The Best Parental Control Apps 2024

Keep your kids safe online with the best parental control app for your family. We review the security features of five popular apps like screen time management, web content filtering, location tracking, and more.
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Best Overall

4.7
Editorial Rating
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On Bark Premium's website

Bark Premium
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Best for Antivirus Bundle

4.5
Editorial Rating
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On Norton Family's website

Norton Family
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Best for Bundled Identity Protection

4.0
Editorial Rating
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On Aura Parental Controls's website

Aura Parental Controls
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Best Budget App for Android Devices

4.3
Editorial Rating
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On Kaspersky Safe Kids's website

Kaspersky Safe Kids
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Best Basic Coverage for Fewer Devices

4.0
Editorial Rating
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On Net Nanny's website

Net Nanny
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In our 2023 survey of how parents feel about the impact of social media and the internet, half of the parents surveyed expressed concerns about the internet's impact on children. That has led some parents to opt for parental control apps.

For the parent who wants a more collaborative parental control application that monitors activities like texting, web searches, and social media, it’s hard to beat Bark. Its software helps you create screen time schedules, tracks your child’s location, and packs a lot of other features, starting at only $5.00/mo.

Norton Family is a reputable parental control app more suitable for younger children. From our testing, however, we found the app isn’t too hard to delete, meaning teenagers might find ways around the app management. The pricing for Norton Family starts at $49.99/first yr, but it comes standard if you buy Norton 360 Deluxe or Norton 360 Deluxe with Lifelock.

Other popular monitoring services have important features you may be looking for, so keep reading for the best parental control apps on the market today.

In this article
The best parental control app
Bark: Best overall
Norton Family: Best for antivirus bundle
Aura Parental Controls: Best for bundled identity protection
Kaspersky Safe Kids: Best budget app for Android devices
Net Nanny: Best basic coverage for fewer devices
Honorable mentions
How we tested the best parental control apps
How to choose the best parental control apps
Best parental control apps FAQs
Bottom line: Protect your kids with confidence

The best parental control app

We know not every parent needs the same features to help protect their children online. Some may need social media monitoring for TikTok or Facebook, while others want options like location tracking and coverage for iOS and Android devices alike. No matter what you’re searching for, we have options to fit almost any budget and need.

Top 5 parental control apps compared

Best Overall







Starting price $5.00/mo $49.99/first yr $8.33/mo (billed annually) $20.99/first yr $3.33/mo (billed annually)
Free version
Max number of protected devices Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited Unlimited (kids’) or 10 (family) 20
Web filtering
Screen time limits
Location tracking
Details View Plans

Read Bark Review

View Plans

Read Norton Family Review

View Plans

Read Aura Parental Controls Review

View Plans

Read Kaspersky Safe Kids Review

View Plans

Read Net Nanny Review

Bark: Best overall

Who it’s best for

Bark is the best control app for parents who want plenty of features at a reasonable price. Whether you’re concerned about cyberbullying or online predators, the Bark parental control app has alerts to make you feel more at ease. With multiple pricing options, Bark has a plan to fit almost any budget. No matter which plan you choose, you’ll get location alerts, screen time management, and website filtering.

With the Bark Premium and Bark Phone plans, you get text, app, and social media monitoring. Is your child spending too much time on Discord discussing gaming? Worried about the content your child may be viewing? With Bark, you’ll have unlimited activity scanning and monitoring for over 30 social media apps. This also may be the best parental control app for having productive conversations with your children about inappropriate content. It includes tips from child psychologists to tackle those hard discussions.

Bark sends out weekly reports summarizing your child's activity over the last 7 days.
Bark monitoring insights dashboard

What we liked

Most parental control apps have some type of monitoring available. We liked that Bark Premium has unlimited device monitoring and that it includes protection for over 30 apps and websites. Parents can manage the settings they want to allow for their children. If you want to schedule screen time, you can. If you’d like to block the internet when little Johnny needs to get some homework finished, you can do that too.

With Bark’s location tracking, you can request a check-in from your child whenever you want. These notifications are immediate, which can give you more peace of mind knowing your child is safe. It’s geo-tracking at your fingertips. You also get location alerts that show a timeline of your child’s recent activity. We liked how Bark includes expert advice from child psychologists to help you better communicate with your kids too. That alone could make it one of the best parental control apps on the market.

What we didn’t like

Although setting up the Bark account wasn’t difficult, we did note that you’ll need to connect each device you want to monitor. That took quite a bit of time, so it’s worth keeping in mind if you have numerous devices.

