Phone monitoring software for parents


The easiest way to supervise your kids online

In addition, you can use Norton Family to set when and for how long your child can be online.


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When their time is up, you can choose for the program to either disable the internet or lockdown the entire device. During testing, we noticed devices with Norton Family installed ran much slower than when other monitoring apps were installed. And you can block content, gaming apps and instant messaging programs. Surfie has a keyword and phrase alert, which is a great tool for stopping cyberbullies and other predators.

This monitoring program includes time controls and provides very detailed reports about what your child does online. Reports include information about which websites your child visits, apps they use and words they search for as well as how long they spend in each application. However, its cell phone monitoring program includes profanity masking.

5 Best Parental Control Apps for Android 2019

Not only does it deny your child access to X-rated websites, but it also checks the pictures and ads on safe sites. On top of physically testing these apps, we research news and organizations dedicated to educating children and parents about healthy technology habits. Both have extensive guides for parents that are worth checking out. We also spoke with advocates and read advice on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention CDC and National Suicide Prevention websites about how to recognize cyberbullying and how to talk to your kids about online dangers.

Cell phone parental controls programs are subscription based, meaning you have to pay either a monthly or annual fee to continue using that program. You often must also purchase this subscription for each device you wish to monitor, though there are a few apps that will give you multiple licenses for a decent price.

Our favorite is Mobicip.

There is no age requirement when it comes to owning a smartphone, unlike social media accounts that typically require a person to be 13 or older to sign up. Before giving your child their own smartphone, sit down and talk with your child about internet etiquette, privacy, security, cyberbullying, malicious websites, harmful content and time management. This is a lot of info to bombard a child with, so take your time and spread out these topics over several conversations rather than running through them like a lecture or presentation.

Make sure, when your child is ready for a cell phone, that you set clear rules. Be prepared to set firm rules on the things that matter most to you, but be open to negotiating rules such as how to earn more screen time. The Family Contract for Smartphone Use from ConnectSafely is a good tool to help you set specific rules and responsibilities for both children and parents. For more information and advice on deciding when to get your child a smartphone, check out When Is Your Kid Old Enough for a Smartphone?

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Top 10 Parental Monitoring Apps to Spy on Your Kids' Smartphones

While setting rules is an important part of helping your child establish healthy smartphone habits before they hit adulthood, they still need to understand why these rules exist. An excellent way to explain smartphone rules to kids is to talk about how you use your smartphone. Although this may cause you to question your own smartphone habits, it can teach your child the potential advantages and hazards of smartphones. By setting an example your child wants to emulate, you become a powerful influence in developing healthy smartphone habits for your child.

If your child has an iPhone, you can take advantage of its built-in Screen Time parental controls to place restrictions on apps, purchases, explicit content, Siri, privacy and other settings. While Screen Time may not have the comprehensive tools of some parental control apps, it might meet your needs and save you money in the long term. Screen Time is available on devices running iOS 12, which was released on September 17, Google also has an app called Digital Wellbeing, which allows you to self-restrict app access on devices running Android 9.


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This app is geared towards adults tracking and managing their own screen time, but we like the potential of using this app to help older children and teens learn about healthy smartphone habits. However, it also has a few unique features such as an extensive library of kid-friendly books, videos, games, audiobooks, apps, and educational content. These are the current parental control offerings from the four largest U. If you need legal advice before using parental control apps on your kids' phones, you should contact an attorney or legal counsel. Because wiretap laws vary by state, we do not advocate using smartphone parental apps to record phone calls, either audio or video.

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Qwest Cross Country Review. Some parental control apps can ever remove app icons completely from the home screen, so there's no chance your kid can access them. Time restriction is another major feature of parental control apps. Some services, like Norton and FamilyTime, let you specify how many total hours or minutes a day your child can spend on any given device as well as a schedule for when it is ok to use it. Net Nanny takes a slightly different approach and applies these time limits to internet usage. Still others, such as Qustodio, offers a mix; you can set up usage schedules for specific apps and device usage, as well as specifying a total time allotment for your child that applies across every piece of hardware they use to access the internet.

A mobile parental control app should at the very least be able to keep track of a child's current location and some historical location data, too. It's also important for them to offer some level of control over notifications and the frequency of location reporting, to avoid bombarding the parent with useless data.

Parental Control Software & Cell Phone Monitoring Comparison Guide - Smart Social

Both Qustodio and Norton Family offer these features. Some services, including Locategy, Boomerang, and FamilyTime, go one step further, letting you construct geofences around a location. For the uninitiated, geofences are digital boundaries around a physical location that help parents keep track of when a child arrives at or leaves a given location. Kaspersky Safe Kids even lets you add a dimension of time to a geofence, so you can easily make sure a child stays where they are supposed to be throughout the day.

Boomerang offers a unique feature, in that you can draw custom geofences on a map; others just create a circular radius around a point you define.


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The best parental control applications let you record and monitor who your child communicates with and what they talk about in said conversations. Keep in mind that this capability is almost exclusively limited to Android. The implementation of this feature varies from service to service, of course. FamilyTime Premium, for example, copies a child's entire SMS history and call log for parents to review. Norton and Boomerang take a less invasive approach and let you specify which conversations to monitor and log.

Still others, like Locategy, only display the phone's call log. The best parental control software also lets you manage your child's social media activity, though in most cases this is limited to Facebook. Net Nanny used to offer a service dedicated to tracking social media accounts, but it is no longer available at the time of this writing.

One last feature worth mentioning is an SOS button. When a child presses this button, it sends out an alert to the parent and any other trusted contacts. The notification includes time and location information and will in some cases keep broadcasting said data until either the child deactivates the alarm or the parent disables it from their own account. This works regardless of platform and even if a child has run out of their allotted time. Parents who are worried about always being reachable to their kids in case of emergencies should consider Qustodio and Locategy for this reason.

Although the range of features that parental control software supports is impressive, no system is perfect. If your children want to get around the limitations you impose, they will likely be able to do so either by using unmonitored devices or finding ways to wipe their devices clean of the controlling apps. Thus, it's worthwhile to take the time to talk with your child about why you have installed monitoring software in the first place. After all, digital safety and security are worthwhile topics for everyone. It's better to approach these conversations honestly, rather than have them find out on their own and stop trusting you.

Especially for older children, it's also important to listen to your child's specific privacy concerns, rather than just setting rules and restrictions that may otherwise be seen as arbitrary. Time scheduler for internet, device, and application usage. Location tracking. Cons: Very expensive. Social monitoring only tracks Facebook.

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