Innovation and inspiration for modern parents.
Get inspiring ideas, parent hacks and tips about tech, life and your child's future.

Nearly there!

Just check your inbox for an email from Quib.ly with a link to complete your registration.

If you don't see it, please check your junk folder.

Please could someone tell me what is the best parental control software available?

This is to support children aged 8 -18 with an intellectual disability. What is the best parental control software available for: - free, - reasonable cost - app for iPhone / iPad - app for Android ? Many thanks, Ken

Seeking Experience Safety & Privacy , Apps , Social Media 3 years ago
Ken Hodgins
Ken Hodgins

6 experts and 5 parents have answered

expert answer
Rebecca Avery expert
Rebecca Avery Provide e-Safety guidance GB

Hi Ken,

I'm afraid I can't really suggest the best parental control as they really do vary hugely according to different devices, what you want the control to be able to do (e.g. filter control, apply time restrictions etc), and may not always be appropriate as their functionality and usefulness will depend on devices used as well as the age and ability of the children. Parents/carers should research the parental control software to use carefully and should select the package which they feel is most suitable to them, their child and their technology and I’ll provide some links below which might be helpful with this.

Typically I would suggest that parents apply parental controls directly to the device and also, where possible, to the home internet connection and many parental control packages offer this function.

I personally really like the guides produced by the UK Safer Internet Centre as they have been created to introduce some of the most popular devices, highlight the safety tools available and empower parents with the knowledge needed to support their children to use technology safely and responsibly. www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/parents-and-carers/parents-guide-to-technology

The UK Safer Internet Centre also have guides for parents about how to use the free parental controls available from the four main Internet Service Providers: www.saferinternet.org.uk/advice-and-resources/parents-and-carers/parental-controls

Which? Also has some helpful guidance here: www.which.co.uk/baby-and-child/child-safety-at-home/guides/parental-control-software/

Computer advice also have some advice specific to tablet computers: www.computeractive.co.uk/ca/feature/2242837/childproof-your-tablet-computer

Adults must also be aware that no filtering, parental control or monitoring system is 100% effective and so must not be used in isolation to protect children. Education around safe online use and behaviour is essential as some children will become secretive about their activity (e.g. use a different device) and then do not access support when there is a problem. It is important that adults discuss online boundaries and what to do if they are concerned and are clear with children exactly what parental control and monitoring is taking place to develop a transparent and open communication channel. Children should always be appropriately supervised when using technology, according to their age and ability and this will vary from child to child.

4 Reply ( 2 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
James Diamond expert
James Diamond E-Safety & Safeguarding Trainer Leicester, GB
E-safety expert

Rebecca has pretty much summed up everything I could hope to say on this issue. I cannot stress enough that with any restrictions on technology and internet use, it is important to speak to your child about why you have set these restrictions, and the risks associated with their online behaviour. Hopefully you will feel comfortable over time reducing the amount of restrictions in place as your child gets older and shows a knowledge and responsibility about their online behaviour.

Having done some research in this area, and had a little play with some software and apps, I would say that with regard to Apple iOS, I'll repeat something I've written for Quibly before (but can't find to link to right now!). This may be slightly different on the latest version of iOS.

"Apple have built parental controls into the iOS of iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touches in the form of ‘Restrictions’.

Firstly, you need to access the Restrictions menu by selecting the SETTINGS icon, choosing GENERAL, and finally RESTRICTIONS.

Next, select ‘Enable Restrictions’ and enter a passcode. Do not lose this passcode, as it will be required to make future changes to your settings and you will be unable to retrieve it without wiping the phone. Even more importantly, don’t use a code that your child will easily guess.

With your passcode you will be able to disable a number of different applications and features, as appropriate:

  • Safari – prevent access to the internet
  • YouTube - prevent access to the YouTube application (although the YouTube website can still be accessed via Safari if this is not already disabled)
  • Camera – disable the taking of photos and videos
  • FaceTime – block access to this video chat application
  • iTunes – prevent ability to buy music/apps/videos via the iTunes store (You can also set restrictions on the type of content available in iTunes, based on age rating, and the type of content)
  • Ping – block access to Apple’s music-based social network
  • Installing apps
  • Deleting apps
  • Multiplayer games in Game Center
  • Adding friends in Game Center

You can also prevent changes being made to the following settings:

Location Services – stops the device sharing its location using GPS or other connection methods

Accounts - disables changes to Mail, Contacts, Calendars, iCloud, and Twitter accounts"

As for Android, I wrote something similar as well...

