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How Can I Remotely Track My Child’s Phone? [Full Guide 2022]

Tim Mocan Tim Mocan
Published on: October 18, 2022

Short on time? Here’s the best parental control app for remotely tracking kids’ phones in 2022:

  • 🥇 Qustodio: Displays which sites your kids access and their Google searches, how they interact with YouTube’s app and site, their total screen time, and which apps they use. Also shows your child’s real-time and previous locations, and lets you monitor their phone calls and text messages. Qustodio’s free plan is good for basic tracking, while its affordable paid plans (which are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee) provide access to all features.

Smartphones and the internet are very important for a child’s development — they make it simple for kids to stay informed about world events, learn new things and study better, and stay in touch with their family and friends.

Unfortunately, they also make it easy for them to be accidentally exposed to adult and toxic content that might scare or traumatize them. And it also sadly makes it simple for them to become victims of cyberbullying.

That’s why tracking kids’ phones has become more and more acceptable, and even necessary — it helps parents make sure kids develop healthy digital habits and don’t get exposed to or influenced by inappropriate content.

The best way to remotely track a child’s phone is to use a parental app, which is monitoring software that lets you keep an eye on your child’s web, app, and device usage. Parental apps consist of 2 apps — the kids app, which you install on your child’s device, and the parental app, which you install on your device and use to monitor your kids’ phones.

I tested dozens of parental apps and unfortunately found that many of them are actually bad at tracking kids’ phones — they either can’t monitor which sites kids access or what apps they use, or they have buggy apps that are difficult to use.

But all of the parental control apps I mentioned in this article are really good at tracking children’s internet, app, and device usage. Plus, they also provide information about their location (and many other things), and are also simple to install and use.

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3 (Quick + Easy) Steps to Remotely Track Your Child’s Phone in 2022:

  • Step 1. Get a good parental app. I recommend Qustodio because it provides tons of useful insights about your child’s web and app usage. It also lets you monitor their current and previous locations and their phone calls and text messages.
  • Step 2. Install the provider’s kids app on your child’s device. The whole process won’t take more than 2–3 minutes — just follow the installation wizard’s instructions. Make sure you give the app all the permissions and rights it requests, otherwise it won’t be able to fully track your kid’s phone.
  • Step 3. Remotely track your child’s phone. Use the provider’s parental app on your device to remotely monitor and restrict your child’s web and app usage.

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Quick summary of the best parental control apps for remotely tracking kids’ phones:

  • 1. 🥇Qustodio — Best parental app for remotely tracking children’s phones in 2022. Provides very helpful insights about your kid’s web and app activity, what they watch and search for on YouTube, how much time they spend on their devices, where they currently are and where they’ve been, and who they’re exchanging phone calls and text messages with.
  • 2. 🥈 Net Nanny — Great for remotely tracking kids’ internet searches. Shows you what your kids search for, and on which sites they do it. Also displays which blocked sites kids tried to access, your child’s screen time and real-time location, and what kids watch and search for on Youtube’s site.
  • 3. 🥉 Norton Family — Best for tracking multiple phones. Allows you to monitor an unlimited number of devices. Also provides information about which sites your kids access, what they search for on popular search engines and YouTube’s site, what they watch on YouTube’s site, which apps they use, and where they’re currently located.
  • 4. Bark — Good pick for non-invasive tracking. Monitors emails, photos, videos, text messages, and 30+ apps that are popular with kids, like Discord and Instagram. But it doesn’t let you see what your child is doing online, instead it only sends you alerts if it detects anything problematic or concerning.
  • 5. FamiSafe — Good for tracking children’s driving habits. Provides access to detailed reports about your child’s driving, helping you make sure they’re not engaging in reckless driving. Also monitors web and app usage, and kids’ real-time location.
  • Comparison of the Best Parental Control Apps for Tracking Kids’ Phones.
  • How to Choose the Best Parental App for Tracking Kids’ Phones in 2022.
  • Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut.
  • Are There Other Ways to Remotely Track Kids’ Phones?
  • Frequently Asked Questions About the Best Parental Apps for Tracking Kids’ Phones.

