Why do you need parental control apps for your smartphones? Why does your kid need to have access to a smartphone or a tablet at all? Well, you can’t always tell your five-year-old kid to go play outside when you’re tired. And you cannot, for sure, tell your 12-year-old to pick all offline sources to cover their educational needs. There, you have your answer.
That said, with a smartphone in hand, anyone has access to unlimited resources and unrestricted content available online from all parts of the world. It’s not just porn you should be concerned about. There is a lot more violent and explicit content available online. Here comes in the parental control apps, but they can be complex and confusing to use, especially on iOS. We have gathered some of them for you here. Let’s go.
Best Parental Control Apps for iPhone/iPad
1. Parental Controls – iOS
Do you know, iOS has a native parental control? If you’re running the latest iOS (iOS 11 or higher), you have almost everything you need to set a mild restriction on how your child uses the phone. Apple’s Parental Control settings allow you to manage most of the apps and content on your iOS device. Thanks to the native settings, you don’t have to worry about a third party app asking permission to be your device manager by changing management profiles. Yes, most third-party parental control apps will do so.
To access the Parental Control settings on iPhone, go to ‘Settings’ > ‘Screen Time’ > ‘Content & Privacy Restrictions’. Alternatively, you can search ‘Parental Controls’ in the search bar, which is just another name for Screen Time and does not appear anywhere in the settings except search results.
Screen time lets you set the device as your own or your child’s when you first initiate the app. If you set it as a child’s device, you have the options to lock or limit specific apps and features. With a simple toggle, you can put restrictions on app purchases and management and restrict web content at different levels. You may also allow or disallow account changes, passcode changes, and mobile data changes. Other features include privacy controls on location services, contacts, calendars, photos & media, music etc. And if you think your child is smart enough to turn OFF screen time, well, you can choose to put a simple four-digit passcode for the settings
While Screen time lets you do a lot natively, there are still plenty of reasons to go for a third-party parental control app. For instance, the contact restrictions in Screen time are only for a new app that wasn’t to access the contacts. If you want that any changes made in contacts should not be without your permission, you’ll have to go for other options.
Screen Time (Free)
If Apple’s native parental control is not sufficient for you, try Kidsloz. This app has more or less the same features as the former one, but with an added bonus of scheduling restrictions on a particular device.
Like every third-party management app, Kidslox will set up a management profile that you need to allow. To setup Kidslox, create a free ID through the app itself and set up a pin that would be required to unlock the app. Once done, a new window will open where you can set up the devices you want to control through the app. It allows multiple devices to be controlled through one phone and the function is cross-platform.
Kidslox allows you to control app blocking in a unique manner by classifying the apps under heads like social, entertainment, web etc. You can choose to block one or all apps under each head. Further, the app lets you control content filtering which basically pertains to Internet access. You can additionally control the camera and Siri access as well. All the restrictions can be toggled ON/OFF from a simple slide switch that the app provides.
A downside of the app is limited restrictions even when you pay a good amount. All this money only for the ease of use in terms of scheduling daily lockdowns or even scheduling limits according to weekdays.
Download Kidslox (14 day trial / $2 – $80)
3. Qustodio Parental Control
A little different than the other apps in the list, Qustodio Parental Control sends automatic reports of phone usage via email. Another thing that seprate this app from the rest is that it lets you control your child’s device remotely using the web browser, so you don’t have to install a standalone monitoring app on your and your’s partner’s phone.
To setup Qustodio, simply download the app on your kid’s phone (link below), and create a free ID. Next, follow the on-screen instructions to create your child’s profile. It’ll support multiple devices and profiles.
Qustodio allows you to control the screen time, social activity, and web activity wherein you can put several filters. For example, like Screen Time, Qustodio gives Web filtering, limit screen time and App Controls. And not just that, it also allows you to control certain apps for which you’ll need permission from the specific app itself. To our surprise, you can even manage calls and SMS on the device as well. Be it blocking incoming and outgoing calls or viewing the content of SMS, it’s all covered.
One downside of the app is that no monitoring and settings could be done from the app interface. It will always direct you to the web-portal and while its convenient to some, others might find it a bit difficult to use web view on a mobile screen.
Download Qustodio Parental Control (3 days trial / $85 – $140 yearly)
Next up in our list is a fun way to manage parental controls on your child’s device. Not all parents want to be extremely strict with their child. To be honest, it’s not needed with every child. Parental Control App – unGlue, lets you manage the screen time and Internet access on your child’s device in an interactive manner. Here the child might earn extra screen time for odd jobs like taking the dog out for a walk.
Setting up the app could be a hustle but it’ll be worth it. For the app to function you’ll have to download two separate apps, one for parents phone and the other for child’s phone. After you input the profile info and create an ID, you can connect the two phones in a couple of ways. You may send a magic link through SMS or even simply bring the devices close and keep them on the same WiFi network. You’ll get a notification once the pairing is complete.
unGlue has the simplest interface. On the parent app, it’ll show you what your kids have been doing all day or screen time left. You can allow this time for each day separately or select to repeat the time for all days. Additionally, you’ll see usage report, time bank, and adult content controls on the screen.
On the child’s app the interface would be even more simple and it shows you entertainment time remaining on the main screen. Now here’s the fun part, your child can ask you to allow him/her more time for chores like cleaning the room, reading a book and much more. For every task, you’ll get a pop-up on parent app and you can choose to accept or deny the request. Additionally, the child may convert his daily step counts into more screen time, if you allow. And he may also carry forward and collect time saved from the allowed limit, in a time bank. Withdrawal from this time bank is, of course, is regulated by the parent app.
As mentioned before, the app lacks in the strict features like monitoring app usage and call or texts. But then not every child is a brat of that sort. I wasn’t.
Download Parental Control App – unGlue ($9 – $100 for premium)
5. DNS Override
Well, if you don’t want the hassle of locking each device separately and are only interested in blocking adult websites on your kid’s phone then Open DNS is your best bet. All you have to do is change the DNS server on your kid’s phone to that of OpenDNS IP address. To do so, go to the Settings app on your iOS device, and select Wi-Fi. Tap the small ‘i’ icon next to the name of the home network, scroll down, and tap Configure DNS. A new page will open, change the setting from Automatic to Manual and tap Add Server. Type in the following IP address 184.108.40.206 and 220.127.116.11. Go back to save changes and restart your system. If you did everything right, all adult websites like porn, gambling should be blocked on your phone.
If changing DNS settings is too much for you, you can use a third-party DNS changer app such as DNS Override (link below). Apps like these not only change DNS servers with one tap but also enforce DNS change on mobile data by creating a Virtual Private Networking (VPN). That said, you need to pay $2 extra to get this feature.
Open DNS can be managed either by the app or through a web portal wherein you can set your preferences of content blocking.
Download DNS Override ($2)
So, these are some apps that might help you protect your child from accessive use of a mobile device or explicit content. Go ahead and take a pick according to the level of strictness you think is fit for your child. But hey, we suggest not to overthink and be too harsh on that child. Only because many restrictions are available online doesn’t mean you should apply them all. After all, technology is equally important in today’s era. We wouldn’t judge your parenting skills but after reading some of the reviews from teenagers we do feel the need to let you all know that too much monitoring and restrictions might affect the mental status and growth of a child. That said, let us know your personal experiences in the comments below.