Short on time? Here’s the best parental control app for iOS in 2023:
Qustodio: Can detect and block 9,000+ iOS apps, has high-end web filtering that not even top VPNs can bypass, and comes with time limits, scheduling, detailed activity reports, and a YouTube monitoring feature. Can also monitor calls, text messages, and iMessages, and has accurate real-time location tracking and uninstall protection. Offers the best free plan out there, affordable paid plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
I tested the most popular parental control apps to find the best ones for iOS in 2023. Unfortunately, I found that many parental apps either lack essential features like web and app filtering, location tracking, and activity reports, or don’t work very well (for example, I tested apps where kids could easily bypass web filtering using a VPN or circumvent app filtering through iMessages).
But all the parental apps mentioned in this article are good for iOS users. They provide access to industry-standard features that let you monitor and restrict your child’s device and web usage on iOS, work better than Apple’s built-in parental controls, and are also very easy to use.
My favorite is
Quick summary of the best parental control apps for iOS:
- 1. 🥇
Qustodio— Best parental control app for iOS in 2023. Provides excellent app filtering (blocks 9,000+ iOS apps), top-of-the-line web filtering that not even top VPNs can bypass, time limits, scheduling, in-depth activity reports, and a YouTube monitoring feature. Also has call and SMS monitoring, location tracking, and uninstall protection.
- 2. 🥈
Norton Family— Great iOS parental app that monitors unlimited devices. Can block almost any iOS app, uses VPN technology for web filtering, and has a feature for restricting web usage during school hours. Also has great location tracking and uninstall protection.
- 3. 🥉
Bark— Good web and social media app monitoring on iOS. Monitors your child’s device and web usage (including things like chats, text messages, links, and image attachments) and alerts you if something’s wrong. Also has web filtering, scheduling, and location tracking.
FamiSafe— Good for monitoring driving habits on iOS. Provides you with lots of information about your kid’s driving habits. Also has flexible app filtering, decent web filtering, and really good location tracking.
Net Nanny— Great web filtering for iOS devices. Blocks most adult sites, allows you to easily create custom filters, enforces safe search, and can even censor profane words. Also blocks 120+ iOS apps and has time limits, scheduling, location tracking, and YouTube monitoring.
- Comparison of the Best Parental Control Apps for iOS in 2023.
Qustodio — Best Parental Control App for iOS in 2023
On iOS, Qustodio provides access to the following features:
- App filtering. Qustodio can detect and block 9,000+ iOS apps, including apps that are popular with teens and kids, like Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and Twitter. In addition, it also lets you set time limits for iOS apps. I especially like that Qustodio only starts displaying iOS apps as your kids start using them. This way, you see exactly which apps your kids use the most — you don’t need to go through a long list of apps to find them like you do with most parental apps.
- Web filtering. Qustodio uses VPN technology to block access to inappropriate websites. You can manually block or whitelist sites, or use Qustodio’s 25+ predefined site categories to save time. Qustodio’s web filtering works only works on supported browsers (Safari and Chrome for iOS), but there’s an option to block unsupported browsers so your kid can’t bypass your restrictions. Also, I really like that top VPNs can’t bypass Qustodio’s web filtering.
- Time limits. Qustodio allows you to set daily screen time limits in increments of 15 minutes. When the time is up, you can either lock navigation, which blocks internet access on your child’s iOS device or lock the device, which hides any iOS app that is rated age 4+ by the app store.
- Scheduling. This feature allows you to set screen time limits for specific periods in hour-long chunks. This is helpful if you want to make sure your kids aren’t distracted by their iOS devices during school hours or a family dinner.
- YouTube Monitoring. Qustodio has a dedicated YouTube monitoring feature, which lets you see what your kids search for and what videos they watch on YouTube’s site.
- Activity reports. Provides access to detailed daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly reports that show you which apps your kids used, how long they used said apps, which restricted sites they tried to connect to, and more.
What’s more, Qustodio’s iOS app also comes with Family Locator,
which provides excellent real-time location tracking. Family Locator also includes a geofencing option, which lets you create zones up to 0.12 miles or 200 meters and receive alerts when your kids enter or leave them.
In addition, Qustodio provides access to Calls & SMS, a feature that allows you to monitor your child’s calls, text messages, and iMessages (but you’ll need a Mac to do it from). This feature is very invasive, so I only recommend using it if you strongly think it’s necessary — like if you’re worried that your child is being bullied over calls or text messages.
