Smartphones and tablets have opened up new worlds of connection and fun for many people. But not all of these new digital spaces are a great place for children. Parents need to help their kids enter carefully and safely into these new experiences. Some common concerns for parents include cyberbullying, obscene or offensive content, and even hateful messages. Because younger kids and teens are naturally curious and may not always know when an online situation is unsafe, parents must take the lead in this new era of technology to protect their kids and teach them how to be responsible. And parental control apps are here to help.
WHAT ARE PARENTAL CONTROLS
Even if you’ve talked to your kids about screen time limits and responsible online behavior it’s still really tough to manage what they do when you’re not there (and even when you are). Parental controls allow you to monitor and block websites and apps to keep your kids’ Internet experiences safe, fun and productive. One of the best ways to keep track of your kids’ online life is through mobile apps.
WHAT APPS CAN DO
Parental control apps allow parents to filter adult content, restrict app purchases, set limits on usage time, and even monitor calls, texts, and web activity. Some full-featured apps let you block websites, impose screen time limits, and monitor online activity. Many of these programs also offer added security against malware and viruses and will send you a summary of what your kid does online. Depending on your kid’s age and your specific concerns, there are many options to choose from. Here are a few of our favorites:
BEST APPS FOR YOUNG KIDS
Kids Place is a parental control app that creates a safe environment in which younger kids can experience the fun of technology. It protects your personal data and restricts your kids to only the apps that you have pre-approved. Kids Place also prevents children from downloading new apps, making phone calls, texting or performing other actions that could cost you money. While in “Kids” mode, your children get to have some fun time, while you can enjoy some much-needed peace and free time.
- Custom home screen displays only apps that parents have authorized
- Can prevent kids from buying or downloading new apps
- Timer feature can lock apps after specified amount of time
- Blocks incoming calls when Kids Place is running
- Toddler Lock restarts apps that are accidentally stopped by small children
- Custom wallpaper can customize your child’s experience
Net Nanny was designed to give your child the freedom to access the web without the fear of inappropriate content. The app is a custom mobile browser that becomes your child’s default browser. Manage which apps your child can or cannot use on their mobile device. From the web-based console, you can manage your child’s settings and devices, as well as other tasks like viewing activity reports or adding users. You can also receive email notifications whenever a site is blocked, a block is overridden, or unwanted other events occur.
- Show which apps are installed on the protected mobile device
- Block unwanted apps and see when new apps are installed
- Offers age-appropriate filtering (child, pre-teen, teen)
- Filtering categories allow you to Block, Warn or Allow access to specific content
- Set time controls for when you kids can browse the web
Screen Time is a parental control app that lets you manage the time younger kids spend on their tablets and smartphones. This app has a level of specificity that can allow useful apps, like reading apps, at certain times (i.e., bedtime) but block apps like games. And if your kids won’t get off their phone when you call them? You can also activate a full shut down of your child’s device, as needed, with just a push of the button from your phone.
- Reward feature lets kids earn extra screen time for completing tasks and chores
- Get reports of what your child is looking at and when
- Block certain apps completely
- Get an alert whenever your kids install a new app
- No limits to the number of children or the number of devices you can manage
Toddler Lock is the perfect app for parents to put on their phones if they occasionally need to use their phone to help distract and engage their toddler. It serves as a screen lock with colorful graphics and soothing sounds to keep your kids entertained without having to worry about them starting calls or accessing and/or deleting the contents of your phone. As a bonus, Toddler Lock helps teach your small children shapes and colors.
- Optional airplane mode ensures no cell radiation while your toddler is using
- Child simply moves their finger across the touchscreen to produce random shapes and different colors
- Each time they touch the screen, they are treated to some delightful tinkling sounds that vary in pitch
- Reinforce your toddler’s learning of shapes and colors
BEST APPS FOR TEENS
The MMGuardian Parental Control app has been custom-designed to keep teens safe from the risks and dangers of the web. Using the app, you’ll be able to monitor their calls, screen time and block texts to protect kids from threats such as cyber bullying without worrying about the protection being hacked by your tech-savvy teen. MMGuardian’s patent-pending, award-winning anti-tamper technology makes it one of the most the most robust and comprehensive parental control apps and SMS tracker on the market.
- Monitor text messages, calls, and web activities, including deleted SMS history
- View phone usage reports to monitor what your child views and sends.
- Restrict websites based on your child’s age – block pre-set categories or restrict manually
- Parental Control app has Incognito mode
- Monitor where your child is with simple SMS commands
- MMGuardian Uninstall Protection function prevents kids from removing or tampering with the app
Funamo provides a comprehensive parental control solution for your kids’ Android phones and tablets with web filtering, device monitoring, and application control. Its patent-pending web filtering technology automatically blocks pornographic websites. Its cloud-based solution lets you change device settings online and synchronize the changes to the device in real time.
- Log the history of all calls, SMS/MMS messages, website visits and applications
- Track the location history of your kid’s device in real time
- Synchronize contacts information from the device to the server
- Block protected apps and set time limits and daily time allowance for selected apps
- All device settings and history data are available online, 24/7
- Works with all major web browsers – optimized for mobile
The Norton Family app helps keep safe online by allowing parents to supervise online activity, block unsuitable content and teach kids good Internet habits. This app, from the makers of Norton Security, provides a wide range of parental control and monitoring features for parents of today’s hyper-connected kids.
- Track your child’s search activities through the Norton browser in the Norton Family Portal
- Keep track of sites they visit and what they search for
- Set up rules to block access to specific types of content
- Get notified if the kids try to break a rule, so you can have a conversation about appropriate online activity and how to stay safe.
- Pinpoint the location of your kids and their devices on a map
- Grant or block access to all apps, browsers, games and more from the Norton Family portal when you need to enforce a break
Worried your child being exposed to mature content online through their cell phone? Does your teen’s’ excessive screen time keep you on your toes? SecureTeen is a complete parental control app that operates through a secure portal to monitor and filter your kid’s web activities, as well as keep tabs on apps they download and keep you informed about their location.
- Set time limit for your teen’s screen time
- Activate a timer to set limits on phone usage
- Block unsuitable apps with TeenSafe’s app blocker
- Track all Facebook activity and get alerts for suspicious friends & posts
- Pinpoint the location of your kids and their devices on a map
- All contacts stored on the phone are uploaded to your account and then matched with phone numbers of text messages and calls
The Google Playstore also offers parental control settings that come native on your child’s Android phone. With Google Play’s settings you can control what your child is able to download and purchase on their device. Control the following with parental controls from Google Play:
- Apps & Games
GROWING UP DIGITAL
These days, the problem for parents is understanding how to protect their children while still offering them all of the benefits that the digital age has to offer. As your child ages, digital supervision of your child should be dynamic. That is, the rules that you enforced when your child was 6 should not be the same when they are 14.
Supervising your child in this new era means having ongoing conversations about issues and potential threats – and incorporating smart parental control technology that’s age-appropriate for your child. By taking proactive steps to approach technology, you can make digital use into a running conversation – and enjoy the benefits of technology as a family.
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Note: We do not offer technical support for third party apps.