Smartphones are small miracles. If your kid has a smartphone, they have access to the world’s accumulated knowledge and whatever TikTok is. Unfortunately, owning a smartphone also means access to porn, violent imagery, and other disturbing content they’re just not mature enough to see. The other big risk: constantly disappearing into the world of the phone, much of which is designed to be addictive, and not participating enough in real life.
Thankfully, with the rise of these smartphones 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 six apps, in particular, are excellent tools for monitoring your kid’s usage and setting parameters on what they’re able to see. They’re a must for parents worried that a smartphone might screw their kid up.
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 if you want a little bit of everything. Control screen-time limits, block apps, locate, track, and shut down texts: This one does it all and it does it all well. There’s even another app, OurPact Jr., that gives kids the information they need regarding their screen-time allowance and schedules. (Free, $2, and $7 monthly plans)
Available on: Google Play
Best Parental Control App for the Young Gamer: Azoomee
Question: What to do for the kid that chews through every game put in front of him or her? Answer: Azoomee. This curated app includes over 1,000 games, puzzles, and activities, all of which have some kind of educational component designed for kids 5 and older. Sometimes the easiest way to keep an eye on the kid is to trust the digital environment you put them into. (Free version includes access to a small selection of content; premium is $6.50 monthly, $33 for six months, or $59 for the year)
Best Parental Control App for Practicing What You Preach: Covenant Eyes
Covenant Eyes is an effective porn blocker that will make sure your kids don’t stumble across inernet smut. 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 made, a report is sent to you. (Free)
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 screen time, and establishes a bedtime, all while still allowing for installed apps to update. Keep in mind that, while you can monitor your kid’s phone if it’s an iOS device, you can only lock it down it if they have an Android phone. (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. Once they pay, parents can go beyond just checking their kid’s current location. Should your child leave his or her designated “safe space” you’ll receive an alert. You’ll also receive alerts for suspicious activity and social media monitoring of new friends. Android users can also monitor their texts and calls. (Free; Premium for $12/year)
Best Parental Control App for Multidevice Protection: Mobicip Parental Controls
Mobicip covers computers, 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. And since it’s based in the cloud, kids can’t simply switch from wifi to 4LTE to escape its safety net. ($40/year to protect up to five devices)
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