3 (Quick + Easy) Steps to Remotely Track Your Child’s Phone Location in 2023:
- Step 1. Pick a good parental app. My top pick is Qustodio, as it provides very accurate real-time location tracking, allows you to see a list of your kid’s previous locations, comes with an easy-to-use geofencing feature, and even includes a panic button.
- Step 2. Set up the provider’s kids app on your child’s phone. Doing this will only take around 2–3 minutes. Make sure you provide the app with location permissions, otherwise it can’t track your kid’s phone location.
- Step 3. Give the phone back to your child. You can now start using the provider’s parental app to keep tabs on your child’s real-time location.
Even though some might say tracking your kid’s location is over the top, I think it makes sense — it helps parents keep their kids safe in case they get lost, as they get instant access to their real-time location. It also provides parents with an easy way to find their child’s phone if they lose it.
And the best way to track a child’s phone location is to use a parental control app, which is a monitoring tool that allows you to keep tabs on your child’s location, as well as their web, app, and device usage. A parental control app consists of 2 apps — the kids app, which you set up on your child’s phone, and the parental app that you use to monitor your child’s location and other activity.
I spent the past few weeks testing tons of parental apps, and I only found a few that provide excellent real-time location tracking. Most parental control apps either don’t display your child’s real-time location, or don’t have accurate location tracking tools. But with the apps that made it to my list, you can see your child’s location at all times, view their previous locations, and/or set up geofenced areas (to receive alerts when your kids enter or leave them).
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Quick summary of the best parental control apps for tracking your kid’s phone location in 2023:
- 1. 🥇 Qustodio — Best parental app for tracking a child’s phone location in 2023. Accurately displays your kid’s real-time location via regular notifications and also shows their past locations. Location tracking is easy to use and comes with a geofencing feature. In addition, there’s a panic button that shares your kid’s phone location with trusted contacts if they’re in danger.
- 2. 🥈 Norton Family — Best pick for monitoring your kid’s phone location on multiple phones. Allows you to track location data on an unlimited number of devices. Also provides accurate and easy-to-use location tracking, large geofenced areas, scheduled location notifications, and a check-in option, which is less invasive.
- 3. 🥉 FamiSafe — Good free plan for location monitoring. Includes accurate real-time location tracking, previous locations, and geofencing. Also allows parents to share their location, so that their kids can see it.
- 4. Kaspersky Safe Kids — Accurate location tracking with huge geofenced zones. Provides frequent location alerts and allows you to create geofenced areas up to 62.1 miles or 99 kilometers. Also displays information about your child’s phone battery level.
- 5. Net Nanny — Great location tracking with very frequent updates. Provides location alerts about your child’s current location every 2–3 minutes. Also displays a list of their previous locations and allows you to set up geofencing alerts.
- Comparison of the Best Parental Apps for Tracking Your Kid’s Phone Location in 2023.
🥇 1. Qustodio — Best Parental App for Tracking Your Kid’s Phone Location in 2023
Qustodio provides the best location tracking in 2023. Its Family Locator tool sends you location updates every 5–10 minutes, so it doesn’t feel very invasive. I also like how Family Locator displays your child’s previous locations, which is really helpful, especially if you want to make sure your kid isn’t taking any detours on their way back home from school.
I also like how you get access to a geofencing feature as well, which lets you set predefined zones and receive notifications when your kids arrive to or leave those zones. For example, you can use this feature to receive alerts when your kids leave school or arrive home. Qustodio supports geofenced areas that cover up to 0.12 miles or 200 meters, which is great.
Qustodio is also one of the only parental apps that come with a panic button, which allows your kid to send a distress signal via text message or email to trusted contacts if they’re in danger. The feature is easy to set up and it’s also easy for kids to use — they just need to tap a large SOS button and confirm its activation. When the panic button is triggered, it sends out alerts that contain the child’s exact location (street address and coordinates).
In addition, you get access to features to help your kids develop healthy digital habits. For example, there’s a dedicated YouTube monitoring feature that lets you track what your kids search for and watch on YouTube’s site and app. Also, there’s a feature that monitors children’s phone calls and text messages. And you also get excellent web and app filtering and easy-to-use time limits and scheduling features.
