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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.
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vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

10 Best Parental Control Apps in 2024 — Android & iPhone

Andjela Nikolic Updated on 18th June 2024 Fact-checked by Kate Veale Cybersecurity Researcher

Finding the right parental control app for Android or iOS is challenging. There are hundreds of options, each promising extensive monitoring tools, robust content filtering, and intuitive interfaces. However, only a few apps can keep your child’s data safe.

I tested over 30 parental control apps, and Aura is my top choice. In addition to key features such as web filtering, screen time management, location tracking, and app management, it also follows strict privacy measures to secure children's data. It also has a 14-day free trial and a 60-day money-back guarantee, which is plenty of time to test if it’s the right fit for you and your family.

Short on Time? Here Are the Best Parental Control Apps in 2024

  1. Aura — Includes antivirus and identity theft protection in addition to regular parental control features to secure the entire family.
  2. Bark — Integrates with over 30 social media apps to monitor your child’s online interactions.
  3. Qustodio — Beginner-friendly apps and a free plan with basic features.
  4. NetNanny — Real-time web filtering protects your children from inappropriate content.
  5. Kaspersky Safe Kids — Compatible with the most popular operating systems, so you can monitor all your children’s devices.

See 5 More Great Parental Control Apps That Work

Pro Tip: Use a VPN To Protect Your Kids’ Sensitive Data From Exposure

Some parental control apps transmit data unencrypted or store it on insecure servers, creating opportunities for third-party exposure through data breaches or unauthorized access. This puts your children's privacy at risk and can lead to malicious exploitation of their personal information.

A VPN, or Virtual Private Network, is an app that can mask your child's online data and IP address, making it difficult for anyone to track their online activities. Using a VPN with a no-logs policy and strong encryption protocols significantly reduces the chance of data interception and protects your child's privacy.

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Military-Grade Security Features
DEAL: Save 49% + 30-day money-back guarantee
Editor's Choice for Security
Our Score: 10.0
High-level encryption keeps you safe online
Verified to not collect or share data

Editors' Note: Expressvpn and this site are in the same ownership group.

Best Parental Control Apps — Full Analysis (Updated 2024)

1. Aura — All-in-One Cybersecurity Solution for Kids and Teens

With Aura, you can create individual profiles for each child, with age-appropriate content filters and screen time limits. Through a single dashboard, you can monitor and manage multiple children’s online activities across smartphones, tablets, and computers.

Beyond parental controls, Aura offers features like identity theft protection and antivirus software. It also includes financial fraud protection, which can be useful if you’re managing joint accounts or teaching teens about money.

The app collects user information such as browsing habits, app usage, location data, and more. However, I was relieved that all the data transmitted between devices and Aura's servers is encrypted. The company also regularly audits its security measures to detect vulnerabilities and applies software updates to address emerging threats.

Support is available 24/7 via chat and email, and you can install Aura on a wide range of devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. All plans offer a 14-day free trial, and if you opt for a long-term subscription, you get a 60-day money-back guarantee.

2. Bark — Best for Text, Email, & Social Media Monitoring

Bark uses AI to analyze conversations and identify potential issues like cyberbullying, sexting, suicidal ideation, and inappropriate content. My favorite thing about Bark is that it sends an alert with context and recommendations on handling the situation whenever the system flags problematic content.

I could connect Bark with over 30 social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, TikTok, and YouTube. It also supports screen time management and web filtering. Additionally, you receive notifications when your children arrive at or leave predefined safe zones

The information Bark collects and analyzes includes children's online activities, text messages, social media interactions, emails, and web browsing history. I wasn’t comfortable with so much data being collected, so I regularly requested data deletion through my account settings. Additionally, the app complies with relevant privacy regulations like COPPA and GDPR.

All subscription plans offer unlimited device coverage per family. It’s compatible with a wide range of devices, including iOS, Android, and Amazon Fire tablets, as well as Windows and Mac computers.

3. Qustodio — Easy To Use With a Powerful Content-Filtering System

Qustodio offers a clean and intuitive dashboard, where you can view reports, set rules, and configure settings. You can easily adjust screen time limits, set content filters, and monitor your kid’s activity. It’s also easy to set up — I installed it on my Android phone in less than 2 minutes.

