Top 7 Best Parental Control Apps for Desktop, Android, and iOS

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Roundup: Top 7 Best Parental Control Apps

The top 7 best parental control apps available today were chosen based on features like social media monitoring, screen time management, location tracking services, device compatibility, and cost for value. Below are the best parental control apps for 2022:

  1. Qustodio — Best overall
  2. Bark — Best for iOS devices
  3. Kaspersky Safe Kids — Best for YouTube
  4. Net Nanny — Best for social media
  5. Norton Family — Best with antivirus protection
  6. Life360 — Best for location tracking
  7. OurPact — Best for screen time management

Read the full article to see why each app ranked top in its category and which one will work best for your family!

Parents are turning to parental control software so they can make sure their child is safe, and it’s no wonder why. According to the CDC, one in four students reports being bullied. And a quick scroll through TikTok or Twitter will show plenty of posts that may feature profanity, inappropriate media, and other questionable content.

By using a parental control app, moms and dads will be able to prevent kids from seeing and engaging with dangerous social media posts. These apps also let parents block certain websites, protect kids’ devices from viruses, and track the child’s location.

In this article, we looked at the top parental control apps on the market and narrowed our list to the seven best-performing apps.


Top 7 Best Parental Control Apps for 2022

When it comes to finding parental control apps that will work for your family, there’s a lot to choose from. We ranked apps based on what they’re best at, so you can quickly scan to see what fits your family’s lifestyle best. Below is a summary of our top 7 best parental control apps in 2022.

FEATURESQUSTODIOBARKKASPERSKY SAFE KIDSNET NANNYNORTONLIFE360OURPACT
Supported operating systemsWindows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iPhone and iPad, and KindleiOS, Android, Amazon mobile devices, and WindowsWindows, Mac, Android, and iOS devicesWindows, macOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, and ChromebookWindows PC, iOS, and AndroidiOS and AndroidiOS and Android
Free version
Paid subscriptionsStarting at $54.95 per yearStarting at $49 per yearStarting at $14.99 per yearStarting at $39.99 per yearStarting at $49.99 per yearStarting at $4.99 per monthStarting at $6.99 per month
Number of devices supportedUp to 15UnlimitedUnlimitedUp to 20UnlimitedUnlimitedUp to 20
Social media monitoringOnly Facebook and VK
Location tracking
Text message monitoringAndroid onlyText blocking only
Web filtering
Screen time customization
App blocking
Free trialTry QustodioTry BarkTry Kaspersky Safe KidsTry Net NannyTry Norton FamilyTry Life360Try OurPact

Qustodio: Best Parental Control App Overall

Supported devices: Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iPhone and iPad, and Kindle

Pricing: Starts at $54.95/year

Screenshot of Qustodio website homepage with logo in the corner

We chose Qustodio as the best overall app for a few reasons. First, it offers a free version. It doesn’t include the advanced features other apps have, but it does have a free version. (Most parental control companies don’t offer free versions, only shorter-term free trials.) Additionally, Qustodio is available in eight languages: English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Chinese, and Japanese.

Qustodio is a good option for an Android parental control app because all of its features are compatible with Android devices. Since it doesn’t offer the same features for iOS devices, we suggest families with a lot of iOS devices use Bark, especially if you want text message monitoring.

Try Qustodio Free

Qustodio pros and cons

ProsCons
Location tracking sees where your kids are going and where they have beenSMS and call monitoring are only available on Android
Monitors a lot of social media apps and gamesHas a silent install option
Easy user experienceLimits number of devices
SOS alertNo tampering protection
Free version includes basic protection for one devicePersonalized customer support comes with an additional fee of $12.99 with the small package

Qustodio features

  • Web content and app filtering
  • Online activity monitoring
  • Screen time controls
  • Phone call and text message tracking
  • SOS feature for Android devices
  • Location tracking and geo-fencing
  • Real-time alerts

Advanced monitoring, location services, and fast alerts

Using one of Qustodio’s paid packages, you have a lot of options for site blocking, app blocking, and activity monitoring. If your kids try to access a blocked website, you’ll know about it via a real-time alert. Using a feature called Safe Search, web results on Google, Bing, and YouTube will be blocked from displaying any harmful content.

We also like Qustodio’s location tracking feature. While it’s not as advanced as Life360 when it comes to tracking your child’s location, it offers more tracking features than Bark because it offers geo-fencing. Geo-fencing lets you know where your kids are and if they leave preset zones or saved locations that you’ve created.

How much does Qustodio cost?

