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Last Updated: Jun 2024

Best Parental Control Apps for 2024
Give your children a safe online experience

The internet isn't always safe. The right parental controls will ensure that your kids are protected from cyber-bullying, online predators, and dangerous websites.

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Frequently Asked Questions
What are parental control apps?+-

Parental Control apps let a parent view and monitor their children online, tracking browser history, blocking harmful websites, and even tracking activity such as texting, social media posts, and instant messages.

How do parental control apps work?+-

Once you install a parental control app on your device and your child’s, you can use it as a dashboard to view their activity, control when they have access to the internet, and track activity such as texting, social media posts, and instant messages.

How much do parental control apps cost?+-

Parental control apps range in price from free to hundreds of dollars annually, depending on the type of device you need to secure, the number of devices, and the level of functionality.

When should I install a parental control app?+-

Children are online at an increasingly young age. The unprotected internet is dangerous, with threats like grooming, explicit material, and cyberbullying. A responsibly used parental control app is a must, especially if your children are young. As they get older and more comfortable online, it makes sense to dial back and eventually remove the restrictions so that your child can get comfortable with the unprotected internet.

When should I stop monitoring my child’s online activity?+-

There is no specific age to stop monitoring, although it makes sense to start dialing back on restrictions once your child is in their teens. By the age of 14 or 15, it certainly makes sense to allow at least some access to the unmonitored internet.

Should I secretly install a parental control app on my child’s phone?+-

I would not recommend it. The best way to use a parental control system is alongside education about safe data practices in a mutually agreed-upon fashion. A secret installation does not allow for this. Secondly, you will have limited functionality from the app since if you use your secret app to block unsafe sites, your child will know it's there.

Can parental control apps completely protect my child from online threats?+-

While parental control apps can help protect your child from online threats, they cannot guarantee complete safety. It is important to talk to your child about internet safety and set guidelines for their online behavior.

Is it okay to use parental control apps without my child's knowledge?+-

It is important to be transparent with your child about using parental control apps. While it may be uncomfortable to talk about, it is essential to ensure trust and open communication in your relationship.

Are parental control apps invasive to my child's privacy?+-

Parental control apps can be invasive, but it is crucial to balance safety and privacy concerns. Look for apps that offer a reasonable level of privacy and transparency, and discuss the use of the app with your child to ensure mutual understanding.

Parental Control

What is parental control?

Parental control software is software that is designed to protect minors from age-inappropriate content. Examples of types of website content that parental control software typically has the ability to block include pornography, websites containing violece, and websites promoting the sale of alcoholic beverages.

What does parental control software do?

Parental control software typically contains a number of functionalities.

  • At its most basic level, parental control products contain tools to block inappropriate website content. Typically this is category based. But most products also contain the ability to configure whitelists and blacklists. Whitelists are lists of websites that the administrator (parent) has deemed to be okay—a whitelisted website will not be blocked even if it is classified as belonging to a blocked category. Conversely, a blacklisted website will not be allowed to display even when the category is not blocked.

Additionally, most parental control tools contain functions to control or limit the amount of time children spend at the computer:

  • These functions commonly allow the administrator to restrict access to the internet to certain hours per day. For instance, a parent could set up the control settings so that the internet, or certain programs, will be prevented from running after 10pm—when children should be preparing for bed rather than sitting at the PC.

  • Many programs also allow users to set an upper limit on the number of hours per day during which the internet, certain programs, or the computer itself can be accessed. If the daily hour limit is exceeded the child will be prevented from being able to access the website in question.

What other features should I look out for?

  • App blocking: This allows the parent the ability to entirely block specific programs, irrespective of the time or day or usage volume.

  • Invisible installation: Many parental control tools can install themselves completely invisibly on the system. This can make it difficult for even tech-savvy teenagers to devise ways to remove the program and circumvent the filtering.

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