How to Block Apps and Internet With Parental Controls
- This app has a combination of 1-star reviews from outraged teens and 5-star reviews from triumphant parents, a great testimony to its effectiveness
- I use this app to monitor my children’s online activity: it warns me of any issues, so I don’t have to perform spot-checks on my kids’ devices
- Bark Jr (younger kids) $5 per month or $49 annually
- Bark (comprehensive) $14 per month or $99 annually
- Platforms: iOS, Android
- Monitors: phones, computers, tablets and other Internet-enabled devices
- Proactively monitors text messages, YouTube, emails, and 30+ different social networks for potential safety concerns
- Get alerts for issues like cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation, violence, weapons
- Set screen time limits and create schedules
- Filter content, decide which websites kids can visit
- Track location of kid’s device
*Discount applies for the life of your account as long as it remains active, but does not cover Bark phone monthly charges (confusing, I know)
- Canopy is an AI powered Internet filter that removes inappropriate images and videos before a child sees them, and replaces them with harmless white rectangles.
- The only app that can filter content without blocking entire websites.
- Sexting prevention: Canopy detects when a device has taken a suggestive picture, asks a child if they’d like to delete it, or sends a copy to a parent to review.
- Hacking prevention: Bad content cannot be accessed from within the apps that have Internet browser built in, because once a child is redirected from the app the the browser, the content is blocked.
- Canopy scans websites in real time and instantly blocks all pornographic sites, even if they are brand new, so it works against future dangers.
- Canopy operates as an app installed on each device. Works on iPhones, Android, Windows, Mac, & Chromebooks.
- Can filter YouTube videos on the web browser.
- Can filter out pornographic content (images and videos, not live-streaming) on the web browser version of TikTok.
- Does not filter or block streaming services such as Amazon or Netflix (movie filtering service VidAngel can do this).
- Anti-tampering features prevent children from removing or disabling Canopy without parental permission. Canopy developers talked to teens to stay on top of any workarounds.
- Individual apps or entire categories like gambling or social media can be blocked.
- Includes standard parental control features like screen time limits and location tracking.
- How does Canopy compare to Bark: Bark alerts parents about potential harmful exposure to a variety of issues by monitoring child accounts across platforms, whereas Canopy only filters sexual content but proactively blocks explicit images and videos in real time, including photos child takes on their phone. Both apps block explicit sites but have limitations when operating within apps where kids are looking for workarounds to circumvent parental controls.
- $7.99 per month (3 devices)
- $9.99 per month (5 devices)
- $15.99 per month (10 devices)
No premium up-charges. Annual discount plan.
- Aura is bigger than just parental controls – it’s a comprehensive Internet safety solution for the entire family, including adults.
- Content Filtering: choose a filter level for each member of the family and select the apps, websites, and streaming services that need limitations or restrictions.
- Screen Time Limits: customize for each kid’s profile and set different limits for apps, categories of sites, and a Daily Time Limit.
- Pause the Internet: at the press of a button, for every family member, or just one.
- Internet Usage: Get a complete picture of kids’ internet use across all devices.
- Safe Gaming: Get alerted to threats with 24/7 in-game voice and text monitoring for over 200 of the most popular PC games.
- VPN: built-in VPN encryption to keep online activities hidden from hackers.
- Safe Browsing: stops you from entering dangerous scam or phishing websites.
- Antivirus, Anti-Malware, Anti-Spyware Protection
- Dark Web Monitoring and Data Breach Alerts
- Password Manager
- Up to $5M Identity Theft Insurance ($1M per adult)
- Pricing: $37/month (billed annually), or $50/month (billed monthly)
- What is unique about Gryphon Homebound is that it’s an extension of the Gryphon WiFi System. Superior parental controls of Gryphon WiFi Router can follow your kid’s phone everywhere – even when using cellular data or public WiFi.
- Pricing: $7.50 per month for up to 5 mobile devices, billed annually
- With Homebound App installed on your child’s smartphone, you can now manage them as if they never left the house.
- Homebound automatically and securely routes all traffic from the phone back through Gryphon Mesh Router for filtering.
- Free trial included
For our readers we negotiated an exclusive promo code TECHDETOX for 15% off Gryphon Guardian Advanced Parental Controls router.
- Helps people quit pornography through transparency and accountability
- How it works:
- Covenant Eyes app uses VPN technology to monitor device activity in the background, and provide protection through blocking.
- The Victory companion app sends alerts to the accountability partner or a parent if concerning activity is detected.
- Platforms covered: IOS, Mac, Android, Windows
- Devices not covered: Chromebooks, Kindle Fires, and Smart TVs.
- Covenant Eyes app relies on a relationship of trust, but parents can still prevent uninstalling the app:
- iOS: Settings > Screen Time > Content & Privacy Restrictions > Enter your passcode > iTunes & App Store Purchases > Deleting Apps > Don’t Allow.
