Which Internet Parental Control Tools are the Best?

If you need to protect your child from cyberbullying, are worried someone could target your child, or are concerned they may come across inappropriate content online, parental control software can help. The industry features a broad range of products, but it’s not always easy to choose the best parental control software for your needs.

In this review, we’ve compiled details on the top parental control tools of 2022 to help you choose the right one for you and your family.

Bark

If you’re looking for a reliable and quality parental control tool, you may want to consider Bark. Apart from blocking websites and apps, this software also monitors social media to give you peace of mind that your child is using social sites and apps responsibly. Bark is also one of the few parental control tools that monitors PC-based online activity and emails, and makes it quite challenging for kids to sneak around the app. Also, with this app, you get an alert if a concerning message is sent or received on your child’s device.

Pros

  • Computer monitoring
  • Text and email alerts
  • Social media monitoring
  • Email monitoring

Cons

  • Lack of location tracking
  • Expensive
  • Remote control doesn’t turn off texts

Back to top

Net Nanny

Net Nanny comes with a parental dashboard that allows you to monitor and control your child’s device remotely. Net Nanny filters, blocks, tracks location, and sends alerts to keep your child safe. It also allows you to review online searches and monitor screen time.

Pros

  • Blocking and filtering
  • Alerts and notifications
  • Screen time management
  • Location tracking 
  • Ease of use

Cons

  • No email monitoring

Back to top

Boomerang

If you are looking for a parental tool for a young child on their first phone, Boomerang has you covered. The app comes with a safe web browser and other tools that block unwanted apps. One feature that scores high on this tool is screen time management. It allows you to pause all activities on your kid’s device at any time. You can also schedule automatic shutdowns at specific times, such as during dinner time, school hours, and bedtime. Boomerang also delivers the ability to limit activity on a per-app basis to ensure your kid is using more of their time on beneficial apps. However, this tool doesn’t offer social media or email monitoring.

Pros

  • Quite affordable
  • Offers geofencing and location tracking
  • Ability to approve new app installs
  • Offers history for apps, calls, and texts
  • Great screen time management

Cons

  • Only works on mobile devices
  • Doesn’t monitor social media or email
  • Potentially confusing set-up

Back to top

mSpy

mSpy delivers many features to help you monitor and track your child’s online activity. The call, text, and email monitoring features let you know who your child is talking to at all times. The app screens calls and reveals the numbers your child communicates with on their phone.

Another key feature is a tool that monitors various social networks such as WhatsApp, Google Hangouts, Skype, Instagram, Snapchat, and more. Additionally, the software records a user’s internet activity, including browsing history with dates, number of views, and website URLs. Other notable features include gallery and calendar monitoring, location tracking, application screen reports, comprehensive reports, keylogger, and a screen recorder.

Pros

  • Gallery and calendar monitoring
  • Location tracking
  • Application screen reports
  • Comprehensive reports
  • Keylogger
  • A screen recorder

Cons

  • Doesn’t monitor emails

Back to top

Kaspersky Safe Kids

Kaspersky Safe Kids is an option for a parent looking for an affordable tool to control their child’s activity online. For as low as $15, this tool allows you to protect up to 500 devices with top-class features. This makes it a good choice for large families with many kids. Kaspersky comes with low battery alerts that send notifications when your child’s phone needs a charge. It also comes with location tracking and geofencing, screen time management, YouTube search monitoring, web and app filtering, and screen time management.

Pros

  • Location tracking and geofencing
  • Screen time management
  • YouTube search monitoring
  • Web and app filtering
  • Screen time management

Cons

  • No email monitoring
  • No social media monitoring
  • Limited iOS features

Back to top

Norton Family

Norton Family is a cloud-based software providing dedicated apps for Windows, Android, and iOS. The software monitors websites your child visits to determine if they are accessing unsuitable content. Additionally, the software monitors videos from Hulu and YouTube. The app blocks harmful sites and categories while allowing your child to view the rest of the content on site. This software also sends alerts regarding your kid’s activities on the web. Other features include screen time management, location tracking, personal information protection, app supervision, instant lock, video supervision and search control.

