7 Best Parental Control Apps for iPhone in 2024

Searching for the best parental control app for iPhone?

The good news is there are plenty of apps to protect your children from unsuitable content. But in a world where three-year-olds are sufficiently tech-savvy to get a job in Silicon Valley, it’s hard to know where to start.

This post will help you choose which parental control app works best for you. We’ll combine up-to-the-minute research on digital control with hands-on testing, all packed into a detailed list of the 7 best parental control apps for iPhone out there right now.

Let’s dive in.

7 of the Best Parental Control Apps for iPhone

These are the parental control apps we’re going to cover in this post:

  1. Canopy, best for complete, real-time, protection against harmful content
  2. Locategy, best for keeping track of your family’s whereabouts
  3. Famisafe, best for monitoring the location of teen drivers
  4. Boomerang, best for limiting screen time
  5. Norton Family, best for monitoring and limiting content consumption
  6. Bark, best for social media and email monitoring
  7. Mobicip, best for smart screen time schedules

Keep reading for a deep dive into each of these options. But first, let’s take a look at our selection criteria.

What Makes the Best Parental Control Apps for iPhone? 

When comparing different parental control apps, your research will boil down to one question: how protected are my children from inappropriate content?

Research shows that 56% of children between the ages of 11 and 16 have seen something explicit online. It’s more pressing than ever to have software that’ll safeguard your children from inappropriate content.

Apple does offer some basic built-in features that allow you to block specific apps and restrict the purchase and content settings on your child’s iPhone (as well as limiting screen time). Unfortunately, this isn’t enough. 

Blocking specific apps and websites means knowing about every potentially harmful website out there. If that sounds like a huge task, it is! Some sites, including popular social media platforms, display tons of inappropriate content that you might not expect to encounter.

Apple’s built-in settings also stop short of offering the important tools of a comprehensive parental control app, including sexting prevention and location monitoring.

The top parental control apps for iPhone should be able to:

  • Use AI to protect you in real-time against pornographic and violent content
  • Filter and block harmful websites and apps
  • Help your kids make safe choices about sharing photos and videos
  • Let you manage screen time
  • Help you know where your kids are at all times

There’s also another concern here: the privacy of your data.

The right iPhone parental control app will make sure your personal information doesn’t fall into the wrong hands. Privacy should never be the trade-off for keeping your kids safe online.

With those key considerations in mind, we’ve delved into some of the top parental control apps on the market, what makes them worth considering, and how much they cost.

The 7 Best Parental Control Apps for iPhone (at a Glance)

Brand Who it’s best for Unique Feature Pricing
Canopy Parents looking for a complete solution. What truly differentiates Canopy is that it:

1. Protects your children from inappropriate content before it hits their screens.

2. Keeps kids safe from sexting.

Safe Smart Internet Filter, offering AI-empowered real-time protection $7.99 per month for up to 3 devices

up to

$15.99 per month up to 10 devices

Locategy Parents looking for a solution focused on location tracking. Because you can have more than one “parent device,” this app may be suitable if there are multiple caregivers in your child’s life. Multiple parent devices $4.99 for 3 devices per month

up to

$11.99 for 10 devices per month

Famisafe Because it offers reverse location tracking, Famisafe works for families looking to keep track of one another. Driving monitoring for new drivers $14.99 per month for up to 5 devices

$20.99 per quarter for up to 10 devices

Boomerang Parents looking for screentime, call and text monitoring — just be aware that many of these features are only available to Android users. Affordable screentime, call and text monitoring $15.99 per year for a single-device license

$30.99 per year for 10 devices

Norton Family Families looking for a name that’s been around a long time. Can be used across multiple devices simultaneously — just know that it’s not compatible with Mac, so not the best bet if you’re an Apple-loving family $49.99 per year
Bark Parents looking for a platform that can help them monitor their child’s text interactions, specifically in direct messaging. Alerts parent devices of suspicious activity across social media and messaging platforms $14.00 per month
Mobicip Parents looking to filter inappropriate content and monitor usage. (Note: While it has a “porn filter,” this only works on specific websites and site categories.

