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Worried your children might stumble upon something they shouldn’t when they’re surfing the internet? Confused about parental controls for your family’s devices? Don’t be! With one of these parental control systems, you can do much more than simply prevent your children from visiting mature websites. You can protect against digital threats, monitor social media usage, and limit internet access across your family’s devices, giving you peace of mind.
There are many products and services that let you monitor and limit the usage of computers, phones, e-readers, and even gaming consoles. But the best option for your family really depends on your needs and budget.
If you want to go the traditional route, consider installing parental controls onto your kids’ electronics with a software program like Net Nanny, which can be installed onto Windows, Mac, iOS, Android, and Kindle devices. Whether you’re monitoring a single tablet or a slew of connected devices, Net Nanny has you covered—with different pricing tiers to match your needs.
Net Nanny is a total parental win because of its wide range of functionality. It not only blocks adult content and filters out harmful websites, but it also lets you set specific hours of the day when your family can be online, see reports and alerts about everyone’s online activity, and even track the location of your children’s mobile devices in real-time. No more phones after bedtime!
If you want to keep tabs on your family’s online activity, Net Nanny is the option to beat. This comprehensive solution allows you to monitor and protect most of your family’s devices for one yearly fee. Here’s the downside, though: It doesn’t work on gaming consoles. You won’t be able to monitor your kids’ PlayStation usage with Net Nanny.
Circle gives you tons of functionality. You can set content filters based on each family member’s age and interests, view comprehensive internet use reports, set time limits for individual devices, schedule offline time, and even track the location of your family members—all from an app on your phone.
Maybe you don’t need to monitor all of your kids’ devices, though. Maybe it’s only your child’s pesky smartphone that’s keeping you up at night. If that’s the case, you might want to use an app like Apple Screen Time. This free program comes automatically installed on Apple devices, including iPhones, iPads, and iPods, and it has a surprisingly robust array of capabilities.
With Apple Screen Time, you can set a passcode that prevents your child from changing the settings, and you can adjust things like the content they can access, the apps they can use and for how long each day, whether they can listen to explicit music, and whether they can make iTunes and App Store purchases. Say goodbye to surprise bills!
Use another operating system? No worries. Google Family Link is a top-rated parental control system for Android devices, and Amazon Freetime works on Kindles. The main appeal of these apps is that they’re free, and while they don’t offer as much functionality as paid software, they’re a good place to start. If you need reinforcements, you can also team these up with other parental control systems.
Mesh routers like eero include several nodes that you can place throughout your home to ensure a fast, reliable internet connection with no dead spots.
But they do much more than that.
These routers feature advanced WiFi security, including automatic software updates, advanced encryption and security protocols, and, yes, even parental controls. This smart router lets you set up profiles for each family member, easily monitor device usage, and set scheduled internet downtime for certain devices—like when your kids are supposed to be doing their homework.
eero also offers upgraded security packages that let you do even more, such as block inappropriate content and store passwords. This type of solution is appealing for those looking to improve internet speed and performance—something your family will surely appreciate—while also limiting online activity.
If device-specific controls just aren’t cutting it, there’s another option: a third-party device such as Circle Home Plus, which you can use along with your existing internet network. This one’s fully comprehensive. It’ll give you the most coverage, but it’ll also cost you a bit more than the other devices on this list.
Many parents find the cost to be worth it, though, as Circle gives you tons of functionality. You can set content filters based on each family member’s age and interests, view comprehensive internet use reports, set time limits for individual devices, schedule offline time, and even track the location of your family members—all from an app on your phone. And the best part about this one? It covers gaming consoles, such as Nintendo Switch and PlayStation, too.
As you can see, there are a number of ways you can keep your family safe online. It all depends on the functionality you need, what type of devices you want to monitor, and how much you’re willing to spend on digital security.