Best Parental Control Apps and Software

Take a look at these parental control apps to find some great options for keeping your young ones (digitally) in check.
Best overall
Qustodio
Qustodio
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
  • pro
    Up to 15 devices
  • pro
    Lots of supported platforms
Best budget
Kaspersky
Kaspersky Safe Kids
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
  • pro
    Free version available
  • pro
    Unlimited devices
Best free
Google
Google Family Link
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
  • pro
    Unlimited devices
  • pro
    Major platforms supported
Best web filtering
Net Nanny
Net Nanny
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • pro
    Up to 20 devices
  • pro
    Decent supported devices
Best for monitoring
Bark
Bark
4 out of 5 stars
4
  • pro
    Excellent social monitoring
  • pro
    Excellent social monitoring

The internet is a fantastic wealth of information, but connected kids are also at risk when it comes to getting online and staying in touch. That’s where parental controls apps and software step in. You can expect to pay between $19.95 to more than $100 a year for parental control apps, but there are also free versions.

Qustodio is our top pick because it ticks a lot of the right boxes. It can protect up to 15 devices on the major platforms, plus it has a long list of features to offer great versatility for parents. These include blocking and logging for calls and texts (Android only), geofencing and tracking, as well as a range of monitoring and scheduling tools.



Parental control app
Category
Starting price
Free version?
Devices
Call/text management
Learn more
Read review
Best overallYes1–15Android only
Best budgetYesUnlimitedNo
Best freeYesUnlimitedNo
Best for web filteringYes1–20No
Best for monitoring7-day trialUnlimitedNo

Prices are accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

1. Qustodio: Best parental control app overall

Best overall
Qustodio
Qustodio
Our Rating
4.3 out of 5 stars
4.25
Starts at
$54.95
/yr
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Qustodio is one of the priciest parental control apps out there, but it also offers enough features to justify the comparatively steep fees. Admittedly, there’s some tailoring in prices, starting at $54.95 per year for five devices and reaching up to $137.95 a year for up to 15 devices. Speaking of devices, we like that Qustodio offers support for typical Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac platforms, as well as Kindle Fire and Chrome OS devices.

Whichever of the parental control apps you choose on this page, you’re going to be using a web portal or companion app to control and monitor your child or children. The thing we like most about Qustodio is it offers rare call and text logging, call and text blocking, and lets you see the content of your child’s text messages.

pro
Pros
pro Up to 15 devices
pro Android call/text monitoring
pro Lots of features, platforms
con
Cons
con No email monitoring
con Expensive for one child
con Short three-day trial period

Admittedly, this is limited to Android devices only, but this is likely because of Apple restrictions on such features for iOS devices. Given the steep asking price for Apple products, we think you’re better off sticking with an Android phone for kids.

Outside of this, Qustodio is a feature-rich offering. Use it for GPS location tracking, geofencing, or tracking location history. Qustodio also offers web monitoring and filtering, as well as screen-time limits and scheduling.

2. Kaspersky Safe Kids: Best budget parental control app

Best budget
Kaspersky
Kaspersky Safe Kids
Our Rating
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
$19.95
/yr
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

It’s two ends of the spectrum between Qustodio and Kaspersky Safe Kids. The former is our top pick, but it’s the most expensive parental control app we found. Outside of free options—and Kaspersky Safe Kids has a feature-limited free version—Kaspersky is cheap at $19.95 per year for unlimited Android, iOS, Windows, and Mac devices.

With such a cheap annual price tag, you can expect some compromises, which is particularly relevant for some of the iOS-specific limitations, including a lack of app management and blocking. Don’t look to Kaspersky Safe Kids for any sort of call or text logging.

pro
Pros
pro Pro
pro Pro
pro Pro
con
Cons
con Con
con Con

What you can rely on it for, though, is most of the other important stuff. Location history may not be a feature, but track your little ones or set up geofences. Set screen time limits or schedules on devices. Plus, enable web filtering and monitoring tools to protect your kids while they’re online.

There are extensive reporting tools to use, too, if you’d like a more proactive approach. If you already use and trust Kaspersky antivirus software, Kaspersky Safe Kids is a budget-friendly parental control service that’s worth testing.

3. Google Family Link: Best free parental control app

Best free
Google
Google Family Link
Our Rating
3.8 out of 5 stars
3.75
Free
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Google Family Link is kind of like what Microsoft Defender
is for Windows antivirus: namely, it’s free, easy to install and use, and it does the basics right. That said, while Google Family Link does have some support for iOS devices, this is clearly more intended for Android than anything else, which also leaves Windows and MacOS devices mostly unsupported.

There are better options on this page for families whose kids are using iOS devices. But for homes with an abundance of Android devices, Google Family Link is a great place to test the waters of parental control apps for free.

pro
Pros
pro Unlimited devices
pro Easy to use with great performance
pro Decent versatility
con
Cons
con Light on features
con Limited web filtering
con iOS doesn’t support all features

Google Family Link is compatible with unlimited devices, and all that’s required is to set up accounts. We like how easy Google Family Link is to use thanks to a straightforward user interface. It’s Google, after all. Despite its Android compatibility, you can’t use Google Family Link for call logging or blocking, nor text logging, blocking, or content monitoring.

