Security should be the utmost priority of any family and high-end tech gadgets are here to help. From tenant screening services to home security systems, electronic equipment can help us deal with the insecurities of daily life, and the same goes for parenting. In order to find the best parental control software, we devised a methodology that uses both standard software considerations (price, value, ease of use, customer support) and ones specific to the industry (parental control for computers: filtering, blocking and reporting options, time management, activity, and social media tracking).
Content blocking and filtering
This is the essential feature that every child protection software needs to have. Different programs go about it slightly differently, but the main idea is setting up certain topics that will be considered inappropriate (violence, porn, racism, etc.) which the software then uses to filter out content and/or prevent access to certain websites. The best parental control apps will even send notifications to parents when their children try to access problematic content.
Speaking of notifications and reporting, one of the key features that many good kid protection apps have is the ability to remotely report on a child’s activity. Kids often use the opportunity when their parents are not around, but with a software that has remote reporting functionality, you can always stay on top of things. It’s not just for restrictions, either: sometimes you may need to remotely allow your child more internet browsing time or manually unblock a specific page on a website, in order for them to finish a school project, for example.
The best parental control software isn’t limited to just blocking content. As mentioned above, parents will often want to simply restrict their children’s daily, weekly, or monthly internet usage. Instead of inappropriate content exposure, the worry here is simply that a child may be spending too much time on the internet. With the appropriate parental control settings, it’s possible to set up a weekly or monthly schedule for your children, block off internet access completely after a certain hour, or remotely allow extra hours in case your children really need to use the internet.
Activity logs are a common feature even in free parental control software, and for good reason. Not only do parents want to know that their children cannot access certain content (or overindulge in internet usage in general), but they also want to see what their children have been doing and what sites they have been visiting.
Most companies provide daily and weekly reports, while some even offer monthly summaries of a child’s device usage patterns. These can cover everything from websites visited to social networks and apps used.
These days it’s not enough to just restrict browser access in order to make sure your kids aren’t exposed to dangerous content. The best free parental control app for Android and iOS platforms can also monitor and restrict mobile app usage, although these features are usually restricted to paid tiers with most providers. A good parental monitoring app will be able to control how phone apps behave and restrict the children’s access to the internet and online payments and more.
Social network monitoring
Depending on how important their child’s safety is, some parents are willing to go the extra step when it comes to parental monitoring software. While a lot of people may feel uncomfortable spying on their children’s Facebook activities, social networks represent dangers of their own. Considering the amount of time the average child spends on Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, it may be well worth investigating what the best parental control tools have to say about their activities on those and other social networks.
Pricing and value
The overall value of parental monitoring apps is a consideration shared with every other type of software on the market. A lot of companies offer basic free plans, which often set a limit on the number of devices that can be monitored. Another option is getting a time-limited trial in order to test out the full functionality of the software. The overall value proposition can differ greatly between companies, so it’s well worth taking a good look at how much you’re getting for your money.
The final criteria on which we assessed the best parental monitoring software has to do with the overall user experience. This includes everything from what platforms the software works on and how easy it is to install and set up to how intuitive the program is in everyday usage.
5 best parental control apps in 2020
- Kaspersky Safe Kids
- Norton Family
- Net Nanny
Can I set parental controls on Google Chrome?
Yes, but in order to set up parental restrictions, you first have to make sure that SafeSearch is turned on. For more detailed parental controls, you can set up Google Family Link, block websites with a browser extension, or use a dedicated VPN for Chrome. For the best parental control on Android and other platforms, though, you’ll need one of the programs on our list.
How do I restrict Google searches?
Simply use either a website blocking extension or one of the programs for parental control on your PC, Mac, console, or mobile device.
Can I put parental controls on my Wi-Fi?
Without a doubt. While some routers automatically support these features, others may require that you install the OpenDNS protocol first. After that, it’s just a matter of setting it up in your router’s web settings.
Which parental control software is the best?
This depends on both your needs and budget. Check out our list of the best parental control software above, though: we have several excellent choices to consider, including Qustodio, Kaspersky Safe Kids, and Norton Family.