Protect Your Family With These 10 Parental Monitoring Apps

Know where your kids are, what's on their devices, and teen driving habits.

We independently evaluate all recommended products and services. If you click on links we provide, we may receive compensation. Learn more.

Kids are getting smartphones at younger and younger ages each year. In fact, over 40% of kids have one by age 10. Smartphones—like the iPhone—offer the security of knowing your child can easily communicate with you, but they also come with more access to the internet. The internet isn’t always a safe place for children; risks like online predators and cyberbullying exist. There’s also an abundance of inappropriate content to worry about. But that’s where iPhone parental monitoring apps can provide some peace of mind.

Parental monitoring apps allow you to keep a closer eye on your child’s internet activity. You can limit screen time, check who they’re talking to, and track their location. Some parental apps can also help monitor driving habits and prevent activities like sexting. Research also shows that parental monitoring can reduce problematic internet behaviors. As you look through the many iOS monitoring apps available, you may need help sorting through them. We’ve researched, reviewed, and compared the best parental control apps for iPhone. See our list and decide which one is best for you.     

Our 10 Picks for Parental Control Apps for iPhones in 2023

Protect Your Family With These 10 Parental Monitoring Apps
Protect Your Family With These 10 Parental Monitoring Apps

Best for Social Media : Bark

Bark logo

Courtesy of Bark

Key Specs
  • Price: $5 to $14 per month or $49 to $99 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android 
  • Free Trial: Yes; 7-day trial
Pros & Cons
  • Monitors over 30 apps and social media platforms

  • Text and email monitoring

  • Bark Jr. is offered for younger kids

  • Alerts parents for signs of trouble such as sexting or cyberbullying

  • Only available for mobile devices

  • No call monitoring

Why We Chose It

In terms of social media monitoring, Bark is the most comprehensive parental app on the market. It offers an extensive range of content monitoring—over 30 different apps. Along with texts and emails, parents can monitor videos, photos, voice memos, and popular social media platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and more. Bark doesn’t give parents full access to their child’s phone. Instead, it uses artificial intelligence (AI) to analyze content for signs of cyberbullying, violence, sexting, suicidal ideation, or adult content. Parents are only alerted if something problematic is detected.

The ability to monitor social media is likely a huge draw for parents of teens and tweens, but for those with younger kids, it might not be necessary. To accommodate that, Bark offers two plan options. With Bark Jr., parents pay $5 a month or $49 a year for location tracking, screen time management, and website blocking features. Bark Premium costs $14 a month or $99 a year.

Best for Advanced Monitoring : Qustodio



Key Specs
  • Price: $55 to $100 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Kindle
  • Free Trial: Yes; 3-day trial
Pros & Cons
  • Free trial with no credit card required

  • Track calls, messages, and location

  • Filter and block inappropriate apps and websites

  • Set time limits and view usage

  • Not all features available on iOS

  • Expensive

Why We Chose It

If you’re looking for an app with extensive features and the ability to cover multiple devices, Qustodio is a perfect option. Like most parental control apps, you can block inappropriate content and set limits for screen time, but you can also monitor calls, messages, and YouTube history. Plus, with the parent dashboard, you can easily view your child’s online activity in real time.

But what really makes Qustodio stand out is just how advanced all of its features are. You can filter web content based on over 30 categories and get alerted if your child tries to access a blocked website. For screen time, you can limit phone use throughout the day, at certain times, and for specific apps or games. And there are robust safety features in place, including GPS location tracking and real-time alerts and notifications.

Qustodio works on both iOS and Android and across multiple platforms, including phones, tablets, computers, Chromebooks, and Kindles. There’s also a free version, but it’s fairly limited and only allows you to monitor one device. To take advantage of the full range of features, you’ll need to upgrade to a premium version. Plans are billed annually and cost $55 per year for five devices or $100 per year for unlimited devices.

Best for Ease of Use : Canopy

Canopy logo


Key Specs
  • Price: $8 to $16 per month or $100 per year (for five devices)
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook
  • Free Trial: Yes; 7-day trial 
Pros & Cons
  • Uses software to analyze and filter explicit content in real time

  • Sexting prevention feature

  • Location tracking

  • Clean, user-friendly interface

  • Doesn’t monitor emails, texts, or calls

  • Can only support up to 10 devices

  • Videos aren’t monitored

Why We Chose It

For parents of teens and tweens, Canopy is one of the best apps out there. Since it doesn’t monitor calls or texts, it offers more privacy and independence than other apps while still providing parents with peace of mind. It’s also one of the easiest apps to use and only takes 15 minutes to set up.  

