Qustodio Review 2023: Is This Parental Control App Right for Your Family?

Qustodio is affordable with a wide range of features, but it falls short when it comes to security and privacy.
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Qustodio
  • Parental control app with lots of features
  • User-friendly, clean interface
  • Concerns surrounding data privacy
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If you’re in the market for a parental control app, you can opt for Qustodio, which offers reasonable pricing and a decent range of features. However, Qustodio has been found to have security vulnerabilities and privacy concerns, which could put your child's phone or data at risk. To avoid such risks, we suggest considering other alternatives.

We’ll examine the costs, features, pros and cons, and explain how Qustodio parental controls work, so that you can make an informed decision for your family.

In this article
Qustodio review at a glance
Qustodio alternatives
Qustodio prices and subscriptions
Qustodio features
Our experience testing Qustodio
Does Qustodio collect your data?
Qustodio customer support
Qustodio FAQs
Bottom line: Is Qustodio a good program?

Qustodio review at a glance

Price $4.58-$8.33/mo
Number of devices supported 5 or unlimited (depends on plan)
Website filtering Yes
Social media monitoring Yes
Text message monitoring Yes
Email monitoring Yes
Screen time management Yes
Supported devices Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and more
Learn more Get Qustodio

Qustodio expert overview

Qustodio has a lot to offer. We appreciate the robust feature set, allowing you to:

  • Observe your kids' actions using the activity timeline and summary.
  • Check on calls and messages.
  • Keep an eye on the games and apps they use.
  • Monitor their YouTube activity.
  • Track their location and receive location alerts.
  • Restrict access to inappropriate websites.
  • Plan screen-free times and set daily screen time limits.
  • Activate the panic button for added safety.
  • Supervise their activity on various devices and platforms.

While it has a great deal of functionality, Qustodio should improve on its data privacy and address some security risks. The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) published a report on the risks of parental control software like Qustodio; researchers found that they could extract private keys and Facebook credentials, weak password policies, and other privacy and security concerns.[1]

We also found no signs of Qustodio undergoing third-party audits in its privacy policy, which is concerning considering the issues found by the ACM.

Qustodio pros and cons

Pros
  • Lots of features
  • User-friendly, clean interface
  • Real-time notifications and alerts
Cons
  • No third-party auditing
  • Vulnerabilities in technology
  • Concerns surrounding data privacy

Qustodio alternatives

If you’re looking for a different parental control app, we highly recommend Bark, or these other two vetted alternatives, which also have parental control features.

  • Aura: Aura is a robust identity theft protection suite with parental controls, antivirus, financial fraud protection, and even data broker deletion services. All plans come with $1 million insurance and 24/7 customer support.

    Get Aura | Read Aura Review

  • Bark: What sets Bark apart from the competition is its advanced AI-driven technology that goes beyond basic content filtering. It monitors a child's online activity to look for potential issues such as cyberbullying, explicit content, and signs of depression or self-harm.
    Read Bark Review
  • McAfee: McAfee suites include antivirus protection, a firewall, privacy controls, and parental controls. Its plans offer a 30-day money-back guarantee and 24/7 customer support.

    Get McAfee | Read McAfee Review

Qustodio prices and subscriptions

Qustodio has two plans: Basic and Complete. Basic is $4.58/mo, covers up to five devices and includes the following functions:

  • Games and apps blocking
  • Daily time limits
  • Web filtering
  • Location monitoring
  • Pause Internet feature
  • Safe Search
  • Daily time limits
  • Restricted times
  • 30-day activity reports

Complete costs $8.33/mo and allows you to protect unlimited devices. It has everything in Basic, plus:

  • Custom alerts
  • Games and apps time limits
  • Calls and messages monitoring
  • Web activity alerts
  • Blocked website alerts
  • App download alerts
  • YouTube monitoring
  • Calls and messages monitoring
  • Saved places alerts
  • Care Plus priority support (upon request)

Both plans come with premium email support and offer compatibility on a variety of devices, including Windows and Mac computers (with browsers like Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Microsoft Edge), Android devices (compatible with Google Chrome and Firefox), Kindle devices using Amazon Silk browser, iOS devices (including Google Chrome and Safari), and Chromebook devices with Google Chrome.

