Children use the Internet for school and for entertainment. Some parents are concerned about the content their child might inadvertently be exposed to online, or some of the conversations that develop as they text or message their friends and relatives.
Here are some of the best filtering software for parents’ peace of mind:
Qustodio is one of the most touted filtering systems, and for good reason. It’s simple and easy to use. It has a wide range of features. It works on computers and smartphones, and has 29 filter categories, with the option to block certain websites even if they don’t fit into the filtering categories. The platform also provides parents with a detailed report on their children’s online activities and a log of the messages sent and received.
Qustodio allows parents to tag key words and phrases which can be cause for alarm. In this way, parents don’t have to read through hundreds of messages to learn if they should or should not be concerned about a particular online friend. Parents can also set screen time limits for their child. The platform will automatically boot a child who exceeds the parental screen time limits. Qustodio has a geolocation tracker for every device as well.
Qustodio includes anti-bullying tools. Parents can monitor their child’s profile from their smartphone.
Some of Qustodio’s features are only available on the premium version.
Circle Home Plus (Circle app)
Developed by Disney, Circle Home Plus connects to your Wi-Fi network. All devices under the same Wi-Fi network are protected.
Circle Home Plus allows you to filter content, block specific Internet sites, manage screen time and monitor usage and search history. The system is customizable, and gives parents access to their child’s online activity through an app on their phone (Circle app). Circle Home Plus also has a location tracking feature and the ability to turn off a child’s Internet instantly.
Children can use the Circle app to monitor themselves and their online activity.
The downside of Wi-Fi filtering systems is that children can potentially circumvent them when they switch their device to LTE or 5G or when they connect to another Wi-Fi source. Circle Home Plus enables parents to download the app on their child’s device and pair it with the monitoring system, thus ensuring the filtering system works even when their child isn’t home.
Net Nanny is another popular filtering service that works with computers and smartphones. It comes with 18 filters, and provides parents with a complete report of their child’s Internet searches and apps used, and sends instant alerts if their child may have viewed inappropriate unfiltered content.
Net Nanny has a profanity blocker masking swear words from sites and thus preventing children from seeing them. What will children see instead of swearwords? It’s up to the parent! Parents can change the swear words to something funny or they can be removed completely.
As with most filtering software, parents can also set time limits to their child’s screen time, with the option of instantly turning off their Internet access if it’s homework or bed time.
For parents worried their child might try to bypass the system, Net Nanny sends parents an email alert if their child attempts to disconnect their device from the system.
The downside of Net Nanny is that it doesn’t offer services for social media or messaging monitoring. For parents who prioritize that, they may need to look into a separate program to target these areas.
Bark allows parents to monitor content, manage screen time and filter websites to ensure their child is as safe as possible. In addition to filtering through a child’s emails and text messages, Bark has over thirty apps and social media platforms to ensure the content is up to their standards.
Parents do not have access to everything on their child’s phone. They only receive emails when Bark flags something of concern, allowing parents to speak to their child and prevent a potentially dangerous situation from occurring, such as giving out a phone number on Twitter or using suicidal words in a text conversation.
As with most filtering software, Bark also lets you set screen time limits and provides web filtering.