Children can press a panic button to send their real-time location to a trusted contact during emergencies. The app also tracks phone calls and text messages to alert you of concerning conversations.

Like most parental control apps, Qustodio collects your child’s browsing history, app usage, location, and communication logs. However, it retains user data only as long as necessary for delivering the service and deletes it after a set period.

The app supports Windows, Mac, Android, iOS, Chromebook, and Kindle. It offers a free plan with limited functionality like basic monitoring and reporting. The premium plan provides access to full features for multiple devices with various pricing tiers, depending on the number of devices covered.

4. NetNanny — Uses AI to Block Inappropriate Content

NetNanny’s AI system identifies problematic keywords that might indicate cyberbullying, explicit material, drug use, or other dangerous behaviors, and proactively blocks such content. Rather than blocking entire websites, NetNanny's AI examines the context of specific pages and blocks only those that are inappropriate.

You can also schedule screen time, track location, and receive reports on your child's online activity. I tested its location tracking and received alerts each time my daughter left or entered a specific area. The app also offers monitoring of social media usage and alerts you of any potential risks or red flags.

The app collects browsing data, app usage statistics, and location data. It uses encryption protocols to secure data both in transit and at rest. I could also request data deletion whenever I wanted.

Unfortunately, NetNanny is only compatible with Windows and Mac devices. Additionally, you can only get a yearly plan — short-term subscriptions aren’t available.

5. Kaspersky Safe Kids — Wide Range of Free Parental Tools for Any Device

The free plan of Kaspersky Safe Kids offers web monitoring to track browsing history and web filtering to block inappropriate websites. You can also set screen time limits to manage device usage and block specific apps to prevent exposure to unsuitable content.

If you need advanced features like location tracking and social media monitoring, you can upgrade to a premium plan. You also get call and SMS monitoring, but it only worked for Android devices during my testing.

Kaspersky Safe Kids gathers data on web browsing history, app usage, location, and communication logs. Unlike Qustodio, it doesn’t delete your data automatically. However, you can periodically request data deletion to avoid leaks.

This app supports multiple operating systems including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS. You can use the free version on only one device, while the premium plan allows you to monitor unlimited devices.

6. Norton Family Premier — Keeps Your Children Focused on Educational Content

By activating Norton Family’s School Time feature, you can block entertainment or non-educational websites while allowing access to educational resources. I also used the Safe Search option to filter out potentially inappropriate results on major search engines.

The app also features time supervision, search supervision, and video supervision tools. You can also track children's real-time location using GPS and view it on a map in your dashboard.

Unfortunately, Norton Family Premier can’t monitor social media, text, and email. However, I prefer this approach, as it collects less sensitive data than its competitors. You can even use its custom settings to control the data collection per child and provide age-appropriate monitoring.

You can install it on desktop and mobile devices, though it has limited features on Mac. Norton Family doesn’t offer monthly plans, but you can get a 30-day free trial.

7. Life360 — Easy Location Tracking for the Entire Family

Life360 specializes in location tracking, so you can see where your children are at any time. It also stores location history — I could view the routes taken and the locations visited over the past few days.

The app doesn't have content filtering or app blocking. Instead, it has a built-in messaging system and various tools for driving safely. There’s also a panic button that sends an SOS alert to all family members if someone feels unsafe.

Only invited members can view location data. The app also complies with privacy regulations like GDPR and COPPA.

You can get Life360 for free on Android and iOS. The free plan offers real-time location sharing, place alerts for two locations, and in-app messaging. Premium plans provide additional features like 30 days of location history, unlimited place alerts, and crash detection.

8. Mobicip — Instantly Lock Your Child's Device

Mobicip makes it easy to enforce screen time rules or manage usage during inappropriate times by allowing you to lock your child’s device with just a tap. During testing, I received instant alerts when my daughter attempted to access blocked content or exceeded screen time limits.

You also get a customizable internet filter, app blocker, and location tracker. I could filter websites based on 30+ categories like violence, adult content, and social media.

The app complies with the Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act to responsibly handle children's data. You can also request data deletion or adjust monitoring settings.

I tested it by taking advantage of its 7-day free trial. The app is available on a variety of platforms including Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, and Chromebooks.

9. OurPact — Plenty of Features for Keeping Your Children Safe on iPhones

OurPact has more features for iOS compared to many parental control apps. It can directly block any app, plus it can filter websites specifically within Safari browser.