Qustodio plan comparison

Features Qustodio Basic Qustodio Complete
Price $4.58/mo $8.33/mo
Number of devices 5 Unlimited
Website filtering
Social media monitoring
Text message monitoring
Email monitoring
Screen time management
Internet search monitoring
Custom alerts
Cyberbullying and online predator alerts
Game and app time limits
Location tracking
Details View Plan View Plan


When comparing Qustodio's Basic and Complete plans, we recommend the Complete plan as the best value for your family, despite its higher monthly cost. Here's why:

  • Allows you to monitor an unlimited number of devices, making it ideal for larger families or those with multiple devices
  • Includes text message monitoring, which is crucial for keeping an eye on your child's communication
  • Provides custom alerts, so you can tailor notifications to specific situations or concerns
  • Provides alerts for cyberbullying and online predator activities
  • Allows you to set time limits for games and apps

Qustodio is definitely more affordable than some of its competitors, especially with its Complete plan. Bark Premium goes for $5.00/mo, which is a couple of more than Qustodio Complete.

Qustodio features

We’ll dive deep into Qustodio’s features for content monitoring, screen time management, location tracking and geofencing, as well as activity reports.

Content monitoring

Qustodio offers content monitoring tools that help parents protect their child from online threats. Parents can adjust the sensitivity of monitoring based on their child's specific needs and the areas of greatest concern.

Qustodio's monitoring covers critical aspects of online safety, including the following:

  • Online predators and cyberbullying
  • Mental health and inappropriate content
  • Sleep problems and education issues
  • Online addiction and online privacy

Qustodio monitors content across three key areas: social media and phone apps, calls and text messages, and web browsers. It uses MDM and VPN technologies to identify which apps are being used and reports them automatically to the parent dashboard when an app connects to the internet.

Social media and phone apps

iOS apps Android apps
Apps monitored by Qustodio
  • Facebook
  • Skype
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • WhatsApp
  • Facebook
  • Skype
  • Instagram
  • Snapchat
  • TikTok
  • WhatsApp

Social media poses various dangers to children, including exposure to inappropriate content, cyberbullying, and contact with online predators. Qustodio scans content on these platforms, including direct messages (DMs), images, videos, and offline apps, alerting you when your kids try to access blocked sites. This comprehensive scanning ensures you have a complete view of your child's social media interactions, helping you identify any potential threats or inappropriate content.

The app blocker is a valuable tool, as it provides a comprehensive list of the apps your child uses across all devices. This allows parents to individually block apps they deem unsafe, distracting, or age inappropriate.

Qustodio also allows you to whitelist specific apps. You can set restrictions based on your child's usage patterns, deciding whether to block, allow, or set time limits for each app. This flexibility empowers parents to tailor their child's digital experience on social media, ensuring a safer and more controlled environment while respecting age-appropriate app usage.

Calls and text messages

Qustodio monitors calls and texts by scanning their content, including images and videos. The feature is available for both Android and iOS devices. With the feature activated, you can see who your child is calling or messaging, the duration of the calls, and whether the messages are incoming or outgoing. You can also choose to see the full content of text messages.

Android users have extra features for blocking incoming and outgoing calls. They can also set customized rules for specific phone numbers, allowing or blocking calls from them.

Web browsers

Qustodio supports browser extensions for Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Amazon Silk browser. The app ensures that the search settings on Google, Bing, and YouTube are safe and blocks any inappropriate content based on the search site.

The app is also very flexible, so you can block entire website categories or specific websites. It even sends real-time alerts so you can keep track of what your kids are doing online.

Screen time management

With Qustodio, you can establish time allowances and usage schedules, tailoring screen time limits for weekdays and weekends.

Daily time limits and restrictions

Qustodio allows parents to set daily time limits for internet use on their child’s devices. On Windows and Mac, you can choose Lock Navigation to block web access but permit other programs or Lock Device to restrict all online and offline activity.

On Android and Kindle devices, Lock Navigation blocks most apps, while Lock Device locks the entire device, allowing only emergency calls. On iOS, Lock Navigation blocks internet access, and Lock Device hides most apps rated age 4+, notifying you when the limit is reached.