I also really like that Qustodio’s iOS app for kids comes with uninstall protection — that means your kids need the parental login to uninstall the app.
Qustodio has the best free plan out there — it provides access to web filtering, time limits, and scheduling. That said, the free plan only allows you to monitor 1 iOS device, and it limits you to daily and weekly activity reports.
You need to upgrade to
Qustodio is the best parental control app for iOS devices in 2023 — it can detect and block 9,000+ iOS apps, has excellent web filtering (not even top VPNs can bypass it), and provides easy-to-use time limits and scheduling features. It also comes with detailed activity reports, a YouTube monitoring feature, a call and SMS monitoring feature, very accurate real-time location tracking, and uninstall protection. Qustodio has the best free plan on the market, affordable paid plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Qustodio review here
Norton Family — Great iOS Parental App for Large Families
Norton Family’s app filtering on iOS works really well, as it can block distracting apps like YouTube, Telegram, Snapchat, and Reddit. That said, it’s a shame that Norton Family doesn’t allow you to set time limits on specific apps (like Qustodio does), as that would provide more flexibility.
Norton Family also comes with really good web filtering, as it uses VPN technology to block inappropriate sites on iOS. It lets you block specific sites, but you can also choose from 45+ predefined site categories. Plus, I tested Norton Family’s web filtering using ExpressVPN (which is the best VPN out there), and the VPN wasn’t able to bypass it. However, unlike Qustodio, Norton Family’s web filtering doesn’t have an option to block unsupported browsers to stop your kids from using them to bypass web filtering, so you need to manually block them, which is a little inconvenient.
I also like how Norton Family combines its web filtering and time limits into a feature called School Time, which allows you to restrict your child’s web usage during school hours.
Norton Family also has an accurate real-time location tracking and geofencing feature that allows you to create geofenced zones up to 2 miles or 3,200 meters. And if you find that kind of location tracking too invasive, Norton Family provides you with an alternative — a check-in option that allows you to ask your kids to share their current location with you over email.
In addition, Norton Family provides access to a feature that tracks your kids’ searches on YouTube’s site and popular search engines like Google and Bing. And there’s also a feature that tracks which videos your kids watch on YouTube’s site. That said, if you’re only interested in tracking your child’s YouTube usage, I recommend Qustodio’s YouTube Monitoring feature instead because it’s a dedicated feature that tracks both YouTube searches and videos in one place, so it’s more convenient to use.
Norton Family has parental and kids apps for iOS, which are both very easy to use. Also, the kids apps come with uninstall protection.
You can get Norton Family as an
Norton Family is ideal for large families, as it allows you to monitor an unlimited number of iOS devices. It also provides really good time limits, scheduling, app filtering, and web filtering. In addition, it has a School Time feature, accurate location tracking, YouTube search and video tracking, and uninstall protection. Norton Family is available as a standalone purchase or bundled with the Norton 360 Deluxe and Norton 360 Advanced subscriptions. It also has a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Norton Family review here
Bark — Good Web & Social Media App Monitoring on iOS
Bark’s web filtering is pretty good, too. It always blocked inappropriate sites in my tests, even when I tried using a VPN.
With Bark, you also get very accurate location tracking, but keep in mind it’s not real-time location tracking (like it is with Qustodio and Norton Family) — instead, you can only request a check-in, which prompts your kids to share their location with you using the kids app.
But keep in mind, Bark won’t show you everything your child does online — instead, it will scan their online activities and alert you if it detects anything problematic. This is why I think Bark is mostly suitable for parents who have a trust-based relationship with their teenage kids.
Unfortunately, Bark lacks time limits — this is something all other competitors on this list offer, but it does provide access to a scheduling feature that’s very easy to use.
Bark’s iOS kids app doesn’t come with uninstall protection — you instead have to use Apple’s built-in Screen Time parental control to prevent kids from uninstalling the kids app. I don’t think that’s a good workaround, as it’s pretty easy for kids to bypass Screen Time’s restrictions.
