Short on time? Here are the best FREE Parental Control apps for 2022:
1. Bark – Monitors 30+ different social platforms, text messages, YouTube, emails and more.
2. Mspy– Records all calls and messages (including deleted), live GPS tracking, supports all devices.
3. Qustodio – User Friendly, limits screen time, games, social media activities, blocks inappropriate content.
We Live in a digital era in which kids spend most of their time in front of smartphones and laptops. They play online games, send texts, or view videos, most of the time, without adult supervision. As parents, we want to keep our kids safe from dangerous online content and the best way to do that is by using a parental control app. Fortunately, you don’t have to spend on much or even any money on it as there are plenty of free parental control apps out there. They are sometimes limited in terms of features compared to the full version but are definitely a good start in protecting your kids.
The best free parental control apps can provide you with the desired peace of mind. Such apps will restrict wrong online access of kids. It can block them from certain websites and applications, specifically those that are age-inappropriate. The apps track usage and limit screen time and can be a good way to be in control of what kids are doing using their gadgets.
How Do Free Parental Control Apps Work?
To start monitoring, you will need to download a mobile app to the device you would like to monitor and control. Whether it is Android, iOS, or powered by any other software, you have various options for free parental control apps.
After downloading the app, you will need to register an account. You will also need to download the app to your (parent) personal device from which you will control all other devices. Once you have downloaded, installed and registered to the app, you can now perform different functions, such as blocking payments, web filtering, and limiting screen time. More about this will be discussed in the next section of this article. These apps may work differently from each other, so research carefully.
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Main Features of Free Parental Control Apps
Below are some of the features and functions that you can expect from a free parental control app:
- Content Filtering: This allows the app to filter and restrict the contents and apps that the users can access. It filters content that is inappropriate for kids, such as those with themes related to crime, drugs, sex, and violence, among others.
- Time Limitations: It restricts the duration kids can access a specific app. Once the time has lapsed, the app locks and becomes inaccessible for a certain period or until you turn it back on.
- Location Tracking: Through this feature, you will be able to track the geographic location of your kid’s smartphone, tablet or any other gadget and know where exactly he or she is.
- Payment Blocking: This feature makes it possible to prevent kids from making any form of payment, such as in the apps they will download. It also restricts them from buying items in the games they are playing or sending money online.
- Text and Call Monitoring: This allows the app to monitor incoming and outgoing texts or calls from your kid’s phone.
Which Free Parental Control Apps are the Best?
There are many choices for top-rated free parental control apps, and below are our favorites.
With Bark you need to look no further. Bark is the the best app out there, it's cheap and it does a superb job in monitoring your kids' activity over social networks. Bark is a necessary safety measure for your kids , just like you would require your kids to wear a helmet when riding their bike, you also need to provide your kids the right protection when they start using their phones. Bark is a very user friendly solution for both kids and parents providing all the right tools and alerts.
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As the name suggest, mSpy is a leading parental monitoring software/app that lets you to view the activities of your kid's devices through your personal smartphone or computer without them knowing. These activities include text messages, live and past locations, calls , social platforms like Instagram, Tiktok and many others.
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While Qustodio's software comes with a free version, to unlock its full features, you need to purchase one of their paid plans. The cheapest one costs of $4.98 monthly, which already covers five devices. The Qustodio app aims to provide a safe and productive digital environment. It monitors social media activities, limits games, blocks inappropriate content, limits screen time, and monitors calls, among others. It is also popular for being user-friendly, so it won’t be a struggle for parents to use.
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Our next parental control app is EyeZy. With EyeZy, you can track mobile phone calls, check apps like WhatsApp, Instagram and much more. There is also location tracking so you can always protect your child.
With this all-in-one platform, you can also check the images and videos on your child’s phone without them noticing. You also monitor their social media account and the chats they have on those networking apps.
The app will also send you alerts and notifications for things you have restricted for your child. This could be a certain location or could be words and phrases in a web search. If your child does any of these, you will be alerted immediately.
Other than those, there are also other features of this parental control app. There is a free trial version but most features need to be purchased.
- Location tracking.
- Monitor social media accounts and chats
- Check messages and calls on the phone.
- Monitor all photos and videos that are kept on the phone.
- Alerts for violation of restrictions.
Another great parental control app is Umobix. With this app, you can check calls, messages, online activity, track locations and much more. This app is good for both iOS and Android if you want to spread the usage across different devices.
You can easily set up an account and get real-time updates about your children and their whereabouts on the internet. They will also send you a detailed report of your child’s online activity so you can check all the parameters easily.
There are also some additional features that you can get with this app. Some of them include blocking certain Wi-Fi’s, checking photos and videos, seeing browser history and much more.
