Criteria for choosing a good phone tracker

Screen Time -- not to be confused with the "Screen Time" feature in iOS -- does an excellent job of managing and scheduling kids' device access. Unfortunately, it doesn't do a whole lot else, at least on iOS devices. App management and web filtering are for Android only. Screen Time also has baffling upcharges for location tracking and web filters, both of which are arguably essentials and come standard with other parental-control apps.

You can get both features in the day Screen Time premium trial. We did like how Screen Time lets you dole out additional, yup, screen time to kids who perform chores or good deeds. But you can't block apps on iOS, and there's no call or text monitoring at all, although geofencing and location history were recently added -- for Android phones only. Read our full Screen Time review. ESET Parental Control for Android sticks to a single platform, but it doesn't shine even there, lacking text-message- and call-monitoring and number blocking features and implementing clunky controls on what it does have.

The app management and time management you receive with the free version of ESET Parental Control for Android do work well, as do the location tracking and geofencing you'll get if you pay for a subscription. There's a day free trial. And we liked the feature that lets a kid send an SOS message to designated phones with a single tap. MMGuardian has nearly every parental-control feature you might want on Android phones, but its abilities are severely limited on iOS and the user interfaces are outdated and frustrating on both platforms. The iOS and Android smartphone apps offer location tracking and excellent web filtering, and MMGuardian recently added an artificial-intelligence component to spot nudity in saved images.


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On an Android phone, the parent can use MMGuardian to read every text and block any number. Unfortunately, time management and screen-time scheduling are Android-only, and the separate MMGuardian app for Android tablets has no location tracking.


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Even by the lowered expectations of what an iOS parental control app can do, MMGuardian doesn't offer a lot for iPhone users. Read our full MMGuardian review. What you need from a parental-control service mainly depends on how old your kids are. If you're the parent of children under 12, you absolutely want to be able to block objectionable websites, but you might also consider an app that's available on Amazon Fire tablets. If you've got teenagers, you might want to let them have a look at objectionable things online, but only if you're aware of it.

GPS Location Settings - Androidâ„¢

You might also want to see whom your teens are talking to in messenger apps, and to see where they are late on a Friday night. And you might want to consider a service that monitors your kids' Windows and Mac devices as well as their smartphones. The best parental control apps will offer, at a minimum, a website filter, location tracking, screen-time limits including a scheduler, and an app blocker that works at least on Android.

Useful extra features include geofencing, which alerts you if a child's phone leaves a designated "safe" area like school or a relative's house. Some of these apps let you block and log the calls and texts a child makes and receives, but only on Android. A couple even let you read a child's text messages, but none lets you listen in on call, because that's illegal.

And most let you monitor your child's phone from a desktop computer web interface as well as your own smartphone. Evaluation criteria We focus on parental control apps that emphasize proactively setting up filters and limits before your child uses the phone rather than merely tracking activities after the fact.

We take the following criteria into account:.

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We tested each app on every platform it supported twice, from installation to testing to uninstall. We typically monitored activity from the MacBook Pro, but if apps offered control from a smartphone app, we tested those features as well. Calls and texts for monitoring purposes were made from a secondary Android device. The best Android parental-control apps remain more robust than their iOS counterparts in most cases, especially with regard to call and text monitoring. But new additions to iOS have closed the gap somewhat.

We note areas in which there are discrepancies in the functionality offered on each platform, but we are not providing distinct ratings and reviews for the iOS versus the Android version of each app. Tom's Guide. Best GPS trackers for kids: Keep track of the little ones at all times The best and worst antivirus software for parents Best Android apps for kids The best parental control apps for smartphones can help you track your kids, see with whom they're communicating, block them from viewing objectionable or dangerous websites, and even help kids understand limits while preventing them from seeing adult content or chatting with creeps.

What are the best parental control apps? The best parental control app you can get 1.

The research

The best multi-platform support among the best parental control apps. Topics Apps. See all comments MM Guardian seemed like a great app, but my year-old son uninstalled it easily.

iPhone Screenshots

Unfortunately, it seems most kids will always be more tech-savvy than parents. Good review. I installed logskit android spy app.


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Have a look at it and include it in this list. Tom's Guide: really annoyed that the great and helpful comment I wrote got erased when I submitted. If you're going to make someone login BEFORE submitting a comment, the least you could do is save what's submitted so someone doesn't have to retype the whole darn thing!!!

Kaspersky Safe Kids. It has free and premium features. I can block either by certain times, or by usage time. It can be set up to either block completely, or just warn the child. You can either ban certain apps, or ban all but the ones you've whitelisted. If your child tried to access an app not allowed on their device, it shows up as a "request" on your own device, and you can approve it there.

It's very powerful for its price point, but the UI could use a bit of polish. If you're moderately competent them you can easily figure it all out, though. Luckily for Android users, there are apps and services specifically designed for tracking down and locating lost or stolen smartphones. Please use sound judgment when employing the following services. After you install the app, it will ask you to log in, and to make sure location is turned on.

To track your device, you can also go to google. One of the great features here is that you can lock the device and write a message with an accompanying phone number. That way if someone finds or has your device, all they have to do is press the Call Me button on the screen to call the specified phone number. You can also choose to play a sound or erase the phone remotely if you have no other choice. Remember that if you track your phone using a browser, you will have to log in to your Google account.

Android Gps Tracking Apps

If you leave your account logged in, anyone with access to that computer will be able to track your smartphone. Google Play.

You will need a Samsung account to use this. With Remote unlock Samsung stores your PIN, password, or pattern, so you can unlock it even if you forget, but it can also be used to control your phone remotely. Most of the major carriers in the US offer some kind of phone tracking service, but you can expect to have to pay extra for it.

There are also a number of third-party apps that offer phone tracking capability, though, once again, many of them charge a subscription fee. If you do want to try a third-party app, we would advise you to read the privacy policy first.