Parental control apps have become invaluable for monitoring children’s activity on iPhones and iPads and setting reasonable limits. While Apple provides basic usage restrictions, third-party options offer more advanced oversight. These apps empower parents to block inappropriate content, track location in real time, control screen time, monitor messaging and social media, and more. In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the key capabilities of the top parental control apps to help you decide which one best fits your family’s needs.
The right app can provide the visibility and controls needed to keep children safe in today’s digital world.
1. Qustodio – Overall Best App
Qustodio is the most full-featured parental control app that provides complete oversight over your child’s device usage. It has precise location tracking that allows you to see where your child is at all times on a map, enabling you to monitor their location when they leave the house. Qustodio’s web filter blocks millions of inappropriate websites and content to keep your child safe from adult content, drugs, violence, and more.
You’re able to monitor texts and social media chats to stay on top of who they are communicating with and what is being said. Detailed activity reports provide insight into exactly how your child is spending time on their device including apps used, sites visited, and search terms. Qustodio works seamlessly across iOS, Android, Mac, PC, and Kindle devices through its user-friendly cross-platform dashboard.
- Robust web filtering blocks
- Real-time Location tracking visibility
- Activity reports for device usage
- Protects from online risks
- For iOS, Android, Mac, PC and Kindle
- Can be expensive for full feature set
- Some limitations on number of devices unless upgraded
- Occasional app glitches reported
- Free version: Limited to monitor 3 devices
- Small: Covers up to five devices for $54.95 per year
- Medium: Covers up to 10 devices for $96.95 per year
- Large: Covers up to 15 devices for $137.95 per year
2. Bark – Best for Monitoring Texts and Social Media
What makes Bark stand out is its advanced monitoring of texts, YouTube, emails, and 30+ apps for any signs of cyberbullying, depression, online predators, and other risks. It uses AI and machine learning algorithms to discreetly analyze all conversations across platforms and alert parents about any concerning activity detected.
You’ll get alerts for suggestive messages, signs of self-harm, connections with strangers, drug terms, and more. Bark also filters YouTube and video game streams for violent, sexually explicit, or age-inappropriate content. Weekly email summaries give parents greater insights into their child’s online well-being trends. With web and mobile access, Bark makes it easy to stay on top of your child’s digital life 24/7.
- AI monitoring of texts and 30+ apps for concerns
- Catches signs of cyberbullying, depression, predators
- Filters YouTube and Video games
- Weekly summary emails provide usage trends
- Web and mobile access enables
- Doesn’t have location tracking or usage limits
- Requires monthly paid subscription
- May flag benign content as problematic
- Bark Jr: $5 per month or $49 per year
- Bark Premium: $14 per month or $99 per year
3. OurPact – To Managing Multiple Devices
OurPact makes it easy for busy parents to set consistent parental controls across an unlimited number of iOS and Android devices. No matter how many phones, tablets, or laptops everyone in your family has, you can sync OurPact’s settings to all of them in seconds. Restrictions like app blocking, web filtering, location tracking and screen time schedules are quickly and seamlessly applied to every device connected to your account.
OurPact also enables geofencing to receive notifications when your child leaves or enters designated areas. With OurPact’s centralized cross-platform management, you gain visibility and control without the headaches of configuring separate apps for every device.
- Syncs restrictions across unlimited iOS and Android devices
- Enables consistent rules for all kids’ devices
- Blocks apps, filters web, sets screen time schedules
- Tracks location with geofencing alerts
- Centralized management avoids per-device config
- iOS version lacks web filtering capabilities
- Some users report app crashes
- Extra steps needed to install child device profiles
- Free version available
- OurPact Plus: $1.99 per month
- OurPact Premium: $6.99 per month
- OurPact Premium+: $9.99 per month
4. Parental Control App – Kidslox
For budget-conscious parents who still want robust parental controls, Kidslox provides a ton of functionality completely for free. You can filter and block access to millions of inappropriate websites across 20 categories like drugs, violence, adult content, and more to protect your child from harmful content. Kidslox enables you to restrict who your child can text and call by managing their contacts and SMS permissions.
