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Should You Monitor? Here Are the Best Parental Control Resources

Best Parental Control Tools

There are many resources to help you keep an eye on your adolescent’s technology. The first step is to decide what kind of a parent you are. Are you someone who wants to monitor a lot, a little, or somewhere in between. The next step is to understand what resources exist for your particular approach. Hemanshu Nigam, chief executive officer of SSP Blue, compiled the following list. There’s something for everyone .

1. Mobile Service Providers

Check with your mobile phone provider on the parental control tools offered to customers.

  • Verizon “From setting data usage limits to blocking calls and texts, you have the power to control it all with Verizon Family Safeguards and Controls.”
  • AT&T “Explore tools, advice and solutions to protect your family, your PC and your information.”
  • T-Mobile “T-Mobile joins the CTIA and other wireless companies in promoting kids’ safety, privacy, and security with the “Parent’s Guide to Mobile Phones” which was developed by the online safety experts at ConnectSafely.org”.
  • Sprint “Keep your family safe in the real and digital worlds with Sprint Family Safety Essentials.”

2. Device Developers

Your adolescent’s device probably has settings to help you set limits on how your adolescent can use the device. Check your user manual or google the “name of your device” and “parent controls.” Example: parent controls for iPhone.

3. Software to Help with Online Safety

Full monitoring software

These let a parent see everything that their child does online (e.g. child does and says/key stroke logging).

  • SpyAgent

    (For computer use) SpyAgent provides a large array of essential computer monitoring features, as well as Internet (website) content filtering, chat client blocking, lockdown scheduling, and remote delivery of logs via Email or FTP. Easy to use feature set and ultimate all-in-one computer monitoring software package.

  • Bitdefender Parental Control

    (For Computers and Smartphones) This software is for parents who want to protect their children’s safety online. From website blocking and monitoring controlling app use, mobile phone tracking and Facebook monitoring, this software allows full control for parents who want to see everything their child does online.

Mobile applications and website software

Parents see who their child is communicating with without necessarily being able to see what they are saying.

  • AVG Family Safety (For computers and smartphones)

    : This is a web-based configuration. It filters HTTPS traffic and blocks proxy apps. Provides ratings-based access control for videos, games, and music. Has parental alerts via email or SMS. Internet time schedule. IM and social network control. This software can filter an entire network. Visit AVG Family Safety online.

  • PhoneSheriff (For smartphones):

    Allows parents to filter out applications, websites, and even contacts that aren’t approved. It can also set a profanity alert if certain words that aren’t approved are used in a message. PhoneSheriff also logs text messages, internet history, and call logs.

Identify reporting software

Parents get a report of what their child has been up to online e.g. played x games, spend x amount of time online, content filtering type information, etc.)

  • McAfee Family Protection 2.0 

    (For computers and smartphones) Provides safety for kids and peace of mind for parents through providing parental control software with all the latest features. This software can be used on up to three computers and smartphones. It provides unique media filtering and activity reports to parents. McAfee Family Protection 2.0 online

  • Net Nanny

    (For computers and smartphones) This software is available for all devices and allows parents to see what kids are up to online. Parental controls allow parents to monitor their child’s activity online, for example if a child wants to access a blocked site, the parents will know and a trigger will be activated. The parent can then take control and decide what they will allow their children to see and do online. This software also reports children’s step online and deliver reports to parents. Net Nanny

Identify blocking software

Filters that block pornography and other types of content that a parent would want to have restricted from their child.

  • OpenDNS 

    (For Computers and iPhones) This software divides the Internet’s millions of websites neatly into 56 categories. Categories include “adult,” “games,” “academic fraud,” and “social media.” Parents can block entire categories of content, or just choose to block the individual websites that you know are problematic or unsafe for your family.  Or, for easier setup, you can choose a filtering level: low, medium or high.  The low filtering level blocks just adult content, where the high filtering level blocks adult content, social networking sites, video-sharing sites and more. OpenDNS

  • Qustodio 

    (For computers, tablets, and smartphones) This software is available for all devices. It allows parents to monitor their kids device use via smartphone or another device of their choosing. Usage can be seen in real-time and parents can block websites, balance screen time, and even control game and app time usage. Qustodio

  • K9 Web Protection

    (For computers and smartphones) This software is capable of blocking web sites in more than 70 categories. Categories include pornography, gambling, drugs, violence/hate/racism, malware/spyware, phishing, and more. It sets time restrictions to block web access during designated times. Can configure custom lists for “always allow” and “always block”. It overrides web pages blocked with passwords. Uses the enhanced anti-tampering feature that even children can’t break. Blocks anything a parent wants to restrict then provides easy reports to monitor and control web activity as well. K9 Web Protection


    Hemanshu (Hemu) Nigam is the father of four, an online safety, security, and privacy expert and CEO of SSP Blue, an online security consultancy. He is a frequent contributor to CNN, HLN, CBS, Fox, Washington Post, New York Times, abcnews.com, and Huffington Post. Sign up for Online Safety TV’s Weekly News & Info, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.


    This article has been updated to reflect current information as of January 2018.

Diana Simeon

Diana Simeon is an editorial consultant for Your Teen.