Another thing we didn’t like is that although Bark’s control app monitors emails, it doesn’t scan images within them. That means that if someone sends an inappropriate photo through email, it’s likely you won’t get an alert. We weren’t crazy about the activity reports either since these are more of a summary of past events. You will receive them once per week, so it may be better and more efficient to view the parent dashboard.

Bark features

Price $5.00–$39.00/mo
Number of devices supported Unlimited
Website filtering Yes
Social media monitoring Yes
Text message monitoring Yes
Email monitoring Yes
Screen time management Yes
Supported devices Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, Chromebooks, Amazon Fire
Learn more Get Bark

Read Bark Review

Norton Family: Best for antivirus bundle

Who it’s best for

Norton Family is a good parental control app when you need fewer features and are more concerned with location tracking and screen time management. This is the best parental control app if you want an antivirus bundle. When you buy Norton 360 Deluxe or Norton 360 with LifeLock, you get Norton Family included. The Norton Family app shows you how much time your kids spend on their phones or tablets (so you can set screen time limits), and it gives you a list of YouTube videos watched. If you want a parent portal that’s easy to use, Norton Family has a dashboard to manage security protection.

Norton Family Parental Control Location Tracking
Norton Family location tracking feature

What we liked

We like that you can set the restriction levels depending on what you want to allow. You can change the content filters based on your child’s age or maturity. If you have an Android device, you can monitor which apps your child downloads. Norton Family also allows you to set screen time limits, locking out specific phone features during the times you set. We like how the school and sleep schedules are preloaded for convenience.

We think the best parental control apps include location tracking, and Norton Family is no exception. Once you enable the permissions, you can get real-time updates of your child’s location. You can also search the locations your child has visited based on time and date, which can be beneficial for parents with kids who have activities away from home, like sports or plays.

What we didn’t like

Although Norton Family will alert you to the apps viewed on an Android device, it would be nice to have this feature for iOS, too. Many kids use iPhones, so we aren’t thrilled that parents won’t be able to access those features for iOS.

We also didn’t like not having text and email monitoring. With social media being so prevalent in the lives of most kids today, it would be good for Norton to include social media management in the future. That means if your child gets bullied online, the current control app likely won’t catch it.

Norton Family features

Price $49.99/first yr
Number of devices supported Unlimited
Website filtering Yes
Social media monitoring No
Text message monitoring No
Email monitoring No
Screen time management Yes
Supported devices Windows, Android, iOS
Learn more Get Norton Family

Read Norton Family Review

Aura Parental Controls: Best for bundled identity protection

Who it’s best for

Aura Parental Controls is best for those parents who need unlimited device support without all the bells and whistles that come with other parental control apps. Aura is also perfect for parents who want bundled device and identity theft protection. 

You can use Aura Parental Controls on your iPhone, Android, or iPad, but it isn’t available for other devices. If you’re looking for website filtering, screen time management, and cyberbullying alerts, Aura may be the one you need.

Aura Parental Controls' screen time management feature with settings for online activity, online history, content filtering, time limits, safe search, and devices.
Aura Parental Controls dashboard

What we liked

Aura Parental Controls is a straightforward application powered by Circle, an award-winning parental control tech. It gives parents a way to monitor and set screen time limits. We liked that you can set age-appropriate restrictions so your child doesn’t view inappropriate websites. 

A standout feature that Aura has is the way it uses your child’s birthday to filter internet content. When we tested it, Aura indeed blocked some of the more adult websites.

The screen time management feature allows parents to set limitations on the time children spend online. As a bonus, you can add more screen time as a reward. If you want to discuss appropriate and responsible screen time limits with your child, you can view those activity reports together. We think that is a good way to have a conversation about internet usage with kids because it gives them a clear view of how much time they spend online. 

Another option we’d be remiss to not mention is the Safe Gaming feature. This alerts parents of cyberbullying and monitors gaming activity. Aura includes Dark Web Monitoring and Data Breach Alerts to help keep your information more secure and will notify you if your data has been used.

Although the high price point isn’t ideal, you get a lot more with Aura. Unlike other exclusive parental control apps, Aura provides child identity theft protection, SSN monitoring, antivirus software, a VPN, a password manager, an ad blocker, and much more.

What we didn’t like

Aura doesn’t have all the features most parental control apps might include. For one, you won’t get location tracking, which is what many parents want so they’ll know their child is safe and accounted for at any time. Aura doesn’t come with social media monitoring, either. A workaround is to view how much time your child spends on all apps, but that doesn’t seem efficient for busy parents.

Another issue we found is that Aura doesn’t monitor texts or emails. Parents have no way to track incoming or outgoing mail and messages. We also didn’t find the portal accessible or user-friendly from the Safari browser. We had to switch to Chrome for that part, even though the payment options and main Aura website worked fine on Safari.

