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5 Best Antivirus Software with Free Parental Controls in 2021

Bjorn Johansson Bjorn Johansson
Updated on: October 1, 2021
5 Best Antivirus Software with Free Parental Controls in 2021

Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus with parental controls in 2021:

  • 🥇 Norton 360 Deluxe — Excellent antivirus that comes included with advanced parental controls (that are better than many standalone parental controls). It has content filtering, time supervision, location tracking, and lots more, covers up to 5 devices, and comes with a risk-free 60-day money-back guarantee.

I downloaded and tested every single antivirus program with included parental controls that I could find — I wanted to make sure each program’s malware protections and child protections could provide my family with the features we all need to stay safe, both online and offline.

With both of my kids spending more and more time on the internet (and a lot of school tasks being virtual), I needed to find antivirus software that could protect my kids from hackers, predators, and addictive apps without interfering with their education.

The good news is that I found 5 antivirus programs with valuable parental control features that help me protect my kids from the dangers of the digital world.

These programs come with:

  • Content filtering.
  • Usage limitations for apps and devices.
  • App blocking.
  • Location sharing and geo-fencing.
  • Remote monitoring.

Whether you’re looking for strong location tracking and geo-fencing for a mobile device, or just simple content filtering and antivirus protection for your desktop, there’s a program on my list that’s just right for you and your family in 2021.

Quick summary of the best antiviruses with parental controls in 2021:

How I Selected the Top Antivirus Programs with Parental Controls

  • Malware protection. Parental controls are nothing without an antivirus engine that can keep hackers from invading my family’s devices. I tested each program’s anti-malware engine to ensure that they could catch 100% of security threats, including ransomware, spyware, and adware.
  • Parental controls. Content blockers are notoriously picky, either flagging innocent content or letting kids access dangerous parts of the web. Location trackers and geo-fencing features are great in theory, but it’s important that they are accurate and responsive. All of the parental controls here will offer peace of mind without driving you crazy with false notifications.
  • Ease of use. I’m a tech guy, but a lot of parents aren’t computer experts. My list only contains products that have helpful user interfaces to ensure even the most sophisticated controls are easy to access, understand, and use.
  • Value. Lots of companies offer standalone parental control apps, but they lack the basic cybersecurity protections that antivirus packages provide. The programs on my list bundle top-quality antivirus scanners with all of the best parental controls at a competitive price.

🥇 1. Norton 360 Deluxe — Best Antivirus Software with Parental Controls in 2021

🥇 1. <a href="" title="Norton" rel="sponsored noopener norefferer" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 28040" data-btn-indexed="1">Norton 360 Deluxe</a> — Best Antivirus Software with Parental Controls in 2021

Norton 360 Deluxe is my favorite program for keeping my kids and their devices safe it scored a perfect 100% detection rate in my anti-malware tests, and it comes with excellent parental controls which are better than all of the other standalone parental control apps I tried.

Norton’s parental controls are very easy to use. I had no problem checking notifications and adjusting settings for my children’s devices. Less tech-savvy parents will appreciate the 4 built-in restriction levels — these automatically adjust all the permissions and settings for different developmental stages, so you don’t have to set up all of the content filtering permissions yourself.

Norton’s parental controls include:

  • Time supervision.
  • Content filtering.
  • YouTube restrictions.
  • Location tracking.

Limiting device usage is very important, but with a lot of virtual schoolwork, kids need to be on their devices for several hours every day. Norton’s time supervision is perfect for keeping track of your child’s schedule, allowing you to give unlimited screen time during things like schoolwork, while blocking distracting websites and apps until schoolwork time is over.

Norton’s location tracker is another helpful feature. I had no problem following my grade schooler’s location through her tablet, and I liked knowing that I could check her location as far back as 30 days.

Norton’s parental controls are available for Windows, Android, and iOS users inside Norton 360 Deluxe — it includes parental controls, a powerful malware scanner, a VPN with unlimited browsing data, web browsing protections, system cleanup tools, coverage for up to 5 devices, and a lot more.

Bottom Line:

Norton 360 Deluxe is my favorite antivirus with parental controls. Norton’s antivirus scanner is very effective at detecting malware, scoring a perfect 100% detection rate in my tests, and I think the parental controls are the best on the market (better than any standalone app I tested). Norton’s parental controls — which include different restriction levels based on age, time supervision, content filtering, and even location tracking — make it simple to juggle settings and notifications for multiple kids on as many as 5 devices. All Norton purchases come with a risk-free 60-day money-back guarantee.