Unfortunately, it can’t identify explicit content in real time.

Screen time calendar that allows you specify when your child is able to use their device Lite: $2.99 per month, billed annually, for 5 managed devices

up to

Premium: $7.99 per month, billed annually, for 20 managed devices

Now let’s look at each app (and their pros and cons) in more depth.

The Best Parental Control App for Complete Protection

1. Canopy

canopy parental control app

Most parental control apps for iPhone block categories of websites, for example ones that are explicitly billed as pornographic and/or those that are especially addictive (think TikTok and YouTube).

But this doesn’t provide complete protection. Inappropriate content can—and will—show up anywhere on the web. Whether it’s sites selling lingerie or pop-up adverts in online games, inappropriate content is literally around every corner right now.

For example, in her review of Canopy’s Parental Control App, Sarah from Family Tech shows us how a site about beloved pop stars (crazy, right?) can contain content that’s unsuitable for young eyes:

YouTube video

Canopy’s patented Safe Smart Internet Filter uses AI to scan through websites and text messages while your child is using their iPhone, which blocks harmful content before it even arrives on your child’s device (learn how the technology works here).

If it detects an inappropriate photo, it’ll stop your child from accessing it until you’ve okayed it. You get to say yes or no from your own iPhone.

One thing parents will love about Canopy is the sexting prevention tool. About 1 in 4 teens are receiving sexually explicit messages. Normally, these messages can easily be forwarded to others, becoming ammunition for cyberbullying or sextortion scams. Scary stuff.

Canopy protects your child by automatically scanning sent/received photos and videos and blocking them. You’ll receive an alert instantly.

Useful Features:

  • Removal protection, meaning that tech-savvy teens can’t uninstall the app without you knowing.
  • Location awareness, so that you know where your kids are at all times.
  • No steep learning curve for using the app. It’s super easy to set up.

Canopy is for parents who want full confidence that their children are safe from harmful, graphic, or adult content on their devices.

Canopy pros:

  • Real-time adult content blocking with Safe Smart Internet Filter.

  • URL, app, and category blocking

  • Opportunity for children to ask for permission for content they’d like to see
  • Sexting prevention
  • Removal prevention

  • Location awareness

  • Screen-time scheduling

Parental Control App - Free Trial

Importantly, we don’t sell your data under any circumstances. Our servers are completely secure, and we don’t keep any user data permanently.

Canopy cons:

Currently, Canopy doesn’t offer real-time protection for Snapchat and other apps. (Watch this space! We’re working on it.)

You can block entire apps you don’t want your kids using. But until our real-time in-app blocking service is in place, you may just want to keep them off certain apps for now.

Note: Here’s a quick overview of how Canopy compares to other parental control apps:

Price

Canopy offers various pricing options, depending on how many devices you’d like to protect and whether you’d like to opt for a monthly or annual plan.

Choose between:

  • $7.99 per month for up to 3 devices
  • $9.99 per month for up to 5 devices
  • $15.99 per month up to 10 devices
  • $99.99 per year for up to 5 devices

And there’s a 7-day free trial available, which you can cancel at any time. Keen to kick your protection into gear? Head over to the App Store or click “start free” at the top of your screen.

The Best Parental Control App for Keeping Track of Your Family’s Location

2. Locategy

Locategy is specifically designed to help you keep track of your family’s whereabouts at all times. For this job, it’s great.

The app uses geofencing, meaning that it uses GPS technology to draw a boundary and alert you if the device moves outside of it. You can also configure the app to notify you when your child reaches a specific location.

The app also gives you usage reports that show you how your kids are using their phones and allows you to set time limits.

But beware—if your goal is to block inappropriate content from young eyes, Locategy may not offer the most complete solution.

It’s unable to monitor social media and messaging services for inappropriate content, for example. This makes it a good complement to other parental control apps, but not a replacement.

Pros of Locategy

  • Geofencing capabilities to help you keep track of your kids’ locations at all times.
  • Free limited-capability version of the app is available
  • More than one “parent” device means you have the option of giving control to another caregiver.