- View all outgoing and incoming calls on a phone.
- Check all messages that are sent, received and even deleted on a phone.
- Monitor the messages that are sent via messenger apps like WhatsApp or Facebook.
- Check images and videos from a device and store them if needed.
- Location tracking.
- Keylogger facilities.
Norton Family Premier (30 days free)
The brand name Norton itself can already be a good enough reason to consider this parental control software. You have 30 days to try it for free and ffter the initial trial period, you can choose one from their paid subscriptions. You can supervise your kids' web activity, screen time, and mobile app use. The app also supports location supervision and video supervision. With Norton, you will also enjoy the benefits a full online security suite for all your devices as all of their services are included in their premium package.
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MMGuardian (14 days free) and after only $1.99 for 1 iOS device
MMGuardian is a great option for parents who want to be on top of what their kids are doing online. The app is only available for android and ios mobile devices. The app allows parents to monitor text messages and some social media messages, and receive alerts when inappropriate content (text or image) appears in these text messages. The app will send you detailed reports on the usage activities of your kids. In addition you can of course block adult content sites and set up shut down times to limit usage. If you have one iOS device that you want to monitor this is probably one of the best and most affordable options for you.Visit MMGuardian
OpenDNS Family Shield
This internet security app is not only for homes but also for small businesses. OpenDNS Family Shield is free, but there are premium versions for more features. For instance, the OpenDNS Home VIP package is available for only $19.95 per year. You can use it to control routers, computers, smart devices, and servers. It can control the router itself and not just the specific device that your kids may have. The program is already pre-configured to block all adult contents, so there is no need to set it yourself. It also comes with free email support. Beyond such, the features are quite limited.Visit OpenDNS
Created for Mac, Windows, and Android, this is another option for the best free parental control app that should be on your radar. It allows parents to know where their kids have been, what photos were taken, who they communicated with, what websites were accessed, and how long they have been using their respective gadgets. It also allows scheduling of email reports for a more detailed snapshot of the usage or online behavior of kids. The basic version of this free parental control app monitors five devices with a disk space of 9mb. You can also choose the standard plan at $29 per year and the professional plan for $89 per year.Visit Kidlogger
Designed by parents, made for kids – this is what the company claims. It has a Kid Mode, which creates a safe digital playground. Parents have complete control of the online usage of their kids. There is a dashboard that does not only provide a snapshot of the performance of kids but also allows parents to set limits, block websites, and customize curriculum, among others.Visit Zoodles
OurPact: Whether your kids have iOS or Android-powered phones, this is another parental control app worth considering. Some of its notable features include app blocking, geo-fencing, screen time allowance, family locator, and porn blocking. One of the best free apps for parental control, it also has a seamless interface. There are Plus and Premium paid versions, which will unlock more features and benefits.Visit Ourpact
Google family link
Google Family Link: The mere fact that this is from Google can already be a compelling reason to choose this app over others. It claims to help families in creating healthy digital habits. You can set limits and lock devices to manage the screen time of the users. Google family can also be used for restricting online purchases in the Google Play Store.Visit Google Family
ESET Parental Control for Android ( Download The Free Version)
If you have an Android device this is one of the best options for you. ESET has over 30 years of experience in cyber protection and it is one of the most recognized security brands in the world. They have many different products for small and big businesses so you need to make sure you check that the software you chose is good for parental control. The free version allows parents to set time limits, web monitoring and apps guard and basic reports which is a pretty good offer from such a strong brand.Try Eset For Free!
Safe Lagoon is another good option for parents to monitor what their kids are doing online. The app is available both for Android and iOS devices as well as for windows. Safe Lagoon is doing a great job (Android Only) in monitoring your kids Instant Messaging communication and see who calls and texts them. If you pay the extra $ you will be able review and download photos and videos from your child's device,which on one hand can be seen as an act of infiltrating their privacy but on the other hand can protect them from sharing nudity or other inappropriate content. We liked the instant notification and daily email reports that the parents can receive and see the exact behavior of their kids, what sites they try to access and what apps they play. The free version is very limited with features but if you have one device and looking for web filtering this is a good option for you.
The ZenScreen app takes a different approach to parental control focusing mainly on screen time monitoring. The people behind the app are promoting the Digital Diet trend which in simple words means, that just like in food once we consume too much we need to go on a diet, same happens with our kids who use the phone too much and need to go on a digital diet and loose some “screen time”. Once installed the app is making our kids take mini Zen brakes from social media or other apps. Good app for screen time management but not much more than that. App is available both for Android and iPhone.