Qustodio’s paid plans start at only $54.95 / year, so they’re very affordable. They include location tracking and all other features. The paid plans monitor 5–15 devices and are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee. Qustodio also has the best free plan on the market, but it doesn’t come with location tracking.
Qustodio is the best parental app on the market for tracking your kid’s phone location. Its location tracking feature displays children’s real-time and previous locations, and it’s very accurate and easy to use. There’s also a geofencing feature and a panic button. You also get a YouTube monitoring feature, phone call and text message tracking, and excellent web and app filtering. Qustodio has a free plan, affordable paid plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥈 2. Norton Family — Best for Tracking Your Kid’s Phone Location Across Multiple Devices
Norton Family allows you to monitor your kid’s phone location on an unlimited number of devices, so it’s an ideal pick for large families. Its location tracking tool, called Location Supervision, sends location notifications every 20–30 minutes, which is pretty good, but it’s less frequent than Qustodio, which sends location updates every 5–10 minutes. There’s also a geofencing feature, which allows you to set up geofenced areas up to 2 miles or 3.2 kilometers.
I also like the Alert Me option, which notifies you about your kids current location at scheduled times. It’s very customizable, as you can choose the day, time of the day (am or pm), the hour, and even the minutes using 5 minute increments. You could use this setting to check if your kids actually come home after they finish school, or to make sure they get to football practice on time.
Norton Family also provides access to a less invasive type of location tracking — instead of tracking your child’s real-time location, you can ask them to perform a check-in via the kids app, which will share their location with you over email. This is a good solution for tracking teens — you still get to know where they are, but they won’t feel like their privacy is invaded.
On top of location tracking, you also get really good web and app filtering, and School Time, which lets you set up specific web filtering rules and time limits during school hours. There are also features that monitor your child’s activity on YouTube’s site — that said, I think Qustodio provides better YouTube monitoring because it can also track activity on YouTube’s app.
Norton Family is bundled with the Norton 360 Deluxe ($24.99 / year) subscription, which also includes Norton 360, the best antivirus in 2023. The parental app is also available as a standalone purchase for only $49.99 / year. Also, there’s a 60-day money-back guarantee for each plan.
Norton Family allows you to track your kid’s phone location on unlimited devices. Its location tracking is really accurate and easy to use, and comes with large geofenced areas, scheduled location notifications, and even a less invasive check-in option. It also has great web and app filtering, School Time, and video and search tracking for YouTube’s site. Norton Family is available as a standalone purchase or as part of the Norton 360 Deluxe. There’s also a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Norton Family review
🥉 3. FamiSafe — Good Free Plan for Location Tracking
FamiSafe has really good location tracking. It sends location updates every 15 minutes, which is good but slightly less frequent than Qustodio’s alerts. You also get access to a list of your child’s previous locations.
In addition, there’s a geofencing feature that works really well and lets you set up geofenced areas up to 0.60 miles or 1 kilometer. I think that’s enough for most people, but if you need to set up larger zones if your child attends a school with a large campus or hangs around a specific neighborhood, Norton Family is a better pick because it allows geofenced areas up to 2 miles or 3.2 kilometers.
I also like how FamiSafe allows kids to see their parents’ location on the kids app — this is helpful if you’re meeting your kids at a location they’re not familiar with. The parental app also comes with Drive Safety, which lets you monitor your kid’s driving habits. It also has really good web filtering, app restrictions, and time limits
FamiSafe allows you to track 5–10 devices, and plans start at $10.99 / month. And for an additional price, you can also add Geonection, a separate iOS and Android app that adds GPS tracking to your child’s device — while it works well, I think FamiSafe’s built-in location tracking is enough. Also, there’s a 7-day money-back guarantee for each purchase.
FamiSafe provides access to location tracking, which is very accurate, comes with geofenced zones, and even allows kids to see their parents’ location. And you also get good web and app filtering, and Drive Safety. All plans are backed by a 7-day money-back guarantee.
4. Kaspersky Safe Kids — Accurate Location Tracking With Huge Geofenced Areas
Kaspersky Safe Kids allows you to create huge geofenced areas that are up to 62.1 miles or 99 kilometers and set up a time interval during which your kids need to be inside those areas. The size seems over the top, but I can see how this would be helpful if your child is traveling through the country or abroad, and you want to receive alerts that confirm they reached a certain city at the expected hour.