Cons of Locategy

  • While it shines as a location tracker, its benefits beyond that are less stellar.
  • Limited functionality on iPhone. For example, it doesn’t show phone usage reports like it does on Android devices.
  • The ability to block app usage is not much greater than the in-built iOS parental control features

Price

First up, the pricing can be a little confusing and not readily accessible on their website. They do offer a free version, but this has limited capabilities.

Otherwise, monthly options include:

  • $4.99 for 3 devices per month
  • $6.99 for 5 devices per month
  • $11.99 for 10 devices per month

Your annual options are:

  • $29.99 for 3 devices per year
  • $39.99 for 5 devices per year
  • $69.99 for 10 devices per year

The Best Parental Control App for Monitoring Teen Drivers

3. FamiSafe

FamiSafe is a strong set of features for keeping children and older teens safe in the digital age.

Here are some unique ones:

  1. Got a teen who just started driving? Famisafe monitors their driving habits and alerts you to risky driving.
  2. Reverse location tracking: It helps your kids find out where you are if they need you quickly.
  3. Famibot: Ask their AI chatbot how to educate your kids about important safety topics.

However, Famisafe’s adult content monitoring has both pros and cons. On the positive side, it lets you know what your kids are watching and alerts you if anything inappropriate comes up. It also offers a search filter which should prevent your kids from searching up certain terms.

However, it doesn’t offer the same real-time protection as Canopy so your kids may find inappropriate content in places that you didn’t expect and can’t monitor.

We also found that Famisafe’s Safe Search Filter needs some tweaking. While it does ban certain words, there are others—including some linked to drugs and violent behavior—that can still be searched.

Pros of Famisafe

  • Dashboard that summarizes your kids’ whereabouts and what apps they use the most
  • Bi-directional location tracking (meaning you can see where they’re at and they can see where you’re at)
  • Driving monitoring for new drivers
  • Screen time monitoring
  • Content filter that won’t allow your children to load certain pages or apps

Cons of Famisafe

  • Search filters are not as effective as they could be.
  • The dashboard can be confusing to navigate.
  • Does not offer Real Time monitoring and blocking
  • Video filter isn’t as comprehensive and responsive as it should be

Price

Famisafe offers three different plan options:

  • $14.99 per month for up to 5 devices
  • $20.99 per quarter for up to 10 devices
  • $60.99 per year for up to 10 devices

The Best Parental Control App for Limiting Screen Time

4. Boomerang

Boomerang offers many standard features, such as location tracking, safe searching, and app monitoring.

The app also enables you to:

  • schedule when kids can use their phone
  • monitor who’s calling and texting your child
  • monitor and identify if specific words come up in their messages

Unfortunately, many of the most advanced features (like parent approval for apps before they’re downloaded) are only available to Android users, so this may not give you the protection you need for iPhones.

Pros of Boomerang

  • Good features for monitoring and controlling screen time.
  • Able to block specific websites and app downloads
  • Allows you to track your child’s location
  • Affordability—it’s one of the cheaper options on the market

Cons of Boomerang

  • Many of the features are only available for Android phones. If your child has an iPhone, they won’t be able to reap the benefits in the same way.
  • Unable to block content in real-time
  • Content filter is not completely reliable, meaning that inappropriate material may slip through

Price

At the moment, Boomerang offers two different subscription options:

  • $15.99 per year for a single-device license
  • $30.99 per year for 10 devices

The Best Parental Control App for Monitoring / Limiting Content Consumption

5. Norton Family

You might associate the “Norton” name with the antivirus software—something they’ve been doing since the 90s. Norton Family is the product they offer for parental control. Its main perk is allowing parents to track their children’s cell phone usage across multiple devices.

Like apps like Locategy, it offers good geofencing—so you’re alerted if your child leaves a specific zone.

It also has the bells and whistles of the other top apps on the market, allowing you to monitor search terms and history, see which videos your kids are watching, and help you steer your children toward appropriate content. You can also set screen time limits and restrict your child’s cell usage during school hours through their “School Time” feature.

But there’s a huge caveat here: Norton Family doesn’t work on Macs. So, if one of the devices you’d like to monitor is your child’s MacBook, for example, you may be out of luck here.

