7 Best Parental Control Apps to Monitor and Limit Screen Time

Millions of children have access to screens. Children of all ages use tablets, phones, computers, and other devices. And while screen time can be good—during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic technology helped us socialize; it also served as an huge educational resource—you may still want to monitor your child's activity. There are inherent dangers, after all, and risks. These free (and premium) apps will monitor your kid's phone and/or computer activity, bringing you awareness and peace of mind.

Parents Monitoring Little Girls Screen Time
Photo: bbernard/shutterstock
01 of 07

Screen Time

screen time parental control app
Courtesy of Google Play

Screen Time is great for customization—you can reward your child with more screen time after they finish their homework or chores! Parents can also preset blocked periods like bedtime, homework time, or school hours. For moments when you're feeling extra generous, you can activate "Free Play" to temporarily override settings without messing up your screen monitoring routine. All downloads are approved or rejected by you, and you can keep an eye on your children's web history, too. Bonus: One Screen Time account works for the whole family—you can give access to relatives or caregivers—and your kids won't be able to uninstall the app without a secure password. Genius!

02 of 07

unGlue

unglue parental control app
Courtesy of Apple

Aiming to instill better habits in kids, unGlue is all about empowering kids to learn screen time etiquette. You can set boundaries on entertainment by bundling all major apps, sites, and games into one category and setting a time limit so your kids can access the internet while not getting distracted by anything deemed as "fun." Kids can also learn to balance phone time by tracking their own screen time—they'll be rewarded more internet time if they accumulate roll-over minutes, complete extra chores, or put in a required number of daily steps tracked through the app as well.

03 of 07

Qustodio

Qustodio parental control app
Courtesy of Apple

Everything you need to know about your kid's screen time is beautifully displayed on Qustodio's online dashboard. Qustodio offers up the standard features like the Smart Web Filters that can block inappropriate content, game limitations, and a device time schedule so your kids are unplugged when they need to be. You'll also receive Smart Activity Reports to stay on top of your child's activity, and the ability to monitor social networks, track calls and texts (for Androids only), and install location tracking with helpful panic alerts.

04 of 07

Norton Family

Norton family parental control app
Courtesy of Apple

Norton's award-winning parental control software is now available in app form. Keeping tabs on your kids' activity is easy with web, time, search, social network (Windows only), mobile apps (Android only), text message, and video supervision. This way you know who your kids are in touch with, what social media image they are presenting of themselves, and how often they are gaming. Norton Family also offers personal information protection for those with Windows devices, so your child doesn't disclose sensitive or endangering information. Our favorite feature? "Instant Lock" which lets you unplug your kid during dinnertime.

05 of 07

Canopy

Canopy parental control app
Courtesy of Google Play

If you're looking for a way to monitor texts and social media use amongst teens, tweens, and older kids, you may want to consider Canopy. This app ensures your child is safe from sexual content and/or items which you deem "inappropriate." It is restrictive, but still gives your child autonomy and privacy. You cannot read their messages, for example. And it blocks content in real time, i.e. if a pornograhpic message comes through, it will flag your phone. The downside? This app does not control screen usage. It also cannot block content within apps.

06 of 07

Net Nanny

net nanny parental control app
Courtesy of Net Nanny

With a modern look and intuitive design, Net Nanny is an excellent parental control app—one which lets you filter the content your child is accessing. But Net Nanny doesn't just blindly block apps and websites, it analyzes them individually, giving you (and your child) the best possible experience. It can also track your child's location, display their history, and set time allowances. Ideal for children of all ages.

07 of 07

Kaspersky Safe Kids

Kaspersky safe kids parental control app
Courtesy of Apple

Designed to monitor your child's computer and smartphone activity, Kaspersky Safe Kids lets you control your little one's online habits. With screen time limits, a GPS locator, app manager, and the ability to block access to inappropriate or harmful content, Kaspersky is a great choice for parents of young children. The only downside? The apps interface is a bit clunky and the system can be slow.

Updated by
Kimberly Zapata
Kimberly Zapata, Associated Editor

Kimberly Zapata is the Associate Editor at Parents. Kimberly is a parenting, health, and wellness writer whose work has been published on numerous websites, including Health, Healthline, Parade, Washington Post, Huffington Post, Oprah, The Mighty, Mic, and Vice. She is also the founder and creator of Greater Than: Illness, an organization dedicated to empowering teens and young adults struggling with mental illness. And when she is not writing—or working—she is caring for her two children, aged 8 and 3.

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