Ok, so most of you know by now that my first piece of advice when it comes to keeping your children safe online is that communication and building trust with them is paramount. There of course is nothing wrong with allowing technology to help us though. In Cyber we like to use a principle called defence-in-depth, rather than just one layer of defence we have many and this is something that I think carries across well into protecting our children. I am going to list some of the parental control apps that are currently available out there for both Android and iOS devices, many of the providers also have Windows and Mac versions too.
Remember that this is not about spying on your kids and needs to be done in partnership with them so that they fully understand that it is about protecting them. Ultimately though it is of course up to you as the parents to decide to what extent you use the monitoring of these apps, I will provide all of the information so you are fully informed. I won't be discussing any apps that can be run incognito, I am not here to help parents spy on their children as that would go against my policy of making the child feel comfortable approaching you when something doesn't feel right.
Some of the best parental control apps will give you a much better understanding of how your child is spending their time on their devices, also their physical location should you ever be concerned about where they are.
Some of these apps I have covered on my YouTube channel but as with all things in technology we have moved on with regards to ability, price and reliability so I will cover them again here with any changes. Some are free, some are free with in-app purchases and some of them are at a cost.
Qustodio Parental Control
* Well-designed web interface * Comprehensive time restrictions * App blocking on desktop and mobile platforms * Cross-platform support * Intuitive apps
* Expensive * VPN breaks web filter on desktop and mobile browsers * Social media tracking limited to Facebook
I created a video (see below) on my YouTube channel previously regarding Qustodio and it is still my favourite parental control app out there. There is still a free capability but it will only monitor 1 device and only hold the logs for 7 days. The paid version starts at small which covers 5 devices and costs just £39.95 a year. There are cheaper options which cover unlimited devices though if that's a concern for you, keep reading. For more detail, you can delve into the video.
* Intuative design and easy to use * Excellent web filtering * Reliable time management and geolocation
* On the more expensive side * Not as feature rich on the iOS version
Net Nanny is a decent parental control app, which could also explain the price tag attached to it. At the time of writing, they have an offer for the version that covers PC, Mac but also mobiles and up to 5 devices, this is being offered at $54.99 rather than the usual $79.99. It has excellent web filtering and also allows you to create custom filters to block content you don't want your child viewing. More detail can be found on their site or by watching their video below.
Symantec Norton Family Premier
* Affordable * Good web dashboard * No limit on the number of monitored devices * Easy setups and configurations * Excellent geofencing tools
* Does not work on Macs.Browser extensions can be disabled easily. * Cannot block individual apps and games on PCs * Unlocking an iOS device breaks monitoring alerts * No social media tracking
You will not be surprised to hear that this is another one that I created a video for previously (see below). This is a product that does not have a limit on the number of devices that you can add to it, as mentioned earlier and it only costs £29.99 a year. You can find much more detail on this product here. This product actually has one of the better web filtering capabilities and is also very easy to set up and use. For more detail on this one take a look at my video on it.
Kaspersky Safe Kids
* Very affordable price * Full-featured on both free and paid tiers * Monitors PCs, Macs as well
* Web portal slow at times * Poorly designed mobile apps
This one is by far the best option for those looking for a bargain among the parental control apps. It has a free version but even the paid version is only £14.99 and gives access to many more features. You can get more detail from their site here. It is cheaper for a reason but that's mainly design issues rather than feature issues, so if you can deal with that then this is a good option. The paid plan allows you to monitor unlimited devices and monitors social networks and offers location tracking and geofencing that work in both iOS and Android, as do Kaspersky's web monitoring and device scheduling. But app management is limited on iOS to blocking apps that have age restrictions. It's worth trying out the free version to see what you think before taking the plunge and buying.
Well, that's it for this blog post and I hope it was of use to you in deciding on a parental control app that fulfils your own requirements. If you have any questions then as always please drop me an email at the address listed on the 'about me' page.
Take care all and stay safe.