🥇 1. Qustodio — Best Parental Control App for Remotely Tracking Kids’ Phones in 2022

🥇 1. Qustodio — Best Parental Control App for Remotely Tracking Kids’ Phones in 2022

Qustodio is the best parental app for remotely tracking your child’s phone in 2022 — it has kids apps for iOS and Android that track the following:

  • Web activity — Allows you to see which websites your kids access and how much time they spend on each site. I think it’s really great how Qustodio displays helpful information about the sites your kids access, such as how trustworthy they are or how safe they are for kids. Also, I like how it displays which words kids use the most in Google searches.
  • App activity — Lets you track which mobile apps your kids use the most and how much time they spend on each app.
  • YouTube activity — Shows which videos your kids watch and what they search for on YouTube. Qustodio is actually one of the only parental apps that can monitor your child’s activities on both the YouTube site and app (and is also the best parental app for keeping kids safe on YouTube).
  • Screen time — Displays how much time your kids spend on their devices.
  • Location — Shows your child’s real-time location and also displays a list of all their previous locations, which I think is very helpful for locating your kid’s phone if they accidentally lose it. There’s also a geofencing feature, which allows you to set up predefined zones (like your child’s home or school) and receive notifications when your kid arrives to or leaves those zones.

In addition, Qustodio is also one of the only parental control apps on the market that allows you to track your child’s phone calls and text messages. It shows who your child exchanges phone calls and text messages with, and it also displays the contents of the text messages. What’s more, it allows you to blacklist or whitelist specific contacts — for example, if you see that someone is bullying your child through text messages, you can block their phone number to prevent them from contacting your kid.

On top of excellent tracking, you also get access to many features that allow you to restrict your child’s web and app access, so that you can help them develop healthy digital habits. For example, Qustodio allows you to block specific websites or inappropriate sites using 25+ predefined categories — and children can’t use VPNs to bypass those restrictions. Plus, you can also block access or set time limits for apps that might be too distracting, such as Discord, YouTube, or TikTok.

Qustodio’s paid plans start at $54.95 / year, allow you to monitor 5–15 devices and include all of the features mentioned above. Qustodio also has the best free plan on the market, which is great for basic tracking since it includes web filtering, screen time monitoring, time limits, and daily and weekly activity reports — but it only lets you monitor 1 device. Each purchase is backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Qustodio provides the best parental app for remote phone tracking in 2022. It tracks tons of things, including your child’s web and app activity, how they interact with YouTube’s site and app, their real-time and previous locations, how much time they spend on their devices, and even their phone calls and text messages. It also provides excellent web filtering, app filtering, and time limits. Qustodio has the best free plan out there, affordable plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Get Qustodio Now

Read our full Qustodio review

🥈 2. Net Nanny — Great for Remotely Tracking Kids’ Web Searches

🥈 2. Net Nanny — Great for Remotely Tracking Kids’ Web Searches

Net Nanny provides very useful insights about your kids’ browsing activities on mobile, as it lets you see their search history. In addition, it also shows you when they performed the searches, which sites they did it on, and which device they used.

You can also block inappropriate websites by using the provider’s 10+ predefined site categories or by manually blocking the website yourself — and if your child tries to access restricted sites, you’ll receive an alert on the parental app. While I think this level of tracking is good, I like Qustodio more because it displays all the sites your kids access (in addition to the blocked sites they tried accessing and their search history).

You can also track your child’s screen time usage and their real-time location. And there’s even a feature that monitors your child’s YouTube usage and shows you what they’re watching or searching for on YouTube — but it only monitors YouTube’s site, and not its app (like Qustodio does).

On top of internet tracking, Net Nanny also provides really good web filtering. Kids can’t use VPNs to access blocked sites, and you can easily create custom filters by using keyword lists that you want Net Nanny to monitor. I’m also a big fan of the profanity censoring feature, as it replaces profane words on web pages with “####” — I tested the feature by accessing 10+ web pages that contained swear words, and all obscenities were censored.

Net Nanny has 3 paid subscriptions, which all provide access to the same features but monitor a different number of devices. But the basic subscription only monitors desktop devices, so you need to get one of the 2 Family Protection Pass subscriptions to monitor your kids’ mobile devices — the one for 5 devices ($54.99 / year), which I think provide the best value, or the one for 20 devices ($89.99 / year), which is only suitable for large families. There’s a 14-day money-back guarantee for all purchases.

