Read on in our ultimate guide to parental control software to find out everything you need to know about this growing category of child protection products. To learn more about the native parental control options available in all the most popular operating systems out there today, read on in our guide to find out everything you need to know! To set up the parental controls available in Windows versions 7 and up, start by navigating to the Settings app from your Start menu:.
This will take you to the parental control panel.
From here, scroll down to Family options , a link which will take you to your Microsoft account in your preferred browser:. All family options are managed from the browser, a method used to prevent kids from being able to tweak internal settings inside Windows that might try to override any instructions the OS receives from the cloud.
To manage time limits, start by clicking on the link labeled Screen Time. Here is where you can restrict the types of games, apps, and programs that kids can use based on their age group and your preferences. Unfortunately much of the more specific restrictive capabilities are limited exclusively to Microsoft apps, which as most of us know, only make up a very small portion of the suite of programs that we and our kids like to use on a daily basis.
Similarly, the only web-blocking options in Windows 10 are those available for Internet Explorer and Microsoft Edge. Click the lock icon in the bottom left and authenticate yourself with the administrator account password. Next, choose the account from the left-hand list that you want to place parental controls on:.
In the Apps window you can limit what kind of software your child will have access to, as well as controls like whether or not they can turn on the camera, join multiplayer games through Game Center, or are limited to a select number of contacts through the Mail app. Pretty standard web surfing restrictions here, nothing of note to mention beyond what you should expect in similar parental control applications. The Stores tab can disable access to iTunes, iTunes U, and the iBooks Store, and will also restrict the types of games, apps, and movies that your child can get access to through the iTunes store.
Time works in the same way as other time restricters on this list do, allowing you the ability to strictly control exactly how long your child is allowed to use the Mac, and what time of day it automatically shuts off.
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The Privacy tab is interesting in that it lets you control what kind of data is gathered on your child by third-party apps, and lets you better control what type of information their favorite applications and games are gathering on them while they browse and play. Next, once you have the kids added to your iCloud account, open up the Settings app and scroll down to Screen Time :.
To create a Downtime block, start by tapping on the Downtime option from the main Family Sharing screen:. Next is Allowed Apps , which generally controls which official Apple apps your child is allowed to use.
Google manages its parental control systems through an app known as Family Safe , and although we would normally recommend going the official route in these cases, thousands of user reviews say otherwise. According to the reviews posted on the Google Play page, the app will often let kids go well beyond the limits that the app places on their downtime, and struggles to keep them from downloading other apps that can simply get around the Family Safe limitations.
This is why we recommend choosing one of the parental control suites mentioned above. Why should I pay for extra for anything else? The main problem that many parents face with that approach is that for every platform your child uses, a new set of rules and regulations need to be set up and enforced. Parental control software can be a lot of things for a family. Parental control software works simultaneously across all devices at once, and centralizes the activity of all your kids into one easy-to-manage dashboard.
No in-OS parental control settings will offer that. For example, while some suites may have all the bells and whistles with a price point to match , you may not need so many different options and could even end up just as satisfied with a lower cost option instead. This setting can encompass everything from simply monitoring their activity to directly blocking websites or categories of websites from being displayed in the first place.
It should be a primary concern for anyone who signs up for a new account with one of the services listed below. Some will even cut access to the internet entirely depending on the device, disabling all activity past a certain time. This can save you money while also helping you keep a close eye on your child when they leave the house. Of all the software we tested, this feature appears to only be available on Android due to the way that iOS handles app permissions on its own platform aside from uKnowKids, more on that later.
That said, if any of your kids do use an Android device, having the option to control which contacts they can talk to — as well as read the record of those discussions with certain parental control suites — can give parents the peace of mind they need. But what is it about some parental control software options that make them more viable than others? You can set up accounts for each of your children and both the accounts remain separate so that monitoring becomes easy.
Selecting any of the accounts will display three sections, namely Alerts, Activity location, time on the smartphone, social media, video, apps, and more , and Rules. You can enable or disable the various rules set for phone monitoring. The parental control app by Kaspersky has a familiar process of commencing; you are required to create an account and accept the various terms and conditions.
The app has four sections: Summary, Alerts, Activities, Settings, and Additional for easy access to various options on the app. In addition to this, you can set a pin or fingerprint authentication so that your app usage remains safe. Furthermore, the app can be upgraded to several plans to access new and enhanced features. Additionally, you can set up a panic button in case of emergencies. To start, you have to accept the terms and conditions and sign in.
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Once you are done with this, you will be given an overview of the app for a better understanding. The app also provides you with a sample child so that you can get a gist of how it will work, which is why it can become the best free parental control app. The app lists down all the activities of the child, the screen time and usage of each app, judging from which you allow or deny access to the apps. Additionally, the app can be upgraded to its premium version which will be paid for more features.
Apart from building the Digital Wellbeing tool for Android smartphones, Google also has a parental control app for child phone monitoring. The Google Family Link app allows you to set screen limits, set day or night usage restrictions, and allow or block apps as per your choice. Additionally, the app allows you to customize the parental controls. MMGuardian is another parental control app, which comes with a slew of features for cell phone monitoring for parents.
This includes limiting app usage, blocking calls and messages, much like the Google Family Link app.
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This intriguing feature is the reason this app is on my best parental control apps list. Additionally, the app has a feature that detects any inappropriate media is present on the device.
To select any of its features, you just have to select the options present on the app and you are good to use them. However, there are some features that will only be enabled if you upgrade to the premium version of the app, by paying money.
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The Safe Browser Parental Control app provides you with parental controls on Android as well as iOS that primarily allows the tracking of adult or porn websites. Hence, the app caters to one aspect of the smartphone usage, which is, the usage of websites. It helps you block porn or adult websites and lets you filter out websites by creating whitelists and blacklists of websites.
The app allows for cloud-based management for convenience of usage and enables voice-navigation, which is an easy way of using the app.
Additionally, much like various other parental control apps, the app has a subscription option for added features. The app lets you limit screen time, apart from providing a couple of Android and iPhone parental controls. But the feature that sets it apart from other parental control apps is that it allows you to provide your child with tasks. If they perform the tasks well, they can get extra screen time to use apps. The tasks could include the homework or any chores you want them to do.