The other reason we ranked Qustodio as the best overall parental control software is that for the features you get, it doesn’t come at a steep price for its reliable all-around protection.

It’s certainly not the cheapest parental control software on the market, but between their small, medium, and large packages, you can make sure you only pay for the number of devices you need.

Small PackageMedium PackageLarge Package
$54.95/year for 5 devices$96.95/year for 10 devices$137.95/year for 15 devices

Qustodio offers users a free version of their app with basic features. Try it today and see if it’s the right choice for your family! You can upgrade or cancel anytime.


Bark: Best Parental Control App for iOS Devices

Supported devices: iOS, Android, Amazon mobile devices, and Windows

Pricing: Starts at $49/year

Screenshot of Bark App website homepage with logo in the corner

Bark is one of the best parental control apps available today. However, because it doesn’t offer a free version, it’s only available in three languages, and its location services aren’t as advanced as Qustodio or Life360, it didn’t make our top spot. However, in all other areas like web filtering, email and text monitoring, and social media monitoring, Bark excels.

Start Bark 7-day Free Trial

Bark pros and cons

ProsCons
Social media monitoring for 30+ appsCan be time-consuming to set up at first
Works well with iOS devicesNo geofencing features
Unlimited devices for both packagesNo SOS alerts
Easy user interfaceNot all social media apps are monitored on iOS
Email and text monitoring on both iOS and AndroidNo free version
User data is encrypted for extra protectionParental alerts are not always real-time

Bark features

  • Social media monitoring
  • Manage screen time
  • Web filtering
  • Text and email monitoring
  • Location check-ins

Comprehensive monitoring for iOS devices

Our favorite feature with Bark is its compatibility with iOS devices. For the 30+ apps it can monitor, Bark has very sensitive content monitoring features that give parents reliable insight into their kid’s social media activity. Bark can monitor texts, voice memos, photos, videos, Chrome browsing, and notes directly from your child’s iOS device. It can also monitor seven different email platforms on iOs including AOL, Comcast, Gmail, Outlook, Yahoo, and iCloud.

Bark has comprehensive monitoring for iOS devices, leagues ahead of competitors like Qustodio, which can only do call and text monitoring on Android devices.

How much does Bark cost?

Bark is right in the middle of pricing for parental control apps. It’s not the cheapest or the most expensive, but it does offer unlimited devices on both of its packages which is a huge plus. Other parental control software like Net Nanny and Qustodio limit the number of devices for families.

Bark Jr.Bark Premium
$49/year for unlimited device screen time management, web filters, and check-ins$99/year for all features on unlimited devices

Users can try the full suite of Bark’s features in a 7-day free trial. You can upgrade or cancel at any time. Alternatively, read our full review of Bark to see how it fared under our testing.


Kaspersky Safe Kids: Best Parental Control App for YouTube Streaming

Supported devices: Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices

Pricing: Starts at $14.99/year

Screenshot of Kaspersky Safe Kids website page with logo in the corner

Kaspersky Safe Kids is a parental control software created by Kaspersky Cybersecurity Solutions. We like Kaspersky because it works well with the antivirus protection packages offered by Kaspersky. You can log into the same account and manage your parent portal, as well as keep your cyber security up to date with Kaspersky’s security software. Our favorite feature, however, is Kaspersky’s YouTube Safe Search for avid YouTube users.

Try Kaspersky for Free

Kaspersky Safe Kids pros and cons

ProsCons
Blocks any apps that are regarded as inappropriate for your child’s ageFull content filtering is not available for iPhones and iPads
In the Premium version, parents are notified when their child has low batteryContent filtering only available on certain browsers
YouTube Safe Search blocks/alerts parents of harmful search termsFree version doesn’t send alerts
No device limitsOnly monitors Facebook and VK social media apps
Affordable priceUser dashboard can be slow
Has 14 categories for web filteringDoesn’t monitor iMessage or SMS
Works with Kaspersky cybersecurity packages for full device protectionNo panic or SOS feature

Kaspersky Safe Kids features

  • Block access to inappropriate content on websites and apps
  • Create screen time limits for all of your kids and devices
  • Location-tracking and geo-fencing
  • YouTube Safe Search

Advanced YouTube monitoring

Kaspersky Safe Kids offers many of the same features as Qustodio and Bark, but it excels in its ability to keep your child safe while using YouTube with a feature called YouTube Safe Search. It blocks harmful searches and prevents kids from viewing inappropriate content based on preset filters that parents can determine (like alcohol or drugs).

