Which Parental Control App Is Best for iPhones?
Digital devices bring the world to our fingertips — but for our kids, the online world can be a scary and confusing place.
According to a Common Sense Media report [*], 73% of teens have watched pornography online. Even more shocking, on average, they first encountered pornography online at the age of 12 — with nearly half of them finding it unintentionally.
Inappropriate content is just one of the threats facing our kids online. Parents also have to worry about computer viruses, identity theft, predators, cyberbullying, and screen addiction.
That's why millions of families have turned to digital security and parental control apps to help them watch over their kids’ online activities.
In this guide, we explore the best parental control apps for iPhones. We highlight the different features available and help you choose the most suitable option for your needs.
How To Choose a Parental Control App: Look For These 7 Essential Features
Kids today are incredibly tech savvy and capable of slipping past even the most stringent restrictions.
That’s why the best parental control apps are reliable, comprehensive, and protect kids without overly invading or limiting their digital lives. The most effective parental app providers also help shield you and your family from hackers, scammers, and online predators.
When reviewing and judging the best parental control apps for iPhones of 2023, we looked at the following seven feature categories:
- Content monitoring and filtering. Parental controls should give you peace of mind in knowing that your children won’t engage with adult or inappropriate content online. Sites with adult content should be blocked from the start, with no easy workarounds for kids.
- Screen time limits and control. Parents should have the ability to set time limits to ensure that their kids don't spend all day in front of a screen.
- Scheduling online time. The apps should allow parents to set online screen schedules, such as blocking internet access during bedtime or studying hours.
- Digital security and online protection. Apps with built-in Safe Browsing tools and antivirus protection make sure that accidental clicks don't lead to disastrous scenarios.
- Ease of use. Parents shouldn't need a great deal of technical knowledge to protect their kids online. Parental control apps should be easy to install and offer intuitive interfaces.
- Multi-functionality. Several parental control apps extend their coverage to home computers and gaming. Along with iPhones, the best apps work with iPads and other iOS devices, Windows, and Android devices.
- Location tracking. Since many apps can track the location of your kid's phone, this category doesn't rank as highly. However, tracking your child’s location can still be an important feature that many parental control apps integrate.
Note: No parental controls app can fully replace an open and honest relationship with your child. Consider having the Digital Talk to help your kids recognize and understand online dangers and threats.
The 10 Best Parental Control Apps for iPhones in 2023
To the untrained eye, it can be hard to distinguish the critical differences between the top parental control apps on the market today. But if you look closely, you can spot important distinctions that could dramatically change the level and type of control you have over your kids’ iPhones.
Below, we spotlight our top picks for parental control apps and why you might consider them.
1. Aura: All-in-one digital protection for your entire family
While still relatively new on the scene, Aura has quickly become a leader in family protection.
Aura provides an all-in-one safety app for your entire family that includes award-winning parental controls (powered by Circle), artificial intelligence (AI)-powered digital security for all of your devices, robust protection against fraud, family identity theft, and scams, and up to $5 million in identity theft insurance.
Aura won a 2022 Mom’s Choice Award and currently holds a 4.7-star rating on third-party review site Trustpilot — higher than any other company on this list [*].
Along with iPhones, Aura's parental controls work with Android devices.
Why Aura is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Content filters and blocking. Via web filtering, Aura lets you take control over what sites, apps, and games your kids can access. You can block apps and sites to fully customize their internet experience.
- Screen time clock and limits. Monitor how much time your kids spend online, and set time limits on certain sites and apps.
- Internet controls. Disable the internet for certain users or devices after they pass their time limits (or whenever you choose).
- Safe Gaming tools (cyberbullying and predator protection). Get alerts about any cyberbullying taking place on PC games — with voice and text monitoring from over 200 titles.
- AI-powered device protection. Defend your family from hackers and online threats with a secure password manager, antivirus software, spam call and text blocking, and a military-grade virtual private network (VPN).
- Family identity theft protection. Benefit from internet and Dark Web monitoring for your family’s sensitive information — including your child’s Social Security number (SSN) — plus up to $5 million insurance coverage for eligible losses due to identity theft.
Aura pros and cons:
How much does Aura cost?
Aura’s parental controls are only available as part of its Family Plan. Here is Aura’s pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- Family Plan (five adults and unlimited number of children): $37 per month (or $20 per month using the link below)
Who should choose Aura?