You can schedule downtime to set limits on phone use, track location, and filter inappropriate content, but Canopy really stands out with its sexting prevention feature. The app monitors any photos taken or downloaded. Photos are analyzed for anything potentially inappropriate, and if something is detected, it gives your teen the option to keep or delete it. If they choose to keep it, the photo will be sent to you for review, thus encouraging kids to make smarter choices in their communication. However, it doesn’t currently monitor videos. It’s also specific to sexual content, so it won’t filter or alert you to issues like cyberbullying, suicidal ideation, or violence.   

There are three subscription plans to choose from. Each plan includes a free, 7-day trial and the same features; the only difference is the number of devices it supports.

  • Three devices: $8 per month
  • Five devices: $10 per month or $100 per year
  • 10 devices: $16 per month

Best for Text Monitoring : MMGuardian

MMGuardian logo


Key Specs
  • Price: $50 to $100 per year 
  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Yes; 14-day trial
Pros & Cons
  • Monitors SMS texts and WhatsApp messages

  • Safety alerts for sexting, cyber-bullying, violence and more

  • Location tracking

  • Some features unavailable on iOS

  • Doesn’t monitor emails

Why We Chose It

MMGuardian offers parents the ability to monitor their child’s incoming and outgoing text messages, even if messages are deleted. While it’s nice to have that option if necessary, some parents may not want to fully invade their child’s privacy. In that case, there’s a safety alert that will notify you if a message indicates suicidal thoughts, drugs, violence, sexting, or cyberbullying.

The app works with iOS and Android phones and tablets. Unfortunately, iPhone users won’t be able to access messages on Snapchat, Facebook, TikTok, and Instagram, but messages on WhatsApp and Kik will be available. Other notable features include location tracking, web filtering, and app control. There are two plans to choose from.

  • Family plan: Up to five devices for $10 per month or $100 per year
  • Single device: One phone or iPad for $5 per month or $50 per year; one Android tablet for $2 per month or $25 per year

Best for Location Tracking : FamiSafe

famisafe logo


Key Specs
  • Price: $11 per month or $61 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Kindle, Mac, Windows, Chromebook
  • Free Trial: Yes; 3-day trial
Pros & Cons
  • Location tracking and geofencing

  • Detailed driving reports

  • Monitors social media

  • Doesn’t monitor calls or texts

Why We Chose It

FamiSafe is one of the best options when it comes to keeping tabs on your child. It allows you to track location in real time, check location history, and create geofences. Geofencing allows you to set up specific locations and a time range and get alerts if your child breaks from the expected routine by leaving the area. Another helpful feature is reverse location tracking, which gives kids a way to see their parents’ location.

With FamiSafe, parents can also check in on their child’s online activities, monitor social media, block inappropriate websites, and limit screen time. The app will also detect suspicious photos, which can be especially useful for parents of teens who are worried about sexting or exposure to pornography. Parents of teens beginning to drive will also love that FamiSafe offers detailed driving reports to track driving routes, speeding, and hard braking. The app can support up to 10 devices and offers three different pricing options to choose from.

  • Monthly plan: $11 per month for up to five devices
  • Quarterly plan: $21 every three months for up to 10 devices
  • Annual plan: $61 per year for up to 10 devices

There is also the option to add Geoconnection, a separate mobile app that adds GPS tracking to your child’s device, for an additional $2 per month (the first month will be $1).

Best for Multiple Devices : Circle Home Plus

Key Specs
  • Price: $129 for first year plus device; renews at $10 per month or $89 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Kindle, PS4, X-Box, smart TV, and more
  • Free Trial: Yes; 14-day trial 
Pros & Cons
  • Monitors any device connected to the internet

  • Unlimited number of devices

  • Rewards feature to extend time limits or give later bedtime

  • Pause the internet feature

  • Expensive

  • Lengthy setup

Why We Chose It

From phones to tablets to video game consoles, kids have a lot of devices these days and with Circle Home Plus, parents can monitor all of them. There are two components to Circle: a physical device and a parental control app. The device connects with your router to manage everything in your home that uses the internet. You can set up an unlimited number of profiles and customize the settings for each family member. Plus, no need to worry about guests. When a new device joins the Wi-Fi, it’s automatically set to be unmanaged until a profile is assigned.

The parental control app allows you to filter and block content, set time limits, create a bedtime, view internet history, check app use, and track location on smartphones. There is also a "pause the internet" feature. Parents can also offer rewards like extra time online or a later bedtime to promote good behavior.

