iPhones might be pricey, but I’m sure your kids have been begging you to buy them one. So, you go ahead and do it.
But, that’s not the end of the story! Now, you need to install some parental controls on it. There are lots of apps out there, but not all of them are suitable for iPhone. Some of them may be focused towards Android, while others are actually better for iPhone.
I want your child to be as safe as possible. I have tried out a lot of different Parental Monitoring and Control apps to find out which is the best parental control app for iPhone. We are going to take a look at them today.
Short on time? Here are the best Parental Control apps for iPhones:
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
Built-In Parental Controls on iOS
Some parents might be wondering if it is really necessary to get an app. iOS already comes with some useful parental controls.
Apple actually already provides many of the controls you would get from an app. For instance, it lets you set content restrictions, block explicit or mature content, limit screen time, and restrict multiplayer features in games.
The latter is quite important since many multiplayer games have minimal in-game chat restrictions. iOS’s web content blocker also has a comprehensive list of adult websites that can be restricted without affecting normal browsing.
Restricting photos, location, Bluetooth sharing, or Microphone access also prevents shady apps from stealing their data. You can also set installation settings so that your child cannot install these apps. Paying for apps or micro-transactions using money in your Apple Wallet is also an important option you should restrict.
All the changes made are done through the settings app. Your child will not be able to change them back, since these settings are password protected!
However, these controls are limited to completely blocking off your child’s access to various apps. They do not really check what kind of messages your child is receiving on messaging apps. Cyberbullying, grooming, and mature content can all slip by unchecked.
There is also no location detection or geofencing in iOS’s built-in controls. So, if you want to actively monitor your kids rather than passively restricting them, a proper parental control app is a must-have.
Am I Violating my Child’s Privacy?
That’s why parental control apps for iPhone tend to be a little more limited compared to their Android counterpart. Fortunately, they still have most of the necessary monitoring tools.
However, if there is one thing that is a little more important than privacy, that is safety.
There are a lot of people with bad intentions on the internet. The World Wide Web is also an open gateway to places with adult content. A single click on a link could give them an eyeful of mature content or put them in danger in other ways.
Messaging apps, especially anonymous ones, are also chock full of people looking to take advantage of young children. You definitely do not want your child to be targeted by such predators.
You can take action if they see someone stalking your kid at home or at school. But there is no such way to take action easily on the internet when your child is determined to keep their messages private. Even asking to see their phone once in a while does not work. Some apps, like Snapchat, delete any messages after they are seen.
That is why it is essential to have parental controlling and monitoring apps. I only want you to keep your children safe and give you the means to do that. Once you install and set up one of these apps, you will find you are sleeping better and not stressing out about them all the time.
How I Chose these Apps
There are a lot of tools that parental monitoring apps have. I considered all the tools and features of the apps and figured out which ones are necessary.
First off, the app needed to have content filtering and detection abilities. While Apple has built-in screen time monitoring, Apple does not actively monitor content. As I mentioned, there is to automatic detection of adult content or dangerous messages. Nor is there any way for you to find out who is messaging your child.
Secondly, the app should have tracking tools. As parents, it's equally important to know where your kids are going. With lockdowns and social distancing measures easing up, your child may be heading out more often. They might say they are going to a friend’s place, and end up in a club.
Another factor I considered is price. Some people say there is no price too high for their child’s safety. But for others, the cost is a big concern. So, when choosing the best parental control apps for iPhone, I made sure to recommend one that offers a good value for their price.
Bark is used by millions of parents across the US. It stands out among the various parental control and monitoring apps for one reason. Bark is less of a spying app and more of a parenting app.
When you install Bark, your kid will know about it. There is no way to hide it. However, that may be a good thing. It encourages more open communication between the two of you.
Bark does not do extensive location tracking or let you read their private messages. However, it has a sophisticated artificial intelligence program built in.
Bark scans messages and conversations for harmful or dangerous content. This includes mature and adult messages and images, harassment, cyberbullying, etc. The machine-learning algorithm they use is really well trained and sophisticated.
When any of the above is detected, the parents are immediately alerted and can take action.
Here is a quick summary of Bark’s Features:
- Monitors all popular social media. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., plus niche ones like Kik and LINE.
- Automatic detection of harmful content, 24/7. Uses Artificial intelligence to recognize them and alert parents.
- Customizable screen time and web filtering.
- Kids can ‘check-in’. No active location tracking or geofencing.
- Minimal spying or reading messages directly.
- Plans start at $49 annually up to $99 for all features on unlimited devices.
* Most affordable, starting at $5 a month.