You should choose Aura if you want an all-in-one protection package with comprehensive features for the whole family. Aura also offers similar or better pricing than many other options that only offer parental controls.
Bark is one of the better-known names in parental controls, having helped protect over 6.8 million children. Bark offers multiple approaches to parental controls and monitoring your child’s activities online — from an app for your iPhone to a dedicated Android device with built-in controls.
Why Bark is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Monitor content. Get alerts regarding your child's online activity from over 30 apps and sites — including social media and text messages.
- Manage screen time. Control your family's online usage, and create a customized schedule.
- Limit online access. Block or limit access to specific apps, sites, and content types. Get notifications if someone tries to access a restricted site.
- Track users. Receive real-time location alerts, updates, and notifications by using the GPS on your child’s device.
Bark pros and cons:
How much does Bark cost?
Bark's plans vary by features and device coverage. However, iPhone users can only use the Bark Premium app for parental controls.
Here are Bark's plans and pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- Bark Jr. (basic screen time controls): Starting at $5 per month
- Bark Home (filtering for connected devices): Starting at $6 per month
- Bark Premium (parental control app for iPhone): Starting at $14 per month
- Bark Phone (Android device with built-in controls): Starting at $49 per month
Who should choose Bark?
Bark’s different products give you more control over all of your children’s devices — from their phones to home computers and connected devices. However, its Premium app for iPhone users is more expensive than similar options that provide more online protection for your family.
3. Apple Screen Time
Apple embeds free parental controls in every iPhone, iPad, and Mac. Known for its device security and functionality, Apple's parental controls offer more protective features with Screen Time.
Screen Time is unavailable on Android and Chromebook.
Why Apple Screen Time is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Monitor your family's screen time. Receive a report that breaks down how much time your family spends on devices, websites, and apps.
- App blocking and limitations. Schedule limits on specific websites and apps. Use downtime to block all access at certain times.
- Content restrictions. Limit or restrict app usage and certain types of content or activities, such as downloads or purchases.
- Control communications. Manage your children's contacts (and with whom they can communicate) on their devices.
Apple Screen Time pros and cons:
How much does Apple Screen Time cost?
Apple Screen Time is a free parental control app built into the iPhone's operating system.
Who should choose Apple Screen Time?
You should use Apple Screen Time if you want free parental controls and only have Apple devices. However, concerned parents should know that Screen Time can be easily bypassed by many kids and shouldn’t be used as your only form of parental control.
4. Net Nanny
Net Nanny has been providing parental controls for nearly 20 years. In that time, the monitoring and filtering provider has expanded its service from only monitoring web browsers to various devices, including iPhones and Android devices.
Net Nanny works on iOS, Android, and Amazon (Kindle) devices.
Why Net Nanny is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Screen time management. Get screen time reports for your family, and set an online schedule that works for you.
- Restrict access. Block access to unwanted sites, apps, and content types on your kid's phone.
- Real-time alerts. Receive alerts regarding your child's online activity and location.
- Social media monitoring. Filter the content visible on social media platforms. Learn what YouTube videos your children watch on their mobile devices.
Net Nanny pros and cons:
How much does Net Nanny cost?
Net Nanny's plans vary by the number (and type) of devices protected. Here are Net Nanny's plans and pricing as of July 2023.
- One Desktop device (no mobile devices): $39.99 per year
- Five Devices (iOS and Android): $54.99 per year
- 20 Devices (iOS and Android): $89.99 per year
Who should choose Net Nanny?
You should choose Net Nanny if you have a large family and want to restrict access to pornography.
Qustodio has supported more than five million parents with its parental controls. The service has the power to detect, filter, and block thousands of apps.
Along with iPhones, Qustodio works on many Android devices.
Why Qustodio is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Content filters. Block your kids from unsafe apps and content, and get alerted if they try to access it.
- Screen time reports. Stay up to date on your child's screen time and activities, including watch histories from YouTube.
- Set screen time limits. Schedule when your kids can get online, and pause their internet access whenever you want.
- Call, SMS, and location tracking. Monitor your kids’ contacts and text messages and know where they are at all times.
Qustodio pros and cons:
How much does Qustodio cost?
Qustodio's plans vary by the number of features available. Here are Qustodio's plans and pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- Basic: $54.95 per year
- Complete (includes game and app time limits): $99.95 per year
Who should choose Qustodio?