The location tracking feature displays information about your child’s phone battery level — this is really helpful if your kid usually forgets to charge their phone, and you want to remind them to do it before it turns off.
Overall, I’m happy with Kaspersky Safe Kids’s location tracking, but I don’t like how it doesn’t let you see your child’s previous locations (like Qustodio, Norton Family, and FamiSafe do) — seeing your kid’s previous locations would be helpful if you need to make sure they head straight home after school.
Kaspersky Safe Kids has a super affordable yearly plan for only $14.99 / year — but you can also get 1 year of free access to it via the Kaspersky Premium subscription, which also includes a great antivirus, a decent VPN, and more, for only $22.99 / year. Also, there’s a 30-day money-back guarantee for all purchases.
Kaspersky Safe Kids has very accurate location tracking that allows you to set up huge geofenced areas. The location data also includes access to your child’s phone battery level. Location tracking is only available via the provider’s paid plans, which are very affordable — however, you can also get 1 year of free access to the paid version via Kaspersky’s Premium subscription. All purchases are backed by a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Kaspersky Safe Kids review
5. Net Nanny — Great Location Tracking With Frequent Location Updates
Net Nanny provides frequent location updates — roughly every 2–3 minutes. This is helpful if you need to know your kid’s exact location.
I also like how easy it is to use both the location tracking feature and geofencing. That said, I think the geofencing feature requires some improvement — it only allows you to set up alerts for when your child arrives at or leaves a specific address. Top competitors like Qustodio and Norton Family let you set up predefined areas and receive alerts when your kids enter or leave them.
In addition, you get access to great web filtering — it blocks 10+ predefined site categories, it can’t be bypassed with a VPN, and it also allows you to set up custom filters. What’s more, there’s a profanity censor that censors obscenities on web pages.
You also get access to a ton of other parental controls tools. You can manage your kids screen time, restrict their app access, and monitor what they watch and search for on YouTube. However, Net Nanny can only monitor YouTube’s site (unlike Qustodio, which monitors YouTube’s app, too).
Net Nanny has several paid plans, but only its Family Protection Pass plans let you track location. Family Protection Pass for 5 devices ($54.99 / year) provides the best value, while Family Protection Pass for 20 devices ($89.99 / year) is a good pick for large families. There’s a 14-day money-back guarantee for all plans.
Net Nanny has accurate real-time location tracking with frequent updates. It shows you a list of your child’s previous locations and has a (somewhat limited) geofencing feature. In addition, you get web filtering, time limits, and YouTube monitoring. Location tracking is available via 2 of the paid plans, which are backed by a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Read our full Net Nanny review
Comparison of the Best Parental Control Apps for Tracking Your Child’s Phone Location in 2023
|Parental App||Starting Price||Real-Time Location Tracking||Previous Locations||Geofencing||Number of Devices||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1. 🥇 Qustodio||$54.95 / year||✅||✅||✅||5–15||30 days|
|2. 🥈 Norton Family||$49.99 / year||✅||✅||✅||Unlimited||60 days|
|3. 🥉 FamiSafe||$10.99 / month||✅||✅||✅||5–10||7 days|
|4. Kaspersky Safe Kids||$14.99 / year||✅||❌||✅||500||30 days|
|5. Net Nanny||$39.99 / year||✅||✅||✅ (but is pretty limited)||1–20||14 days|
How to Choose the Best Parental Control App for Tracking Your Kid’s Phone Location in 2023
- Real-time location tracking. The parental app should provide you with access to your child’s real-time location, so you can quickly check if they’re where they’re supposed to be, such as school, home, or a friend’s house. All of my top picks come with real-time location tracking.
- Additional location tracking features. On top of real-time location tracking, the parental app should also provide access to other relevant location data and tracking options — for example, a list of your kid’s previous locations or geofencing settings, which allow you to receive alerts when your child arrives at or leaves an area or address.
- Essential parental control features. In addition to great location tracking, all the parental apps in this article come with industry-standard parental control features, such as web and app filtering, time limits, scheduling, and activity reports.
