Cell phone monitoring apps for parents

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And you can block content, gaming apps and instant messaging programs. Surfie has a keyword and phrase alert, which is a great tool for stopping cyberbullies and other predators.

This monitoring program includes time controls and provides very detailed reports about what your child does online. Reports include information about which websites your child visits, apps they use and words they search for as well as how long they spend in each application. However, its cell phone monitoring program includes profanity masking. Not only does it deny your child access to X-rated websites, but it also checks the pictures and ads on safe sites.

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On top of physically testing these apps, we research news and organizations dedicated to educating children and parents about healthy technology habits. Both have extensive guides for parents that are worth checking out. We also spoke with advocates and read advice on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC and National Suicide Prevention websites about how to recognize cyberbullying and how to talk to your kids about online dangers.

Cell phone parental controls programs are subscription based, meaning you have to pay either a monthly or annual fee to continue using that program. You often must also purchase this subscription for each device you wish to monitor, though there are a few apps that will give you multiple licenses for a decent price. Our favorite is Mobicip. There is no age requirement when it comes to owning a smartphone, unlike social media accounts that typically require a person to be 13 or older to sign up.

Before giving your child their own smartphone, sit down and talk with your child about internet etiquette, privacy, security, cyberbullying, malicious websites, harmful content and time management. This is a lot of info to bombard a child with, so take your time and spread out these topics over several conversations rather than running through them like a lecture or presentation.

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Make sure, when your child is ready for a cell phone, that you set clear rules. Be prepared to set firm rules on the things that matter most to you, but be open to negotiating rules such as how to earn more screen time. The Family Contract for Smartphone Use from ConnectSafely is a good tool to help you set specific rules and responsibilities for both children and parents. For more information and advice on deciding when to get your child a smartphone, check out When Is Your Kid Old Enough for a Smartphone? While setting rules is an important part of helping your child establish healthy smartphone habits before they hit adulthood, they still need to understand why these rules exist.

An excellent way to explain smartphone rules to kids is to talk about how you use your smartphone. Although this may cause you to question your own smartphone habits, it can teach your child the potential advantages and hazards of smartphones. By setting an example your child wants to emulate, you become a powerful influence in developing healthy smartphone habits for your child. If your child has an iPhone, you can take advantage of its built-in Screen Time parental controls to place restrictions on apps, purchases, explicit content, Siri, privacy and other settings.

While Screen Time may not have the comprehensive tools of some parental control apps, it might meet your needs and save you money in the long term. Screen Time is available on devices running iOS 12, which was released on September 17, Google also has an app called Digital Wellbeing, which allows you to self-restrict app access on devices running Android 9. This app is geared towards adults tracking and managing their own screen time, but we like the potential of using this app to help older children and teens learn about healthy smartphone habits.


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However, it also has a few unique features such as an extensive library of kid-friendly books, videos, games, audiobooks, apps, and educational content. These are the current parental control offerings from the four largest U. It could let the parent decide when the child has demonstrated safe, responsible smartphone use and graduate from all restrictions. That might happen when the child turns 13, 15 or even But the children should not be allowed to strip away settings just because they turn Our approach is to give parents and kids transparency, and encourage a family conversation around this moment.

Those emails inform both the parent and child of some of the changes that will take effect if the child decides to graduate. This is something we continue to get feedback on and will continue to consider the best approach. If your child is 13 or older and uses an Android phone, the paid version of Qustodio is your best bet. Discounts are frequently offered on its website. Unlike with Google Family Link, you use the same email account to set up the app on both devices.

Qustodio offers the most features and flexibility among the third-party parental-control apps we tested. The paid version allows you to set multiple schedules, limit overall phone use and specific app use, and block phone and app use. Keep in mind, though, that many experts warn that this level of monitoring is not actually good for kids. Qustodio also offers a free version, which can be used on one device. With it, parents can set a schedule and determine how much time—by minute increments, and up to 24 hours—their child spends on the phone daily.

The free version also includes reports for parents, as well as the Web filter, but little else.

The paid version offers more insight and management tools. Qustodio is one of the few apps we tested that allow parents to set more than one schedule, an advantage over Google Family Link. On a grid, parents can block out the hours they want to shut off access to the phone, such as bedtime, during dinner or while the child is at school.

In addition, the paid version of Qustodio allows parents to cap how much time their child spends on individual apps in minute increments—going a step further than simply blocking individual apps, like Google Family Link. As with Google Family Link, parents can also turn off access to the phone with a single tap. Your child receives notifications when they reach the end of the time limit or when they try to access restricted content.

Qustodio is one of the few apps we tested that allows you to set multiple schedules left. Like other parental controls, Qustodio aims to filter adult content, including by categories such as weapons, drugs, and alcohol. We did not test the filters extensively; in a quick search, we did find that we were blocked from purchasing whiskey, getting information on gummy edibles, and logging into dating sites such as Tinder and Scruff.

We were, however, able to find gun stores online and nearby.

FamiSafe - Best Parental Control App - Wondershare - The Inventar

Qustodio has a lengthy privacy policy on how it collects, uses, and stores your data, acknowledging that it may anonymize personal data for research or statistical purposes. Qustodio does alert parents about new apps that their child downloads which they can then block access to. The most current location is displayed in a line on the app, above the parent news feed. However instead of showing the location on a map, as Google Family Link does, it merely lists the address.

The trouble is, Qustodio seems to have a hard time identifying the actual address. Finally, Qustodio is a good choice only for kids with Android phones. On the iPhone, the paid version of Qustodio is more limited: Although it can block a particular set of popular kids apps, such as Fortnite and YouTube, it cannot identify all apps on the iPhone.

When our kids were playing Hatch , a digital pet game on the iPhone, for example, it could not stop them from playing it when time was up. The only way to stop our child from playing by using parental controls was to block access to the entire phone manually. Qustodio has a list of all of the apps it can monitor on the iPhone: as of this review, there are only about On the iPhone, Qustodio also repeatedly and inaccurately claimed that our child was visiting Amazon; Qustodio notes that its feed reports some third-party advertisements or content.

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It kept reporting that my kid was using Facebook when the app is not even installed on his device. Deleting this one for good. If your child uses an iPhone, and you use an Android phone, our picks may not work well for you. One popular option among parents we surveyed is OurPact , which used to run on both Android and iOS phones. As of April it runs only on Android phones, due to a move by Apple to purge screen-time tracker competitors from its App Store or restrict their capabilities.

OurPact offers three tiers: The basic tier is free, but limited in scope. The Premium tier offers the most flexibility and control for parents. With the Plus and Premium tiers, parents can create more than one schedule. They can limit access to the smartphone at night, as well as during dinnertime or other times. Parents cannot see how their child uses their smartphone, such as if their child is spending an inordinate amount of time on gaming. Similar to OurPact, unGlue is a subscription-based parental control app that operates on both the iOS and Android platforms.

10 Apps for Parents to Monitor Kids' Mobile Use - FamilyEducation

We dismissed both Norton Family and Net Nanny because they were cumbersome to set up, with limited results. Norton does not offer an iOS app for parents, only a mobile-friendly website.


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  • Therefore, you would expect the browser to offer superior content filtering. On the plus side, both Norton Family and Net Nanny blocked access to adult content, as well as potentially dangerous topics for kids such as suicide, something the filters for Apple and Google did not do. On Net Nanny, however, we were able to stumble into a 4chan board with inappropriate content for kids within minutes; and though Net Nanny claims to be able to mask explicit language, none of it was blocked out. Child is txting away at school as I write this; while her phone is supposedly locked.