As our world becomes increasingly interconnected and more reliant on digital devices, software, and apps, the need to protect our children from harm is increasingly important.
Even just a generation ago, parents had far fewer concerns with regard to what their children were seeing, saying or doing online. Twitter hadn’t been invented yet. Instagram was years away from launch. And smartphones and apps weren’t yet a thing.
This isn’t to say that there weren’t plenty of dangers to child safety back then. But our world today is much different – and potentially much more dangerous for kids.
Fortunately, data scientists are making our current digital world a more manageable place for kids. There are dozens and dozens of apps that data scientists have developed that aid parent in doing their most important duty – protecting their children from harm.
Your child’s safety is important! You may be wanting to block unwanted apps and inappropriate sites, want real-time location tracking, give explicit permission for internet usage and wonder what the best parental control apps and parental control software is out there.
Below is a short list of some apps you might consider using to ensure your children have a safe experience when using a digital device. You can help keep them from inappropriate websites, set time limits, track app activity with these parental control apps.
FBI Child ID
The moment a child goes missing, parents can launch a police response with the FBI Child ID app from their mobile devices.
Designed by the FBI, it stores a child’s identifying information, such as their height, build, eye and hair color, and photos. By activating a button, parents can instantly email the data to law enforcement, expediting a search.
To empower panicked loved ones, the app gives an action plan for when a child first disappears, along with links to supportive resources. As a proactive measure, the app explains how to keep kids safe from abduction and getting lost. Among the tips are showing young ones how to call 911 and having them memorize their full name, address, phone number, and a parent or guardian’s full name.
Note that once a child’s information transmits to authorities, the app no longer stores the data. Nor does the FBI archive it. Therefore, parents should have duplicate storage, such as a USB flash drive.
This is a free app and is available for iOS and Android devices.
Kaspersky Safe Kids
With the free version of Kaspersky Safe Kids, parents can curb a child’s access to websites and other apps. Parents can also limit screen time. Also tracked are texting, calls, and social media use. There’s a YouTube safe search feature as well, which blocks requests for videos that are deemed harmful for kids. Kaspersky Safe Kids is one of the best parental control apps.
The premium version of the parental control app adds “geofencing.” This location tracking feature signals when a child leaves a parent-designated safe area, marking their location on a map. Also in the premium version is:
- Screen time management, which allows you to determine when your child is allowed to use their device and set screen time limits.
- Phone battery life tracking, so you know when your child’s device needs to be plugged in.
- YouTube search history access, that way you know what your kids have been searching for.
- Real-time alerts for when your kids try to leave a designated area or access potentially harmful websites or apps.
A yearly app subscription to Kaspersky Safe Kids costs only $14.99. The program is easily installed, and there’s no limit to the number of devices you can monitor.
Alerts and reports are generated in real-time and sent to a parent or guardian’s smartphone or computer. Additionally, the parental control app offers advice from child psychologists on what topics parents or guardians should consider censoring.
PCMag endorses this app, the brainchild of an acclaimed cybersecurity firm — Kaspersky. The only downside is that control of iOS devices is somewhat limited. However, the app is fully compatible with Android, PC, and Mac platforms.
The Qustodio app is essentially a one-stop-shop for parental controls. In fact, Qustodio bills itself as a “digital wellbeing solution” because of its large suite of features and tools.
One of the primary features of this parental control app is that you can block apps, websites, and games that are not safe for your kids to visit. Likewise, the app lets you monitor your child’s browser history, social media use, and which YouTube videos they watch.
On top of that, Qustodio gives you the power to do screen time management- set limits on screen time, track phone calls and texts, and receive daily, weekly, and monthly reports of your kids’ online activities. Kids can even send an SOS if they find themselves in a difficult situation.
If you are looking for parental control app deals, this app is free, though there are paid plans that give you access to additional features. The Small plan starts at $54.95 per year and covers five devices. The Medium plan is $96.95 per year for 10 devices. The Large plan is for 15 devices and is priced at $137.95 per year.
TrueMotion Family Safe Driving
Did you know that the leading cause of death among teens is auto accidents? To reduce the likelihood that your child becomes an accident victim, you might consider using this app.
TrueMotion (which is available for iOS and Android) is like an adult riding with a teen driver, catching poor road behavior. Specifically, the app records incidents of sudden braking, speeding, aggressive maneuvers, placing calls, and texting. Also shown is the driver’s location.
After analyzing the data, the app gives a total score, grading stellar operation as 100. With this feedback, parents can coach their teen in using better driving techniques and making better decisions behind the wheel.
Additionally, TrueMotion rates the driving skill of other family members. By comparing scores, a teen can be motivated to improve in order to beat the scores of their family members.
Another safety feature allows app users to call for roadside assistance 24/7 if mechanical issues arise while driving. Other features of TrueMotion include:
- Location mapping with a map-based display of your child’s location.
- Records of routes taken by a child driver.
- Distracted driving detection that detects whether your child is texting and driving, using social media while driving, and so forth.
By calling attention to distracted driving, this app – which harnesses the power of smartphone technology and big data – promotes teen safety. Here, Globe Newswire praises this life-saving app, citing its ability to encourage safer driving practices not just for new drivers but for the whole family.
Net Nanny is billed as a parental control app for screen time, but it is far more than that.
The parental control app gives you the capability to track your child’s online activity (and which apps they are using) in real-time. You get instant reporting of searches your child is doing online, instant alerts when inappropriate content might have been viewed, and total screen time that your child has racked up over the course of the day.