Pros

  • Screen time management
  • Location tracking
  • Personal information protection
  • App supervision
  • Instant lock
  • Video supervision
  • Search control

Cons

  • No tracking or geofencing

Back to top

FamilyTime

FamilyTime delivers a range of features and performance specifically designed for iOS. It comes with several extra features such as speed limit alerts and a contact watchlist, making it a versatile tool for kids of all ages. The geofencing and tracking features enable you to block apps on your kid’s iPhone and track calls or texts on their devices. You can use FamilyTime for free; however, you will have limited access to features like the SOS button, viewing installed apps, call tracking, and app usage history. FamilyTime also offers gamified screen time management with TimeBank and FunTime, PickMeUp alerts, location history, and a SOS/Panic button, among many other features.

Pros

  • Delivers more iOS features than competitors
  • Web filtering and blocking
  • Text and call monitoring
  • Detailed history reports
  • Geofencing and location tracking

Cons

  • Only monitors up to five devices
  • No social media monitoring
  • No email monitoring

Back to top

Questodio

Questodio provides detailed daily and weekly activity reports to your inbox, complete with data and stats that can help you make informed decisions on apps to block or where to implement screen time limits. This software also boasts an in-depth, cloud-based dashboard that reveals precisely what users looks for on search engines or YouTube. The dashboard can automatically flag certain activities for your review. Additionally, this software allows you to view apps and websites where your kid spends most of their time as well as who they are in communication with on their phone. Other features include social media monitoring, a panic button, and location history.

Pros

  • Social media monitoring for Facebook, Twitter, and Yahoo Messenger
  • Panic button
  • Location history
  • Web filter
  • Cloud-based parent dashboard

Cons

  • Costly plans
  • No email monitoring

Back to top

Mobicip

Mobicip comes from the Children’s Internet Protection Act (CIPA). This is a US government regulation that promotes secure browsing environments for kids in schools and libraries. The software boasts unmatched monitoring capabilities to ensure your child is not accessing inappropriate content. Its blocking and filtering capabilities detect unsuitable URLs and social media networks, while restricting access to apps and games that could distract your child during study time.

The app also comes with notification features that send alerts every time your child tries to request access to harmful sites. The screen time management feature limits screen time by setting schedules and locking the device once the allocated time elapses. Other features include web filtering and blocking, text and call monitoring, detailed history reports, geofencing, location tracking, and more.

Pros

Web filtering and blocking
Text and call monitoring
Detailed history reports
Geofencing and location tracking

Cons

  • No social media monitoring

Back to top

Frequently asked questions (FAQs)

What is parental control?

Parental control is software designed to protect minors from age-inappropriate content. The software can detect and block access to dangerous websites, including adult-themed websites, websites advertising alcoholic beverages, and websites containing violence.

What can parental control software do?

Parental control software comes with several features and functionalities, including:

  • Web blocking tools – The software contains tools to block inappropriate content. Most software can configure allowlists and blocklists to ensure inappropriate content is not allowed to display even when the category is not blocked.
  • Time limit controls – Most parental software also offers features to control or limit the amount of time a child spends on a computer, tablet or phone. These functions allow you to restrict internet access during specific times of the day, for example, during bedtime. Some programs also give you firm control over the number of hours per day during which the internet, some programs, or the device itself can be accessed. Once the allocated hours are exceeded, the child is prevented from accessing the website in question.
  • App blocking features – App blocking features allow you to completely block some programs regardless of the time, day, or usage volume.
  • Invisible installations – Most parental control software allows for invisible installation on the system. This ensures tech-savvy kids do not devise ways to remove the program or circumvent their features and restrictions.

How do I ensure the parental control software is foolproof?

Some tech-savvy kids may try to find ways to evade detection. Here are some ways to ensure the software is effective:

  • Use re-router level restriction and remove all older devices in your house that the teens could use to evade detection. Older devices may not be compatible with advanced parental control tools.
  • Check your child’s devices to determine whether they have downloaded additional apps. Go to profiles and device management and view unknown profiles or app names. If any exist, delete them.
  • Use a screen time feature to restrict your child from downloading forbidden apps or using the browser to log into them.
  • Restrict your kid’s device from downloading VPNs that allow them to surf banned sites undetected.
  • Enable the screenshot feature to gain insights into your kid’s activities with the device. The feature provides a record of the sites your child visited while using the device.

Interested in a new internet plan?

Enter your address to find out what providers and plans are available to you

Internet providers need your apt/unit to get accurate plans

Back to top

*Pricing varies by location and availability. Speeds may vary. All prices subject to change; for current pricing and availability visit our internet service page. Prices as of 4/7/22.

Disclosure | Updater articles are based on our own data and research, independent from partner relationships. We are not compensated by partners for information and opinions presented here. Our Editorial Terms of Service can be found here.