MSpy is the most in-depth child monitoring app out there. The name may have ‘spy’ in it, but as parents, we are doing it for a good cause.
In this app, it is easy to set up and monitor all your child’s social media accounts. iPhones typically restrict a lot of potential monitoring. For example, it is not possible to monitor Snapchat on iPhone. However, many other apps can still be monitored and MSpy is a great way to do it.
MSpy also has a keylogger for iPhone. It can’t be used without jailbreaking the phone first. Jailbreaking is a slightly complicated process and causes the phone to stop getting updates, so I recommend you think about whether if it is necessary to use the keylogger.
All the details of your child’s activities are presented to you on a dashboard. It also includes analytics. MSpy can detect patterns you might not have noticed yourself.
- Can monitor calls and get contact data without jailbreaking.
- Active GPS tracking and geofencing.
- Control apps and limit how long they can be used.
- If jailbroken, records the screen and key presses
- A lot of the advanced features are locked behind having to jailbreak the phone.
- Can be installed and updated remotely through iCloud.
* Grab an additional 20% discount with coupon code: PARENTALCONTROL
Qustodio is a very flexible monitoring app. It is used by not just parents, but also schools and businesses. It includes tools for tracking your child, as well as viewing their messages and photos.
On iPhone, iPad and other iOS devices, Qustodio has screen time and web filtering, social media monitoring and location tracking. It can be used to limit the time an app is used for.
Qustodio also gets pretty deep into Facebook monitoring. Using Qustodio, you could log into your child’s account and check their messages and feed directly. The trade off is that it does not monitor other apps as effectively.
- Strong and customizable settings for screen time limits and web filtering.
- Monitors Facebook, Instagram, and a few others extremely well.
- Effective location history tracking and geofencing.
- Limited ability to monitor social media outside Facebook and other popular ones.
- No way to intercept phone calls on iOS, as it is disallowed by Apple.
- Cost ranges from $55 to $97 annually depending on how many devices to protect.
* Use coupon code “PARENTAL10” for an additional 10% discount on Qustodio.
Famisafe is a broad parental monitoring app with a lot of features. It is one of the best apps for those parents who wants to monitor different aspects of their child’s lives to keep them safe.
In terms of location information, Famisafe gives you the child’s exact location and their location history. Geofencing can be used to alert you when they leave a predefined safe location.
Famisafe also automatically detects explicit and harmful content. This includes dangerous words and phrases, mature content, cyberbullying, etc.
While Famisafe does not appear to have many standout features, it is a great option due to how no features are left out. It does get a little expensive to cover a large number of devices.
- Includes location tracking, history and geofencing.
- Tracks calls and messages to build an analytical profile and activity report.
- Smart scheduling for screen time and web filtering.
- Detection of explicit and mature photos and videos saved on phone.
- Automatic detection of mature websites is not very accurate
- Not available for PCs or Macs, only phones.
While it is not a fully-fledged monitoring and control app, it is worth a mention.
Life360 has the best and most accurate geolocation functions. The Geolocation can be used to stay up to date with your child’s location at all times. It can alert you when your child arrives and leaves from a particular location.
In driving mode, it can detect the speed of the vehicle and alert you if your kid is travelling too fast or in a dangerous area.
It also monitors a few other details, such as battery life. It can send out emergency alerts too.
While Life360 is a little limited when it comes to monitoring everything, it is the best location tracking app out there. I suggest you use it in combination with one of the other apps.
- Very accurate location tracking in real-time.
- Detection of driving speed and safety.
- Emergency alerts with location and directions.
- Doesn’t have many other features and needs to be combined with other apps.
- Relatively cheap but the price adds up.
As parents, there is nothing more important than the safety of our kids. It’s a dangerous world out there. They are often too immature to recognize all the risks and dangers, so it is up to us to educate them and watch over them.
I have told you about the best parental control apps for iPhones. Now, it is up to you to decide which app you want to use. Qustodio, Famisafe, and MSpy are great for closely monitoring everything your child does. However, they require more time investment on your part.
On the other hand, Life360 does not do everything other apps do, but it is cheap and can be very useful when combined with the built-in parental restrictions and controls.
Meanwhile, Bark is designed to be a collaboration between parent and child. Unlike the close monitoring apps, it doesn’t stay a secret. It encourages you to cooperate together for safety and security.
Ultimately, the choice is yours. Any one of these apps, when put on your kid’s iPhone, will keep them safer!
Below is our list of the top rated and best parental control apps for iPhone for 2021. If you need to control an iPad visit our recommendation for the best parental control app for iPad.