The current generation of children have more access to digital technology than any that went before it. Although internet-based services are extremely helpful for children in many ways – they can access learning resources, communicate with their friends and find age-appropriate entertainment, for example – there is undoubtedly a darker side to consider. Few, if any, parents would be comfortable with their children happening upon adult-only content. Equally, parents need to be able to prevent inappropriate relationships building up online, especially if a so-called ‘friend’ turns out to be much older than they claim. Of course, children look up to their parents, too, and you may not want yours to copy your habit of playing online slots at a casino, something which is rightly age restricted. However, with the help of the latest parental control apps, you can make sure your children are able to access what is good about the internet whilst helping them to stay safe online. What are the top parental control software systems around at the moment?
One of the best apps around for Windows, iOS and Android devices, Net Nanny regularly features in reviews of parental control apps because it is so easy for adults to use. The display makes perfect sense from the first time you use it to control your child’s device. This software means you are able to check which websites your child is currently visiting and where they have been online. You can set time allowances for certain sites, like gaming ones, or control the overall amount of time your child spends online as you see fit. Net Nanny allows certain apps to be blocked and you can also monitor activity on most of the big social media platforms. The Android version even allows you to keep tabs on text messages that are coming in on the device concerned, a big help if you are worried about bullying.
This app is for iOS and Android smart devices. You can use it to set time limits and even track your kid’s location, if you want. FamilyTime is also a scheduling tool. You could ensure that only certain functions are available to your child when it is time for his or her homework, for instance. Equally, you can restrict what can be done on a device when it is time for bed. A really good feature is a geo-fence function which alerts you when your child’s device leaves a certain area. That way, you should always know that your kid is where they said they’d be.
Eset Parental Control
For Android devices only, one of the great things about Eset is that you get quite a lot of functionality with the free version. Reports on internet activities, limiting time spent online and blocking certain apps are all functions that are available without charge. The premium features offer a great deal more functionality but, with Eset, you can give them a 30-day cost-free trial. A good function is the parental messaging feature. Basically, your child must respond to you with a message before they are allowed to continue using their device, a great way to maintain control when you are not in the same room together.
Norton Family Premier
More expensive than other options, Norton Family Premier offers a great deal of functionality. You can utilise it to block and track, as you might expect. However, you can also use it to highlight certain sites that your child should be wary about but still use, offering a more flexible approach than competitor apps. It works well on Windows and Android but some Apple users have found it glitchy to use. That said, this app will work on an unlimited number of devices on your home network so it is cost-effective if you have lots of kids, especially if they are of different ages and need to have their internet usage controlled in age-specific ways.
Available for Apple, Kindle and Android users, Qustodio is a freeware parental control suite which offers parents all of the main controls they might want. You have to pay for the extra features, such as SMS monitoring, but the free functions are good enough for most users. If you want to make sure that adult-only content is blocked on your child’s device and have few other parental control requirements, then Qustodio may be the only app you will ever need.