I have four children ranging in age from 15 to 9. As they age, I am realizing the importance of monitoring their relationship with the online world. But I’m not going to lie — even typing that sentence makes me feel a little overwhelmed. With all of the demands in life, finding the time to check YouTube, email, texts and social media feels a bit daunting. And if I’m being really honest, I could be a lot better at it than I am.
Recently, I had a conversation with a friend about an online monitoring tool she had been using called Bark. I was intrigued and decided I should probably sign up for one of these apps myself. While I have the best of intentions when it comes to checking and monitoring all of my children’s devices and online interactions, the reality is, more times than not, I let it slip. And this really isn’t something I should be letting slip.
If you have felt anything like me, you may want to consider using a parental control monitoring app. Here are three highly-rated apps that may be a good fit for you and your family.
Bark (bark.us) – Bark monitors 30+ of the most popular apps and social media platforms, including text messaging and email, for signs of digital dangers. The screen time management and web filtering tools help you set healthy limits around how and when your kids use their devices. Bark Premium is $14/monthly or $99/annually and will cover all of your children’s devices. Using Bark Premium, parents can monitor texts, email, YouTube and a wide variety of apps and platforms, get alerts for uses like cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation and more, manage screen time, filter what websites your kids can visit and keep up with kids with location check-ins. Bark also offers a package for families with younger children who may not need as much monitoring. This Bark Jr. package is $5/monthly or $49/annually and manages screen time, filters which websites your children can visit, and keeps up with kids with location check-ins.
Norton Family (family.norton.com) – Norton Family offers a product that makes the web safe for children to explore, helps balance time spent online, offers detailed reports of what children are doing online and now includes a new School Time feature that helps online students to stay focused on schoolwork. The cost for this service is a great price of just $49.99/year.
Qustodio (qustodio.com) – Qustodio has a lot of the features parents are looking for in a monitoring app. With this app, you can filter content and apps, monitor activity, set time limits, locate family members, track calls and SMS, get reports, alerts and SOS. They also offer primary support to help set-up Qustodio and make sure you have the maximum protection and screen time balance needed for your family. With three separate plans, they have something for everyone. The small plan covers five devices and is $54.95/year. The medium plan is $96.95/year and covers 10 devices and the largest plan they offer is $137.95/year and covers 15 devices.
Keeping track of our children’s relationship with the online world is no small task, especially as new apps and ways for them to connect with others are increasingly regularly. Hopefully, using a parental control monitoring app will help make this difficult task a little bit easier.