Similarly, geofencing isn’t available but you can track your child’s location and view their location history. As for all the other expected features, Google Family Link has you covered. Use it for web monitoring and filtering. Set screen time limits and schedules. Google Family Link can also manage and block apps.

4. Net Nanny: Best parental control app for web filtering

Best web filtering
Net Nanny
Net Nanny
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$49.95
/yr
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

Before the term ‘parental control app’ existed, there was Net Nanny. With a history that stretches back to 1995, Net Nanny is a great choice for those after a parental control app that does what this service has always been renowned for: web and content filtering. Net Nanny also has a few new tricks these days, too.

Let’s get some of the cons out of the way upfront. Net Nanny isn’t the parental control app you’re looking for if you want call, text, or email monitoring. There’s also no trial period, and it only has limited geofencing. On that last point, you can still use Net Nanny for location tracking and history

pro
Pros
pro Great web filtering
pro Up to 20 devices
pro Great parent dashboard
con
Cons
con Somewhat pricey
con Limited app management on iOS
con No text or call monitoring

Where Net Nanny shines is when it comes to content filtering. There are three levels of web filtering, which offer straightforward control over categories like pornography, mature content, and drugs. We also like how good Net Nanny is at alerting parents to app downloads on Android devices (this is trickier across the board for iOS), which is boosted by potential benefits and risks via the Net Nanny’s App Advisor portal.

Speaking of the portal, it’s easy to use and intuitive, so you don’t feel like you need to do a lot of study to wrap your head around its features. Net Nanny allows monitoring of the more popular social media platforms, plus it also includes screen-time scheduling and time limits.

5. Bark: Best parental control app for monitoring

Best for monitoring
Bark
Bark
Our Rating
4 out of 5 stars
4
Starts at
$49
/yr
Price is accurate as of post date. Read full disclaimer.

The first trick with Bark is choosing between the cheaper Bark Jr. or the more fully featured Bark Premium in either monthly or annual subscriptions (annual is cheaper). Both versions let you manage screen time, filter content, and offer location alerts, but Bark Jr. doesn’t include monitoring or protective alerts, which is why we’re recommending Bark Premium.

Bark Premium is a popular parental control app that, until April 2022, was exclusively available in the US. Now it’s landed in Australia and, as long as the somewhat steep annual pricing doesn’t deter you, there are some great monitoring tools in Bark Premium.

pro
Pros
pro Excellent social monitoring
pro Unlimited devices
pro Easy to set up and use
con
Cons
con Potentially overwhelming alerts
con Tricky iOS installation
con Limited seven-day trial

Bark supports an unlimited number of devices and apps, which covers popular platforms like Android, iOS, computers, Chrome OS, as well as Amazon Fire and Kindle. While Bark says it monitors 30+ platforms, that’s a conservative estimate: by our count, it was 40+, which ticks off all the major social media and other popular platforms.

We like that Bark takes a different approach to content filtering, applying AI learning to social media, text messages, and email monitoring. This can sometimes lead to an abundance of alerts, depending on what the algorithm determines may be of concern, but it’s good to see that Bark encourages parent-to-child conversations about these alerts rather than condemnation.

Final word

There are a dozen or so parental control apps out there that are worth considering, but we’ve narrowed it down to a handful of options based on meaningful categories. Qustodio may be a great all-rounder, but if you’re turned off by its annual fee, start with Google Family Link for free or buy a year of Kaspersky Safe Kids. For something more focused, consider Net Nanny for web filtering or Bark for social media monitoring.

FAQ

There are free trials on premium versions, but there are also free parental control apps available in Australia. Start your comparisons with Google Family Link and the free version of Kaspersky Safe Kids.
As of April 2022, Bark is available in Australia. Bark is a popular parental control app that used to be exclusive to the US but is now available in Australia and South Africa.
For us, the best parental control app in Australia is Qustodio because it’s a great all-rounder. There are other parental control apps, like the others mentioned on this page, that are worth weighing up depending on your specific needs.

How we choose the best parental control apps

We started our appraisals by reading up on the government advice found on the eSafety Commissioner website. It’s important to note that there are operating system-level parental controls on Windows, MacOS, iOS, Android and popular gaming platforms. There are also WiFi routers that offer parental controls for devices on your home network.

In terms of determining our category winners, we read reviews on the SafeWise US website to find the right parental apps for our shortlist. We also appraised dozens of Australian reviews and looked into the specific features of contenders. Parental apps were then appraised in terms of price, including whether there are free versions or free trials available. The number of monitorable devices is important, especially for larger families, but it’s critical that parental control apps support major platforms.

Call and text logging, blocking, and SMS content monitoring are tricky features to find these days because of how iOS and Android handle privacy. That said, it’s typically easier to find parental control apps that offer geofencing, location tracking, and location history features. Content monitoring and filtering are also important, as is app management (including the option to block apps). Finally, we also favour parental control apps that are easy to use and offer limits to screen time.

You can learn more about how we review products by checking out our methodology.


Disclaimer

Product prices and availability are accurate as of the date/time of publish and are subject to change. Any price and availability information displayed on the retailer’s website at the time of purchase will apply to the purchase of this product. SafeWise Australia utilises paid affiliate links.

Nathan Lawrence
Written by
Nathan Lawrence

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