Bottom Line:

Net Nanny is really good for monitoring your kids’ online searches on mobile. It also shows you if they tried to access blocked sites, how much screen time they used, their real-time location, and their activities on YouTube’s site. Plus, it has good web filtering (including profanity censoring), app filtering, time limits, and more. There are 3 paid subscriptions, but only 2 of them can monitor mobile devices. There’s also a 14-day money-back guarantee.

Get Net Nanny Now

Read our full Net Nanny review

🥉 3. Norton Family — Best for Remotely Tracking Multiple Devices

🥉 3. Norton Family — Best for Remotely Tracking Multiple Devices

Norton Family allows you to monitor an unlimited number of devices, meaning it’s a good fit for large families or if your kids use multiple mobile devices. It also lets you track tons of things, such as your kids’ web activities (including watched videos and searches), app usage, and real-time location.

You can see which whitelisted sites your kids accessed, and which blocked websites they tried to access. The parental app also displays how many times your child tried to access each site, when they did it, and which device they used.

I also like how Norton Family can monitor what your kids search for on YouTube’s site and search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. It can also monitor what they watch on YouTube’s site. That said, it’s a little inconvenient that the search and video monitoring features only work if your child is using the Norton Family browser, as you need to block access to other browsers — Qustodio and Net Nanny both track similar activities, but they can do it on most browsers (and Qustodio can also monitor what your child does on YouTube’s app).

Norton Family also lets you track which apps your kids install on uninstall from their devices, and which apps they use the most. On top of that, it lets you track kids’ real-time location and where they’ve been — there’s also an option to receive notifications about your child’s current location at scheduled times.

In addition, you get access to really good web filtering and the ability to block apps popular with kids, such as YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter. What’s more, there are easy-to-use time limits and scheduling features, and School Time, which allows you to separate web filtering rules during school hours.

Norton Family is bundled with the Norton 360 Deluxe ($29.99 / year) and Norton 360 Advanced ($54.99 / year) subscriptions, which also include Norton 360, the best antivirus on the market. Alternatively, you can get Norton Family as a standalone purchase for only $9.99 / year. Each purchase is backed by a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Norton Family allows parents to remotely track an unlimited number of devices. It also provides useful insights about kids’ browsing activities, what they search for and watch on YouTube’s site, their app usage, and their real-time location. Plus, you get great web and app filtering, time limits, and scheduling. This parental app comes bundled with the Norton 360 Deluxe and Norton 360 Advanced subscriptions or as a standalone purchase. There’s also a 60-day money-back guarantee.

Get Norton Family Now

Read our full Norton Family review

4. Bark — Good for Non-Invasive Tracking

4. Bark — Good for Non-Invasive Tracking

Bark is the least invasive parental app on this list — it doesn’t allow you to see everything your child does online, but instead only sends you alerts when it detects problematic or concerning content. That’s why I think this provider is mostly suitable for parents of older kids who have a lot of trust in them.

The parental app tracks text messages, photos, videos, emails, web browsing, and 30+ popular apps, including Reddit, Discord, Instagram, and TikTok. It uses machine learning to scan content for potential issues (like profanity, violence, bullying, depression, hate speech, and more), and it alerts you if it detects anything concerning.

Bark also allows you to view your child’s location, but not in real-time — instead, you need to request a check-in, which your child will then need to perform to share their location with you. I honestly think Qustodio, Net Nanny, and Norton Family provide better location tracking, as it’s real-time and you don’t need to request access to your kids’ location data.

You also get access to web and app filtering, plus screen time management, which lets you set up web and app filtering rules for specific times of the day. But I think the app filtering needs improvement, as it only stops apps from accessing the web, so kids can still use apps that work offline — Qustodio, Net Nanny, and Norton Family can block all access to apps.

Bark allows you to monitor unlimited devices with its 2 paid subscriptions, Bark Jr. ($49.00 / year) and Bark Premium ($99.00 / year). I recommend getting Bark Premium because it comes with all features, whereas Bark Jr. only comes with location tracking, screen time management, and web and app filtering. Unfortunately, there’s no money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

Bark is good for parents who want non-invasive tracking. It doesn’t show you everything your kids do online, instead it only notifies you if it detects problematic or concerning content. It can scan text messages, emails, videos, photos, and 30+ apps that are popular with kids. There’s also location tracking, web and app filtering, and screen time management. There are 2 tier-based subscriptions, but no money-back guarantee.