Circle Home Plus is definitely one of the pricier options on our list. Your first payment includes both the physical device and a subscription to the premium app. There are two subscription plans to choose from.

  • Three-month plan: $69
  • One-year plan: $129

After that, your subscription will renew at $10 per month or $89 per year. Although you can try the Circle parental control app free for 14-days, there is no trial period for the full Circle Home Plus system. However, there is a 30-day return policy that allows you to try it without a full commitment.

Best for Monitoring Teen Drivers : Life360

Life360 logo


Key Specs
  • Price: $15 to $25 per month or $100 to $200 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Yes; 7-day trial 
Pros & Cons
  • All plans include location tracking and crash detection

  • Free option available

  • Offers trial period for premium plan

  • Options for roadside assistance

  • Premium plans are expensive

  • No ability to limit screen time, block apps, or monitor online activity

Why We Chose It

Most parental control apps focus on screen time and website blocking, but Life360 is primarily designed with safety in mind. Easily share your location, track family members, and maintain digital safety. For parents of new drivers, Life360 really shines with features like crash detection, emergency roadside assistance, and driving reports.

Parents can monitor their teen’s driving habits each week with a detailed report that outlines dangerous behaviors like speeding or hard braking along with phone usage on the road. Additional safety features can also help parents worry less while their teen is behind the wheel. With crash detection, the app detects any collision over 25 mph and sends an alert and location notification to all emergency contacts.  Premium memberships also offer roadside assistance for towing, tire changes, jumpstarting a battery, car lockouts, and refueling.

There is also a free option, which includes basic location tracking, crash detection, and a family driving summary. To take advantage of the full range of features, parents can choose from two premium membership options.

Gold Membership

This option includes extensive location tracking, crime reports, crash detection, individual driving reports and family driving summary, roadside assistance, towing for five miles, and digital safety features (including ID theft protection) for $15 per month or $100 per year.

Premium Membership

With this subscription, you get extensive location tracking, crime reports, crash detection, individual driving reports and family driving summary, roadside assistance, towing for 50 miles, digital safety features (ID theft protection and credit monitoring), emergency medical assistance, and travel support for $25 per month or $200 per year.

Best YouTube Monitoring : Kaspersky Safe Kids



Key Specs
  • Price: $15 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Windows, Mac
  • Free Trial: No
Pros & Cons
  • Affordable

  • GPS tracking

  • Monitor YouTube search and browsing history

  • Free version available

  • Some features are limited on iOS

  • No free trial for premium

Why We Chose It 

Kaspersky Safe Kids is the best choice for parents interested in monitoring YouTube. While fairly limited in terms of other social media sites, Kaspersky goes all out with its YouTube features. Parents can monitor YouTube searches and view watch history in browsers on Windows, iOS, and Android devices. Android users can also monitor YouTube within the app and enable a safe search feature to block inappropriate or harmful searches. Geofencing and GPS tracking are also offered along with website filters and screen time controls.

Unfortunately, not all features are available for iPhone users, but the good news is that Kaspersky is actively working on this. Within the last year, new updates have offered more functionality for iOS users and even more extensive YouTube monitoring features. Another huge plus is the pricing. For one thing, there’s a free version of the app which includes web filtering, safe searches, app use control, and screen time limits. Parents who want to take full advantage of the location and YouTube monitoring can opt for the premium version at an affordable rate of $15 per year.

Best Free Parental Monitoring App : FamilyTime

Family Time logo

Family Time 

Key Specs
  • Price: Free to $69 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android, Kindle 
  • Free Trial: Yes; 3-day trial
Pros & Cons
  • Affordable pricing

  • SOS panic button on all plans

  • Track calls and monitor app usage with free version

  • Location tracking with premium plans

  • Only connects up to 5 child devices

  • Free version is limited

Why We Chose It

FamilyTime offers a free way for parents to track calls, view downloaded apps, and check app usage on their child’s phone. But the best feature is the SOS/panic button which allows your child to send an instant alert if they’re in danger by simply pushing a button. The app will then notify you of their location.

While the free version of the app is fairly limited, there is a premium option which offers more extensive features. With a premium plan, parents can track text messages, limit screen time, monitor social media, create geofences, ensure safe driving habits, and more. Plus, the premium app allows you to track location all the time, not just in the event of an emergency. Pricing is broken into four tiers based on the number of devices you need to monitor, but all plans are affordable compared to most of the apps on this list. You can cover up to five devices depending on the plan you choose.