Bark allows you to monitor unlimited iOS devices, and it has 2 tier-based subscriptions —
Bark provides good web and social media app monitoring on iOS, as it can monitor text messages, images, chats, emails, and more. But it doesn’t show everything your child does online — it only alerts you if it detects something concerning. It also has good web filtering, a user-friendly scheduling feature, and accurate location tracking. Bark can monitor an unlimited number of iOS devices, and it has 2 affordable tier-based subscriptions (but it doesn’t back them with a money-back guarantee).
Read the full Bark review here
FamiSafe — Good for Tracking Teen Driving Habits on iOS
FamiSafe has a feature called Drive Safety, which provides you with detailed reports about your kids’ driving habits. It includes information such as the driving time, the highest speed, the average speed, the total distance driven, and more, and it works really well!
FamiSafe also has really good real-time location tracking and a geofencing feature, but it’s a shame that its activity reports are not very detailed. Also, unlike Qustodio and Norton Family, FamiSafe’s iOS kids app lacks uninstall protection.
FamiSafe has decent web filtering, but it only comes with 10+ predefined website categories (Qustodio has 25+ site categories and Norton Family has 45+ categories), so you’ll need to manually block more sites with this parental app — in fact, in my tests, FamiSafe’s predefined categories failed to include a few inappropriate websites, like 4chan and erowid.
I also like FamiSafe’s app filtering, as it blocks almost any iOS app, and it’s very flexible — you can block an app, set time limits for it, or schedule specific times when your kids can use the app. For example, you could reward your kids with 2 hours of YouTube or Netflix for finishing their homework on time, which is more convenient than whitelisting the apps and having to remember to blacklist them when the 2 hours are up.
FamiSafe’s paid plans are very affordable (they start at $10.99 / month) and can monitor 5–10 devices. There’s also a free plan that lets you use all features, but it limits you to just 1 iOS device. FamiSafe has a 7-day money-back guarantee for all purchases.
FamiSafe provides detailed information about your kid’s driving habits, helping you ensure they stay safe on the road. It also comes with really flexible app filtering, decent web filtering, and very good location tracking. FamiSafe has affordable paid plans and a 7-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full FamiSafe review here
Net Nanny — Good Web Filtering on iOS Devices
Net Nanny provides great web filtering on iOS. I really like that Net Nanny uses VPN tech to block inappropriate sites, and I think it’s great that it can mask profanity on websites (it replaces obscene words with “######”).
Net Nanny’s web filtering works well, but it only comes with 10+ predefined site categories, which is much less than Qustodio’s 25+ categories. On the plus side, Net Nanny allows you to easily create custom site categories by adding a list of keywords you want it to detect.
It also provides good app filtering on iOS, as it can detect and block 120+ iOS apps — that said, I think Norton Family provides better app filtering, as it can block almost any iOS app.
You also get daily time limits, scheduling, and good real-time location tracking, which displays location updates every 2–3 minutes.
Net Nanny also has a YouTube monitoring feature, which details what your kids looked up, what they watched, how long they watched a video, and more.
It comes with beginner-friendly apps for parents and kids on iOS, but I don’t like that its kids app doesn’t have uninstall protection.
Net Nanny has 3 paid subscriptions that provide access to the same features but monitor a different number of devices. To monitor an iOS device, you need to pick one of 2 Family Protection Pass subscriptions — one that covers 5 devices ($54.99 / year) or one that covers 20 devices ($89.99 / year). Net Nanny comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee, but you’ll have to provide a reason for the refund request.
Net Nanny provides very good web filtering on iOS and can also censor obscene words. It has good app filtering (it detects and blocks 120+ iOS apps), easy-to-use time limits and scheduling features, accurate location tracking, and a YouTube monitoring feature. Net Nanny has 3 paid subscriptions, but only 2 of them cover iOS devices. Net Nanny’s plans come with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Read the full Net Nanny review here
Comparison of the Best Free Parental Control Apps for iOS in 2023
|Parental Control App||Starting Price||Web Filtering||Time Limits||App Filtering||Number of Devices||Money-Back Guarantee|
||$54.95 / year||✅||✅||✅
(blocks 9,000+ iOS apps)
|5 or Unlimited||30 days|
||$49.99 / year||✅||✅||✅||Unlimited||60 days|
||$5.00 / month||✅||❌||✅
(just online apps)
(Only 7-day free trial)
||$10.99 / month||✅||✅||✅||5–10||7 days|
||$39.99 / year||✅||✅||✅
(blocks 120+ iOS apps)
How to Choose the Best Parental Control App for iOS in 2023
- Find a parental control app that can monitor iOS devices. The parental app needs to have a kids app for iOS devices. Otherwise, it can’t monitor and restrict your child’s device and web usage.
