The 10 Best Parental Control Apps and Services of 2022

Apps and services for everything from limiting screen time to tracking locations

Children are getting smartphones and tablets at young ages, and there’s a growing requirement for teens and pre-teens to go online for school assignments and classroom projects. Fortunately, there are parental control apps and services that can limit screen time and phone usage while also filtering the types of websites your child can access when surfing the web.

Here are eight of the best parental control apps, and information about two services, that moms and dads may want to keep on hand.

01
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Best Free Parental 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 features and functionality are free.

What We Don't Like
  • Can take up to 30 minutes to set up.

  • Basic web content filtering.

The Google Family Link app is a free tool that parents can use to control the apps their child downloads on their mobile phone, how much screen time they’re allowed each day, and the content they can purchase.

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

Google Family Link is a fantastic tool with almost all the features that other apps charge a monthly membership fee for.

Price: Free

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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.

  • Works on iOS, Android, Windows, and Macs.

What We Don't Like
  • iOS devices restricted to only GPS tracking.

  • Not updated recently.

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

The iOS app is limited to only the tracking feature, but it works well by logging the GPS coordinates every minute 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 Google Maps, which can be incredibly useful for working out where someone is.

Price: Free

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03
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Best Parent Monitoring App: Qustodio

Qustodio parental control website and app.
What We Like
  • Available on major smartphones, tablets, and PCs.

  • Filters web content on all browsers.

  • Free trial available.

What We Don't Like
  • The annual fee starts at $54.95 for five devices.

  • iOS version can’t limit video game playtime.

Qustodio is a popular monitoring app 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 the apps their kids are using and how much time they spend on their devices.

Parents can set specific screen time windows, outside of which the device becomes unusable, and the advanced web filtering limits the content minors can view while surfing the web, whether they use Safari, Firefox, Edge, or another browser.

Price: Free download and trial. Premium plans start at $54.95 at publication.

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04
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Bark parental controls app
What We Like
  • Two plans for families.

  • Monitoring for social media, emails, and texts.

  • 7-day free trial.

What We Don't LIke
  • Many alerts.

  • No safe-driving features.

  • Somewhat pricey.

Bark comes in two plans: Bark Jr. ($5/month), which is designed for families with young children, and Bark Premium ($14/month) for families with kids of all ages. Both plans cover families of every size, have location-sharing features and alerts, screen time management features, and filtering for the websites your children can visit.

In addition, the Bark Premium parental control plan gives busy parents peace of mind by monitoring more than 30 different social networks 24/7. The app also monitors YouTube usage, texts, emails, cyberbullying, online predation, and suicidal ideas.

Price: At publication, Bark Jr. is $5 monthly and Bark Premium is $14 monthly after free trial.

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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.

  • 30-day trial of premium features.

What We Don't Like
  • $29.99 annual subscription needed for all features.

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

While many 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 an Android tablet or smartphone, parents can monitor the 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 they can spend on digital purchases, and view a basic activity report.

The yearly premium subscription unlocks web filtering, which 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.

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

Cost: Free version and Premium version for $29.99 annually at publication.

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
  • In-app purchases range from $0.99 to $6.99.

  • No Android app. iOS only.

RealizD is one of the best iOS apps for tracking how much time you 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, you can view data from other users on other devices from your own smartphone or tablet, which can make tracking the entire family much easier. All family members are included in the one premium upgrade.

Cost: Free download with in-app purchases available.

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07
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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 be installed on only one smart device.

  • Inability to set unique play limits for individual users.

Nintendo’s Nintendo Switch Parental Controls app is a free app for iOS and Android that connects directly to your Nintendo Switch. After it is connected, the app monitors how much the console is played, what games are played, and who's been playing. All the data is displayed within the app in an easy-to-understand fashion which 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. Parents can set time limits in the app in just a few seconds and suspend the console completely after bedtime.

Price: Free

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08
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Best App for Parents of Xbox Gamers: Microsoft Family Safety

Microsoft Family Safety app
What We Like
  • Can limit screen time, video games, and apps.

  • Free to use with Xbox, Windows, Android, iOS.

  • Generates activity summaries.

What We Don't Like
  • Web filtering is limited and easy to get around.

  • No social media monitoring.

  • Difficult to set up.

It can be difficult for parents to monitor all of their child’s gaming, but the Microsoft Family Safety app is a free set of tools for parents to monitor and limit what their children do on Xbox One, Windows 11, and Android devices using Microsoft Edge.

This app includes free location tracking, web filtering, app blocking, and scheduling for up to six family members. The app's content filters create a safe environment for children of any age by designating suitable sites that are always allowed as well as those that are never allowed.

For parents whose children are on the go, an upgrade to Microsoft 365 Family ($9.99/month) adds premium features beyond the Xbox, such as geofencing and location alerts. Additional premium features of particular interest to the parents of teens are the driving safety reports and driving history.

Price: Free with in-app purchases available

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09
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Best Parental Control Service for PlayStation Gamers: Family on PSN

Sony PlayStation 4's Family on PSN settings.

Sony

What We Like
  • Can filter game and media content including DVDs and Blu-rays.

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

What We Don't Like
  • Fully managed on PS4; no smartphone app.

  • Confusing for parents who don’t use PlayStation console.

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.

Price: Free service

10
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Best Content Blocker Service: OpenDNS Family Shield

OpenDNS FamilyShield website.

OpenDNS

What We Like
  • Affects every device in the 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.

  • It's a service. Not an app.

OpenDNS FamilyShield is a free service that prevents everyone who connects to your internet connection from accessing adult or inappropriate content when 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.

Price: Free service

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.

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