Parents are also notified with an alert if their child searches for something that might be harmful, so parents can respond quickly if needed. Kasperky’s YouTube Safe Search also keeps a log of your child’s YouTube search activity, so you can see what topics they are interested in looking up.

Kaspersky Safe Kids is a great choice for families with kids who often browse YouTube for school or fun. It has some of the most advanced YouTube filters available for parental control software. To learn more, you can read about how to keep kids safe on YouTube.

Limited social media and web filtering

The biggest downside to Safe Kids is that the only social media platforms it monitors are Facebook and VK. For Facebook, you have to install an app on their profile, which your child has to accept and can also delete at any time. Not the most effective social media coverage compared to Bark or Qustodio. It can, however, block apps automatically that are age-inappropriate for your child.

Web browser filtering is limited on their mobile devices for both Android (Chrome and Kaspersky’s Safe Browser) and iOS (only Kaspersky Safe Browser). On the desktop version, Kaspersky monitors several other browser options including Chrome, Edge, Safari, Yandex, or Internet Explorer.

How much does Kaspersky Safe Kids cost?

Like Qustodio, Kaspersky offers a free version of their parental control app with limited functions. On Safe Kids Free, parents can have some web monitoring (full functions only available in paid version), YouTube Safe Search, app usage control, and screen time management.

Safe Kids PremiumSafe Kids Free
$14.99/year for first-time users on unlimited devices. Prices go up after the first year.Free on unlimited devices with limited parental control features.

Kasperksy has a free version available for parents to try on unlimited devices, but it only has basic features. You can upgrade or cancel your account anytime.


Net Nanny: Best Parental Control App for Social Media

Supported devices: Windows, macOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, and Chromebook

Pricing: Starts at $39.99/year

Screenshot of NetNanny App homepage with logo in the corner

Net Nanny has one of the most advanced web filtering systems of the parental control apps on the market. Net Nanny uses artificial intelligence technology to analyze online searches and websites and sends you real-time alerts when your child accesses content related to categories of porn, suicide, weapons, or drug-related content.

In total, there are 14 categories you can allow, alert, or block in Net Nanny’s Content Filtering settings. The best part is that you can even create your own categories, too.

Buy Net Nanny

Net Nanny pros and cons

ProsCons
AI technology for website filtering for sites and advertisements in 14 categoriesNo call or iMessage/ SMS monitoring
Ability to block more than 100 appsLimited app blocking on iOS devices
Location servicesLimited to 20 devices in the largest package
Net Nanny App advisor describes which apps may be inappropriate for your childrenScreen time management does not have separate school/home features
Pornography blocker softwareNo SOS feature

Net Nanny features

  • Monitor online activity
  • Limit screen time
  • Online content filtering with AI
  • App and website blocking
  • Real-time alerts
  • Location services including tracking, history, and geofencing
  • YouTube monitoring

Social media protection

What we love most about Net Nanny is its social media protection that allows parents to protect, allow, or block certain social media apps including Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube. Parents can also see every app their child has downloaded.

While Net Nanny’s AI software does a great job on the web, it can’t monitor your child’s smartphone text messages as Bark does. If you’re concerned about self-harm or depression, this is a big gap in protection since most young kids would talk to their friends about these kinds of things.

How much does Net Nanny cost?

Net Nanny’s best value package is cheaper than Bark and Qustodio, but it limits the number of devices with each plan. You can choose which package is best for your family based on how many and what type of devices need protection.

1 DesktopFamily Protection Pass (5 Devices)Family Protection Pass (20 Devices)
$39.99/year on either PC or Mac desktop$54.99/year on PC, Mac, Android, iOS, or Kindle Fire$89.99/year and covers PC, Mac, Android, iOS, or Kindle Fire

There’s no free trial or free version of Net Nanny, but you can buy their basic package for only $39.99/year (less than $4/month) and see if it’s a good fit for your family.


Norton Family: Best Parental Control App with Antivirus Protection

Supported devices: Windows PC, iOS, and Android

Pricing: Starts at $49.99/year

Screenshot of Norton Family website page with logo in the corner

While Qustodio is good for Android users too, we like that Norton also offers antivirus packages and can give devices users better cybersecurity coverage in addition to parental control software features. Norton has been around for more than 30 years and is one of the best and more trusted antivirus software companies out there.

