The 10 Best Parental Control Apps of 2019

There are apps for everything from limiting screen time to tracking locations

A father, mother, son, and daughter sitting on a sofa looking at data on an iPad.

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Children are getting smartphones and tablets at younger and younger ages and there’s a growing requirement for teens and pre-teens to go online for school assignments and classroom projects. Fortunately, there’s a growing number of parental control apps for iOS and Android devices that can help limit screen time and phone usage while also filtering what kind of websites they can access when surfing the web.

Here are 10 of the best parental control apps mom and dad may want to keep on hand.

01
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Best Free Parent Control App: Google Family Link

Google Family Link app on iOS.

Google

What We Like

  • A child tracker and censorship tool all in one.

  • All of its features and functionality are completely free.

What We Don't Like

  • Only works for managing Android smartphones and tablets.

  • Can take 20 to 30 minutes to set up.

The Google Family Link app is a completely free tool parents can use to control what apps their child downloads on their Android device, how much screen time they’re allowed to have each day, and what content they can purchase.

Once set up, the Google Family Link app, which is available on iOS and Android devices, can also track the location of the connected Android tablet or smartphone, which makes this service a solid child tracking app as well.

Google Family Link can’t track iOS devices, but for those that have kids with an Android device, this is a fantastic tool that comes with almost all of the features other apps charge a monthly membership fee for.

02
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Best Free Kid Tracker App: KidLogger

KidLogger app on iOS.

KidLogger

What We Like

  • A lot of functionality for free users.

  • Can work on iOS, Android, Windows, and Mac devices.

What We Don't Like

  • iOS devices are restricted to just GPS tracking.

  • Log history only lasts for 9 days with a free membership.

KidLogger is a great kid tracker and parental control tool for those who don’t want to pay a pricey monthly fee. This service can connect to a child’s iOS, Android, Mac, or Windows device and can be used to track their location, monitor web and app usage, record call numbers and times, place time limits on video games, block certain apps, and even record Skype chats.

The iOS app, unfortunately, is limited to just the tracking feature, but it works extremely well by logging the GPS coordinates every minute or so and syncing that data to the web dashboard, which can be checked from any device by a parent or guardian. The data also provides links to a Google Map which can be incredibly useful for working out where someone is.

03
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Best Parent Monitoring App: Qustodio

Qustodio parental control website and app.

What We Like

  • Qustodio is available on all major smartphone, tablet, and computers.

  • Filters web content on all browser no matter the device.

What We Don't Like

  • A $49.46 annual fee is required for some features.

  • iOS version can’t limit video game playtime.

Qustodio is one of the most-popular monitoring apps for parents, and for good reason. The app is available on iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, and Kindle and gives parents the ability to receive daily reports on what apps their kids are using and how much time they’re spending on their devices.

Specific screen time windows can be set, outside of which the device becomes unusable, and the advanced web filtering limits what content minors can view when surfing the web, whether they’re using Safari, Firefox, Edge, or whatever other browser they prefer.

04
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Best Free Phone Tracker App: PhoneTracker

Phone Tracker app on iOS.

Cell Phone Solutions, LLC

What We Like

  • Incredibly fast and easy to set up.

  • Completely free for its full functionality.

What We Don't Like

  • The app’s visual design feels very dated.

  • The app icon is a bit of an eye sore.

PhoneTracker is a completely free app that let’s anyone turn their iPhone or Android smartphone into a GPS tracking device. The app takes just a few seconds to set up, then only two taps to connect with friends or family to add their GPS data to your dashboard.

Once added, each friend or family member’s location shows up within their own mini map. Tapping on each map displays a fullscreen version which can be zoomed in on to find out exactly where someone is.

05
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Best Parental Control Android App: ESET

ESET Parental Control app on Android.

ESET

What We Like

  • A lot of functionality in the free version.

  • Monitors web, app, and other usage.

What We Don't Like

  • $29.99 annual subscription needed for all features.

  • The web filtering is good, but isn’t foolproof.

While a lot of parental monitoring apps on Android require a premium fee to unlock all of their features, ESET offers a surprising amount for its free version. Simply by downloading and installing the app on their Android tablet or smartphone, parents can monitor what websites their children visit, limit what apps they can install from the Google Play app store, set time limits for certain apps, limit how much money can be spent on digital purchases, and view a basic activity report.

The yearly premium subscription unlocks web filtering which actually restricts what kids can see online and also unlocks a tracking tool for parents to pinpoint where their child is in the real world but these are features that are offered elsewhere for free so aren’t really a requirement here.

