Web filtering is more powerful on iOS, while monitoring texts and calls works on only Android. Read our full Qustodio review. Once the most powerful parental-control app for iPhones, OurPact was hobbled by an Apple rule change in late that nixed the service's geofencing, location tracking and time allowances on iOS. At its peak, OurPact was the only parental-control app we tested that could manage or block any iOS app.
It can still do so for Android devices.
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OurPact also gets kids involved in managing the daily allowance of screen time that you give them, and it does a good job of scheduling. Yet, its website filtering simply blocks porn, and it can't monitor calls or texts at all, even on Android. However, you can block messaging apps, and OurPact remains a joy to use. Read our full OurPact review. Screen Time -- not to be confused with the "Screen Time" feature in iOS -- does an excellent job of managing and scheduling kids' device access. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a whole lot else, at least on iOS devices.
App management and web filtering are for Android only.
Screen Time also has baffling upcharges for location tracking and web filters, both of which are arguably essentials and come standard with other parental-control apps. You can get both features in the day Screen Time premium trial. We did like how Screen Time lets you dole out additional, yup, screen time to kids who perform chores or good deeds. But you can't block apps on iOS, and there's no call or text monitoring at all, although geofencing and location history were recently added -- for Android phones only. Read our full Screen Time review.
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ESET Parental Control for Android sticks to a single platform, but it doesn't shine even there, lacking text-message- and call-monitoring and number blocking features and implementing clunky controls on what it does have. The app management and time management you receive with the free version of ESET Parental Control for Android do work well, as do the location tracking and geofencing you'll get if you pay for a subscription. There's a day free trial.
And we liked the feature that lets a kid send an SOS message to designated phones with a single tap. MMGuardian has nearly every parental-control feature you might want on Android phones, but its abilities are severely limited on iOS and the user interfaces are outdated and frustrating on both platforms.
The iOS and Android smartphone apps offer location tracking and excellent web filtering, and MMGuardian recently added an artificial-intelligence component to spot nudity in saved images. On an Android phone, the parent can use MMGuardian to read every text and block any number.
Unfortunately, time management and screen-time scheduling are Android-only, and the separate MMGuardian app for Android tablets has no location tracking. Even by the lowered expectations of what an iOS parental control app can do, MMGuardian doesn't offer a lot for iPhone users. Read our full MMGuardian review. What you need from a parental-control service mainly depends on how old your kids are. If you're the parent of children under 12, you absolutely want to be able to block objectionable websites, but you might also consider an app that's available on Amazon Fire tablets.
If you've got teenagers, you might want to let them have a look at objectionable things online, but only if you're aware of it. You might also want to see whom your teens are talking to in messenger apps, and to see where they are late on a Friday night. And you might want to consider a service that monitors your kids' Windows and Mac devices as well as their smartphones.
The best parental control apps will offer, at a minimum, a website filter, location tracking, screen-time limits including a scheduler, and an app blocker that works at least on Android. Useful extra features include geofencing, which alerts you if a child's phone leaves a designated "safe" area like school or a relative's house. Some of these apps let you block and log the calls and texts a child makes and receives, but only on Android.
A couple even let you read a child's text messages, but none lets you listen in on call, because that's illegal. And most let you monitor your child's phone from a desktop computer web interface as well as your own smartphone. Evaluation criteria We focus on parental control apps that emphasize proactively setting up filters and limits before your child uses the phone rather than merely tracking activities after the fact.
We take the following criteria into account:. We tested each app on every platform it supported twice, from installation to testing to uninstall. We typically monitored activity from the MacBook Pro, but if apps offered control from a smartphone app, we tested those features as well. Calls and texts for monitoring purposes were made from a secondary Android device.
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The best Android parental-control apps remain more robust than their iOS counterparts in most cases, especially with regard to call and text monitoring. But new additions to iOS have closed the gap somewhat. We note areas in which there are discrepancies in the functionality offered on each platform, but we are not providing distinct ratings and reviews for the iOS versus the Android version of each app.
Tom's Guide. Best GPS trackers for kids: Keep track of the little ones at all times The best and worst antivirus software for parents Best Android apps for kids The best parental control apps for smartphones can help you track your kids, see with whom they're communicating, block them from viewing objectionable or dangerous websites, and even help kids understand limits while preventing them from seeing adult content or chatting with creeps. What are the best parental control apps? The best parental control app you can get 1. The best multi-platform support among the best parental control apps.
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