Qustodio has software for Macs, PCs. This service's limited location tracking works on both iOS and Android, although there's no geofencing option. You can manage only a few dozen apps on iOS, as opposed to all Android apps. Web filtering is more powerful on iOS, while monitoring texts and calls works on only Android. Read our full Qustodio review. Once the most powerful parental-control app for iPhones, OurPact was hobbled by an Apple rule change in late that nixed the service's geofencing, location tracking and time allowances on iOS.
At its peak, OurPact was the only parental-control app we tested that could manage or block any iOS app. It can still do so for Android devices. OurPact also gets kids involved in managing the daily allowance of screen time that you give them, and it does a good job of scheduling. Yet, its website filtering simply blocks porn, and it can't monitor calls or texts at all, even on Android. However, you can block messaging apps, and OurPact remains a joy to use.
Read our full OurPact review. Screen Time does an excellent job of managing and scheduling kids' device access. Unfortunately, this app doesn't do a whole lot else on iOS devices.
And it has baffling upcharges for location tracking and web filters, both of which come standard with other parental-control apps. We liked how this service doles out additional screen time for chores or good deeds. But you can't block apps on iOS, and there's no geofencing or call or text monitoring at all.
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Read our full Screen Time review. ESET Parental Control for Android sticks to one platform, but it doesn't shine even there, lacking text-message- and call-monitoring features.
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The free app management and time management do work well, as do the paid location tracking and geofencing. That's because Kaspersky Safe Kids does more at half the price. MMGuardian has nearly every parental-control feature you might want, especially on Android, but the user interfaces are outdated and frustrating. Both the iOS and Android apps offer location tracking and excellent web filtering. App management is strong on Android but primitive on iOS. On Android, the parent can read every text and block any number. Time management and screen-time scheduling are also Android-only.
Read our full MMGuardian review. Evaluation Criteria We focused on apps that emphasize proactively setting up filters and limits before your child uses the phone rather than merely tracking activities after the fact. We took the following criteria into account:. We tested each app on every platform it supported twice, from installation to testing to uninstall. We typically monitored activity from the MacBook Pro, but if apps offered control from a smartphone app, we tested those features as well.
Calls and texts for monitoring purposes were made from a secondary Android device.
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Android parental-control apps remain more robust than their iOS counterparts in most cases, especially with regard to call and text monitoring. But new additions to iOS have closed the gap somewhat. We will note areas in which there are discrepancies in the functionality offered on each platform, but we are not providing distinct ratings and reviews for the iOS versus the Android version of each app.
Parental-control apps for mobile devices work best when they're part of a comprehensive approach to teaching your kids about behaving responsibly online. For that reason, we avoided testing apps that can run in stealth mode on a child's phone.
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There are many products that tout this capability, but some people use such services to spy not on their children, but on their spouses or on other adults, which is illegal in most U. In addition, we did not consider apps that offered the ability to record a child's phone conversations. State laws vary on the legality of recording someone without his or her consent, and no states allow the recording of phone calls without either party's consent.
Norton, Kaspersky and ESET, which has its own parental-control app for Android, also make antivirus software, and many antivirus products have parental controls built in. To see how well those controls stack up against the stand-alone services, please read The Best and Worst Antivirus Software for Parents.
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Tom's Guide. Jump To:. Best overall and great for iOS Top pick for Android Great parental control bargain Best multiplatform support Gets kids involved Does one thing very well Leaves room for improvement Full-featured but frustrating. In the upper-right corner, touch the " Information " icon, which looks like a lowercase I. Tap, " Send My Current Location " to instantly send a map of the phone's current location, one time only. Or just below it, " Share My Location ," which will continuously send the phone's location to your Apple gadget.
To see the phone's location, go to your Messages app and find your child's contact. Tap the " Information " icon and a map will display the phone's location. Note that your child can easily turn off this location sharing anytime, but perhaps a firm conversation about the consequences of doing so might encourage him or her to leave it on.
Note : These features will also work for your Apple gadgets that are running older iOS versions. To get around legal problems, Phone Tracker puts an icon on the gadget's home screen and fires off a notification every 12 hours telling the person they're being monitored. That's actually a good thing in most situations, but kids are resourceful.
If they know they're being watched, they can find ways around the app. So, either tell them you're putting it on there and you expect them to leave it alone or go for a paid app that's completely hidden. To install the app, you will need access to the phone or tablet.
Tap or click here to download the free app for iOS. Tap or click here to download the free app for Android. How to turn off Google location tracking for real Google can pull off some impressive tricks, but the trade-off is that the tech giant has to know a lot about you.
And now, new findings indicate that the company still records your movements even when you tell it not to. Now, that's creepy, right?
Tap or click here to find out how to keep Google off your tail for good. Please share this information with everyone.
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The app is ostensibly intended for legal monitoring use, and there are certainly legitimate reasons to install the software. Companies, for instance, could inform their employees that they’re surveilling company phones for security purposes