The internet age has brought about many great things, but as with all great things, there are also some major downsides such as scams, cyber bullying, pornography, and online child predators. Combined with the speed in which the internet landscape changes with new apps popping up every day, the need to monitor and block unwanted apps and websites from our children becomes ever more complex.
We’ve put together a roundup of our top 5 favourite products for parental control.
FamilyZone 4.7 / 5
Family Zone’s Family Bundle worked out to be the best option for us. There is a bit of an upfront cost of $89AUD as of writing, but the ongoing $5.95AUD monthly fee was very affordable compared to the other services.
There are some key core features of parental control software; as a parent you want the software to block adult and other unsafe content, restrict social media, and schedule when screen time is allowed.
The Family Bundle does all of the above with some additional benefits on top – because you have an additional device between the vast internet and your router, anytime you have guests or naughty children over, their internet usage is also filtered and blocked accordingly. The app is available for both iOS and Android. The home router also filters all internet activity if you happen to have any devices outside of iOS and Android. The apps also have the ability to disable the camera and any in-app purchases.
Lastly, the icing on the cake would be the usage reports and alert service so that you are made aware of any undesirable access in real time so you can act swiftly and accordingly. They also have cyber experts from all around Australia who not only keep you up to date with the latest information, but also how to teach and talk to your children about cyber safety. These are experts who not only have children of their own, but also teach and research this area for their day to day business.
Circle with Disney 3.7 / 5
Considering this is a Disney product, I was a bit disappointed with the execution of this. The setup was fairly easy and straightforward, they have an easy to use wizard setup for those non-technical parents. The filtering is very good, and you can impose internet time limits.
But that’s about it…
The Circle Go subscription is a bit more expensive compared to the other services mentioned here as it’s currently only available in US dollars. $99USD upfront for their Circle management device, and then $4.99USD per month for 10 devices.
Other benefits is that it is a Disney product after all, and you get some kid friendly benefits such as videos, memes, GIFs, music, and games. The only issue here is that Disney is not the only entertainment provider on the market, and your children will likely outgrow the Disney library very quickly.
Kaspersky Safe Kids 4 / 5
Kaspersky is already a well known and established anti-virus and firewall service provider and it makes sense that they step into the cyber safety game. They bring that strong brand recognition and they certainly don’t disappoint.
Their anti-virus and firewall products are renowned for their web filtering algorithms and it is clearly applied here. With some amazing filtering options and search rules which are quick and easy to set up.
When it comes to social networks however, this is where they lose a lot of points. Currently only Facebook and VK monitoring are offered, and if you are not Russian, I can safely assume you will not know what VK is. Facebook alone is not bad, but it gets worse, you can only get alerts about status updates from your child from one day ago. That is all. In the age of Snapchat, Instagram, music.ly and whatever else has popped up since, this is quite lacklustre and a bit disappointing.
SafeDNS 2.8 / 5
This is included only because many cyber safety blogs have mentioned it and I want to debunk this one specifically. SafeDNS is not designed specifically for parental control and cyber safety for children. Yes it does have some options for it, but it is not designed specifically for it, it would appeal to those who are a lot more technical and don’t mind spending time tweaking and playing around with settings.
Additionally, it also lacks some of the core features I mentioned above such as social network monitoring, real time alerts and time based scheduling. And for $20USD a year for 3 users, sure it’s cheap, but you get what you pay for.
ContentWatch Net Nanny 7 4.3 / 5
One of the most expensive products we have reviewed, at it’s most expensive, it is $9USD per device for up to 10 devices, but it comes with a fantastic array of features such as Mac OS support, social network monitoring, access scheduling, and they have apps for all devices including Windows’ mobile OS. Net Nanny 7 is the only product we could find that even supported the Window’s mobile OS, so this may be a big win for you if you happen to be a user of this.
Considering it’s also the oldest product reviewed here, and although they have apps for handheld devices, there is a lack of social media monitoring. There’s no option to disable the camera or specific social media apps which, in today’s world, would be crucial.