You should choose Qustodio if you want specialized parental control features, including YouTube monitoring and geo-fencing.
Launched in 2015, OurPact serves millions of families with its parental controls app. The premium version allows parents to take periodic or on-demand screenshots of their children’s devices to see what they’re doing.
The service works on both iPhone and Android devices.
Why OurPact is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Content blocker. Use the website and app management tools to restrict access to sites, apps, browsers, and texting. Limit kids’ use of TikTok, WhatsApp, and social media.
- Set online rules. Create an online schedule for your kids, including screen time limits and periods of downtime and blocked apps.
- Activity updates. Get updates on your kid's online activity and real-life locations.
- Device screenshots. Take periodic or on-demand snapshots of your children’s phones to see what they’re doing.
OurPact pros and cons:
How much does OurPact cost?
Here are OurPact's plans and pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- OurPact Premium: $6.99 per month ($69.99 for annual subscription)
- OurPact PREMIUM+ (Include screenshots of your child’s device): $9.99 per month ($99.99 for annual subscription)
Who should choose OurPact?
You should use OurPact if you want to be able to see exactly what your children are doing on their iPhones. However, know that many kids will view this as an invasion of privacy and look for ways to bypass parental controls.
For more than 10 years, mSpy has allowed over 1.5 million parents to closely monitor their children's online and phone activities. As the name suggests, mSpy helps parents “spy” on their children with a hidden app that monitors every message, picture, search, and call.
mSpy works on both iPhone and Android phones.
Why mSpy is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Track their conversations. Get access to private conversations on social media and in texts.
- Keylogger and Screen Recorder. Find out what your kids type online and in apps such as Snapchat.
- Access device storage. Discover what apps and documents they have saved to their devices.
- Filter content. Restrict access to the websites and apps you deem unsafe or inappropriate.
- Track calls and location. See your kid's call and location history. Monitor calls with remote camera and ambient recording functions.
mSpy pros and cons:
How much does mSpy cost?
mSpy's plans vary by features and length of coverage. Here are mSpy's plans and pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- mSpy Premium: Starting at $11.67 per month (for an annual plan) or $48.99 per month (for month-to-month)
- mSpy Extreme (connect to their camera or microphone): Starting at $23.99 per month (for an annual plan) or $45 per month (for a three-month plan)
Who should choose mSpy?
You should choose mSpy if you're looking for a powerful and stealthy surveillance app that you can hide on your kids’ devices. However, parents should know that this level of intrusion into your child’s private life can cause significant issues with your relationship.
MMGuardian helps parents keep an eye on their children's phone usage by scanning messages and photos and alerting you of inappropriate content.
MMGuardian's parental control app is available on iPhone and Android devices.
Why MMGuardian is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Monitor messages. Access text messages that are sent and received on your child's phone and receive alerts about concerning content.
- Location tracking. Using the GPS on your children's devices, find out where they are at any given time.
- Website filtering. Block the URLs for inappropriate websites to ensure that your kids don't see inappropriate content.
MMGuardian pros and cons:
How much does MMGuardian cost?
MMGuardian's plans vary by the number of devices protected. Here are MMGuardian's plans and pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- Single Phone: $4.99 per month (or $49.99 annual subscription)
- Family Plan (up to five devices): $9.99 per month ($99.99 annual subscription)
Who should choose MMGuardian?
You should choose MMGuardian if you want to monitor your kids' text messages and customize the types of apps they use on their phones.
9. Screen Time Labs
Installed on over one million devices, Screen Time Labs helps parents teach their kids good online and screen habits. The company partnered with Awareness Technology to expand its reach across the country.
Along with the iPhone, Screen Time Labs is available on Android devices.
Why Screen Time Labs is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Get the final say. Approve their new app downloads before your kids get access to them.
- Track their history. Find out about your children's activities via app usage and web histories.
- Geo-fencing. Follow your children's locations and get alerts when they arrive at their destinations or stray from their routes.
- Reward your kids. Give your children tasks that award additional screen time or free use.
Screen Time Labs pros and cons:
How much does Screen Time Labs cost?
Screen Time Labs plans vary by the number and type of features provided. Here are Screen Time Labs' plans and pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- Basic (no parental controls features for iPhone users): Free
- Premium: $6.99 per month
Who should choose Screen Time Labs?
You should use Screen Time Labs if you're looking for an affordable app that helps your kids to improve their online and screen usage practices. However, don’t expect the same level of parental controls and safety features as other options.
