too many to mention here individually. Hundreds of millions of new sites pop up every year. A filter that automatically detects dangerous or age-inappropriate content is the best bet. Such content can include pornographic sites, sites about extremist organizations, and specific content from public sites like YouTube.

Can I set parental controls on Google Chrome?

Yes! As mentioned, most parental control apps come with web filters, browser activity monitors, etc. You can also limit browser usage by setting limits on screen time or on browsing (Google Chrome, specifically).

Which parental control software is the best?

There isn’t just one best parental control software. Different parental control systems are better for different things. For example, Bark is probably best for teens because of its social media support and focus on dangerous behavior. Use our buying guide and reviews to determine the best option for your circumstances.