"However, parental controls are not currently built into the Android OS and you will have to jump through a few hoops to make the phone as safe as possible for your child.

You should start by blocking access to inappropriate apps in the Google Play store. Open the store, then press the phone’s MENU button, and choose SETTINGS. Under the heading USER CONTROLS, choose CONTENT FILTERING, and on the next screen deselect all the maturity levels that you don’t wish your child to be able to download. You will need to set up a PIN if you haven’t already done so – and this PIN will be the only way to make changes to these settings.

To protect your child further you will need to install specific apps that will lock down the more risky features of the phone. One such app is Mobicip (http://content.mobicip.com/content/how-setup-parental-controls-android) which when installed will allow you to vary the filtering of content your child is able to view on the phone’s browser. A more comprehensive solution is offered by another free app called Kytephone (https://www.kytephone.com/) which allows you to place a child-safe ‘skin’ over the phone’s native Android OS and gives parents a lot more control over the phone’s features. Via the parental control dashboard you can restrict who can call your child, who your child can call, block access to certain apps, view all photos they have taken on the phone, and even track your child’s whereabouts."

2 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Rob Zidar expert
Rob Zidar Co-Founder, ThirdParent US
E-safety expert

No disrespect Leonie but kids over the age of 12 can't be banned from using a browser. It just isn't practical.

2 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Leonie Smith expert
Leonie Smith Cyber safety consultant AU
E-safety expert

the built in parental controls are best. They are free. If you set them up correctly they are good enough. Avoid Facebook, and browsers.

0 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Paul Durham
Paul Durham Am a Dad Port Elizabeth, South Africa

Hi Ken, Rebecca, et. al.

My kids use Windows 7 on their desktops. I have found K9 (http://www1.k9webprotection.com/) to be a fantastic product, and its free. I have used it for over a year and it really works effectively, giving me a full history of Internet activity, and the option to have activity emailed to me. It's not specific to browser so is effective for all browsers and applications on a Windows PC. There is granular control, temporary authorised bypass of restrictions, etc.

Looking at their website I see they now also support MAC, iOS (iPad/iPhone), and Android. Its work checking out.

Good luck, Paul.

0 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Seb James
Seb James Developer of logmykidsoff.com Sheffield

It would be useful to know what aspect of parental control Ken needs for the children he's caring for.

My needs for parental control software are all about managing the transition from screentime to some other activity. My kids find that transition really hard and we find it beneficial to have their session end after a set period of time, with a nice set of audio/visual warnings in the run-up to help manage their anxiety.

The built-in parental controls on Windows don't actually end the session, as far as I know. I was interested to read James Diamond's post about iOS/Android controls - the lack of the concept of a "user session" in those devices make this sort of "end the session" parental control more difficult. Of course, closing down the internet connection has nearly the same effect for most kids!

In the end, for our own needs on our Ubuntu home computers, I wrote a script to implement a timer/logout. This isn't very useful information for Ken, I realise!

0 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Gary Hough
Gary Hough Regulatory Manager & Post Punk GB

Hi Ken

Before you buy anything check out OpenDNS here http://www.opendns.com/parental-controls it works very well indeed.

0 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
expert answer
Spencer Whitman expert
Spencer Whitman CEO and CoFounder Pittsburgh, US
Technology expert

For iOS parental controls (iPhone, iPad, and iPod Touch) you should check out our app called AppCertain. It alerts you whenever a new app is downloaded and now has Curfew Mode which is a remote on/off switch that can turn all the non-essential apps on or off.

We recommend installing AppCertain, disabling Safari, then installing and a child safe web browser.

0 Reply ( 1 ) Share:
Experience 3 years ago
Charlie Salter
Charlie Salter London, United Kingdom

Hi Ken

I have two kids aged 12 and 14 and use https://www.mobiflock.com which is working really well. It monitors and enables/disables apps (of your choosing), filters browsers by site as well as category as well as records text messages as standard plus adds a geo-location feature allowing you to both track phone as well your child should you need (I have a 14 year old daughter so suits that well). I also liked the curfew features and it works on Apple and Android devices so pretty adaptable. I've got it for both my children now on both their phones and tablets and it's given all of us all piece of mind very quickly.

0 Reply Share:
Experience 3 years ago
0 Reply Share:
Fact 4 months ago
Robby Fine
Robby Fine

I suggest that you try this parental control software - https://www.refog.com/parental-monitoring-software.html . I've been using it for over a year, and should admit, it's effective and very easy to use. Let you kids be in safety!

0 Reply Share:
Experience 3 months ago

Did you find the answer you were looking for? ×

yes no