  • One device: $27 per year
  • Two devices: $35 per year
  • Three devices: $45 per year
  • Five devices: $69 per year

Another free option to consider is Google Family Link, which allows you to limit screen time and track location. However, we’d only recommend it for Android users. It’s available on iOS but due to Apple’s restrictions, almost all of the features are unavailable on iPhone.

Best for Limiting Screen Time : OurPact

OurPact logo


Key Specs
  • Price: $70 to $100 per year
  • Platforms: iOS, Android
  • Free Trial: Yes; 14-day trial
Pros & Cons
  • Manage up to 20 devices

  • Screen time allowances can offer kids more responsibility

  • Track location with GPS

  • Setup is more complicated

  • No ability to monitor texts or calls

Why We Chose It  

OurPact offers a scree- time allowance, a unique feature that allows parents to set healthy screen limits while also encouraging more responsibility. You can allocate a certain amount of screen time each day and then allow your kids to choose how they want to spend it. Plus, you can grant extra time as a reward for good behavior or as an incentive for doing extra chores. There’s also a scheduling feature that allows parents to ensure consistent routines with a set screen-free timeframe.

But screen time isn’t the only thing OurPact is helpful for. The app offers website filtering, text and app blocking features, location tracking, and live views, which give parents a way to monitor their child with an instant snapshot of their device.

There is a free version, but it’s limited to one device and has minimal blocking features. In order to limit screen time, track location, and manage up to 20 devices, you’ll need to choose a premium plan. There are two premium options available.

  • Premium: Schedule and limit screen time; block apps, websites, and texting; and track location for $7 per month or $70 per year
  • Premium Plus: All premium features plus live screen views for $10 per month or $100 per year

Compare the Best Parental Control Apps

Parental Control App Price Platform Free Trial
Best for Social Media Bark $5 to $14 per month or $49 to $99 per year  iOS, Android 7 days
Best for Advanced Monitoring Qustodio $55 to $100 per year iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Kindle 3 days
Best for Ease of Use Canopy $8 to $16 per month or $100 per year (for five devices) iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook 7 days
Best for Text Monitoring MMGuardian  $50 to $100 per year iOS, Android  14 days
Best for Location Tracking FamiSafe $11 per month or $61 per year  iOS, Android, Kindle, Mac, Windows, Chromebook  3 days
Best for Multiple Devices Circle Home Plus $129 for first year plus device; renews at $10 per month or $89 per year iOS, Android, Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Kindle, PS4, X-Box, smart TV, and more  14 days  
Best for Monitoring Teen Drivers Life360 $15 to $25 per month or $100 to $200 per year for premium  iOS, Android 7 days
Best YouTube Monitoring Kaspersky Safe Kids $15 per year  iOS, Android, Windows, Mac  No
Best Free Parental Monitoring App FamilyTime  Free to $69 per year  iOS, Android, Kindle 3 days
Best for Limiting Screen Time OurPact $70 to $100 per year iOS, Android 14 days

How to Choose an iPhone Parental Control App

With so many parental control apps on the market, it can be hard to determine which one is best for your needs. Ultimately, that will depend on your parenting approach, your child, and the needs of your family. Here are a few things to consider as you compare your options.

  • Features: When looking for a parental monitoring app, the most important thing to consider is what it actually monitors. Some apps scan texts and emails while others simply track screen time or internet use. Other popular features include location tracking, content filtering, and social media monitoring.  
  • Age of child: Depending on how old your child is, certain apps may be more beneficial. For teens and older kids, you may want an app that monitors driving habits or that helps prevent sexting. Advanced text monitoring might not be necessary for younger kids, though, so you may want an app more focused on blocking inappropriate content and setting screen time limits instead.
  • Security: Kids are often a lot more tech-savvy than their parents. It’s important, then, to make sure that your child can’t deactivate the app. Look for an app with strong security features, such as a multi-step verification system.   
  • Cost: Parental control apps can cost anywhere from $0 to over $100 a year. In addition, some apps charge more for multiple devices. Choose an app that fits your budget.
  • Devices: Most kids have multiple devices nowadays, so just monitoring their iPhone probably won’t be enough. Look for an app that can be used on a tablet or computer as well.
  • Ease of use: Unless you’re well-versed with technology, app setup can be tricky. Look for an app that’s easy to install and use.

Key Considerations for Parental Control Apps on iPhone

How Do Parental Control Apps Work? 