You can also view device locations and schedule screen time according to daily or weekly routines. My favorite feature is the ability to allow children to request extra screen time, giving them a sense of autonomy.

All personal data is securely stored and handled with strict adherence to COPPA guidelines. You can review the collected data and adjust settings to minimize unnecessary collection.

The app is primarily geared towards iOS users but also supports Android devices. The free plan offers limited device management features, while the premium options include additional features like web filtering and geofencing.

10. Google Family Link — Well-Known Name, Great for Android

Google Family Link is a free app specialized for Android devices and Chromebooks. While it’s also compatible with iOS, some features, such as app blocking and time management, may not work with all apps.

Like most other apps on this list, Google Family Link also offers location tracking. I also had the option to approve or block apps my daughter wanted to download from the Google Play Store.

To comply with COPPA, Google requires you to provide consent when setting up Family Link for children under 13. You can also create child accounts with restricted access, so your children can only access appropriate features.

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DEAL: Save 49% + 30-day money-back guarantee
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Our Score: 10.0
High-level encryption keeps you safe online
Verified to not collect or share data

Quick Comparison Table: Parental Control App Features

Here's how my shortlisted parental control apps compare in terms of price, supported devices, and specific functionalities:

Price Devices Manage screen time Web Filtering App Management Location Tracking Monitoring & Reporting
Aura $144/yr (premium plan) iOS, Android, Windows Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bark $99/yr (premium plan) iOS, Android, Amazon devices Yes Limited (alerts) Yes No Yes
Qustodio $54.95/yr (small plan) iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Kindle Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
NetNanny $39.99/yr (1 device) iOS, Android, Windows, Mac Yes Yes Yes No Yes
Kaspersky Safe Kids $14.99/yr Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Norton Family Premier $49.99/yr (up to 5 devices) Windows, Mac, Android, iOS Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Life360 Free, Plus $24.99/yr iOS, Android No No No Yes No
Mobicip $39.99/yr (basic plan) iOS, Android, Windows, Mac Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
OurPact $6.99/mo (premium) iOS, Android Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Google Family Link Free Android, iOS, Chrome OS Yes Limited (Google services) Yes Yes (limited) Yes

How To Keep Your Parental Control App Data Safe From Leaks

Parental control apps collect a vast array of sensitive information, including children’s location data, browsing history, app usage statistics, and even text message and call log details. This can be a gold mine for cybercriminals. If not properly secured, the information these apps gather could be at risk of exposure due to inadequate security practices or vulnerabilities within the app itself.

Data from these apps can leak in several ways: through breaches of unsecured servers, exploitation of software vulnerabilities, or even through simple misconfigurations. Hackers can misuse this leaked data to commit identity theft, stalk individuals, or even sell the information on the dark web.

Using a VPN while monitoring data through these apps can significantly reduce the risk of data leakage. A VPN secures your internet connection by encrypting all data sent and received, which makes it extremely difficult for hackers to intercept or steal information.

How to Choose the Best Parental Control App?

To choose the best parental control app, you need to consider several factors to ensure it aligns with your family's specific needs. Here are key criteria to guide your selection:

  • Screen time management. Look for apps that offer flexible screen time limits, scheduling, and instant device locking.
  • Web filtering. Make sure the app can block harmful content, filter web searches, and monitor browsing activity.
  • App management. Check if it allows blocking, monitoring, or approving specific apps.
  • Location tracking. GPS tracking and geofencing are essential for monitoring your child’s whereabouts.
  • Monitoring and reports. Activity reports, alerts, and notifications provide insights into your child’s online behavior.
  • Setup and configuration. Choose an app with a straightforward setup process and intuitive parent dashboard.
  • Device compatibility. Ensure the app is compatible with all your children’s devices and offers consistent management across platforms.
  • Security and privacy. The app should encrypt data to prevent unauthorized access. Additionally, look for clear data handling policies to ensure compliance with privacy regulations like COPPA.
  • Customer support. Choose an app that offers accessible customer support via chat, email, or phone.
  • Free trial or money-back guarantee. Take advantage of trial or refund periods to test the app’s features and usability before subscribing.

