With kids spending more time online every year, and with so many paid and free apps for kids, many parents have started to realize that internet safety is a bigger concern than it has been in previous decades.
Keep reading to find the best free parental control apps along with some teaching tools to help you out.
There are a lot of companies that offer tons of tech to monitor your kid’s activity online, but are they affordable?
Is there a completely free parental control app out there?
Thankfully, the answer to these questions is yes! There are tons of free apps and freebies out there including apps that let parents monitor their kid’s activity online.
The following list explores the internet’s most recommended programs and shows you which of these tools are actually going to help protect your kids.
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What will I learn?
Completely Free Parental Control Apps
- View which apps are used and for how long
- Notifications about what apps are downloaded and block whichever ones you want
- Stop in-app purchases and monitor spending
- Get app recommendations that are hand-picked and guaranteed to be safe for kids
- Set time limits
- Lock devices
- Track physical location if they have their phone on them
2. Safe Lagoon
Available on: Android
While normally a premium program, there is a very small free version you can try. It only works on one device and offers just web filtering. It might be worth trying this program if you have only one kid and just need light internet protection.
This service shows up on many lists but upon further inspection, isn’t actually that great of a program. Features include:
- Ability monitor to five devices
- Logs history for past nine days
- Tracks keystrokes
- Cross-platform monitoring
- Works on Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows
As nice as it is that they offer services for free, it doesn’t actually do anything to help your children against online threats, and instead is just a tool to spy on them and their conversations. In rare instances this might be useful, but overall this does not teach kids or prevent them from accessing bad websites. Because of this, I especially wouldn’t recommend this service if you’re trying to protect young children.
One of the most popular virus protection services, Kaspersky, also has a parental control program. Safe Kids is all about protecting your children from bad sites and has a bunch of features for the free version of the program. It has:
- Online content filter
- Safe search for Youtube
- App usage controls
- Screen-time management
OpenDNS offers two free services which you can use to protect your children while they are online. Neither of these are technically apps, but it’s still worth listing because both services work on smart devices.
The first free service they offer, Family Shield, is preconfigured to block adult content without needing any fuss. This means you don’t need to keep track of every website and individually block bad sites. You just have to follow their easy guide to set it up and then it’s finished!
This is a free version of their service which allows custom filtering of websites and basic protection against bad sites targeting your kids. You get parental controls that protect every device in your home, instantly, as well as access to their email support.
6. Our Pact
This premium program also offers a few free features for non-paying users. You can:
- Set times when a phone is allowed to be used
- Limit app access during school hours or night
- Manually block or grant access to websites anytime
These tools are especially useful for parents who are trying to teach their kids not to spend too much time on their devices.
The free version of this program has these features:
- App usage monitoring
- Daily reports on activity
- Web history for android devices
- Social media monitoring on android devices
- Youtube watch history on android devices
You can only monitor one device per child with the free service.
- Basic SMS messages
- call monitoring (Android-only, so if you’re wanting free parental controls on Android, then you’re in luck)
- location tracking (mobile only)
- Facebook monitoring
- a mobile panic button
This is all covered on only one device.
While this isn’t much compared to other programs, it’s worth noting that Qustodio is a highly recommended program from a highly rated company. So, if you’re really interested in testing out their services, this might be a good place to start.
Premium Programs with Free Trials
Because these are just free trials, I’m not going to give a complete review of their features. Just keep in mind that these are popular programs that only offer these features for their free trial and expensive subscriptions.
As their site says, “Bark’s affordable, award-winning dashboard proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for potential safety concerns, so busy parents can save time and gain peace of mind.” Bark works on iOS, Android, and Amazon mobile devices.
Despite advertising itself as a parental control app, it’s actually much more focused on secretly spying on people. Some of their website graphics also imply it’s used for spying on significant others, which in my opinion is pretty creepy. If you really want to try it out, though, mSpy is compatible with iOS and Android devices.
A famous virus protection program that also offers parental controls. The trial only lasts seven days.
iOS program that’s a hybrid between a parental control app and a spying app. The free trial lasts fourteen days.
A common question asked online: is the FamiSafe app free? The site cleverly says the app itself is free, but you still need an account to access the parental control features. You can try the premium service for free though during a trial period.
Parental Controls vs Spying
To spy or not to spy? How you decide to parent is obviously up to you but this is a question you’ll likely find yourself asking when shopping around for Parental Control apps.
Obviously, it is a good idea to protect your kids from bad websites, especially because untrustworthy sites can end up carrying viruses and malware that could infect all of your family’s devices.
However, some sites go beyond protection and fall into spying territory. Many programs offer the ability to secretly read messages, track location, and even listen in to online calls.
What benefit is there to sneaking around to spy on your kids? How does this protect them? Now that there’s evidence to suggest that outright spying on children can cause psychological issues in the future, it would be a good idea to decide what boundaries you want to establish on yourself before selecting a program to use.
Internet Safety Teaching Tools
Parental control apps can only go so far when it comes to protecting your children while they are online. If you’re concerned about internet safety, you will also need to communicate with your kids.
To help out, here are a few free resources to help you teach them:
This isn’t a comprehensive list of free resources but they do cover the basics.
Online safety is incredibly important in this day and age. Not only do parental controls protect your children, but it also protects you because it prevents bad sites from infecting your computer! If there are any programs you’ve tried that were listed here, or if you have tried other online safety services and free parental control apps, let us know what you recommend!