It also has limited capabilities on PCs. If your goal is to take advantage of the software across multiple different home devices, you’ll find yourself hitting dead-ends here.

Pros of Norton Family

  • Well-established company
  • Can be used across multiple devices
  • Good geofencing
  • Affordable

Cons of Norton Family

  • Doesn’t offer complete protection when it comes to web filtering and monitoring
  • Monitoring and blocking capabilities have to be activated through Apple’s built-in parental control feature
  • Unable to monitor Mac usage

Price

  • $49.99 per year

The Best Parental Control App for Social Media and Email Monitoring

6. Bark

Bark is effective at monitoring a wide range of social media platforms, and alerting parents to potentially risky behavior such as cyberbullying, sexting, and suicidal ideation.

Their content monitoring is pretty comprehensive. The app scans texts, emails, Instagram posts, photos, and social media interactions for potentially worrying content (even identifying slang, synonyms, and misspellings).

Bark is useful for detecting hidden signals, too. One user said, “My daughter’s boyfriend sent her a pasta emoji, for example, and Bark let me know that means he were asking for nudes”. Which I thought was impressive.

However, Bark cannot monitor direct messages on Instagram nor does it block access to porn and adult content effectively. Bark blocks most popular porn websites, but it won’t detect and block inappropriate images from unexpected sources (Canopy is your best bet for that).

Pros of Bark

  • Scans multiple social media platforms for unsavory activity (although cannot view Instagram direct messages).
  • Offers expert guidance on your child’s digital usage so that you can have informed conversations with them.
  • Helps you manage screen time, block dangerous apps, and track your child’s whereabouts.
  • Easy to use and helpful customer service team.

Cons of Bark

  • Only provides reports of suspicious activity, meaning you don’t get a comprehensive account of your child’s online journey.
  • Doesn’t block all pornographic and other explicit content before it arrives in your child’s view.
  • It can be disabled for kids with technical know-how.

Price

  • $14.00 per month
  • You also have the option of purchasing a Bark Phone for $49.99 per year. This is essentially a phone built for kids with Bark’s features all loaded.

The Best Parental Control App for Smart Screen Time Schedules

7. Mobicip

Mobicip has a lot going for it. The app works across devices, monitors your child’s social media usage, filters inappropriate internet content, limits their screen time, and tracks their location. It’s also simple to use.

A standout feature for us was the screen time calendar. Other than setting up overall screen time limits, you can set specific timetables based on your child’s schedule. Beyond setting daily limits, this also allows you to establish “screen-free days” when the phone’s out of bounds.

Unfortunately, Mobicip is unable to offer the same immediacy when it comes to web monitoring and filtering. While it includes a “Porn Filter” this only allows you to block specific websites and site categories. It doesn’t allow for accurate, real-time monitoring or blocking. When it comes to this feature, Canopy still wins out.

Pros of Mobicip

  • Easy to use
  • Screen time calendar
  • Porn filter

Cons of Mobicip

  • Filtering accuracy is not as strong as Canopy’s Smart Safe Internet Filter
  • Unable to provide nuanced, real-time protection
  • Have to specify the time of phone usage (for example, you can’t simply say that they can have two hours a day)
  • Social media monitoring and app limits only available on the Premium plan

Price

  • Lite: $2.99 per month, billed annually, for 5 managed devices
  • Standard: $4.99 per month, billed annually, for 10 managed devices
  • Premium: $7.99 per month, billed annually, for 20 managed devices

Which is the Best Parental Control App for iPhone, Overall?

Canopy gives you real-time, AI-powered, tracking and blocking—meaning all inappropriate content gets eliminated before it finds its way onto your child’s device. No other parental control app for iPhone uses the same unique, proactive technology.

Overall, Canopy gives you the best spread of helpful features, from content filtering and screen time management to location tracking—and, importantly, sexting prevention. Your levels of oversight can be tweaked in highly customizable settings to make sure you’re giving the freedom your kid needs without sacrificing their safety, too.

You can try Canopy on your kid’s iPhone or iPad for 7 days, completely free of charge. Just download the iOS app from the App Store, and you can test it out right now.

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