Aura Parental Controls features

Price $8.33-$20.00/mo
Number of devices supported Unlimited
Website filtering Yes
Social media monitoring No
Text message monitoring No
Email monitoring No
Screen time management Yes
Supported devices iOS and Android
Learn more Get Aura Parental Controls

Read Aura Parental Controls Review

Kaspersky Safe Kids: Best budget app for Android devices

Who it’s best for

If you’re on a budget and want a parental control app to help monitor your child’s internet use, Kaspersky Safe Kids is the least expensive one here. It still packs a punch with features like website filtering, social media monitoring, and text message monitoring for Android devices. When you want to set screen time limits, you can manage that too.

Screenshot of Kaspersky Safe Kids geo-fencing and allowed areas features

What we liked

We like that Kaspersky Safe Kids has social media monitoring and a child locator feature. These are options most parents want from a parental control app since it gives you more security in knowing where your child is at all times.

The price is another factor we like with the standalone parental control app starting at $20.99/first yr. That makes it a great option for parents on a budget. You can also set screen time limits to teach your kids responsible internet use. The activity reporting allows parents to filter the content kids can view online, putting more control in the hands of adults rather than children.

What we didn’t like

One thing we noticed is that if you want to have more features with the Safe Kids Family Protection plan, you’ll pay $74.99/first yr, but then it doubles the next year. We aren’t wild about the price increase after one year of use.

Also, like with some of the other parental control apps, if you use iOS, you won’t get access to all of the features. Unfortunately, if you want to monitor your child’s text messages, that isn’t offered with this software.

Kaspersky Safe Kids features

Price $20.99-$74.99/first yr
Number of devices supported Unlimited (kids’) or 10 (family)
Website filtering Yes
Social media monitoring Yes
Text message monitoring Yes, iOS excluded
Email monitoring No
Screen time management Yes
Supported devices Windows, macOS, Android, iOS
Learn more Get Kaspersky Safe Kids

Read Kaspersky Safe Kids Review

Net Nanny: Best basic coverage for fewer devices

Who it’s best for

Net Nanny is good for the parent who needs limited device protection, as the best value Family Protection Pass only covers 20 devices max. If what you’re looking for is primarily simple location tracking features and screen time management, Net Nanny may work for you. This is what we would deem a decent but not spectacular parental control app.

Screenshot of Net Nanny Family Feed overview screen

What we liked

We liked that you can block specific websites with Net Nanny. If there’s a site you think is inappropriate or not one you want your child to browse, you can filter that out. We think the customization feature is important in a control app.

Another feature we liked is the Net Nanny App Advisor. This parent portal feature gives you a peek into which applications are popular and which ones may be harmful. You can even browse by rating to see where the websites stand. Your child can request access to a website, and as the parent, you can approve or decline that access. That option helps keep your children from viewing dangerous sites.

What we didn’t like

The prices seem a bit high for the device coverage. Since many parents want protection for mobile devices, the basic Net Nanny plan won’t work as it is only for one desktop. The next tier is $4.58/mo (billed annually) and covers just 5 devices.

If you need more in-depth management, like email and text monitoring, you won’t find that here. We didn’t like not having access to check either of those, as we know most kids communicate through messaging. The installation for Net Nanny isn’t user-friendly either, so it can cause some frustration from the start. In our testing, we found that we had to disable Safari for iOS before we could install the Net Nanny mobile device management profile. We understand that some parents may not want the hassle and will choose another parental control app for more ease of installation.

Net Nanny features

Price $3.33-$7.50/mo (billed annually)
Number of devices supported 1, 5, or 20
Website filtering Yes
Social media monitoring Yes
Text message monitoring No
Email monitoring No
Screen time management Yes
Supported devices Windows, macOS, iOS
Learn more Get Net Nanny

Read Net Nanny Review

Honorable mentions

These are some of the best parental control apps we’ve reviewed, but we know everyone has different needs and preferences. For example, you may be looking for more features or want complete online security protection that comes with an antivirus. We have a few honorable mentions that might fit the bill for everything you need or want in a control app.

  • McAfee Total Protection: McAfee offers premium security with features like a firewall, file shredder, and parental controls. McAfee’s parental controls can help you manage screen time and limit content, and the app even sends location-based alerts so that you know when your child arrives or leaves a location.

    Get McAfee | Read Our McAfee Total Protection Review

  • Bitdefender Internet Security: Bitdefender is great for Windows and Android users who want simple interface tools and a solid parental control app. Once the installation is complete, the interface is organized well and easy to navigate. Bitdefender’s parental control app offers screen time management, child location tracking, and scheduled email reports of your child’s online activities.