Best VPNs for Keeping Your Child’s Data Safe in 2024

  1. ExpressVPN — Military-grade encryption and RAM-only servers make it nearly impossible for anyone to access your child’s online data.
  2. CyberGhost — User-friendly interface includes an ad, malware, and tracker blocker for additional protection.
  3. Private Internet Access — Allows unlimited device connections to secure all your children’s devices simultaneously.

Editors' Note: Intego, Private Internet Access, CyberGhost and Expressvpn are owned by Kape Technologies, our parent company.

FAQs on the Best Parental Control Apps

What’s the best free parental control app?

Qustodio is the best free parental control app tested in 2024. However, the free plan is limited to monitoring just one device, with features like basic app blocking and time limits. If this isn’t enough for you, check out these apps with free trials and money-back guarantees.

Can kids get around parental controls?

Yes, children can sometimes circumvent parental controls. Some methods include disabling browser extensions, using VPNs to bypass web filters, and resetting the device to factory settings. To avoid this, choose a reliable parental control app with strong security measures.

How do I delete a parental control app?

Deleting apps with parental controls typically involves accessing the specific settings within the app or the device's main settings menu. Each app has its removal instructions, so it’s best to consult the app’s support page for specific details. The best parental control apps are designed to prevent easy removal by children, so you'll need administrative access to uninstall them.

Here are the general uninstallation steps for Android and iOS:

Uninstall parental control apps on Android:

  • Settings Menu: Go to your device’s Settings > Apps or Application Manager.
  • Select App: Find the parental control app you want to delete and tap on it.
  • Uninstall: Choose Uninstall to remove the app. If a PIN/password is required, enter it to proceed.

Delete parental control apps on iOS:

  • Home Screen: Find the parental control app on your home screen.
  • Delete: Press and hold the app icon until it starts jiggling, then tap the "x" or the "-" symbol to delete it.
  • Confirm: Confirm by entering your Apple ID password if requested. If the app is managed by device management, go to Settings > General > Device Management to delete the profile.

What are the negative effects of parental controls?

Parental controls can contribute to a lack of trust. Overly restrictive controls might hinder the development of healthy decision-making skills in children. Additionally, some parental control apps can put your child’s data at risk. It's important to balance monitoring with trust and use a reputable app that handles children's data responsibly​​.

Are parental control apps safe?

Parental control apps are generally safe, but they are not without risks. Concerns include the potential for data breaches and privacy issues, as these apps often handle sensitive information. A VPN can secure your child’s online data, but it’s also important to only use parental control apps that encrypt data during transit and at rest.

Conclusion

The best parental control app should help you manage your child's online activities without risking their privacy. Most apps offer web filtering, screen time management, and app monitoring features. However, it's important to focus on nuances such as customization options, platform compatibility, privacy policies, and alert systems to find the best one for your family's unique needs.

Privacy Alert!

Your data is exposed to the websites you visit!

Your IP Address:

Your Location:

Your Internet Provider:

The information above can be used to track you, target you for ads, and monitor what you do online.

VPNs can help you hide this information from websites so that you are protected at all times. We recommend ExpressVPN — the #1 VPN out of over 350 providers we've tested. It has military-grade encryption and privacy features that will ensure your digital security, plus — it's currently offering 49% off.

Visit ExpressVPN

We review vendors based on rigorous testing and research but also take into account your feedback and our affiliate commission with providers. Some providers are owned by our parent company.
Learn more
vpnMentor was established in 2014 to review VPN services and cover privacy-related stories. Today, our team of hundreds of cybersecurity researchers, writers, and editors continues to help readers fight for their online freedom in partnership with Kape Technologies PLC, which also owns the following products: ExpressVPN, CyberGhost, and Private Internet Access which may be ranked and reviewed on this website. The reviews published on vpnMentor are believed to be accurate as of the date of each article, and written according to our strict reviewing standards that prioritize professional and honest examination of the reviewer, taking into account the technical capabilities and qualities of the product together with its commercial value for users. The rankings and reviews we publish may also take into consideration the common ownership mentioned above, and affiliate commissions we earn for purchases through links on our website. We do not review all VPN providers and information is believed to be accurate as of the date of each article.

About the Author

Andjela is a technology and cybersecurity writer for vpnMentor, dedicated to helping readers protect their privacy online with detailed VPN reviews, testing all features, and providing the facts.

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