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Best parental control apps of 2022
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Smartphones & gadgets

10 best apps to see what your kid is doing on their phone in 2023

My friend’s 15-year-old son gets tons of abusive comments from internet strangers. He’s never seen any of them — but his mom has. That’s because she uses some of the best parental control apps to protect her son from digital predators.

Over the years, his YouTube, Instagram and Twitch channels have attracted lots of attention — both good and bad. Sponsors want him to endorse their products, so he’s making money online. If your kids want to start their own online business, use this easy trick to set them up for success.

But there’s a downside to internet fame and success. Haters, hackers and deviants crawl out of the woodwork to harass him. Luckily, the child safety apps on his phone shield him from harm.

How parental control apps can protect your kids

Cyberbullying is distressingly common. Classmates and social media strangers can batter a child’s self-esteem.

According to Security.org, kids are most likely to face cyberbullying on YouTube, followed by Snapchat and TikTok. Many teens feel angry, hurt and scared after online harassment.

Not only that, but the web is crawling with predators. The Beau Biden Foundation found some startling statistics:

  • At least 500,000 online predators are prowling the web each day.
  • In the past year, one in five children has been contacted or solicited by a digital predator.
  • Thus, it’s highly likely that a child you know has faced online threats.

Parental control apps go above and beyond to protect your child

Finding the best options for your needs can take a long time. You could spend hours typing these terms into search engines:

  • Best parental control app for Android.
  • Child phone monitoring for free.
  • 10 best family protection apps.
  • iPhone and Android apps to monitor my child’s phone.
  • Free parental control apps that cannot be deleted.

Save yourself time and effort by scrolling down. We found some of the best child safety apps on the web.

To fully protect your child’s mental health and safety, check out one of the best parental apps

We scoured the web for the best child safety apps worth checking out. Use these tools to automatically filter out hateful messages, sexual advances and phishing campaigns. They’ll protect your child’s innocence, self-esteem and digital safety.

Before you do anything, sit your child down and talk face-to-face about the risks of using the internet. Better yet, use Kim Komando’s digital safety contract to teach your child digital responsibility.

Nos, scroll down to find one of the best apps that go above and beyond to protect your child.

1. Google Family Link is simple yet useful

We compared the best parental control apps. Use this guide to choose the best parental control app for iPhone or Android. It's essential for child safety.

Google Family Link is an excellent introductory app for those new to parental protection software. It’s considered one of the best parental control apps for Android. Here are the pros and cons of Google Family Link:

ProsCons
FreeLimited features
Comes with parent and child apps on AndroidNo child app for iPhone users
Easy to installKids can turn off parental controls when they turn 13
Limit app usage timeWeb filtering is limited
Set Google Play purchase approvalsLittle flexibility for time management schedules
Easily block texting apps on your child’s AndroidYou can’t monitor your child’s texts
Set YouTube restricted modeNo cyberbullying or sexual content alerts


2. Bark Parental Control: Pros and cons to keep in mind

Bark Parental Control is one of the best parental control apps you can find on iPhone or Android. Here's everything you should do to protect your children.

Bark is a comprehensive app packed with child safety features. You can download it on unlimited devices, including iOS, Android, Chromebook, Amazon Fire, Windows and macOS. You can get Bark Jr. for $5 per month, but it doesn’t have all of Bark Premium’s bells and whistles.

Here are two features you’ll miss out on if you don’t buy the premium $9.99/month plan:

  • Alerts for cyberbullying, online predators and suicidal ideation.
  • The ability to monitor texts, email, YouTube and other apps.

Overall, here are the Bark Parental Control pros and cons parents should know about:

ProsCons
Manually blocks 19 types of websites, from streaming sites to pornDoesn’t block explicit websites by default
Notifies you if your child gets explicit messages or imagesDoesn’t stop kids from sending explicit messages or images
Block apps on iOS and AndroidYou can only see your child’s location by requesting a check-in
Detects suicidal ideation or self-harm situationsLacks a GPS feature
Set custom rules for school time, bedtime, and free time  No money-back guarantee
 Proactively monitors 30+ social networks for safety concernsDoesn’t track how long children are using certain apps
Disable your child’s internet wheneverKids can remove or tamper with the app
Scans online activities for dangerous contentYou can’t track your child’s online activity



3. Parents say Canopy is one of the best child safety apps

Canopy is one of the best parental control apps because it automatically filters your child's online activity for inappropriate images, videos and texts.

This is one of the most proactive child safety apps on this list. Before downloading, read through these Canopy pros and cons to see if it’s right for you.