Time limits for games and apps

With Qustodio, you can control and manage specific games and apps on your child’s devices. Once enabled, you can set individual restrictions for each app or game and choose to allow, block, or set time limits for these apps. For apps with time limits, you can define how much time your child can use the app by adjusting a slider.

This helps ensure your child uses age-appropriate and safe applications, while promoting responsible and balanced device usage.

Pause Internet

The Pause Internet feature empowers you to block internet access temporarily, even if you have existing scheduled time limits in place.

After pausing the internet, you can adjust its duration or resume immediately by revisiting the Quick Actions menu. Note that the pause feature always takes precedence over your established time limit rules. If your child’s devices are locked due to hitting their daily time limit or restricted hours, the option to pause won't be visible.

Location tracking and geofencing

Qustodio's Family Locator offers valuable location-tracking capabilities to help keep an eye on your child's whereabouts. The key features of this service include:

  • Real-time tracking: Monitor your child's real-time locations and receive immediate notifications.
  • Geofencing: Create custom geofenced areas known as Your Places. Notifications are triggered when family members enter or exit these zones.
  • Location history: Family Locator maintains a history of your child's locations, allowing you to review where they've been.

Panic Button

The Panic Button feature can be immensely useful when immediate assistance or communication is needed. Situations where the Panic Button might come in handy include emergencies, safety concerns, or other unexpected circumstances.

Note that the Panic Button is available only for Android users.

Saved places alerts

Saved places alerts are a feature within Your Places. You can define Your Places zones either through the Family Locator's Family View by entering the address of the location or by selecting a recently reported location from your child's Location History.

Once a location is added to Your Places, you’ll automatically receive notifications when your child enters or leaves that location. This feature gives valuable insights into your child's movements and helps you stay connected and informed about their wellbeing.

Activity reports

After installing Qustodio on a device that’s linked to your account, you’ll begin to receive daily reports for each child. These reports summarize the activities on all devices associated with your child's device and profile.

There are different kinds of reports, starting with location activity reporting. Every time your child’s device changes location, an entry will appear in the Activity Timeline tab. If the device hasn't changed its location since Qustodio checked it the last time, you won't see any updates in the activity timeline until the device moves to a new location. You can find all activity alerts in the Activity Timeline tab in your Family Portal.

Qustodio also provides another feature called calls and messages monitoring. This feature offers parents a comprehensive overview of their child's calls and messages. As of today, this is only available for Apple users. Once set up, this feature allows you to:

  • View who your child is communicating with, including phone calls, FaceTime calls, WhatsApp calls, SMS messages, and iMessages.
  • Access the full content of the SMS and iMessages exchanged by your child.
  • Observe the duration and timing of calls and messages.
  • Detect suspicious or concerning contacts and interactions.

Parents can conveniently access these activity reports through the Qustodio parent dashboard.

Our experience testing Qustodio

Overall, our experience testing Qustodio was pleasant. We had no issues downloading and installing the app on our computer, and the interface was easy to navigate. Alerts updated in real time as well, just as advertised.

Qustodio setup

Qustodio’s setup was also easy. After downloading it to our 2018 MacBook Pro, we entered our credentials and child profile information. When the app launched, we could clearly see the child profile in the dashboard, as well as the other features available.

Qustodio monitoring in action

After setting up a child profile on a MacBook, we found the installation process to be straightforward and comprehensive. The first step involved creating a user profile for the child with basic information such as their name, birth year, and gender. We then selected the type of device we wanted to monitor.

The installation process involved granting necessary permissions, including notification access, usage tracking, and location tracking. These permissions allowed Qustodio to track app and web usage, create detailed reports, and protect the device.

One crucial step was activating Device Admin, which prevents your child from uninstalling Qustodio without parental consent. Once we completed this setup, the device was protected, and Qustodio immediately began monitoring it.

We quickly started receiving alerts and reports about our child's device activity. These reports included information on the apps and websites the child accessed, the amount of time spent on different activities, and even the option to track their location if enabled. The ability to set time restrictions, block specific apps or websites, and request location check-ins were effective for managing and ensuring our child’s responsible and safe digital behavior.

Qustodio dashboard showing blocked websites, app & web activity, web searches, and calls & messages.

Does Qustodio collect your data?

