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Is There a Completely Free Parental Control App?

The short answer is yes, there are some excellent parental control apps available for free including Google Family Link, Qustodio, Norton Family, MMGuardian, Kaspersky Safe Kids, and FamilyTime. These provide powerful features like app blocking, screen time limits, location tracking, web filters, and activity monitoring without any subscription required. In this comprehensive guide, I‘ll compare the top free options for Android and iOS.

Why Use a Parental Control App?

As an avid gamer and streaming enthusiast myself, I know it‘s important to balance screen time with other activities. Parental control apps allow you to set healthy limits on device usage, while still allowing access to appropriate apps and content.

According to a recent survey by Common Sense Media, teens spend an average of 7 hours per day on screens, while tweens spend nearly 5 hours per day. Excessive screen time has been linked to obesity, sleep issues, behavioral problems, impaired academic performance, and more.

Parental control apps provide powerful tools to help kids manage screen time in a healthy way. Features like app blocking, time limits, and location tracking give you needed oversight and control as a parent.

The Best Free Parental Control Apps

Now let‘s dive into the details on the top free parental control apps available in 2022:

1. Google Family Link – Best Free App for Android

I recommend Google Family Link as the top free parental control app for Android devices. It‘s incredibly full-featured for a free app.

With Family Link, you can:

  • Set daily screen time limits
  • Remotely lock your child‘s device
  • Block apps from download or use
  • View activity reports and screen time
  • See your child‘s location in real-time
  • Set bedtime for device to turn off

Family Link utilizes your child‘s existing Google account, so setup is a breeze. No need for a separate parental control account. It works seamlessly on Android devices running Android 5.0 and above.

The one limitation is Family Link only works on Android devices, not iOS. But for Android users, it can‘t be beaten in terms of functionality at no cost.

2. Qustodio – Excellent Free Version for iOS and Android

Qustodio is the most widely used paid parental control app, and it offers a very solid free version for both iPhone and Android devices.

With Qustodio‘s free tools, you get:

  • Website blocking by category to restrict inappropriate or dangerous content
  • Time limits and schedules for when devices can be used
  • Monitoring of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp
  • Detailed reports showing websites visited and apps used
  • Alerts for concerning online activity

The free version allows you to manage filters, time limits, and monitoring on one child‘s device. To cover all your kids‘ devices, you would need to upgrade to Qustodio‘s paid plans which start at $54.95 annually.

But the free functionality is extremely robust for one child. It‘s easy to set up and beats most competitors‘ free offerings.

3. Norton Family – Solid Free App for iOS and Android

Norton Family is a trusted name in family security software. The free parental control app for iPhone and Android offers:

  • Website blocking by category to restrict inappropriate or dangerous content
  • Time limits on daily/weekly device and app usage
  • Monitoring of Google and YouTube searches
  • Location tracking throughout the day
  • Activity reports showing sites visited and searches

Norton Family integrates with Norton antivirus for additional security against malware and phishing sites. This is a nice advantage over standalone parental control apps.

The main limitations are no social media or SMS monitoring, YouTube filters, or per-app time limits without upgrading to a paid plan. But the free tools still provide effective web filtering, time management, and monitoring.

4. MMGuardian – Great Free App for Robust Android Parental Controls

If you‘re looking for really robust, free parental controls on Android devices, MMGuardian is an excellent choice.

MMGuardian was designed by parents to include all the key features they wanted for monitoring their own kids. For free, you get:

  • Complete app blocking capabilities
  • Time limits for individual apps or overall device usage
  • Monitoring of all SMS texts including content filtering
  • Real-time location tracking
  • Call log viewing including inbound/outbound calls
  • Website filtering by category to block inappropriate or dangerous sites
  • Usage reports and weekly summaries of activity

The powerful, free app blocking really sets MMGuardian apart. Parents can block access to any apps on their kid‘s Android device without limitations.

The only downside is it does not support iOS devices. But for Android parental controls, it‘s extremely full-featured at no cost.

5. Kaspersky Safe Kids – Free Android App with Helpful Features

Kaspersky Safe Kids is a free parental control app from the antivirus software maker Kaspersky. It has an intuitive interface and offers useful features including:

  • Real-time location tracking viewable on a live map
  • Visibility into which apps are being used and for how long
  • App blocking capabilities and daily time limits
  • Weekly activity reports with analytical insights
  • Web filtering by category to block inappropriate content
  • Controls to manage notifications and interruptions

A standout is the detailed reports that provide great visibility into your child‘s app usage, web activity, location history, and more.

Limitations of the free version include no social media or text monitoring. But for basic parental controls, Kaspersky Safe Kids provides fantastic functionality at no cost.

6. FamilyTime – Free Location Tracking and Time Limits for iOS and Android

As the name suggests, FamilyTime focuses on powerful free features for family monitoring and time management. It works across both iPhone and Android.

You get access to:

  • Real-time location tracking viewable on a map
  • Geofencing alerts when your child enters or leaves set areas
  • Time limits and schedules for when device use is allowed
  • Individual app blocking to restrict access
  • Daily and weekly activity reports
  • Alerts for any uninstall or disable attempts

FamilyTime really excels in its simplicity and ease of use. The free tools provide parents great visibility into location and solid time management capabilities.

Key Considerations in Choosing the Right App

When picking a free parental control app, consider:

Your devices – If you only have Android, Google Family Link is a perfect fit. For iOS, Qustodio, Norton Family or FamilyTime are great options.

Your key concerns – If inappropriate content is your main worry, focus on robust web filtering tools. If you prioritize location tracking or time limits, choose an app offering those for free.

App blocking needs – If you want to freely block apps like TikTok or Snapchat, MMGuardian gives you full control. Others provide more limited app lists.

Ease of use – If you want an intuitive app you can set up quickly, FamilyTime is very user-friendly.

Extra security – Norton Family integrates with antivirus software for added safety from malware and phishing.

While all the apps have solid free offerings, take time to assess their capabilities against your family‘s needs. That will ensure you choose the best free parental control app for protecting your kids.

FAQs About Free Parental Control Apps

Are free parental control apps any good?

Yes, the best free parental control apps provide extremely robust features like time limits, location tracking, web filtering, app blocking, and activity monitoring. Apps like Google Family Link, Qustodio, and Norton Family have excellent free versions with functionality that competes with paid parental control apps.

What is the #1 free parental control app?

For Android, Google Family Link is hands-down the most full-featured free parental control app. For managing both Android and iOS devices, Qustodio has the best free offering with powerful web filtering, time management, and activity reporting across platforms.

Do any parental control apps work for free?

Yes, all of the parental control apps covered above – Google Family Link, Qustodio, Norton Family, MMGuardian, Kaspersky Safe Kids, and FamilyTime – have generous free versions that provide robust parental control capabilities at no cost. They represent the best options currently available.

Can parental controls be hacked?

Parental control apps have security protections in place to prevent kids from easily uninstalling, disabling or hacking the app. However, technically savvy kids could still find ways to bypass the controls if they look into hacking methods online. To reduce this risk, have an open conversation explaining your reasons for using parental controls. Monitoring and managing device use is about health and safety, not punishment.

Do I still have control of my child‘s phone with parental controls?

Yes, parental control apps allow you to retain control through features like remotely locking devices, monitoring activity, filtering content, limiting screen time, blocking apps, and tracking location. Your child still has use of their device, while you gain needed visibility and can set healthy boundaries.