Buy Norton Family

Pros and cons of Norton Family

ProsCons
School Time feature schedules times just for school appsParental controls not supported on Mac computers
Location tracking and check-in featuresDoesn’t monitor iMessages or SMS on mobile devices
Antivirus protection with Norton security packagesNo social media monitoring
Kids can use “access request” to ask permission to sites they think should be unblocked on Android devicesCan’t monitor Windows 10 in S mode
Unlimited devicesNo SOS alert feature
30-day free trialDoes not block individual apps or games on PCs

Norton Family features

  • Location tracking, geofencing, and check-in features
  • Screen time schedules
  • Website filtering
  • App blocking
  • View search terms and web use
  • Device locking
  • Mobile App Supervision

No social media monitoring

If your child often uses the web for research or you worry may click on a harmful link, using parental control software that’s highly compatible with antivirus software is a great idea. Better yet, you can manage it all from your Norton.com account. If you don’t have a protection plan for your devices, read our Norton 360 review.

However, the biggest downside with Norton is that it doesn’t monitor social media apps. On Android devices, you can block or allow certain apps, but this isn’t available on Windows or iOS and doesn’t monitor content on the apps they are allowed to use. Furthermore, Norton Family is not supported on Mac computers, so it’s not ideal for Apple users.

How much does Norton Family cost?

Norton Family is affordable for all the services offered by the company. If you buy a security package, Norton Family is included! We’ve included the price of Norton Family and the security packages.

Norton FamilyNorton 360 with LifeLock Select
$49.99/the first year$99.48/year for 5 devices

Norton doesn’t have a free trial, but you can buy Norton family for only $49.99 for your first year.


Life360: Best Parental Control App for Location Tracking

Supported devices: iOS and Android

Pricing: Starts at $4.99/month

Screenshot of Life360 website homepage with logo in the corner

If your child is always out of the house for sports practice, drama rehearsals, coffee shop study groups, or visiting friends, you need a parental control app with strong location services and remote support like Life360.

Parents add family members to their “Circle” and can track their child’s location, get alerts about driving and digital safety, and have peace of mind their child can get emergency assistance when they need it.

Try Life360 for 7 days Free

Pros and cons of Life360

ProsCons
Advanced location servicesNo social media monitoring
Roadside assistanceNo web monitoring or filtering
SOS alert featureExpensive for the full range of features
“Bubble” feature gives kids more privacyNot available on Windows or Amazon devices
Nearby crime reportsNo screen time monitoring
Identity protectionSilver membership has a lot fewer features
Medical assistanceMany features are impacted in areas of low signal
Works equally well with both iOS and AndroidNo call or text monitoring on mobile devices

Life360 features

  • Location services
  • Driving safety
  • Digital protection
  • Emergency Assistance including stolen phone protection
  • Group and track family in Life360’s Circle
  • Real-time alerts to know where your family is going

Full range of location features

We like Life360 because it includes several unique features that go beyond simple digital safety for iOS and Android devices. Life360 features include assistance for your child when they are on the go like roadside assistance, crash detection, stolen phone protection, SOS alerts, crime reports, credit monitoring, and emergency dispatch services.

Life360 gives kids the option to create a “Bubble” where parents can’t see their precise location, rather a general circle around their location, which gives them a sense of privacy, too.

Life360 is not your traditional parental control app because it doesn’t offer web filtering, content monitoring, or social media app blocking, for example. However, it’s a great option to pair with another parental control app, like Bark.

How much does Life360 cost?

Getting the full range of Life360 features isn’t cheap at $239.88/year, but it offers driving and remote safety services unlike any other on the market.

Every package covers all of your family members and there are three packages to choose from so you don’t have to pay for all of the features if you don’t need them.

Silver MembershipGold MembershipPlatinum Membership
$4.99/month for Driving Safety, Digital Safety, and 7 days of location history$9.99/month for all of Life360 features except credit monitoring and some of the Emergency Assistance features$19.99/month for all of Life360’s features

You can try Life360 for 7 days, free! Click below to get started.


OurPact: Best Parental Control App for Screen Time Management

Supported devices: iOS and Android

Pricing: Starts at $6.99/month

Screenshot of OurPact App homepage with logo in the corner

The OurPact parental control app specializes in customizable screen time control features for your whole family on iOS and Android devices. Parents can block certain apps while allowing their children easy access to approved apps for educational purposes.

We also like it because it has a good swath of other parental control settings, too.

Try OurPact for Free

OurPact pros and cons

ProsCons
Location services and geo-fencingNot available on Windows or Amazon devices
Equally effective on iOS and AndroidWeb filtering feature filters sexual content and only on iOS
Affordable priceFree app only monitors one device
Customizable screen time schedules for each family memberNo call or text monitoring
Can block text messages during certain timesCan only block Safari and Chrome browsers

OurPact features

  • Screen limits and schedule controls
  • Web filtering (on iOS devices only)
  • Web browser blocking
  • Text blocking
  • Geo-fencing

Limited content filtering

OurPact is really good at what it does: creating custom screen time and app schedules unique to each of your kids. It also has some other basic parental control features which can tip you off to harmful sites, or just make sure your kids are only getting on safe, approved apps.

