Parental Control Apps for Smartphones

Whether you’re giving or simply lending your child a smartphone, these miniature personal computers need child-proofing, too. Nowadays most kids can easily find porn, gambling sites, Internet scams, and other offensive material on a smartphone browser. The good news is that there are lots of free, or low-cost parental control apps that can block offensive Web content and let you monitor your child’s activities on their mobile device.

Parental control apps simply replace your default mobile browser with a “safe browser.” These browsers block offensive links from appearing in your child’s search results. Parental monitoring apps typically let you see your child’s browsing history from a remote Web portal. Some of the apps listed below combine both.

Mobile parental control tools aren’t nearly as full-featured as parental control suites for desktop browsers, but that’s mostly due to restrictions of each operating system. On iOS in particular, apps are limited to blocking URLs in Safari and there’s no monitoring feature either. On Android, mobile malware is more prevalent, but apps offer similar configuration levels you’d find on a desktop browser.

Below you’ll find some of our favorite mobile parental control and monitoring apps, a good addition to any child’s smartphone. More parental control apps are coming to market all the time, so keep checking this list as we review and add more to the mix:

 

eBlaster Mobile
$69.95
eBlaster Mobile stealthily monitors everything your child does on his device. From a remote Web administrative console you can see who your child texts or calls, and you can see his browsing history, too. Parents can also define a “virtual fence” and if your child steps out of these boundaries, you’ll receive an alert.

K9 Web Protection Browser
Free
K9 is a free, user-friendly Web-filtering app with preset filters based on age group. However it lacks key features in paid rival apps, like the ability to whitelist or blacklist URLs, or customize your filter to match your child’s age and behavior.

McAfee Family Protection
$19.99 per year
McAfee’s parental control app performs only one function, but it’s well-executed. Choose from four age profiles that each block websites in up to 35 categories. The app shares the same Web console as McAfee Family Protection for PCs, but you have to pay extra to use the app.

Net Nanny 2.0
$19.99 per year
Net Nanny 2.0 (for Android) is a deceptively simple parental control app for your child’s Android device, letting you be as conservative or liberal with your content blocking as you like. Parents will appreciate Net Nanny’s clean and user-friendly Web interface.

AVG Family Safety (for iPhone)
$19.99 per year
AVG Family Safety (for iPhone) blocks an impressive list of inappropriate content and malware, and lets you monitor your child’s mobile browsing behavior. AVG also offers plenty of configuration settings for your filter, so there aren’t any surprises.