Parental control apps are downloaded onto a caregiver’s device as well as the child’s phone, tablet, computer, or video game console. These apps allow parents to monitor and restrict their child’s online activity. The extent of parental control varies from app to app. With most of the apps, parents and guardians can limit screen time, provide content filters, block harmful apps or websites, and track location. Other apps, though, are more extensive and allow parents to view their child’s text messages, social media accounts, and internet use.

Are Parental Control Apps Safe?

Before downloading or using any app, it’s important to read the terms and conditions carefully to learn how data is stored and shared and whether or not it’s sold to third parties. Additionally, there’s always a risk of hacking when it comes to technology so, again, it’s a good idea to look into how the company protects against data breaches and hackers.

As for whether it’s emotionally safe and healthy for parents to use these apps, that depends. Amy Marschall, PsyD, a clinical child and adolescent psychologist, says there’s a line between protecting and controlling. When used as a way to keep kids safe online, parental apps can be immensely helpful. However, if apps are used in an abusive way or to exert excessive control, they can be detrimental. “Overly strict and controlling parents don't actually prevent their kids from exploring things they don't approve of, but instead teach their kids how to hide, sneak, and get around blocks,” says Dr. Marschall.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • Can a Tech-Savvy Teen Outsmart a Parental Control App?

    Unfortunately, yes. Even when apps have sophisticated security settings in place to prevent this, teens can often find a way to get around them. Children and teens are naturally resourceful and inclined to seek independence. On top of that, they’re often more tech-savvy than their parents. While apps can be a good starting point, parents shouldn’t rely on them exclusively. “I would instead encourage parents to have open conversations about internet safety and build trust so that their kids can come to them with concerns,” says Dr. Marschall.

  • Does iPhone Have a Built-in Parental Control Feature?

    Yes, all Apple devices have built-in parental control features available. For iPhone users, Family Sharing can be set up for parents to limit screen time, set content restrictions, and ensure apps aren’t downloaded or purchased without approval.

  • Can You Monitor Your Child's iPhone Without Them Knowing?

    Some apps do allow you to monitor your child’s phone without their knowledge, but others, such as Qustodio, don’t have that feature. Regardless of what the app offers, Dr. Marschall advises against hiding parental controls. “Sneakily monitoring your child’s behavior without their knowledge is a violation of their privacy and trust,” she says. Teens in particular need a certain amount of privacy to build autonomy and develop their own interests.

  • Can You Restrict What Children Can Look At on Their iPhone?

    Yes, Apple’s parental controls offer content and privacy restrictions that automatically filter and limit access to adult content online. Parents can also restrict certain websites along with apps, movies, TV shows, books, or music with specific content ratings.


To compile this list, we looked at 20 different parental monitoring apps, first eliminating any that weren’t compatible with iPhone. We then considered a variety of factors including price, ease of use, number of devices it could access, and key features. 

We prioritized apps with features that are most important to parents, such as location tracking, internet filters, and safety alerts, including alerts for issues like cyberbullying, sexting or suicidal ideation. Finally, we looked at user reviews and iOS functionality. Since Apple has strict regulations in place for parental controls, many of the apps have more limitations when used with an iPhone. Therefore, we took limited functionality into consideration and looked for the apps that offered the most monitoring capability for both Android and iPhone users.

mother and daughter making video call on smart phone at kitchen table

Thomas Barwick / Getty Images

Article Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Common Sense Media. The Common Sense Census: Media use by teens and tweens.

  2. Nannatt A, Tariang NM, Gowda M, Devassy SM. Family factors associated with problematic use of the internet in children: A scoping review. Indian J Psychol Med. 2022;44(4):341-348. doi:10.1177/02537176221090862

  3. Bleakley A, Ellithorpe M, Romer D. The role of parents in problematic internet use among US adolescents. Media Commun. 2016;4(3):24-34. doi:10.17645/mac.v4i3.523

By Katie Mannion
Katie Mannion is an Occupational Therapy Assistant and freelance writer. As both a COTA and a writer, she is passionate about helping people improve their health, happiness, and activities of daily living. She has a background in Psychology and frequently writes about mental health, wellness, relationships, and entertainment.

Edited by April McCormick
April McCormick

April is the health editor for performance marketing at Verywell, where she oversees family health, wellness, and lifestyle content. Her work has appeared in Real Simple, Martha Stewart Living, Verywell Mind, Verywell Family, Verywell, Fit, Verywell Health, Time, Parents, Parents Magazine, The Straits Times, The Huffington Post, TripSavvy, Parenting, First Time Mom and Dad, Mama Mia, All4Women, the New York Times Bestseller, A Letter To My Mom, and more.

Learn about our editorial process