ProsCons
Automatically blocks inappropriate videos and images in web browsers Doesn’t block inappropriate images inside apps
AI and machine learning features recognize and filter out pornographic content on the web and your child’s smartphone cameraCustomer reviews say filtering is inconsistent and inadequate
Sexting Alerts can detect and prevent sextingReviewers say customer service is poor
Removal Prevention stop your kids from disabling or removing CanopyReviews say the 30-day trial is difficult to cancel
Block and unblock any app on iOS or Android No text or call monitoring features
Check your child’s location on a GPS mapCan’t look over your child’s text messages or emails

There are four subscription tiers to choose from:

  • Basic: For $7.99/month, you can install Canopy on three devices.
  • Family: For $9.99/month, you can install Canopy on five devices.
  • Full House: Pay $15.99/month and you can use this app on up to 10 devices.
  • Annual plan: Use Canopy on up to five devices for almost $100 a year.



RELATED: Five ways to protect your child online

4. Net Nanny is one of the top parental control apps

These apps let you set time limits per day, set a bedtime so your kids can't access the phone during those hours and block harmful content online.

This versatile app works with Androids, iPhones, Macs, Windows, and Kindle Fire. Here are some Net Nanny pros and cons:

ProsCons
You can track your child’s location in real-timeNo free options, though you can get a 14-day free trial
Customize what content should be blocked or restrictedOnly offers annual plans
Get alerts whenever your child tries to access a blocked websiteThe cheapest subscription only covers one desktop computer
In-app family feed you can look at for updates on your kids’ online activityDoesn’t monitor your child’s phone calls or texts
Use internet filters and manage your child’s screen timeThe app removal protection feature doesn’t work on iOS
Get regular digital well-being reportsChildren can use Tor to work around web filters
Block apps on your child’s phoneCan’t set time limits for specific apps

This top-rated child safety app has three subscription tiers:

  • Cheapest tier: For $39.99/year, you can monitor one desktop device.
  • Mid-tier: For $54.99/year, you can protect five devices, including phones.
  • Most expensive tier: Pay $89.99/year and you can secure 20 devices.



5. Shield your child from online dangers with Qustodio

Family protection is easy with one of these five apps you can use to monitor  your kid's phone and computer. You might catch a predator or cyberbully!

This app is available on Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iPhone, iPad and Kindle. You can protect your children with Qustodio Free, although you’ll miss out on the most robust features. Here are the subscription tiers:

  • Cheapest tier: Secure up to five devices for $54.95 a year.
  • Medium tier: For $96.95, protect 10 devices.
  • Most expensive tier: Spend $137.95 to monitor 15 devices.

Check out these Qustodio pros and cons:

ProsCons
Has a free versionOnly offers annual subscription plans
Block inappropriate games, sites and apps on iPhone, Android and desktopKids can evade web filter
Automatically blocks harmful sites with porn, gambling violence and other threatsCan’t track social media apps
Real-time dashboard lets you view YouTube views, screentime, browsing history and activity timelineAndroid calls and text monitor features need sideloading
Set screen time limits to avoid internet addiction and ensure better sleep routinesAntivirus software can interfere with child safety features
Locate your children with real-time GPS location trackingYou have to download and install an MDM device profile and VPN on iOS
See who your child texts and callsYou need a Mac computer to monitor calls and messages for iOS
Read texts your child sends and receivesOnboarding and rule setup assistance only applies to the two most expensive plans
Set a list of blocked phone numbersPhone support is only available on the two most expensive subscription tiers


RELATED: Tech keeps your students safe at school

6. Is your kid stuck to their device? You need unGlue

Canopy vs. Google Family Link vs. Bark vs. Net Nanny vs. Qustodio vs. mSpy vs. Norton Family vs. unGlue vs. Kaspersky Safe Kids: Pros and cons

Teach your kid about healthy digital limits with unGlue. Use this free iPhone app to limit your child’s screen time. Here are some of this parental control app’s pros and cons:

ProsCons
Has a free optionDoesn’t work on Android
The paid plan is $6.99 monthlyReviewers say there’s no refund policy
Use it on an unlimited amount of devices No geofencing features
Track your kid’s physical activity No location tracking
Control your child’s social media use Doesn’t block porn or violent content
Reward completed chores with extra screen timeKids can easily circumvent it

7. Norton Family is one of the top parental control apps

Control your child's iPhone remotely with these 10 family digital safety apps. You can also create boundaries and get rid of distractions at school and home.

Here’s an affordable option for monitoring your child’s online activity. Although you can check out its free trial, you’ll have to pay $49.99/year.

It reveals sites your children are visiting. Plus, it lets you block harmful sites, schedule screen time limits, see videos and search terms your kid looks up and look over detailed reports of your child’s online activity.