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Read our full Bark review

5. FamiSafe — Good for Tracking Kids’ Driving Habits

5. FamiSafe — Good for Tracking Kids’ Driving Habits

FamiSafe is good for parents whose kids just started driving, as it can monitor their driving habits as long as they have their mobile phone with them. It gives you access to detailed driving reports that include data like time spent driving, average and highest speeds, the number of hard brakes, and the number of times speeding. In addition, you can configure FamiSafe to send you alerts if your child is driving recklessly — like if they exceed the maximum speed limit you set, for example.

Plus, you get access to information about your child’s web and app usage. You can see what sites your kids visited and what apps they used, and also which URLs they accessed the most. And there’s also really accurate real-time location tracking.

Other features include easy-to-use time limits and app filtering. There’s also web filtering, but it doesn’t work as well as Qustodio, Net Nanny, or Norton Family’s web filtering.FamiSafe also claims it provides live monitoring for TikTok and YouTube’s apps, but its feature unfortunately doesn’t work — Qustodio and Bark can monitor both apps without issues, and tons of other apps as well.

FamiSafe’s paid plans start at $10.99 / month and can monitor 5–10 devices. There’s also a free plan that provides access to all features, but can only monitor 1 device and doesn’t store any user settings. The paid plans are covered by a 7-day money-back guarantee.

Bottom Line:

FamiSafe can monitor older kids’ driving habits, notifying parents if their children engage in reckless driving. It can also track children’s website visits and app usage, and it provides access to really good location tracking. The provider has a free plan, affordable paid plans, and a 7-day money-back guarantee.

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Read our full FamiSafe review

Comparison of the Best Parental Control Apps for Remotely Tracking Kids’ Phones in 2022

Parental App Starting Price Web & App Tracking Location Tracking Phone Call & SMS Tracking Monitors iOS & Android Devices Number of devices Money-Back Guarantee
1. 🥇 Qustodio $54.95 / year 5–15 30 days
2. 🥈 Net Nanny $39.99 / year 1–20 14 days
3. 🥉 Norton Family $49.99 / year Unlimited 60 days
4. Bark $5.00 / month Unlimited
5. FamiSafe $10.99 / month 5–10 7 days

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How to Choose the Best Parental Control App for Remotely Tracking Kids’ Phones in 2022

  • Mobile kids apps. The parental apps need to come with kids apps for iOS and Android — otherwise, you can’t remotely monitor your children’s mobile devices.
  • Essential tracking features. The parental control app should provide useful information about your child’s web and app usage, such as which blocked sites they try to access and which apps they use the most. All of my top picks also provide information about the child’s location or their screen time usage.
  • Extra features. I recommend picking parental apps that also come with additional features that help you monitor your child’s digital habits or keep them safe online — for example, Qustodio has a phone call and text message monitoring feature, and FamiSafe has a feature that monitors driving habits.
  • Ease of use. You should only use providers that have easy-to-install kids and parental apps — on average, it shouldn’t take you more than 5 minutes to install both apps on your and your kids’ devices. Also, the apps need to have intuitive interfaces that are simple to navigate.
  • Good value. All the parental control apps on this list allow you to monitor multiple devices at the same time (Qustodio monitors 5–15 devices and Norton Family monitors unlimited devices), have affordable plans, and most of them come with free plans, free trials, or money-back guarantees.

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Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut

  • Google Family Link. This parental control app is completely free to use and provides access to some tracking data, such as screen time and location data. But Google Family Link only tracks Android devices, it’s not user-friendly, and children can disable most monitoring and restrictions when they’re 13 years old.
  • Apple’s Screen Time. This parental app is decent, but it has some noticeable drawbacks — it only monitors iOS devices, and it’s easy for kids to bypass some of its features, such as app monitoring or screen time limits.
  • mSpy. It monitors iOS and Android devices and includes social media app message monitoring and email tracking — but I think this parental app is way too invasive, and it will only harm your relationship with your kids. Plus, you need to root or jailbreak your kid’s device to use most of its tracking features, which is difficult to do and can also compromise the device’s security.

