smiling children

Parents are giving their kids smartphones and tablets from increasingly young ages. What parents sometimes forget is that by connecting their kids to the World Wide Web, they are also connecting them to potential threats. Some issues should not be overlooked: sexting, cyberbullying, pornography, and even online predators. Luckily, parental control apps can offer a varying degree of control for you to prevent your kids from potential dangers.

The more basic apps offer simple location monitoring and web filtering. The more advanced options also monitor calls, SMS, and chat apps such as Snapchat, Tinder, and WhatsApp. Advanced options will give you full control over your target device: listening in on calls, recording calls, and use the phone’s camera and microphone remotely.

What are Parental Controls

You might have heard from your friends or colleagues about parental control apps. Various parental control apps allow you to set limits on and control the usage of your child’s gadgets. The program lets you monitor the device’s activity on iOS/Android and keep an eye on your child’s digital and real-life safety.

Depending on the application you choose, the choice of functions may vary. In general, almost every parental control app provides the following functionalities:

  • Monitoring and blocking websites
  • Setting screen time limits
  • Filtering content and restriction of app purchases
  • Tracking real-time GPS location
  • Monitoring of social media accounts

We have done extensive research and compiled reviews of the best free Android parental control apps. What’s your best free parental control app for Android? Find out which featured app suits your needs. 

mSpy

mspy cell phone activity

mSpy is the most famous spy app for parental control. It offers a complete package of features that you can use to monitor virtually every aspect of your target device. The Android app can read SMS, Snapchat, WhatsApp, Messenger, and more. It will also give you a list of contacts and will list every call made with the device. 

Another advanced feature is a keylogger, allowing you to see every letter ever typed on the device’s keyboard. You can block or limit unwanted apps, restrict internet access, filter content, and more. It also features GPS tracking and a geofencing system that will alert you any time your child enters a restricted zone.

On top of that, you can use mSpy as a wifi parental control app. Let’s imagine your daughter/son regularly skips a math class sitting somewhere in a cafe. With mSpy you can easily discover the locations your child is visiting by tracking the Wi-Fi hotspots they are connecting to.

mSpy offers a wide variety of packages offering you individual solutions. For instance, buying a yearly Basic Package, you’re going to spend only $8.33 per month. To see other pricing and featuring details, visit mSpy official website.

30-day goodwill refund policy
Number of features: ★★★★
Quality of features: ★★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★★

Download Read Review

Highster Mobile

highster mobile dashboard

Highster Mobile is the ultimate parental control app for Android phones and tablets. It gives you full access to contacts, calls, pictures, videos, all text messages sent and received (even if deleted), contacts, Snapchat messages, Twitter messages, internet browser history and much more! With GPS location and geofencing features, you have full access to the target device’s location in real-time. You will also see the history of all the places. 

The parental control app provides you with access to virtually everything about the target device. Besides, you can also get remote access to iPhone and iPads without jailbreaking. Although the app isn’t free and doesn’t offer a free trial it has an affordable price tag. Even if you are dissatisfied with the software, you can submit a refund request and get your money back within 30 days of purchase. 

30-day goodwill refund policy
Number of features: ★★★★
Quality of features: ★★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★

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iKeyMonitor

ikeymonitor interfaceiKeyMonitor is another extremely advanced parental control app. It has almost all the features that mSpy offers, while also offering certain ones you will find at FlexiSPY Premium. You can track the phone’s location and get alerts if the device enters a restricted area. You can record every chat conversation from SMS, Tinder, Snapchat, Viber, Facebook, Instagram, and Skype. You can also access calls, whether they are made by phone or app. Though the services it offers are vast, the website and dashboard seem a bit dated and are more difficult to use. That is why we ranked iKeyMonitor slightly below mSpy and FlexiSPY. Purchasing iKeyMonitor Full, you get a 50% discount and pay $16.66 per month for your kids’ safety.

Free 3-days trial version
Number of features: ★★★★★
Quality of features: ★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★

Download

Qustodio

qustodio interface

Qustodio is a much cheaper service compared to the other three we just mentioned. As you could expect, it has a much smaller list of features. It can block pornography or different website categories and track the device’s location. It also has a panic button your child can press in case of an emergency. It’s basically the best free internet filter for the first 3 day.

The rest of its functions are more about setting limits to apps, and monitoring time spent on them. It does not give you access to messages written on apps such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or WhatsApp, and there is no keylogger. Of course, this could be more than enough for you.

Simultaneous connection with the Premium Plan, for example, for small families (small plan) costs $4.58 per month if you get a yearly subscription. Plus, the product provides a 30-day money-back guarantee for you to be more confident in your purchase.

Free 3-days trial version
Number of features: ★★
Quality of features: ★★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★★

Download

Hoverwatch

tracking hoverwatch

Hoverwatch is a monitoring app for Android, Windows, or Mac. You can use it to track a device’s location, access contact details, call history, browsing details, text messages, video and audio files. It gives you access to social media and chat apps such as Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, WhatsApp, or Telegram. You will also find a GPS tracker. 