Try Norton 360 Deluxe Now

Read the full Norton review here >

🥈 2. Bitdefender Total Security — Good Malware Engine with Affordable Parental Controls

🥈 2. <a href="" title="Bitdefender" rel="sponsored noopener norefferer" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 28044" data-btn-indexed="1">Bitdefender Total Security</a> — Good Malware Engine with Affordable Parental Controls

Bitdefender Total Security includes one of the most lightweight antivirus scanners on the market, along with some pretty good parental controls.

Bitdefender scored a really good rating in my malware tests — it detected all of the malware files on my devices and it didn’t slow any of them down during scanning.

When it comes to parental controls, Bitdefender has:

  • Content filtering.
  • App monitoring.
  • Screen time limits.
  • Location tracking.
  • Call filtering.

Bitdefender’s parental controls worked extremely well for me, and it didn’t take long for me to get the parental controls running smoothly on both my daughter’s tablet and my son’s phone.

Bitdefender is particularly great for technical users who know how to optimize their antivirus software, and it comes with a lot of powerful optimization tools for parents who want to control the content their kids view online. On the other hand, Bitdefender is also a really good option if you’re new to antivirus and parental control software — it doesn’t take a lot of effort to get the program up and running at full capacity.

Bitdefender Total Security protects 5 devices across all operating systems, whereas the Internet Security package (which also includes parental controls) only works on Windows and lacks some additional features like device optimization tools.

Bottom Line:

Bitdefender Total Security has a good malware scanner along with solid parental controls with all the essentials  limiting internet usage, blocking dangerous apps and websites, setting screen time limits, location tracking, and geo-fencing. Bitdefender’s parental controls are also available with the cheaper Internet Security package (works on Windows only), but Total Security covers all operating systems and adds extras like device optimization tools. Both plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try Bitdefender Total Security Now

Read the full Bitdefender review here >

🥉 3. Kaspersky Total Security — Best for YouTube Monitoring + Geo-Fencing

🥉 3. <a href="" title="Kaspersky" rel="sponsored noopener norefferer" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 28042" data-btn-indexed="1">Kaspersky Total Security</a> — Best for YouTube Monitoring + Geo-Fencing

Kaspersky Total Security provides really good protection against all types of malware and its intuitive parental controls include great geo-fencing and YouTube controls.

Kaspersky’s antivirus scanner blocked most of the malware I placed on my PC computer and Android phone, but it failed to detect 1 tricky ransomware file that both Norton and McAfee caught.

As for Kaspersky’s parental controls, I really love the location tracking and geo-fencing features which provide real-time GPS location updates and send alerts if your kid leaves the areas you marked as safe.

I also like how user-friendly Kaspersky’s parental controls are — I had no trouble monitoring, scheduling, and blocking device and app usage.

I also appreciate that Kaspersky’s YouTube content filtering works both on the YouTube website and on Android’s YouTube app — no other YouTube filter offers this in-app protection!

And I think it’s pretty cool that Kaspersky sends notifications when your child’s battery is low, so you can get in touch and make plans before their device dies.

Kaspersky Total Security brings you complete antivirus protection and parental controls on up to 10 devices, including Windows, Mac, Android, and iOS devices.

Bottom Line:

Kaspersky Total Security is a reliable antivirus with excellent geo-fencing and YouTube controls. Using Kaspersky’s parental controls, I could easily see where my children were, receive notifications if they went outside of a specified area, get alerts if their batteries were low, and much more. Kaspersky’s Total Security is available as a 1, 2, and 3-year subscription plan, and all Kaspersky purchases have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try Kaspersky Total Security Now

Read the full Kaspersky review here >

4. McAfee Total Protection — Comprehensive Antivirus Suite with Excellent Location Tracking

4. <a href="" title="McAfee" rel="sponsored noopener norefferer" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 256558" data-btn-indexed="1">McAfee Total Protection</a> — Comprehensive Antivirus Suite with Excellent Location Tracking

McAfee Total Protection is a comprehensive internet security package with excellent parental controls — complete with the best family locator around!

During my tests, McAfee’s malware scanner detected every single malware file on my PC as well as my son’s Android tablet, including tricky spyware apps that a lot of the competitors missed.

Apart from an excellent malware scanner, McAfee has really good parental controls, which have all the protections parents need to keep their kids safe online, including:

  • Location tracking and geo-fencing.
  • Device and app limits.
  • Content filtering.
  • Usage monitoring.