- Android: cannot be prevented due to Google’s restrictions but admin is alerted via Victory app or email.
- Windows or Mac computer: Requires an Uninstall Code from an account admin.
- Price: $17/month or $184 annually
- Up to 10 users and unlimited devices included
- EyeZy is a “spy” app from the makers of mSpy, undetectable on a child’s device, that allows you to monitor all their activity from your browser
- Platforms: iOS, Android – marketed as phone monitoring software
- Monitor social media, chats, texts, pictures, videos, emails, browser history
- Get notified if dangerous content is detected
- 1 month – $47.99
- 3 months – $23.99
- 12 months – $9.99 per month
- Depending on how worried you are about your child’s online activity, a spy app is an option to keep kids safe without their knowledge
- 40% off with promo code TECHDETOX40
- Platforms: iOS (iPhone & iPad), Android (chromebooks), Microsoft (Windows), Amazon (kindle)
- $54.95 a year (5 devices)
- $96.95 a year (10 devices)
- $137.95 a year (15 devices)
- Block inappropriate apps, games and websites
- Monitor your child’s digital activity
- Set screen time limits
- Track location
- Read child’s text messages (Android & iOS), block contacts
- A multiparent option allows both parents to control the account
- The Care Plus program gives personal assistance to parents by phone
*Includes premium membership assistance by phone to set up all devices
- VidAngel is a movie-filtering app that allows parents to block or skip scenes inappropriate for children, but still watch the movie. It turns movies rated R into a PG by removing sex and violence.
- Parents can apply filters to exclude nudity, profanity, graphic violence, or blasphemy.
- Works on multiple devices and has an interface similar to streaming services like Netflix.
- Choose from 15,000 movies and TV shows from content providers VidAngel works with (Netflix, Amazon Prime, Apple TV+), as well as paid channels via Amazon: Showtime, Starz, Paramount+, AMC+, Britbox, and PBS Masterpiece.
Pricing: $9.99 a month
Free 14-day trial with code TECHDETOX:
- App and website blocker used by adults to reclaim focus and productivity
- Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, Chrome
- $8.99/month (if billed monthly)
- $3.33 /month (if billed annually)
- Occasional one-time sales for forever access
- Freedom Teams corporate version: $99 a month for the entire organization
- Sync blocks across all devices
- Over 2,000,000 users
- Free trial included
- GET 30% OFF with our promo code TDB30
- Platforms: iOS , Android, Amazon
- $27-$69 annually depending on the plan
- 3-day free trial
- Covers 1-5 devices depending on the plan
- Blacklist apps across devices
- Limit screen time, set schedule for app usage
- Add suspicious contacts to watchlist
- Filter Internet content, block unwanted websites, restrict negative searches on Google, Bing, or YouTube
- Lock Phones Remotely
- SOS (panic button) to alert parents in emergency situations
- Get speeding alerts when your teen is driving
- Track location, create virtual geo-fences and be informed when kids cross them
- Remotely monitor text messages
- Track Web browsing history and app usage
- 40% discount with code TECHDETOX40
- $3.99 per month (5 devices)
- $4.99 per month (10 devices)
- $9.99 per month (20 devices)
- Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, macOS
- Supervise videos and set age-appropriate filters for YouTube
- Set daily screen time limits and schedules
- Instantly lock all family devices
- Filter content by age and by category
- Enforce safe internet search
- Allow or block websites, restrict keywords
- Block individual apps, prevent the child from installing new apps
- Track browsing history
- Track location in real time
When Parental Controls Fail
There are many parental controls apps on the market, and parental controls space is changing all the time.
Parental controls is a game of Whack-a-Mole:
- New devices (like Internet of Things) invade our homes and present new threats to our kids
- New services (any new gaming, video, and social media apps) are developed and parental controls need to catch up
- New features are introduced by the existing platforms that are not covered by previous parental controls
- Big tech companies are modifying their platforms, causing software bugs and problems with third-party parental control settings
- Kids keep discovering new loopholes!
That’s why it is so hard – if not impossible – to claim which parental control app is “the best”. They might be doing great today, but broken by the changes in the tech landscape tomorrow. Or the other way around – they might be performing poorly, but get fixed, upgraded, and become stellar. The best strategy when making a choice is probably to read MOST RECENT reviews from the actual customers – they will reflect the current situation.
TIP: If you see hundreds of 1-star reviews from teenagers starting with words “I hate my parents”, the app definitely works!
We have studied the reviews from actual users: parents who downloaded and used these apps, and confirmed that they do what parents expect them to do: limit screen time, filter content, and develop good digital habits.
Since Apple, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft all have their own integrated parental controls systems, they can – and often do – limit the functionality of third-party parental controls apps. Which means that the developers of these apps have to work extra hard to stay in business. The advantage of using screen time apps is that they aim to cover all platforms and devices – whereas built-in screen time settings are limited to one platform.