The SecureKids app works only on Android. The basic features on the free version do allow parents to block calls and apps that you don't want your kids to have access to. It also has a Geo location feature that lets parents know where their kids are at any time. The app free version allows for 1 kid and 1 device so if you have more kids you need to follow you would have to pay. One of the coolest features securekids have is the Alarm option which lets parents set alarms on their kids device to remind them things such as meds to take or where they are supposed to meet them. Another good features that gives parents some peace of mind is the one click emergency button which lets the kids notify parents when in danger.
Screen Time Labs
Sreentime by screentime labs is a great parental control app that work both for Android and for iPhone. It is feature rich and has screen time management, monitoring, filtering and tracking options. One of thier finest features is the pause now function where parents can just pause anything their kid is doing on their phone at a given time. The free version is very basic and if you have iPhone it is has zero value but for Android devices it lets parents track what their kids are watching on Youtube, web history and monitoring of social nerworks.
Keepers is a good option for free parental control, it does have in app purchases for certain features). The app is available on both Android and for iPhone. It has most of the basic features such as time managment and location tracking as well as internet filtering. They pride them selves for tracking most of the popular social networks so if your kids are spending most of their time on facebook or instagram this app can definitely help you be in the know. One of the features we liked most is the battery alarm which notifies the parents right before the battery of the child phone is dead so you can communicate beforehand and not worry when not needed.
Familykeeper is employing artificial intelligence to track sings of cyberbullying or worrisome behavior. The offers parents to customize the alerts they receive on inappropriate content or messages on social networks. The app has the basic features such as location tracking and time management as well as battery tracker that lets parents know when their kid's phone is about to die. You would need to first install the parents app and then pair it to the child's app. There is a free version of the app which is limited in features but lets you add up to 4 children. The free version includes only the location tracking and battery levels in addition to alerts on certain activities.
Free vs Paid Parental Control Apps
Some of you might think that free parental control app is not as good as their premium counterparts. Yes, this can be true but not in all cases. Most of the time, these free apps are a good first aid solution. You just have to know where to look and which one to download.
We highly recommend that before you decide on the app you want to commit to, try to find a free version of the parental control app. In some cases the trial period is limited, yet it can deliver some great functionality and an option to test the service before the long term monthly/yearly commitment. However, in some cases, the free version might be limited, for example it will only show you how it monitors Facebook but not sms etc. The scope of premium parental control apps is usually much wider and will present a broader solution. The full versions usually allow you to track more than one device and gives the parents a better visibility to the online activities and whereabouts of their children.
What about Free Parental Control apps on smart devices?
Free parental control apps on mobile and smart devices will work like their counterparts on desktop computers and laptops. The best free parental control apps have mobile-friendly versions. This means that they are automatically optimized to adjust based on the screen of the device that you are using in order to ensure a seamless and intuitive user experience. Make sure to read our detailed reviews to confirm that the apps support the operating system that you wish to monitor.
Why should you consider free parental control apps?
Just like you would take a car for a test drive, the best way to decide which parental control app best fits your needs, is to first try its free version. In most of the apps you will be able to follow the online activities of your children and prevent cyberbullying almost entirely.
Free Parental Control Apps Pros & Cons
- Manage the screen time of kids
- Prevent cyber-bullying
- Track their location
- Block inappropriate content
- Prevent making unauthorized online purchases
- Many of the free versions have limited functions
- Kids may see it as an intrusion of their privacy
- Malicious tools can harm your devices
Free Parental Control Apps for Consoles and Gaming Platforms
Free parental control software can also help in limiting kids’ use of popular gaming consoles and platforms, such as PlayStation, Xbox, and Nintendo Switch. Most platforms allow you to set up some kind of parental control inside the console. The best way is to create different profiles for each user but you can also look for Family Mode and set a pin or password. Some of the apps also provide a feature to control and limit time spent online and in-game purchases.
Free parental control apps are an excellent way to manage the device usage of your kids. It is useful in monitoring the websites they visit, blocking payments, and limiting their screen time, among other things. The free apps listed above are some of the most effective in monitoring and controlling the behavior and activities of kids.
1. Bark – Monitors 30+ different social platforms, text messages, YouTube, emails and more
2. Mspy– Records all calls, incoming, outgoing, or deleted text messages, live GPS tracking
3. Qustodio – User Friendly, limits screen time, games, social media activities, blocks inappropriate content
- 30+ apps and social media monitoring
- Keyword alerts available
- Unlimited device monitoring
- Completely undetected and 100% discrete
- Location tracking and geofencing available
- Monitor calls, SMS and some social apps
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- Affordable, fully featured and with a focus on social media monitoring
- 30+ popular apps monitored
- Check your child’s browsing history
- Set to receive automatic or real-time updates
- Free version available
- Social media and SMS monitoring
- Monitor up to 5 devices
- We love the up to 6-months trial period, as well as the location tracking and web filtering.