I was surprised at how accurate McAfee’s location tracking was — I could see where my kids were on an interactive map, and the geo-fencing alerts notified me the moment that my daughter got a few hundred feet from her friend’s house.

I also like how easy it is to use McAfee’s parental controls — both my partner and I found it very simple to schedule device usage and limit specific apps, and my kids easily understood McAfee’s weekly usage reports so we could collaborate on setting goals and limits for their education apps and games.

McAfee Total Protection also comes with additional features like a VPN with unlimited data, a password manager, web protections, system optimization tools, and coverage for up to 10 devices across all operating systems. However, keep in mind that McAfee’s parental controls are only compatible with Windows, Android, and iOS devices, not Mac computers.

Bottom Line:

McAfee Total Protection is an excellent internet security suite with some of the best location tracking on the market. McAfee’s malware scanner detected all of the malware on my devices, and its parental controls made it very easy for me to keep my kids safe and manage their devices. I was particularly impressed with McAfee’s location tracking, which allowed me to monitor my kids’ location at all times. McAfee Total Protection covers up to 10 devices, is available as a 1-year and 2-year subscription, and has a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try McAfee Total Protection Now

Read the full McAfee review here >

5. BullGuard Premium Protection — Best for Parents of PC Gamers

5. <a href="" title="BullGuard" rel="sponsored noopener norefferer" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 256570" data-btn-indexed="1">BullGuard Premium Protection</a> — Best for Parents of PC Gamers

BullGuard Premium Protection has good malware detection rates, includes a simple content filter, and comes with advanced tools for PC gamers.

BullGuard has a special game booster feature that reallocates system processes to optimize CPU performance while gaming — my son tested this feature, and once he realized that BullGuard actually improved his framerate in Apex Legends, he thanked me for installing the program!

BullGuard is definitely a good antivirus for gamers (it actually scored #1 for best gaming antivirus), but it’s also a decent choice for families.

Here’s what BullGuard offers to protect kids online:

  • Content filtering.
  • Application usage blocking.
  • Scheduled device access.
  • Privacy monitor.
  • Location tracking (Android).

BullGuard’s content filter and app blocker were really good, filtering out inappropriate content with 24 different criteria, and allowing me to block certain apps completely.

I wasn’t too impressed with BullGuard’s privacy monitor — it’s supposed to prevent kids from sharing personal information like name, email, and credit card information online, but it didn’t work properly in my testing.

BullGuard Internet Security includes parental controls and coverage on up to 3 devices, while the Premium Protection package adds identity theft protection, a home network scanner, and coverage for up to 10 devices.

Bottom Line:

BullGuard is a high-quality antivirus with good parental controls (and excellent gaming optimization). BullGuard’s parental controls aren’t as good as the other programs on this list, but they do have content filtering, app blocking, usage scheduling, email privacy filters, and location tracking. All BullGuard purchases have a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try BullGuard Premium Protection Now

Read the full BullGuard review here >

Bonus: Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 — Best for Mac Users

Bonus: <a href="" title="Intego" rel="sponsored noopener norefferer" target="_blank" data-btn-name="Affiliate Link - 256576" data-btn-indexed="1">Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9</a><i> — </i>Best for Mac Users

Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 is my favorite antivirus with parental controls for Mac computers it’s excellent at detecting Mac-specific malware, and its parental controls improve upon Apple’s built-in parental controls with features like:

  • Content filtering.
  • Device usage scheduling.
  • Anti-predator chat monitoring.
  • App blocking.

Apple’s built-in content filters only offer the ability to “block adult websites” — Intego blocks sites based on dozens of filters, from sexual content to hate speech to online shopping, so you can tailor your child’s online experience to their needs.

I was also impressed with Intego’s anti-predator feature. Intego monitors all incoming and outgoing messages for unsafe language, as decided by the parent. I got alerts whenever my kids tried to send financial information or our address through iMessage and email.

Intego’s Mac Premium Bundle X9 includes malware scanning, parental controls, web protections, and advanced system cleanup for an affordable annual subscription.

Bottom Line:

Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 is the best internet security app for Mac users — its malware scanner does a great job at detecting Mac-specific malware and its parental controls offer a significant improvement over macOS’s built-in controls. You can try out Intego risk-free with a 30-day money-back guarantee.