- Ease of use. It should only take you a few minutes to set up the parental control app on your child’s device and enable its location tracking feature. What’s more, the provider’s parental app, which you will use, needs to be intuitive and simple to navigate.
- Good value. The parental control app should allow you to monitor multiple devices simultaneously (Qustodio can monitor 5–15 devices, and Norton Family monitors unlimited devices), have affordable plans, and come with free plans, free trials, or generous money-back guarantees.
Isn’t a Phone’s Built-in Location Tracking Enough?
iOS and Android location tracking features are developed for finding lost or stolen phones — but they’re simply not designed to track a child’s location. While you can use these features to see your child’s real-time location, you also need their Google or iCloud account information to do it. What’s more, your kids can easily disable these built-in features on their phones.
It’s much better to use a parental control app to track your child’s phone location — top providers like Qustodio and Norton Family provide accurate real-time location tracking, which your kids can’t disable. In addition, you also get access to extra data, such as your child’s previous locations. And you can also set up geofenced areas (like school or home), so that you get alerts when your kids enter or leave them.
Is It Legal to Track My Child’s Phone Location?
Yes, it’s legal in most countries, but only as long as you use legitimate services, like a parental control app. In addition, you can only use such an app on your child’s device, which you must legally own.
However, once your kids reach legal age and buy their own phones, you can’t track their location using a parental app. It’s only possible to do that if you have their consent.
All countries have different laws, so I can’t provide accurate legal advice for each region. That’s why I strongly recommend researching your local laws to make sure it’s perfectly legal to use a parental app to track your child’s phone location, and if there are any limitations to what you can track.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Google Family Link. This app is 100% free to use, and it comes with location tracking, but it’s very basic — it doesn’t display your kid’s previous locations, and it doesn’t have a geofencing feature. What’s more, Google Family Link can only track Android phones, and kids can disable most monitoring features when they’re 13 years old.
- mSpy. This provider has decent location tracking, but it only works on Android devices. Also, mSpy is very invasive, so it could harm your relationship with your children — plus, to use some of the provider’s advanced tracking features, you need to root or jailbreak your child’s phone, which is difficult and could compromise the device’s security.
- Apple’s Screen Time. This is a decent parental app, but it doesn’t provide access to location tracking. What’s more, Screen Time only works on iOS and macOS devices, and it’s pretty easy for kids to bypass some of its restrictions (such as app filtering).
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I track my child’s location without them knowing?
Yes, it’s possible to do this since some parental apps provide options to hide their activity — like preventing the app from generating notifications on your child’s phone, for example.
That said, I really don’t recommend taking this approach — even if the parental control app is hidden, your child will eventually realize you are tracking their location when they’ll hear you talking about their whereabouts. When this happens, it could damage your child’s trust in you. So, it’s much better to be open with your child about tracking their phone location.
Can I use a phone’s built-in location tracking instead of a third-party app?
You can, but built-in location tracking features are not as good as parental control apps — they will display your kid’s real-time location, but only if you have their Google or iCloud account information. And even then, kids can disable built-in location tracking features on their phones pretty easily.
It’s much better to use a good third-party parental app like Qustodio — it allows you to see your child’s real-time location, as well as a list of all the places they’ve been to. What’s more, kids can’t disable location tracking, and you also get access to geofencing, which allows you to set up areas (like school campuses) and receive alerts when your kids enter or leave them.
What is the best parental app for tracking your child’s phone location?
I think Qustodio is the best parental app for tracking your kid’s phone location in 2023 — it comes with very accurate real-time location tracking, allows you to see a list of your kid’s previous locations, and provides access to an easy-to-use geofencing feature.
Can I use a free parental app to track my child’s phone location?
There are free parental apps out there, but I usually recommend avoiding them since most of them don’t have location tracking. And the ones that do usually provide buggy tracking that doesn’t work well. Plus, I think it’s dangerous to use a free service, as you’ll give it tons of permissions on your child’s app, which could allow it to compromise your kid’s private data.
Instead, you should check out a reasonably-priced parental control app like Qustodio, which offers flexible plans that start at just $54.95 / year.
Will a parental app show me where my child has been?
Yes, as most top parental apps provide access to your kid’s previous locations — for example, Qustodio shows you a list of all the places your child has been to, and also provides timestamps.