Parents can also monitor all activity from the ESET website which is very convenient for households with only a few smart devices.

06
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Best App To Limit Screen Time: RealizD

RealizD app on iPhone.

RealizD

What We Like

  • Fantastic app design with a pleasing design aesthetic.

  • Displays data clearly.

What We Don't Like

  • Viewing weekly or monthly data requires a $2.99 upgrade.

  • Monitoring other users also requires the upgrade.

RealizD is one of the best apps on iOS and Android for tracking just how much time you really spend on your device. Not only does this app tell you how much time you’ve spent looking at your screen over the course of a day, week, or month, but it also records how many times you pick up your tablet or smartphone and the length of time you’ve managed to go without doing so.

The RealizD app can be downloaded and used on a device by one person for free, meaning all parents need to do is download the app onto their child’s device and check it whenever they want.

If you pay for the premium upgrade, though, the ability to view data from other users on other devices from your own smartphone or tablet is enabled, which can make tracking the entire family much easier. All family members are also included in the one premium upgrade.

07
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Most-Comprehensive Content Blocker: OpenDNS FamilyShield

OpenDNS FamilyShield website.

OpenDNS

What We Like

  • Affects every device in the entire home.

  • Completely free.

What We Don't Like

  • Only works with your internet connection, not mobile.

  • Setup is fairly complex and can take a while.

OpenDNS FamilyShield is a free service that essentially prevents everyone connecting to your internet connection from accessing adult or inappropriate content when going online.

What's particularly impressive is how, once set up, the security settings affect every single device in a household, from personal computers to smartphones and tablets.

OpenDNS FamilyShield isn't an actual app you download to your iPhone or Android smartphone, but it's a service that can help control what content the mobile devices in your house can access.

08
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Best App for Nintendo Switch Gamers: Nintendo Switch Parental Controls

Nintendo Switch with the parental controls app connected.

Nintendo

What We Like

  • Full reports on what time the Nintendo Switch was used and what games were played.

  • Ability to disable the Nintendo Switch console at specific times.

What We Don't Like

  • The app can only be installed on one parent’s smart device.

  • Inability to set unique play limits for individual users.

Nintendo’s Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app is a completely free app for iOS and Android that connects directly to your Nintendo Switch. Once connected, the app can monitor how much the console is played, what games are played, and who's been playing. All of the data is displayed within the app in an easy-to-understand fashion and makes monitoring video game screen time incredibly easy.

The true power of the app lies in its ability to restrict how much the Nintendo Switch is played per day. Time limits can be set up within the app in just a few seconds and the option to suspend the console completely after bedtime is also an option.

09
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Best App for Parents Of Xbox Gamers: Microsoft’s Family Features

Microsoft and Xbox Family settings in the Xbox iOS app.

Microsoft

What We Like

  • Can limit screen time in addition to types of video games and apps.

  • 100% completely free to use.

What We Don't Like

  • Web filtering is pretty limited and easy to get around.

  • Initial setup can be confusing for some.

It can be difficult for parents to monitor all of their child’s gaming. Luckily Microsoft’s designed a completely free set of tools for parents to use to monitor and limit what their children do on Windows 10 devices and Xbox One.

These Family features can track exactly how much time each member of the family spends online and what apps they’re using, and there’s also some web browsing censorship options which can limit what websites kids can view when using Microsoft Edge or Internet Explorer.

Admittedly, the censorship tool isn’t that useful on Windows 10 where kids can just use another browser, but it’s very effective on Xbox One where apps are limited.

Profiles for family members can be set up and managed from the Microsoft website or from within the official Xbox app on iOS and Android devices.

10
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Best Option for PlayStation Gamers: Family on PSN

Sony PlayStation 4's Family on PSN settings.

Sony

What We Like

  • Ability to filter game and media content including DVDs and Blu-ray disks.

  • Parents can limit how much time their children play games.

What We Don't Like

  • Functionality has to be fully managed on the PS4 console as no smartphone app is available.

  • Can be confusing for parents that don’t use their kid’s PlayStation console often.

Sony’s PlayStation 4 doesn’t have a standalone app solution for controlling kids’ screen time like the Xbox One and Nintendo Switch, but it does feature some solid settings built into the console that can be accessed in Settings > Parental Controls/Family Management > Family Management.

Once activated, these parental control settings can limit how much time children can spend playing video games each day and between what hours. Parents can also select which age ratings they’ll allow for video games, digital media, and DVD and Blu-ray discs, which can really bring peace of mind whenever the kids are playing by themselves.