Are There Other Ways to Remotely Track Kids’ Phones?

Not really — the only other monitoring software you could use is a keylogger, but I strongly recommend against that. It can monitor your child’s key strokes and some keyloggers even take screenshots of your child’s screen, but this type of monitoring is extremely invasive. If your child finds out you’re using a keylogger on their device, it will seriously damage their trust in you.

I have also seen people talk about using spyware, but I recommend avoiding that type of tracking — it involves using malicious software, which could compromise your child’s privacy and the security of their device.

Overall, the safest and most efficient way to remotely monitor your kid’s phone is to use a top parental control app, like Qustodio, Net Nanny, or Norton Family — they’re less invasive than keyloggers, and much safer than spyware.

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Can I track my kid’s phone without them knowing?

You can, as some parental apps provide features that prevent detection — for example, they hide the parental app’s icon and prevent the app from generating notifications on the child’s device.

But I strongly recommend avoiding this type of tracking — even if the parental app is hidden, your child will eventually realize you installed such software on their device. After all, they’ll have limited web and app access, and they might hear you talk about the sites they access (even though they didn’t tell you about them). And when this happens, it will seriously harm your relationship with them.

Should I talk with my child about tracking their phone?

Yes, I strongly believe it’s much better to be open with your kids about using parental control apps on their devices to monitor their web and app usage. Explain why you think this is important, how it helps keep them safe, and how it lets you know they’re safe. If you try to track your child’s device without their knowledge, it will seriously damage your relationship with them and their trust in you if they find out.

What is the best parental control app for remotely monitoring kids’ phones?

Qustodio is the best parental app for remotely monitoring children’s phones in 2022 — it lets you see which sites your kids access, what words they use in Google searches, which apps they use the most, what they watch and search for on YouTube’s site and app, who they exchange phone calls and text messages with, and their real-time location.

But the other parental apps on this list are also good options. Net Nanny is really good for remotely tracking children’s web searches, and Norton Family is great for remotely monitoring unlimited devices. Also, Bark is a good pick for non-invasive tracking, and FamiSafe is good for tracking driving habits.

Yes, it’s legal to do this in most countries, as long as you use legitimate software (like parental control apps) and only try to monitor your kids’ devices, which you legally own. However, once your kids reach the legal age in your country and buy their own phones, you can’t legally use a parental app to remotely track their devices without their consent.

Since each country has different laws, I strongly recommend you research your local laws to make sure it’s perfectly legal to remotely track your child’s phone with a parental app. You should also check if there are any limitations to what you can monitor.

Can I remotely track my kid’s phone for free?

There are free tracking tools out there, but I don’t recommend using them because they’re pretty risky — after all, you give them tons of permissions that allow them to access your child’s personal data, which they might share with advertisers for a profit.

If you really need to use a free tracking tool, I recommend trying Qustodio’s free plan, which is the best free plan on the market and is pretty good for basic remote tracking because it comes with web and screen time monitoring. But I still ultimately recommend upgrading to one of the provider’s paid plans to get access to even more tracking features, such as app usage monitoring, YouTube (site and app) tracking, and phone call and text message monitoring.

Can I remotely turn off my child’s phone at night?

Yes, but only if you use a parental control app, which allows you to remotely track and control your kid’s device. Most top parental apps provide access to time limits and scheduling features, which allow you to choose when your kids can and can’t use their devices — during bedtime, for example.

If you don’t know which parental app to pick, I recommend Qustodio — it lets you set screen time allowances for each day in increments of 15 minutes, and it also allows you to restrict device usage during specific times of the day and week. In addition, it also provides excellent web and app tracking, accurate real-time location tracking, phone call and text message monitoring, and more.

Here Are the Best Parental Control Apps for Remotely Tracking Kids’ Phones in 2022:

Rank
Overall Score
Best Deal
1
9.6
save 100%
2
8.8
save 30%
3
8.6
save 72%
4
8.2
save 42%
5
8.2
save 51%
About the Author
Tim Mocan
Tim Mocan
Lead Contributor
Published on: October 18, 2022

About the Author

Tim Mocan is a cybersecurity journalist who has been writing about the VPN industry for the past 5 years. In his free time, he enjoys traveling, eating good food, video games, using VPNs (yes, really!), and watching anime.