10. Kaspersky Safe Kids
Since 1997, the UK company Kaspersky has helped over 400 million users bolster their cybersecurity. The app launched in 2015 as a freemium product, but has since become a standalone product with more functionality and features.
Kasperksy Safe Kids runs on both iPhones and Android devices.
Why Kaspersky Safe Kids is a top parental control app for iPhones:
- Monitor your kids. Receive reports and alerts about their online activity, history, usage, and location.
- Safe search. Filter out unwanted content, sites, and apps using safe search tools.
- Teach responsible use. Set screen time limits and rules that your kids can see and follow.
Kaspersky Safe Kids pros and cons:
How much does Kaspersky Safe Kids cost?
Kaspersky Safe Kids' plans vary by the features and functionality available. Here are Kaspersky Safe Kids' plans and pricing as of July 2023 [*]:
- Kaspersky Safe Kids: $24.99 per year
- Premium Plan: $34.99 per year (renews at $88.99 after the first year)
Who should choose Kaspersky Safe Kids?
You should choose Kaspersky Safe Kids if you need a simple, beginner-friendly parental control app for unlimited devices.
The Best Parental Control Apps Compared
How To Keep Your Children Safe Online
Parental control apps help you see what your children do online, but they can never completely protect them from inappropriate content or digital risks.
For maximum internet safety, you and your kids need to take extra precautions. By following the steps below, you can make your family less vulnerable to online threats.
- Set clear boundaries around online usage. Before giving your kids internet-enabled devices, set ground rules about usage. For example, what social media services can they use, and how are they allowed to use them? Will they have private accounts or public ones?
- Restrict device usage to shared spaces or specific times. Setting a schedule for screen time will encourage kids to find other hobbies. In shared spaces, they will be less likely to abuse usage or visit inappropriate websites.
- Explain the importance of online privacy. Educate your kids about fraudulent websites and scams. Show them how to use privacy settings, and walk them through the software and app update process.
- Discuss sharing photos and personal information. Even the best identity theft protection services can't keep you safe if you share too much information online. Teach your kids the value of being discreet with personal information — and how dangerous it can be in the wrong hands.
- Use Safe Browsing tools to protect your family from fake websites. Safe Browsing tools block malicious or risky websites known for viruses or phishing scams.
- Monitor your child’s SSN and account passwords for breaches and leaks. If you spot leaks quickly, you can stop identity theft before it happens. Sign up for a fraud monitoring service like Aura, or use this free email scanner to check yourself.
- Talk about the importance of strong passwords. Help your kids change their passwords regularly. Teach them how to set up two-factor authentication (2FA) and create and safely store complex passwords for all of their accounts and devices.
💡 Related: How To Keep Your Kids and Teens Safe On Social Media →
FAQ: Everything Else Parents Need To Know About Parental Controls Apps
How do parental controls work?
Most parental controls work by installing an app on your child's device, and then giving you the power to limit and restrict what they can do and when they can do it. You’ll be able to control what apps and websites your children can access, and monitor their usage from a companion app on your phone or other device.
What are the best parental control apps for Android?
Some of the best parental control apps for Android include: Aura, Google Family Link, Bark, and Qustodio.
How do you stop kids from bypassing parental controls?
The best parental control apps counteract your kids’ attempts to bypass parental controls by notifying you if they try to delete the app or disconnect the device from the home Wi-Fi network. Administrative privileges may also be protected with a secure pin and cloud storage.
Can you set parental controls on your home router?
Yes. Many Wi-Fi routers come with parental controls to block specific URLs and keywords. You can also set time-based restrictions to schedule internet access downtimes.
Our Final Recommendation: Choose an All-In-One Solution for Peace of Mind
According to an Aura survey, 51% of moms worry about their family’s online safety — yet 20% never talk to their children about online safety [*].
It’s the job of parents to keep their kids safe. Online, that means protecting children from hackers, scammers, and predators. While there's no shortage of parental controls available, an all-in-one solution is the best way to watch over your entire family and keep everyone safe online.
With Aura, you get award-winning parental controls, as well as identity theft protection that includes 24/7 Dark Web monitoring, internet security tools, and three-bureau credit monitoring with the fastest and most reliable alerts in the industry — along with up to $5 million in insurance coverage and 24/7 dedicated support from Aura’s team of U.S.-based Fraud Resolution Specialists.