Here’s our quick Norton Family review:

ProsCons
Monitor an unlimited number of devicesNo free options
Geofencing featuresThe daily time limit option is not available on iOS
Easy to set up and configureMore features on Android than on iPhone
Works for Android, iOS and Windows computerDoesn’t work on Mac computers
Filters out sensitive contentNot as easy to filter and monitor web activity as other apps on this list
Set screen time limits, block websites and filter web categoriesDoesn’t monitor calls or texts
Locate your child’s device with a 30-day history of where they’ve beenChildren can easily work around it on Android


RELATED: Google has new ways to keep an eye on the kids

8. mSpy is one of the most comprehensive parental control apps

Keeping kids safe online requires strict cybersecurity defense strategies. Child safety apps like mSpy monitor your kid's online activity to keep them safe.

Want an app your children won’t know you installed? You can see everything your child is doing on their phone with mSpy. Even better, they won’t know you’re monitoring their activity. There are three premium subscription tiers:

  • One-month plan: $69.99.
  • Three month-plan: $40 monthly.
  • 12-month plan: $16.67 monthly.

Here are some mSpy pros and cons:

ProsCons
Works without your child noticingNo free plan
You can see what your kids do on different appsNo free trial
30% discount for your first subscription periodExpensive subscription options
View your child’s browsing historyEach device requires a different subscription
See everything your child types on their smartphone and set keyword alertsRequires physical access to your child’s phone
Logs content from texts and instant messagesReviewers say mSpy doesn’t give refunds and has horrible customer service
Set keyword alertsCan’t control screen time
GPS tracking and GEO fencing featuresGPS tracking, media messages and other features don’t always work properly, reviewers say
You can block check call data and block calls from certain contactsYou may have to reinstall the app if its features stop updating
Track your child’s calendar and email activityInstallation is difficult and complicated

To download it, create an account, pick a plan and follow the steps on mSpy’s site.

Overall, mSpy stands out as one of the best parental control apps of 2022

Although it’s a good spying app, keep its cons in mind. You don’t have to jailbreak your iPhone to make mSpy work. However, you must root your Android to access the full suite of features.

On the bright side, children can’t detect mSpy on iPhone or Android. If you’re looking for a simple way to limit screen time, you’re better off with Google Family Link, Norton Family or unGlue.

9. Kaspersky Safe Kids is another valuable tool for keeping kids safe online

Locate your kids 24/7, block unwanted websites and contents and view detailed report of your child's online activity with these apps.

This parental control app is affordable and packed with features. You can monitor your child on their iPhone, Android, Mac or Windows computer. At $14.99/year, it’s one of the more affordable options on this list.

ProsCons
Set screen time controlsLimited features on iPhone
Block specific websites and apps The web interface isn’t as user-friendly as other apps on this list
YouTube Safe Search lets you stop kids from looking for adult videosLimited social media app monitoring
View detailed reports of your child’s online activity You can only filter content on specific browsers
The location feature reveals where your kids areUsing this Russian product may turn you into a victim of cyber warfare



Overall, this is an effective tool for watching over your children, even when you aren’t around.

10. All you need to know about eyeZy, a top-rated phone monitoring app

eyeZy is one of the best parental control apps of 2023. Read our quick reviews, from pros and cons to how it helps you monitor your child's activity.

It’s time to wrap up our list of the top parental control apps. We’ll break down the pros and cons below. First, you should know the pricing options for eyeZy:

  • One-month plan: $47.99.
  • Three-month plan: $27.99 monthly.
  • 12-month plan: $9.99 monthly.

This affordable app for iPhone and Android is specifically designed to monitor social media. However, it’s packed with a ton of valuable add-ons.

Quick eyeZy review: Pros and cons to keep in mind

ProsCons
Track your kids’ real-time locationsYou may have to install specific software on your child’s phone to unlock certain features, which leaves the device vulnerable to hackers
Get notifications when your child arrives at or leaves different placesYou can only get a refund if you have unfixable technical issues in the first 14 days
Your child can activate panic mode in case of an emergencyYou may not see keystroke or screen recording features on your dashboard
Create customized geographic zonesNo call log monitoring
View your child’s contactsCan’t read texts your child sends
See your kid’s search history and sites they bookmarkedNo ability to set keywords that trigger specific alerts
Works in hidden mode, so your kids won’t know it’s on their phoneTakes many screenshots and you’ll have to scroll down as you look at the dashboard
Social Spotlight tool reveals what they’re posting on social media, from Snapchat and Instagram to TinderSocial media app monitoring may require you to root your child’s phone
See what your kids are typing with a built-in keylogging toolYou have to manually block websites you don’t want your kid to see
Review events on your child’s phone calendarCustomer support may not get back to you in a timely manner
Many of these cons come from Shauli Zacks’ deep and informative eyeZy review. Tap or click here for more information.

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These 10 apps aren’t the only child safety tools at your disposal. An FBI app can help your child in an emergency.

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