Knowing what your children are doing online can be a real challenge. Kids use an array of technology today and their digital wellbeing is more important than ever.

Parental control apps enable you to not only control access to your child's phone but also make sure they aren't spending too much time on specific apps or games.

We've rounded up a number of different parental control apps that let you see a range of things like keeping an eye on how much time your children are spending online.

Qustodio

For iPhone, iPad, Windows PC, Mac, Android devices, Kindle, from free

Qustodio easily wins out easily for sheer versatility - it works for smartphones, tablets, computers and even Amazon Kindle devices. It's very flexible with plenty of features. Once you've downloaded the Qustodio app to your child's device you can see what your child is doing, what sites they are visiting and what apps they're using. You can set usage limits and set up filters to block inappropriate content - even if the user has set their web browser to private mode. One of the big advantages is that Qustodio can be used interchangeably on multiple platforms such as iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, and Kindle devices. That means if you have an iPhone and your kid uses an Android phone, you can still monitor the child. That's not possible with Apple’s Screen Time, for example, while Android’s Family Time only works Android to Android. On Android phones, Qustodio also enables you to see your child's texts and who's calling them and track your child's location. A premium subscription, which costs just £3 a month, brings more benefits, including time limits for individual apps or games.

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Apple Screen Time

For iPhone, iPad and iPod touch, free

Apple introduced Screen Time in 2018 and it's a great way of seeing exactly how much time is spent on apps, websites and more. It's easy to set up: choose Screen Time from Settings, turn it on and choose "This is My Child's iPhone", for instance. Then you can create settings on the child's phone or, if you have Family Sharing set up, from your Apple device. Settings include Downtime, which means during set times the phone can only be used for phone calls and approved apps. There are App Limits so you can ensure categories of apps, such as Productivity, are accessible while Games are not. Apple sends you regular reports of screen usage. Oh, and it's just as useful for adults, too.

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Parental Control - Screen Time & Location Tracker

For Android devices, from free

This is one of the key time trackers for Android phones and enables parents to monitor and manage the time spent on devices. Parents can see what apps are being used and for how long, plus receive a notification if a child tries to install a new app on their phone, for instance. It also means parents can see exactly what websites are visited. A Premium version is also available which goes further, setting daily time limits on selected apps, as well as the facility to instantly press pause on a child's device. There's also GPS location tracking so you can know where your children are. It can be controlled via any browser and the app itself runs in the background.

Kids Place - Parental Control & Child Lock

For Android devices, from free

This is a great app for when kids ask to borrow your phone. You set up a pin when you first log into Kids Place that is then needed for anybody else to exit the app, but once logged in, it will protect your personal data and restrict your children to only use apps approved by you. Kids Place will also make sure your kids can't do anything on your device that will cost you money, such as making phone calls, texting or downloading new apps. In addition, you can block incoming calls when this app is running and disable all wireless signals, as well as have multiple user profiles. It can be used on the child's phone as well and a Premium option is available.

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AppLock

For Android devices, from free

The title tells you what this app does: any app you choose can be locked on your phone. AppLock has over 100 million users and supports 24 languages. It allows you to lock SMS, contacts, Gmail, Facebook and so on to protect your privacy. You will be able to control photo and video access, meaning you can set selected pictures and videos to magically disappear from your photo gallery so only you can access them, by using a code. AppLock also enables you to lock your settings and Google Play so you won't have to worry about your children accessing new apps or changing your settings. Oh, and they can't even peep while you're putting in your code thanks to a random keyboard that rearranges numbers each time.

Conclusion

There are plenty of options for you to keep an eye on your children and how they use their smartphones, tablets, laptops, and even kindle when you're not around. While Google's Family Time and Apple's Screen Time do offer basic controls, they are restricted by requiring all members of the family to be on the same operating system.

Qustodio, however, offers a range of features like location tracking, but more importantly, works on multiple devices across multiple operating systems. This platform-agnostic approach means it's certainly worth checking out.

Qustodio - Parenting Qustodio is the leading digital safety and wellbeing platform for families. It lets parents supervise what their kids do when online. With Qustodio parents can block harmful and inappropriate content, set healthy limits to manage their children's online experience, track their location and monitor social media activity. Qustodio provides more information to help protect children against the growing number of serious online issues such as cyber-bullying and cyber-predators. It stands out among the different parental control solutions on the market, including Apple's and Google's very own, because it can be interchangeably used on different platforms such as iOS, Android, Mac, Windows and Kindle.