The 7 Best Parental Control Software to Buy in 2018

Monitoring your children's Internet access has never been easier

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Cybersecurity is important, especially when it comes to your little ones. Mobile devices and computers have never been easier to connect to the vast world of the Internet. For parents, it becomes hard to keep up with new technologies (they're constantly being updated and released), but the good news is, there are plenty of easy-to-follow and affordable solutions to monitor your kids’ device activity.

Whether you’re looking for something that blocks inappropriate content or schedules a bedtime for the Wi-Fi (read: it'll be shut off), you can find a parental control software that works for you and your family. Below, you'll find the best parental control software on the market to date. The software comes in different forms, some of which emphasize virus protection, but go so far as being able to track your kids’ location and see their texts. Put it this way, the days of your child being up to no good when your back is turned are over.

Our Top Picks

Best Overall: Circle with Disney

Circle with Disney is the best overall parental control software on the list for its simple instructions, ease of use and total control. Circle allows you to manage every device in your home that’s connected to your Wi-Fi and includes the easiest user-interface on the list.

Are your kids spending too much time on social media? Circle lets you set daily time limits on time-consuming apps and sites such as Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and more. Parents can even filter content by age (Pre-K, Kid, Teen and Adult) for each member of the family and reward kids with time extensions and off times. To adhere to bedtime schedules, Circle allows Internet downtime for any hour schedule you set. Someone grounded? Pause the Internet indefinitely.

Circle’s interface is easy to navigate through, with clear menus and pictures of your kid’s profiles along with a list of settings specific to them. You can even see where your kids spent most of their time on the Internet, too, such as educational or recreational sites. Software requirements are iOS9 (or later) on Apple devices or Android’s Jelly Bean OS later.

Runner Up, Best Overall: Gryphon Secure Router

The Gryphon Router is, to be clear, not just software — it’s a router that puts parental control software and functionality first. This is important because no matter how much software you put on your computer to help block sites, the most secure way to do so is to help monitor the data coming into your home from the get-go.

First, let’s talk about the setup: you just plug it into your modem and then download the Gryphon app to set it up. From there you can set, adjust, and monitor your parental controls, and you can take advantage of malware protection, too. What’s cool about this from a parental controls' perspective is that you can monitor your users’ activity and adjust the protection (whether you’re at home or not), through the mobile app. This also ensures that the controls and guidance trickle down to every device on your network, meaning anything you set will carry over to new devices when they’re signed on.

There’s a patent-pending CrowdRanking that aims to show you the child safety of various sites even if you don’t know them yourself, you can set bedtimes and homework times, pause Internet connection during dinner or family time, and more. The router itself is no slouch either, with four high-powered antennas, 3Gbps speed capabilities, and simultaneous tri-band support. If you’re looking for parental control software, we recommend looking at a router-level solution — it could be the perfect option for your family. 

Best for Multiple Devices: Norton Security Premium

If you have a large family, Norton Security Premium is the best and most affordable parental control software. You can secure up to ten PCs, Macs, iOS and Android devices with full parental control securities with up-to-date protection.

Norton’s latest 2018 iteration combats any new threats of ransomware, spyware, malware and unsafe websites, all while protecting your personal identity and online transactions. The award-winning software has a 30-year history with 24/7 security systems around the world that keep up-to-date with the latest protection. It’s one of the fastest software on the list with a centralized Web portal for easy device management for parents. Norton offers 24/7 phone access and a 100 percent guarantee of satisfaction in preventing viruses or your money back.

Best for Financial Protection: Kapersky Internet Security 2017

If you’re worried about your teenager’s identity or credit card being used online, Kapersy offers one of the best parental control software for safeguarding online privacy and transactions. Kapersky Internet Security is affordable and offers one-year protection on three devices like your PC, Mac and Android tablets and smartphones.

Providing real-time protection, Kapersky identifies and safeguards you on all sites you purchase from, bank with, or socialize on, assuring they are safe and verified. The software provides excellent protection specific to fraud, snooping, phishing, tracking and any cybercrime involving identity theft or spying. Versatile, you can customize access settings to sites for your children, preventing them from viewing inappropriate content while they surf the Web, including specific applications, games and websites. The company prides itself as finishing first in 60 out of 94 independent tests and reviews for its quality assurance.

Best for Hardware Protection: ESET Smart Security

ESET Smart Security provides multilayered protection for up to 2.5 years across three PCS and is the best parental control software to protect your webcam or router. The sophisticated anti-virus software alerts you when someone is trying to access your home computer’s webcams or router.

ESET Smart Security is sophisticated software that blocks multiple hacker exploits that are designed to evade antivirus detection. If you’re worried about any potentiality of virus or threat on your kid’s computer that deals with multiple file types and software, ESET Smart Security is the way to go. The 24/7 software prevents both malware and ransomware that tries to lock you out of your computer, including hidden attacks that can come from multiple applications such as Web browsers, PDF readers and Java-based software.

Best for Compatibility, Cloud Storage & GPS Tracking: Snap One

Snap One Secure Mobile Security is a unique software on the list for its Swiss army knife style protection. It’s the best parental control software with secure cloud storage and is compatible across multiple platforms such as Android, iOS, Windows Phone, Mac OSX, Windows PC and any Web browser.

If you plan on sharing private photos or personal videos with family, there’s no better secure cloud storage system than Snap One. The software allows up to six users with only one license to unlimited devices, all of which can back up personal data and restore content to any new device with its 200GB cloud storage system. Snap One Secure Mobile Security comes packed with GPS tracking, so you can see family member locations on a map in real time. The software even allows for text monitoring, driving habits and can set up preliminary safety zones with emergency alerts if your children happen to leave to certain areas.

Best for Virus Protection: Webroot Internet Security Complete + Antivirus 2018

Webroot Internet Security Complete is a cloud-based antivirus software that includes Internet security protection for one year on five devices of either PC or Mac. The vast security software protects against various attacks and threats, including identity theft, malware, ransomware, phishing and other malicious attacks with constant scanning that won't slow down your computer.

Webroot Internet Security Complete is the best parental control software if you’re looking for a more secure way of Web browsing for your kids. Webroot’s fast processing constantly scans your computer for any viruses, and because it’s cloud-based, it takes up very little computer memory and storage. Webroot also assures protection of your identity by protecting private information such as usernames, passwords and account numbers.