The digital world provides benefits for users of all ages. Unfortunately, it comes with just as many downsides, and there's a real need to safeguard children and teens from potential cyber dangers.
But keeping an eye on digital activities presents its own frustrations. Most mobile and desktop platforms include native parental controls, but they usually fall short in many ways. Maybe they're not restrictive enough, don't offer enough control, or are just tedious to deal with.
Several third-party options are out there, too, and one of the most highly rated is Qustodio, an app that you download on both your and your kids' devices. While a free version is available, you'll have more options with the paid tiers.
Control It All From One App
Perhaps one of the biggest drawbacks to native parental controls is that they typically require so many steps. Often you have to take each app in a device individually and set restrictions one by one. This includes choosing the content kids can view and download on app stores, or going into each app to turn off certain types of information or allowances.
Third-party apps also might not be available across all major platforms. While odds are good you can find an app available on both iOS and Android, extending that to a Mac or Windows device might be harder than you think.
Qustodio, however, is multiplatform, so it covers Android, iOS, Mac, and Windows devices, as well as Kindles. Plus, the software lets you monitor screen usage from the app on your own mobile device or through the online dashboard. It's a comprehensive solution to tracking your child's digital activities. That makes this in-depth process easier to manage.
Truly Block All the Bad Stuff
Every parental control app claims it can block inappropriate content. But many of them only go so far. For instance, your child might still see restricted content as a search result. Or they could even stumble across it through a direct link. Worried about your young reader finding books with explicit content? Some parental controls will keep your kids from accessing most adult content, though they won't catch everything.
Qustodio allows you to block certain apps, but you can also block specific domains, too. Even if your child is browsing in private or incognito mode, the software's smart filters will block inappropriate content by default, including sites related to gambling, violence, weapons, and other adult content. And Qustodio supports multiple mobile browsers, including Google Chrome, Firefox, and Safari. Additionally, you can block other browsers to keep your children from finding ways around being monitored.
Qustodio Does More Than Just Limit Access
While it's true you can block specific websites, apps, and games from your child's devices, Qustodio allows you to keep a watchful eye by monitoring their activity as well. Think of it as a digital babysitter, providing you with the ability to see detailed activity information about how your child uses devices, apps, social media, and the web, whether you opt to use the mobile app or the online dashboard.
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Even better, you can supervise those activities in real time, which means you'll know what your child is doing and when. See what they're searching on Google, what websites they're visiting, and how much time they're spending on their digital activities. And, since it's available across all of your child's devices, that means they won't be able to circumvent your monitoring by using something else, like their Kindle instead of their phone.
Prevent Screen Addiction With Custom Controls
Many parental control apps provide the opportunity to set time limits. After all, it's widely believed now that children can develop harmful screen addictions — whether they're watching movies instead of doing their chores, or just playing the latest mobile game too much.
But restrictions on native controls aren't always wide-reaching. Maybe you can only set one usage limit — say, two hours a day — for the device as a whole. Or maybe you can set the usage by each app, but it has to be the same every single day. What if you want to allow more screen time during the weekend? You might have to toggle the restrictions off and on every time.
Fortunately, Qustodio allows you to tailor features like this with minute detail. You can set a usage schedule and choose restricted hours by highlighting them in red. Even better, you can select separate weekday and weekend time allowances to determine how long your child spends on a device.
Does your child put off homework until the last minute during the week? Set the max use to something short and sweet, then provide them with more screen time over the weekend. Qustodio takes it a step further, though, and also lets you determine what happens when your child hits their usage limit. For instance, you can choose to block the internet on all browsers, lock the device as a whole to prevent online and offline use, or receive an alert when they reach their limit.
If that all sounds perfect, know that a Premium Qustodio account allows you to set individual time schedules by device. (And with their ongoing offer, you can get 10% off Qustodio Premium via the coupon code "QUST10".) So if you want to encourage kids to spend more time reading, you can give them ample time on their Kindle, while cutting off phone access after a shorter amount of time.
Customize Games and Apps
Most parental controls give you some ability to block games and apps on devices. They also frequently allow you to set time limits for individual apps and websites. Unfortunately, native and third-party apps can require numerous steps and jumping back and forth, meaning you could easily skip over something you meant to block. Qustodio offers the controls you expect, but because you have access through just one app, blocking is much easier to manage.
Additionally, Qustodio's extended reporting allows you to keep a detailed eye on your kid's digital activities. You can have daily reports and weekly summaries sent to your email, so you can track your child's usage.
Get In-Depth Facebook Monitoring Tools
Kids can average anywhere from four-and-a-half hours to nine hours of screen time per day. With Qustodio, you can monitor just how much of that time is spent on social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even WhatsApp.
Other parental control apps allow parents to block apps entirely or set specific time limits. Qustodio offers the added benefit of Advanced Facebook Monitoring, which lets you see not just how often your children are posting, but exactly what they're posting.
Keep an Eye on Calls and Texts
Most free parental control apps don't provide the ability to monitor personal activity. Generally, parents can't access call logs or text messages unless they contact their cell provider. Additionally, they won't see installed apps, browser history, or even the phone's location (particularly if the child turns that feature off).
If you have an Android device, then Qustodio allows you to handle all of that. You can view who's calling or sending messages, or even view the messages themselves. Plus, you can set blocked contacts if there's someone you don't want your child interacting with.
Know Where They Go
Mobile devices typically come with some form of location tracking, but disabling it is also very easy. Qustodio allows you to track your child's movements so you know where they are at all times. Unlike native settings or other third-party apps, your kids can't disable the location tracking to try and evade you.
And Give Them a Lifeline
Even if you can see where your child's phone is, that doesn't mean you'll know if they're in trouble. This is another way Qustodio can give peace of mind. If you use the Android version of the software, then it provides a Panic Button, so your child can send an SOS message that will alert you immediately to their physical location. When you set up the panic button, you can add up to four trusted contacts, who will continue to receive the SOS and child's location every five minutes. To stop the alert, your child will have to turn off panic mode or you'll have to disable it from the web portal yourself.
Providing a safer online experience for kids is at the top of many parents' priority lists. Fortunately, Qustodio makes it easy to supervise and manage your children's digital activities and bring you peace of mind.