Qustodio's privacy policy states that it processes two types of personal data: your account and contact data, used for managing the user relationship, and user data from monitored devices, collected for parental control and monitoring services. It also states that it doesn’t participate in third-party data sales. Unfortunately, Qustodio's privacy policy doesn’t mention regular security audits.

Lastly, Qustodio’s privacy policy is governed by Spanish law. This raises further privacy concerns, considering Spain is part of the 14 Eyes Alliance. You should be aware of these practices and governance when weighing the risks involved in using Qustodio.

Qustodio security

We also found something problematic in terms of privacy and security risks using Qustodio. In 2020, the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) published a report that uncovered several security and privacy concerns related to parental control solutions, including Qustodio. These findings include:

  • Extraction of private keys: The report notes that Qustodio uses its encrypted certificate store, and the researchers were able to extract the associated TLS proxy private key by dumping the process memory. This raises concerns about the security of data transmission and encryption.
  • TLS configuration: Qustodio's server was found to have an intermediate certificate signed with SHA1, which may not provide the strongest security. Also, using the RSA key exchange protocol without forward secrecy can be a security risk.
  • Leakage of session authentication cookies: Qustodio leaks session authentication cookies via HTTP. These cookies can give attackers access to sensitive information about your child, their location, and even remote control functions on their device.
  • Extraction of Facebook credentials: Researchers could extract a child's Facebook credentials provided by parents while configuring the monitoring component. This raises concerns about data security and privacy.
  • Weak password policies: The report also highlights issues related to password security. Some solutions, including network devices, Android apps, and Windows applications, enforce weak password policies with passwords shorter than four characters. Also, some do not report suspicious activities on the parent's account, which could indicate a security breach.[1]

Based on this information, we’d like to see Qustodio take action to patch these vulnerabilities, increase accountability for its technology through independent auditing, and be transparent about this process. Since the report came out in 2020, not a peep has been heard from Qustodio addressing these very real concerns.

Qustodio customer support

Support type Qustodio
Email or live chat Only email — support@qustodio.com
Phone
Online guides or forums

We were disappointed by Qustodio’s lackluster customer service. There are only three ways to ask for help: by combing through its help center, emailing directly, or sending a support ticket via its website. The catch is that you can only send a help desk ticket if you have a Premium account.

There’s also no phone or live chat support, and its website discloses it can take upward of 48 hours to get a response.

Qustodio FAQs


+

Does Qustodio actually work?

Yes, Qustodio effectively restricts access to specific websites and apps, as described in the text. However, it's also possible for tech-savvy kids to bypass its restrictions.


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Can a child disable Qustodio?

Yes, if your child has administrative access to a device, they can disable or uninstall Qustodio. You can use its password protection, anti-tampering alerts, and blocking access to device settings to prevent this from happening.


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Is Qustodio safe for kids?

Qustodio is safe for kids, but know that children may be exposed to inappropriate content and other risks if they bypass its restrictions.


+

Does Qustodio only work on Android devices?

No, Qustodio is compatible with several devices and platforms, including Android, iOS, Windows, macOS, and Kindle.


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Does Qustodio block inappropriate content?

Yes, Qustodio can block access to inappropriate or unsafe content, like pornography. However, bypassing its restrictions can expose users to such content.

Bottom line: Is Qustodio a good program?

Qustodio offers several benefits for parents aiming to ensure their child's safety online, including a user-friendly interface, extensive device compatibility, and features for monitoring and controlling screen time, app usage, and web access. It allows parents to receive timely alerts and detailed reports about their child's digital activities, enabling informed decision making.

However, there are significant drawbacks to consider, primarily concerning security and privacy concerns. Given these concerns, we advise exploring alternative parental control solutions that prioritize security and privacy, like Bark, for your peace of mind.

4.0
Learn More
On Qustodio's website

Qustodio
  • Parental control app with lots of features
  • User-friendly, clean interface
  • Concerns surrounding data privacy
Author Details
Cheyenne Lightfoot is a freelance content writer specializing in the intersection between identity and access management and user privacy. As an account executive, she has helped small-to-medium-sized businesses prevent data breaches, safeguard sensitive information, and achieve compliance with passwordless multi-factor authentication software.

Citations

[1] Betrayed by the Guardian: Security and Privacy Risks of Parental Control Solutions