By Rachel Gore
ccording to Common Sense Media, children ages eight to 12-years old spend an average of six hours a day online; for teenagers, that average jumps up to nine hours. While some phone use and media consumption is normal, unrestricted access in young children also opens the possibility of accessing inappropriate content or dangerous individuals. Alternatively, your child may simply be spending too much time every day staring at a screen instead of engaging in real-life experiences.
Parental control apps can help you maintain control of your child’s smartphone use with a variety of high-tech features including app blocking, location tracking and web content filtering. While most parental control apps have a monthly or yearly fee involved, this usually comes with a number of useful tools that help you manage your kid’s time on their phone.
It is important to note that due to Apple’s heavy restrictions, parental control apps can usually do more on Android phones than on iOS. Some of the features listed below may be unavailable for iOS devices, so it is important to investigate further before investing your money into a parental control app. If you are interested in using a parental control app and aren’t sure where to start, though, here are a few options for you to consider:
Boomerang Parental Control
Fee: $15.99 annually for a single device license; $30.99 annually for a family pack with up to 10 device licenses
- Review your child’s most recent location.
- Communicate within a Family Messenger Group feature.
- View your child’s web browsing history.
- Control screen time and put a daily cap on the time your child can use individual apps
- Block or allow specific apps
- Call and texting logs, including information on inappropriate words being used
- YouTube app search and viewing history
Kaspersky Safe Kids
Fee: Free for standard Kaspersky Safe Kids app; $14.99 annually for a Kaspersky Safe Kids Premium account that connects with up to 500 devices for 100 children
Free version –
- Online content filter to protect kids from inappropriate websites
- Manage app use by time used, category, or age restrictions
- Screen time management
Premium version –
- All of the features featured in free mode
- Locate your child on a map and set safe areas for them to stay in
- Track your child’s phone battery to stay in touch
- Receive alerts if your child attempts to access restricted sites and apps, leaves your pre-set safe areas
Fee: $54.99 for a 5-device Family Protection Pass; $89.99 for a 20-device family protection pass
- Filter adult content, block inappropriate websites, receive alerts of online activity and manage screen time with parental control software
- Block apps and have visibility to the apps your child is using
- Track your child’s location in real-time
- Set content filtering for 14 different categories: abortion, adult novelty, anime, death/gore, drugs, gambling, mature content, nudity, pornography, provocative, strip clubs, suicide, tobacco and weapons
- Receive alerts in the family feed for each child profile on your account
- Access the Family Feed to see an overview of your kids’ online activity on-the-go
Norton Family Premier
Fee: $49.99 annually; $59.99 annually for Norton 360 Deluxe, which includes antivirus protection for up to 5 devices
- Gain access to your child’s iOS, Android and PC activity.
- Monitor which websites your kids are exploring and get tools to help them avoid inappropriate content.
- Gain insight into your child’s social media use, including the name and age they use on Facebook and how frequently they log in as well as which YouTube videos they watch.
- Shows you the words, terms and phrases your kid’s search for on PC and iOS devices.
- Protect their personal information such as phone number, address or school they attend.
- Receive an email when your child tries to visit a blocked site.
- Monitor your child’s SMS text conversations and control who they can and can’t text.
- Receive detailed reports of what your kid is doing online.
- Control how much time your child spends online using Android devices.
OurPact is rated as the best parental control app for iOS, effectively helping parents manage iPhone and IPad use. It also works for Android smartphones and tablets.
Fee: OurPact FREE Tier offers management of one device and five manual blocks per month; $1.99/month for OurPact PLUS, which offers unlimited manual blocks and management of 10 devices; $6.99/month for Ourpact PREMIUM, which offers an even more extensive list of parental control options for parents.
- Block internet sites and apps.
- Create GPS geofences around specific locations and receive alerts when your child leaves and arrives at any pre-set zone.
- Set blocks, schedule or always allow your child to have access to iMessage and other messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp
- Schedule screen time and set daily screen time limits for your child to budget.
- Block all adult content and pornography on your child’s device.
- Receive a notification when your child installs a new app on their phone.
- Track your child’s location.
Whether or not using a parental control app is right for your family is dependent on a case-by-case basis. While some children may need minimal supervision, others may underestimate the danger that comes with unsafe internet use and need additional guidance to make better decisions. Regardless of what you choose to do, it is important for every parent to have a conversation with their children about safe phone and internet use and address concerns with phone use as they arise.