    Get Bitdefender | Read Our Bitdefender Internet Security Review

  • Qustodio: Qustodio is good for parents on a budget who want to keep a watchful eye on their child’s online activity. With Qustodio’s basic plan, you can block unwanted games and apps, limit online usage, monitor your child’s location, receive activity reports, and more. If deciding between Bark vs. Qustodio, you’ll notice this one won’t have as many robust features but costs a little less.

    Read Our Qustodio Review

How we tested the best parental control apps

To bring our readers the most comprehensive information possible, we test the software to find the best parental control apps available. Features are reviewed to see how they stack up in actual, real-life environments. Once we get all the data, we compare it with the other products tested to find the best of the best.

How to choose the best parental control apps

To keep your children safe online, there are features you should look for that make all the difference. To make the most informed decision, you’ll want to have some or all of these options included in the parental control software you choose. Here are some questions you may want to ask when looking for a parental control app.

  • What is the cost? Price matters, and if you can get another comparable product for less, you’ll want to know.
  • Is it simple to install and set up? Some products are easier to install than others. For instance, Bitdefender comes in two parts and can be a bit cumbersome to get started.
  • How many simultaneous devices does it cover? Some control apps support unlimited devices, but others may be limited to as few as 20, like Net Nanny.
  • Does it have customization options? Some apps have ad/block lists for websites.
  • Will it include additional features, like smart gaming or a virtual private network (VPN)?
  • What kind of content can the app block? Some parental control apps allow you to view the content, but not all of them will block everything.
  • Does it include location tracking? One of the most important aspects for many parents is being able to know their child’s location at all times.
  • How detailed are the activity reports? Is it easier to check the dashboard?
  • Does the app offer the same features on all operating systems? Some products are more geared toward Android, and some include support for iOS.

Best parental control apps FAQs


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What is the best app for parental control?

The best parental control software may be different for everyone. It depends on the features you want and the operating system used. The ones in this article have been tested and are some of the best apps we have found for parents concerned with internet activity.


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Are parental control apps safe?

Parental control apps are generally safe, although some products will collect data. For instance, Bark collects information such as your email address, payment information, IP address, browser used, and operating system.


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What app allows me to read my child’s text messages?

Different apps allow you to read your child’s text messages. Bark Phone and Bark Premium, for instance, both monitor text messages.


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Can I see everything on my child’s phone with an app?

Many parental control apps allow you to see everything on your child’s phone. You can monitor texts, emails, and apps that are visited.


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Is Bark or Norton Family better?

Deciding whether Bark or Norton Family is better is a matter of opinion and what you want from a service. If you only want a parental control app, Bark may offer you the features you’re looking for at a good price. If you’re more concerned with screen time management and want to make sure your child stays safe on social media, Norton Family is a good app too.


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Is there a completely free parental control app?

There are completely free parental control apps, like the free version of Kaspersky Safe Kids, but you won’t get all the features of the paid plans. With the Kaspersky Safe Kids free plan, you get a GPS tracker but not much else.

Bottom line: Protect your kids with confidence

Bark offers plenty of value and is packed with features like unlimited device coverage and customized screen time limits. Norton Family gives you an antivirus bundle option that you and the kids can enjoy. Aura Parental Controls won’t give you text and email management, but you’ll get screen time management and content filtering. Kaspersky Safe Kids and Net Nanny both have location tracking and web filtering and are the lowest cost of all the parental control apps in this article.

When you’re ready to set up parental controls on iOS or Android, we’re sure one of these applications will offer the features you want most.

The internet has a lot to offer, but not all of it is good. The right parental control app will give you peace of mind, whether your child is at a sports event or browsing the web at home.

5 best parental control apps

Starting price Best for Learn more


$5.00/mo Best overall View Plans

Read Bark Review



$49.99/first yr Best for antivirus bundle View Plans

Read Norton Family Review



Aura Family for $25.00/mo (billed annually) billed annually Best for bundled identity protection View Plans

Read Aura Parental Controls Review



$20.99/first yr Best budget app for Android devices View Plans

Read Kaspersky Safe Kids Review



$3.33/mo (billed annually) Best basic coverage for fewer devices View Plans

Read Net Nanny Review

4.7
Editorial Rating
Learn More
On Bark Premium's website
Bark Premium
  • Machine learning catches the latest slang and keywords
  • Screens content across 19 categories
  • Activity can only be viewed if it’s triggered
Author Details
Patti Croft is a seasoned writer who specializes in all things technology. She holds a B.S. in Computer Science and carries a wealth of hands-on experience thanks to her background as a technical analyst and security specialist.