The Best Free Parental Monitoring Tools

Featured Article, Growth and Development, Health and Safety

For children who utilize technology in their daily lives (show me one who doesn’t!), it’s inevitable that they will interact with people, both real-life friends and online strangers at some point. Whether it’s Facebook and Twitter, texting, Snapchatting or simply playing the WiiU or Xbox with children on the other side of the world, children are exposed to endless opportunities to wind up in sketchy places on the Internet, most of the time through no fault of their own. That’s why it’s crucial that parents and caregivers stay as involved in their children’s online lives as they do in their offline ones. The why is a given, but the how can be overwhelming. Fear not, fellow parents. We bring you five free solutions to keep tabs on your children, their online profiles, web usage and everything else a parent should be aware of.

For young web surfers, it’s imperative to keep some protection on the computer browser. Enter Ranger, which provides five different web filtering levels depending on your safety preferences. Customize the types of sites you want your child to have access to, and check the log of sites visited to see where he’s been. And perhaps most importantly, Ranger does the dirty work of monitoring screentime for you with time limits that you can set. When the time is up, the access is shut off. Brilliant!

K9 Web Protection
K9 is a solid monitoring and safety tool for all devices, including Mac, PC, Android devices and iPhones/Pads/Pods. Select the categories for which you want all sites blocked (think violence, sexual content and the like), and enlist the help of SafeSearch for all the major search engines for the questionable content that often gets returned on an innocent web search. And if you want to get a gander at which sites your child has been visit, check the activity log. Safety made easy… it’s a good thing!

If your child hits 13 and bee-lines it to the Facebook sign-up page, you should be high-tailing to to sign up for your free account. MinorMonitor helps parents keep tabs of their child’s Facebook and Twitter accounts by providing daily reports, let’s parents know when red flags go up (too many friends, which could mean he’s friending/accepting friend requests from strangers). It also alerts parents to possible cyberbullying activity, profanity, sexual references, and content that mentions your child. A handy back-up for the Facebook parenting generation!

Qustodio is an all-encompassing tool that offers solutions of all kinds. From social media monitoring and safe searching tools to time controls and application filters, Qustodio is like having an entire team of backup helping protect your child from possible online dangers. The app lets you track one child or several with customizable permission settings, and it tells you whether your child is using the device for homework or recreation — no more goofing off under the guise of “finishing my homework.” The big bonus of this tool is that you can manage monitoring from any web-enabled device, anywhere, anytime!

It’s not just your child’s online travels that you need to be monitoring; it’s their real-life activities that are worth keeping tabs on as well, and Life360 is a great option. This GPS-centered tracking system helps families keep tabs on everyone’s whereabouts. Instead of wondering if your child made it home from the bus stop since you had to work late, you can do a quick app check and see for yourself exactly where he is. Life360 not only features location monitoring, but offers texting and check-ins at favorite places as well. Gone are the days of frantic phone calls and text saying “Where are you?!?”

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