Try Intego Mac Premium Bundle X9 Now

Read the full Intego review here >

Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut:

  • Panda Dome. Panda has an effective cloud-based malware scanner, tons of features, and affordable pricing. However, Panda’s parental controls are pretty basic — you can block access to certain websites and receive notifications when your kids try to access those websites, but there’s no location tracking, usage limits, or app controls.
  • Avira Prime. Avira has an excellent malware scanner and it comes with web protections, a game booster, and system clean-up tools. However, Avira’s antivirus package doesn’t offer any sort of parental controls.
  • Avast Family Space. We no longer recommend any Avast or AVG product on this website due to allegations of selling user data. For more information about the allegations and our decision, go here.

Comparison of the Best Antiviruses with Parental Controls

Antivirus Screen Time/App Usage Limits Location Tracking Geo-Fencing Content Filtering YouTube Controls
1.🥇Norton Yes Yes No Yes Yes (website only)
2.🥈Bitdefender Yes Yes Yes Yes No
3.🥉Kaspersky Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (website and app)
4. McAfee Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes (website only)
5. BullGuard Yes Yes No Yes No
Bonus: Intego Yes No No Yes No

Do I really need to use parental controls?

Yes, you really do. There are all kinds of dangers hiding on the internet.

  • Online predators can deceive children and get personal details and images.
  • Scammers can trick kids into giving away sensitive social security and financial data.
  • Media websites can embed malware in files that are aimed at children.
  • Predators can use AR games like Pokémon Go to target kids.

There are also numerous reports of children experiencing trauma after being exposed to violent, hateful, and graphic content on the internet.

Furthermore, studies have shown that children and teens are particularly susceptible to the harmful consequences of screen addiction. From mood disorders to developmental delays, there’s a ton of data that kids need limits on screen time.

All the programs on this list help protect kids against all of these threats.

Whether you’re trying to keep your child and your devices safe from predatory users, or you’re just trying to safeguard your child’s mental health against the consequences of screen use, parental controls are a necessity.

What is the most effective parental control for my family?

You are the most effective tool for protecting your family online. The fact of the matter is, no parental control app can completely protect our kids. Even if you block every potentially inappropriate app, read your child’s every text message, block every streaming site, and ban every sensitive word from your child’s search engine, kids will find a way to break the rules.

Many studies have suggested that honest, age-appropriate conversations are the best way to keep your kids and your devices safe online. That’s why Norton’s parental controls come with a Smart Talk template to help parents and kids come together to set smart limits for their children’s device usage.

Despite our best efforts, our kids are going to encounter the dangerous and disturbing parts of the internet some day. The tools on this list can help you keep track of your child’s browsing and search history, limit access to risky apps, and limit screen usage. But ultimately, it’s up to us as parents to help our kids navigate the digital world.

Can my kids deactivate their parental controls?

Sometimes, yes. There are different levels of control with different parental control apps — some of them can’t be changed without a password, while others send the parent’s device a notification if any changes are made.

Some programs, like McAfee, give kids options to reach out and make requests for certain websites to be unblocked. I found that enlisting my kids in the decision-making process has made them more tolerant of my parental control choices.

Unfortunately, however, many apps like WhatsApp, Facebook, Snapchat, and Signal offer encrypted messaging, so there’s no way to track what our kids are doing in those apps. That said, all the programs on this list include app blocking features, so you don’t have to worry about your children downloading encrypted messaging apps.

What’s the benefit of using an antivirus with parental controls?

Standalone parental control apps are great, but they don’t protect against malware.

When I first started using a parental control app, my only thought was keeping my kids safe from predators and making sure they weren’t using their devices too much. But after my son’s device got infected with ransomware, I realized that malware and phishing sites are also targeting our kids. Children are at a very high risk of accidentally compromising their devices, and if that happens, your whole network could become infected with malware.

Bundling parental controls with antivirus software makes sense because it puts all cybersecurity protections into one place.

While there are some really powerful and comprehensive parental control apps on the market, if you want to keep both your kids and your kids’ devices safe, you’ll need an antivirus. The products on this list are some of the best antivirus programs around, and their included parental controls are better than many standalone apps.

About the Author

Bjorn Johansson
Bjorn Johansson
Cybersecurity researcher and digital rights advocate
Updated on: October 1, 2021

About the Author

Bjorn is a cybersecurity researcher and digital rights advocate. Originally from Sweden, he now lives on the Maine coast with his wife and their two kids. When he’s not helping keep the internet safe for everyday people, he enjoys boating with his family and woodworking.