Compared to the apps ranked higher, Hoverwatch only lacks a keylogger and geo-fencing, which is why it has only made it to number five on the list. However, it’s quite cheap for a yearly subscription — $8.33 per month.

Free 3-days trial version
Number of features: ★★★
Quality of features: ★★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★

Download Read Review

MMGuardian

mmguardian time limitsWhile its options for iOS are somewhat limited, MMGuardian has almost everything an Android user needs. Android users can monitor texts, set time limits, filter content, block individual sites/calls/SMS, receive browsing reports and image alerts, and access the child’s location. It is slightly more advanced than Kaspersky or NetNanny, which lifts it a bit higher on our list. A yearly package costs $2.03 per month.

Free 14-days trial version
Number of features: ★★
Quality of features: ★★★
Value for money: ★★★★★

Visit website

Net Nanny

Parental-Control net nanny

Net Nanny is a less intrusive option, with fewer features. It is essentially a content blocker and a location tracker. One license can be used for multiple devices, including Android, Windows, Kindle Fire, and iOS, making it perfect for small or large families. NetNanny can filter web content, block unwanted apps, and track the device’s location. But it doesn’t have the advanced features for call monitoring, app monitoring, etc. The yearly subscription for the most popular plan will cost you $4.58 per month.

 No free trial, 14-days return policy instead
Number of features:
Quality of features: ★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★

Visit website

Norton Family

norton family general

Norton Family is a free internet monitoring software for parents which is a part of Norton Security Premium. It has similar features to NetNanny. It also monitors web content and apps for Android. It is also suitable for monitoring browsing time, time spent on apps, and scheduling times for these activities. It has a location tracker as well but is missing geo fencing. If you want to buy a top-notch antivirus, consider Norton family bonuses. It may have fewer features but comes very cheap. Norton Family Premier will cost you only $4.16 per month if you subscribe for a year.

Free 30-days trial period
Number of features: ★★
Quality of features: ★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★★

Visit website

Kaspersky Safe Kids

my kaspersky interface

If you want free parental controls for Android, you could try Kaspersky Safe Kids. It specializes in location tracking, geo-fencing, content monitoring, and screen time management. It has a free version; this is a simple Android browser that limits time spent browsing and of course, blocks unwanted content.

You can also opt for the paid version, which has the added benefit of geo-tracking, geofencing, a battery tracker. It will send you alerts if harmful websites are visited or dangerous apps downloaded. However, it lacks advanced features, when compared to FlexiSPY or mSpy. On the other hand, the software is very cheap, ideal for large families or schools. This full-featured application offers a limited free version along with a yearly subscription option. Sub-total for a yearly premium plan with an unlimited number of child profiles and devices costs $1.24 per month; which makes the cheapest one from all these apps.

Free 7-days trial
Number of features: ★★
Quality of features: ★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★★

Visit website

FlexiSPY 

flexispy location

There are 2 subscriptions: Premium and Extreme. FlexiSPY Premium product has almost all the same options as mSpy but without Snapchat monitoring. Purchasing FlexiSPY Premium 12-months package, you’ll need to pay only $12.4 per month, which equals 2 cups of coffee for 2 days.

FlexiSPY’s Extreme has features that may even go beyond the scope of standard parental control software and into the realm of spy software. Of course, concerned parents may need this type of software in certain situations, especially if there is a kidnapping risk, or if the child is being stalked or cyberbullied.

The Extreme version can record telephone, WhatsApp, Line, Skype or Messenger Calls and store the contents on its servers. It can record the ambient sounds or conversations through the phone’s microphone, and take photos, selfies, and videos, which could be especially handy if the phone is stolen. Total control for the whole year with the FlexiSPY Extreme license will cost you only $29 per month. 

You can experience FlexiSPY Premium free for 24 hours. Keep in mind that, once a trial has expired, you need to upgrade your FlexiSPY Premium license to a FlexiSPY Extreme. Your trial account would be deleted only after 7 days if it wasn’t renewed.

24 hours trial period / 14-days refund policy
Number of features: ★★★★
Quality of features: ★★★★★
Value for money: ★★★★★

Download Read Review

Why we recommend Android for parental control apps

Android and Apple each have their pros and cons, but if you have not bought the device you want to monitor, we recommend buying one on Android. Android users have an added benefit compared to iOS users, with more parental control apps and more features available for each app like tracking all social media accounts. It is also much easier to root an Android phone then to jailbreak an iOS device, making the software much easier to install.

Conclusion

While there are many options for parental control software, most are very basic and are little more than schedulers or content filters. All of the reviewed apps are worthy of being on the list and the market and the majority of them are compatible with iOS/Android devices. They proved to be secure software to control and monitor your child’s safety and putting screen time limits. Please keep yourself away from “free malicious software” that can put you in risky situations. We recommend testing the apps with a free trial period or refund policy. 

Choose the right service based on your needs and budget. Always remember that children’s safety comes first.

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