- Check for essential parental control features. All the parental apps on my list provide access to industry-standard parental control features like app filtering, web filtering, time limits, scheduling, and/or location tracking.
- Test for good performance. It’s crucial that the parental control app you choose is both effective and bug-free. For example, the app should prevent children from bypassing web filters by using a VPN, accessing blocked apps via iMessages, or altering the device’s time zone. Additionally, it’s essential that the app is lightweight and doesn’t slow down your child’s device or excessively drain the battery.
- Make sure the apps are easy to use. The service needs to come with beginner-friendly apps for parents, so that you can easily get used to them. If the provider also has a kids app, it too needs to be intuitive, so that it won’t be inconvenient for your children to use it.
- Get a parental control app that offers a good value. Some of the parental apps on my list provide access to additional features — for example, Qustodio has a feature that monitors calls and text messages, and Norton Family has a feature for restricting web usage during school hours. What’s more, all my top picks come with free plans or free trials, affordable pricing, and most even have money-back guarantees.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Apple’s Screen Time. This parental control app is built into iOS devices, so it’s free to use. It comes with web filtering, app filtering, and time limits, and it also lets you monitor device usage, restrict downloads, and require purchase approval. Unfortunately, it’s really simple for children to bypass this parental app — for example, they can circumvent app filtering by using iMessages or changing their device’s time zone.
- OpenDNS. It’s free to use and it can block inappropriate sites, but it lacks other essential features like app filtering, time limits, and location tracking. What’s more, OpenDNS requires a manual setup on your router, which is inconvenient and time-consuming — not to mention your kids can easily bypass it by just using mobile data instead of your home network.
- WTracker Online Status. This is an iOS parental app that provides you with real-time online and offline alerts if your kids access something inappropriate on the web. However, the app won’t block adult content, and it also can’t block apps, monitor your kids’ location, or set daily time limits.
Frequently Asked Questions
What’s the best parental control app for iOS?
Qustodio is the best parental control app for monitoring iOS devices in 2023 — it detects and blocks 9,000+ iOS apps, has excellent web filtering (not even top VPNs can bypass it), provides accurate location tracking, in-depth activity reports, and easy-to-use scheduling and time limits, and even has YouTube monitoring and a feature that monitors calls and text messages.
Can I use a free parental control app for iOS?
I don’t really recommend using free parental control apps because they’re risky to use (since you provide them with tons of permissions to access personal data) or they lack essential parental control features. Even so, if you insist on using a free parental app, I’d go with Qustodio’s free plan, as it’s the best free parental control app on the market — it comes with web filtering, time limits, scheduling, and daily and weekly activity reports, but it only lets you monitor 1 iOS device.
All in all, I really only recommend using a free parental app to test the service to see if it meets your needs — you ultimately get much better value by getting a premium paid parental control app, like one of Qustodio’s paid plans.
Can’t I just use Apple’s built-in parental controls?
Apple has a free built-in parental control app called Screen Time, but I don’t recommend using it — it comes with web and app filtering and time limits, and it even lets you restrict downloads or require purchase approval, but it’s very easy for kids to bypass Screen Time’s restrictions (for example, they can change the device’s time zone or use iMessages to access restricted apps).
Honestly, you get better value by getting a premium third-party parental app like Qustodio instead — it detects and blocks 9,000+ iOS apps (and there’s no way for kids to circumvent that), its web filtering can’t be bypassed by top VPNs, it comes with excellent time limits, scheduling, and location tracking, and it can even monitor your child’s YouTube usage and their calls and text messages.
Can I monitor my child’s calls and text messages on iOS?
Yes, you can if you use Qustodio. It has a feature that allows parents to monitor their kids’ phone calls and text messages. To use that feature, you need to perform a manual setup, but Qustodio provides a helpful tutorial, so the whole setup process won’t take more than 5–6 minutes.
Just keep in mind that this feature is very invasive, so I only recommend using it if you’re worried that your child is being bullied through phone calls or text messages. Otherwise, using such a feature could damage your relationship with your child instead of improving it.