The free version covers the essentials like per-app time limits, granular content filters, and scheduling screen access to cultivate healthy digital habits from the start. Upgrade to paid plans to unlock advanced features like precise real-time location tracking on a map, geofencing, remote device locking, and call & SMS logging. However, the free version still equips parents with an impressive suite of tools for monitoring device usage. For parents who don’t want to pay a premium, Kidslox delivers robust parental controls at no cost.
- Impressive set of free parental control tools
- Filters and blocks inappropriate websites and apps
- Enables contact and SMS management
- Per-app time limits and scheduling
- Paid upgrade unlocks location tracking
- Free version lacks real-time location visibility
- Requires additional setup on each child’s device
- Time limit scheduling less intuitive than some apps
- Free version with basic features
- Premium: $4.29/month or $79.99 lifetime
5. FamiSafe – Parental Control App
FamiSafe provides the best parental controls for iOS including detailed activity monitoring, content filtering, screen time management, and precise real-time location tracking. You can record your surroundings to monitor your child’s safety when they leave the house. FamiSafe blocks access to millions of inappropriate websites and apps to prevent exposure to dangers online.
Screen time can be managed across all devices to promote healthy digital habits for your child. Usage schedules and time limits can be customized down to the minute for each app. FamiSafe enables continuous tracking of your child’s location on a map and the creation of geofences for alerts when they enter or leave designated areas. For complete family safety, FamiSafe is a highly-rated all-in-one parental control app.
- Activity monitoring across devices
- Blocks millions of websites and apps
- Screen time management promotes healthy habits
- Precise real-time location tracking
- Geofencing and surround recording provides safety
- One of the most expensive parental control apps
- One-week free trial but requires subscription
- Significant battery drain reported
- 7-day free trial
- The monthly plan costs $10.99 and covers up to 5 devices.
- The quarterly plan costs $20.99 and covers up to 10 devices.
- The annual plan costs $60.99 and covers up to 10 devices.
6. Circle Parental Controls App
Circle stands out with its industry-leading content filtering capabilities across iOS, MacOS, and Windows devices. Leveraging crowdsourced ratings and algorithms, Circle blocks millions of inappropriate websites in 30+ categories including pornography, violence, gambling, and more to protect children.
Customized filters can be set per family member based on age and maturity level. Time limits, app blocking, and pausing internet access are also configurable to shape healthy digital habits. Circle prevents kids from accessing dangerous content while allowing parents to still permit certain approved sites. For powerful content filtering across all devices, Circle Parental Controls is a top choice.
- Leading content filter blocks inappropriate sites
- Customizable filtering based on age
- Works across iOS, Android, Windows and MacOS
- Limits screen time and pauses internet
- Allows whitelisting approved sites
- Lacks SMS and social media monitoring
- Requires subscription for full features
- Filtering can sometimes be overly aggressive
- Free 14-day trial
- Premium: $10/month, $29/3 months, or $89/year
7. Life360 – Live Location Tracking App
Life360 is the leading family location tracking app, providing parents with real-time visibility into their child’s location via an interactive map. Custom alerts can be set up for important places like schools, homes, and friends’ houses. Life360 goes beyond tracking with crash detection alerts, direct in-app communication with family members, and roadside assistance if your child needs help.
Parents gain valuable insights into location history to understand routines and driving habits. With advanced real-time tracking, safety features, and family coordination tools, Life360 gives parents the visibility they need to monitor their child’s location and ensure greater peace of mind.
- Real-time location tracking on a map
- Custom alerts for places important to your family
- Crash detection and roadside assistance features
- In-app communication with family members
- Location history provides insights on activities
- Battery drain since app runs passively
- Location accuracy can be off at times
- Only tracks locations, not full device usage
- Free version available
- Silver: $7.99 per month
- Gold: $14.99 per month or $99.99 per year
- Platinum: $24.99 per month or $199.99 per year
The best parental control app for your family depends on weighing factors like robustness of features, ease of use, and value. Consider your priorities whether it be location tracking, content filtering, or screen time limits, and try out the highest-rated iOS options to find the right fit. While basic time limits may be sufficient for one family, others may want social media monitoring and web filtering.
Look for an app that gives you visibility into activity and helps cultivate healthy device habits without being overly restrictive. With the right balance of insight and controls, parental apps grant peace of mind in monitoring children’s digital lives.