Not only can you create a custom screen schedule for each family member, but you can also block certain apps or sites, use location tracking features, and get alerts if your child reaches a site with sexually explicit content.

However, it doesn’t monitor much content outside of sexually explicit content, so there are limitations. Said monitoring is also only available on iOS and doesn’t cover calls or texts.

How much does OurPact cost?

OurPact is one of the most affordable parental control software on the market that monitors both iOS and Android devices. While it doesn’t have advanced content monitoring, you can easily block or allow a wide range of apps on both iOS and Android devices.

Free VersionOurPact PremiumOurPact Premium+
Free for one device and limited app blocks$6.99/month or $83.88/year for 2-20 devices$9.99/month for up to 20 devices and includes OurPact View with screenshots of your children’s activity

You can try OurPact’s free version with basic features. Cancel or upgrade anytime!


How We Decided on the 7 Best Parental Control Apps

We looked at the most popular parental control software on the market today and evaluated the most common features of parental controls. The features most parents look for in parental control apps are:

  • Web filtering
  • Screen time management
  • Location tracking services
  • Device compatibility
  • Social media and app monitoring
  • User experience
  • Number of devices the app protects
  • Cost for value

Because not every family has the same needs, devices, or budget, we picked the best parental control apps which excel in different features and then ranked them the best in that category. That way, you can pick which parental control software will work best for your family.

Keeping kids safe online may seem like a daunting task, but investing in parental control apps and staying informed about what your kids enjoy can help make things run smoother. Our resources on child online safety discuss your kids’ social media privacy and their safety while playing their favorite games (like Minecraft or Roblox).


Picking the Best Parental Control App for Your Family

The best way to decide if a parental control app is right for you is to start with a free trial or use a free version of the app, if available. You can explore web filtering features, screen time customizations, location tracking, or call and text monitoring on your children’s devices.

The only app listed above that doesn’t offer a free version or free trial is Net Nanny. We did notice that sometimes they offer a code for a free trial, or you can request a refund after 14 days, but it’s not a money-back guarantee.

All of the apps we discussed in this article offer protection for your family. Some are better for creating good screen time habits like OurPact. Others keep your child safely away from harmful content using advanced AI technology content like Net Nanny. When it comes down to email and text monitoring, Bark is your best option.

But all-in-all, Qustodio is an easy-to-use and affordable parental control app that is available in eight languages. It has a full scope of parental control features, and that’s why we ranked in the best parental control app.

For more resources on kids safety online, check out the articles below:

Best Parental Control Apps: Frequently Asked Questions

We know there’s a lot that goes into deciding on a parental control app for your family. Here are answers to the questions other parents are asking!

Qustodio offers all of the features most parents look for in a parental control app, including screen time management, location tracking, geo-fencing, social media monitoring, web filtering, SOS alerts, and text monitoring. It also has a free version, unlike other parental control apps.

Parents can also expect real-time alerts and web filtering in more than 14 categories, which means your child is safer online. It’s affordable at $54.95 per year, covering up to five devices, but you can purchase larger packages that cover more devices.

Silent installation is an option some parental control software apps, like Qustodio, offer. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Once you’ve connected to Qustodio, go to your parent dashboard and click on “Devices.”
  2. Then, click on the device you want to hide and select “Settings.”
  3. From there, toggle the feature that says “Hide Qustodio on this device.”

Now, your child can’t see any of Qustodio’s alerts. If they try and Google a blocked site, they will be redirected instead back to Google’s homepage.

Most parental control apps offer either a free version of their app or a limited-time free trial. The best parental controls apps that offer free versions include:

  • Qustodio
  • OurPact
  • Kaspersky Safe Kids

Free versions of parental control apps are always more limited when it comes to the features they offer. To get the full scope of features, you’ll need to purchase a paid version of the app.

Qustodio is a good option for parents who require an international language not offered by Bark. Qustodio is available in eight languages including English, Spanish, French, Italian, Portuguese, German, Chinese, and Japanese.

Online Safety Journalist
Allison has an impressive research background and a drive to stay on top of the latest trends in cybersecurity to help others combat cybercrime and stay safe online. She has covered a variety of topics but is passionate about informing the VPNOverview readers on online safety and privacy, especially for children and teens.