With gift-giving season upon us, millions of children are going to score a bunch of toys, gadgets and other electronics. That being the case, parents would be wise to buy devices that offer some type of controls that can safeguard their children’s online safety.
The parental control software market is big business — forecast to reach $9.5 billion globally by 2023, with North America leading the way.
Looking for some of the best parental control apps? Check these out
Spurred on by science, major smartphone makers like Google and Apple have come to recognize the dangers constant connection can have on young minds, so they’ve added tools in their software to limit screen time.
Still, there are other apps out there that take a holistic approach to parental control, giving adults not only a way to keep track of their child’s online behavior, but to encourage their healthy interactions with the digital world, as well.
OurPact Parental Control & Kid Tracker
and its kids version
lets parents manage and schedule the screen time of their children on different devices. It recently added a website blocker to stop young ones from accessing inappropriate sites.
Parents can also create GPS “Geofences” around specific locations and get real-time alerts when their kids leave home and arrive at school or any place else. There’s also a Find My Family feature that allows parents to locate those in their households.
Sample app review
: “We tried for almost a year to get our teen to regulate her own phone usage to no avail. After many fights and having to remove the actual phone at bedtime we heard of this app. I am in no way thinking the fights are over but at least now we don’t have to watch the clock and ask her to turn it off and then argue with her. It will simply stop working.”
“My only complaint so far is that the app you put on your kids phone will rearrange their home screen and all their apps every time their phone is blocked and unblocked. Not a crisis, but if this didn’t happen that would be great.”
There’s a free version, as well as a $1.99 a month version and a $6.99 a month version.
App Store rating: 4.6 stars
Kidslox Parental Control App
lets you control smartphones, tablets and other devices from one account. You can schedule device-free homework or dinner time, as well as choose between “Parent Mode,” “Child Mode” and “Lockdown Mode” to disable internet access and social media.
Sample app review: “Overall, I find Kidslox to be a useful, easy way to have limits on my daughter’s screen usage … One improvement that could be made would be to have the ability to shut down text and phone calls during certain hours, except for emergencies. Because while I can set a daily limit and control app usage so that even if she has more time before she reaches the limit, she can’t use it after a certain time at night, she can still text freely for hours on end and I have no [ability] to track or limit that.”
: Kidslox has four pricing tiers: $3.99 a month, $19.99 a month, $39.99 a month or a $79 lifetime fee.
App Store rating: 4.5 stars
Covenant Eyes monitors activity across your entire smartphone, not just web pages. It then sends a log, called an Accountability Report, to someone you grant permission to. It is the developer's intent that those reports lead to meaningful conversations about phone use.
Sample review: “The fact that this app monitors my entire iPhone is a big step forward. I really wish iOS devices were more friendly with apps like Covenant Eyes that keep people accountable for their device usage. I’ve experienced some bugs and glitches that need to be worked out. For example, occasionally my internet connection will disconnect entirely for a brief period of time.”
App store rating: 4.3 stars