To help limit screen time, Net Nanny gives you the power to instantly adjust screen time allowances – you can reduce screen time if your child has had a bit too much or extend it if you deem it appropriate. You can even turn the internet off for their device instantly to get their attention when they are too preoccupied with social media to listen to you!
Other features of Net Nanny include:
- View your child’s location on a Family Map
- App blocking
- Porn blocking
- Website evaluations in real-time to determine if the site is appropriate (and if a site is deemed inappropriate, you will get an instant notification)
- Device tracking (in case a device is lost)
This app is free, but to take advantage of all its features, you’ll need to pay $54.99 for the Net Nanny Family Pass.
SPIN Safe Browser
The SPIN Safe Browser app automatically filters content available through Bing, Yahoo, Google, and YouTube’s Restricted Mode, blocking websites unsuited to child access. Such surveillance keeps kids safe from the topics of:
- Drugs, alcohol, and tobacco
- Nudity and pornography
- Unfiltered search engines
- Proxies and VPNs
SPIN Safe is great for parents who want blanket protection for their child without having to customize blocks. Still, guardians who want this option can add Boomerang Parental Control to child devices. With this app, parents can:
- Ban access to particular websites
- Review a child’s most recent online activity
- Schedule device shutdown times
- Set time limits for device usage
- Suspend a child’s access or extend their access to a device
- Use “Encouraged Apps” to allow children to utilize educational apps without it counting toward kids’ screen time
SPIN works on all Android and iOS devices and is available as a Chrome extension or a Firefox extension.
You can get SPIN and Boomerang for free during a 14-day trial. After that, a family plan with licenses for up to 10 devices is $30.99 per year or $15.99 per year for a single device.
Safety for Kids
A proven way to keep kids safe is by educating them about threatening situations. The Safety for Kids app will help you educate your children about what to do to stay safe.
The app is a game, teaching young children how to act during crises when they are alone. The game consists of 12 chapters, each presenting a common child peril. Among the scenarios are a stranger at the door, stuck elevator, house theft, escaping a fire, an earthquake, getting lost, and electric shock. Kids also learn basic first aid.
Each circumstance is narrated in clear, simple English. To progress through the game, a child must choose the best course of action. If they don’t, the narrator explains why their choice is risky. Most situations offer two possible decisions but only one optimal choice. This answer format trains young minds in reasoning and discernment.
The Kidgy app specializes in internet safety for kids. This is accomplished by giving you monitoring capabilities over all of your child’s online activities.
Features include the ability to block access to websites you deem inappropriate, track the real-time location of your kids, and be alerted when your kids leave specific areas. The app has the ability to monitor phone calls, texts, websites that are visited, and social media use.
Additionally, Kidgy allows you to set specific tasks for your child to complete in a Kidgy Daily Schedule, which can be used to delegate daily chores or other activities to your kids.
This app is free with in-app advertisements and is available on Android and iOS devices. A yearly subscription, which unlocks additional features in the app, is $69.99.
Life360: Find Family and Friends
The Life360 app specializes in helping parents know where their child is at all times.
Users can quickly and easily share their location with members of their family, so everyone knows where each other is. The app offers smart alerts for location history, place alerts, and even allows users to send an SOS with emergency dispatch.
Additionally, you can view alerts that tell you how long it took your child to get from one point to the next, complete with a report on their top speed. You can get alerts regarding the battery level of your child’s device, when they arrive at home, and explore route history to see where you and your family spend most of your time.
Other features include:
- Crash detection
- Roadside assistance
- Data breach alerts
- ID theft protection
- Stolen funds reimbursement
- Credit monitoring
- Disaster response
- Medical assistance
- Travel support
The Life360 app has three different membership levels. The Platinum membership, which is $19.99 per month, gives you access to all features. The Gold membership is $9.99 per month and offers most of the features discussed above. The basic Silver membership is $4.99 per month.
If your child is homeschooled or is doing remote learning, Norton Family can help keep your child on track while doing schoolwork. This parental control service will help your child use their school time wisely.
When your child is on the computer for school, it can be hard to know exactly how they are spending their time. Put your mind at ease with this parental control software.
Some features of Norton Family:
- location tracking
- sends a report of internet usage
- can filter websites
- sets limits for screen time
- check search history
- you can check their online activity from your mobile device (Android or iOS)
You can try Norton Family for free on a 30-day trial, otherwise, it is $49.99/year.
A Step in the Right Direction
Keeping kids safe online (and in real life, too) is one of our greatest responsibilities. Location tracking, web filters, monitoring app usage, social media monitoring and blocking inappropriate websites are some things we can do to keep our kids safe and teach them healthy habits. We can’t always monitor cals and messaging apps and block adult content.
While the parental control apps listed above can certainly make it easier to track and monitor what your child is doing online, these apps are no substitute for being attentive to and present with your child. In other words, if you want to keep your children as safe as possible, use these apps as tools – not a crutch. Be engaged with them in their daily lives. Ask questions. Be involved in what they do.
By forging a trusting and meaningful relationship with your children, you can have difficult conversations about things that might harm them. Likewise, you might find that your kids are more likely to come to you with hard questions or to tell you upfront when they’ve messed up.
As parents, we need all the help we can get for protecting our kids from a world full of dangers. These apps will definitely get you going in the right direction.