Participating in social media is a great way for kids to express themselves, keep in touch with friends and develop social skills. Unfortunately, Facebook, MySpace, Twitter and text messages can be a digital playground for sexual predators, cyberbullies, identity thieves and people who post adult-oriented content. Software that offers Facebook parental controls is a great way to protect your kids online by providing social network monitoring and privacy.
As a concerned, involved parent, you've taught your kids not to take candy from strangers and to stay away from certain parts of town, and you always want to know where they’re going, who they’ll be with, what they’re planning to do and when they’ll be back. But what can you do while they are online? With parental controls software for Facebook you can keep tabs on your kids without interfering and earning more glares and eye-rolling. Our reviews take a comprehensive look at the strengths and weaknesses of the best Facebook parental controls software available, including Norton Online Family Premier, Trend Micro Online Guardian for Families, and PureSight Owl.
Be sure to check out our informative articles about social media and parental controls and learn more about how to be more involved in protecting your child online.
Facebook Parental Controls: What to Look For
It can be tough to figure out which Facebook parental controls are the best or which social network monitoring tool is right for your family. Use the following criteria to evaluate the best Facebook parental controls software and discover which ones are the most effective, easiest to use, and flexible enough to meet the needs of your individual family.
The best Facebook parental controls have a robust feature set with tools to help parents keep their kids protected on social networks. Parental controls for Facebook can help identify dangers (some you probably didn’t even know were possible), monitor risky behavior, stay alerted on activity, moderate friends and even review posted pictures. Your family is unique, and the best Facebook monitoring tools can adapt to your parenting style. With age-appropriate settings and custom controls, you should be able to gently monitor one child and keep a heavy eye on another, all from the same Facebook parental control application.
The ultimate goal of Facebook parental controls is to protect your child. How well a social network monitoring application works depends on how aggressive the filtering is, what monitoring technologies are used and how they are actually implemented. The most effective parental controls for Facebook have a dynamic approach to accommodate the unpredictable nature of social networking (not to mention teenagers).
Alerts & Reporting
Sifting through everything that one of your kids says on Facebook walls could be a full-time job, and it could quickly turn into nightmare if you have two or three children with multiple social networking accounts apiece. Timely alerts and summary reports help busy parents manage their kids' online behavior without getting lost it in. The best Facebook parental control applications make it easy to know what’s going on while still maintaining your distance.
Facebook doesn't have to be a dangerous place for your kids to play. With powerful Facebook parental controls, you can keep tabs on your kids without interfering. Whether you’re trying to protect their reputation and privacy, keep an eye out for cyberbullying and strangers or just learn more about what your kids are doing online, you can be an involved online parent with the best Facebook parental control software.
Norton is known for its antivirus software and computer security systems, so it is logical that they would develop a program to help parents keep their families safe from the online threats of indecent content, cyberbullies and predators. This software is easy to install and provides tools beyond Facebook parental controls, giving you the help you need to protect your family online.
At first glance, Norton Online Family Premier is plain and unassuming. There are no unnecessary graphics or ads cluttering up the dashboard summary, making it easy to navigate the interface. Norton Online Family Premier is compatible with any PC or Mac, as well as Android-based phones. You will need to install Norton Family Online on each device you want to monitor, but you can log in from anywhere you can get an internet connection and check up on your kids.
There is no option to run this program invisibly because Norton encourages you to have open discussions about online safety and internet behaviors with your kids. This is a great way to approach safety and gives you a chance to find out where your kids are in terms of internet maturity.
Norton Online Family allows you to create individual accounts for each child you want monitored, and you can add another child at any time. Unfortunately, there can only be one active profile per device. This is the program's biggest weakness, and if you have a household with just one computer and multiple users, all tracked searches and activity will be lumped into one report. This can be frustrating when you are trying to discover what a certain child has been up to.
While you can only have one profile installed per device, one Norton Online Family Premier license allows you to install on up to 10 devices. This is a great option if you have a family with multiple mobile phones, laptops and desktops as you will not have to pay extra unless you go beyond the initial 10 installs. Another great feature is the ability to set specific time limits for internet or application access. This is a good feature, especially when you need to help rein in your kids' Facebook usage or to make sure that they are not sneaking onto Myspace or Twitter in the middle of the night on their phones. In addition, if you need to block an application or website form being accessed, simply designate which site or program you want restricted and Norton Online Family Premier will not let your kids use it.
This Facebook monitoring program is very flexible. Norton realizes that your kids are growing and their maturity will change as time goes on. You can always stick with the predesignated age-based content filters, but Norton gives you the ability to adjust the subject filters at any time.
Norton Online Family Premier can monitor your child's activity on Facebook, Twitter and MySpace. While not allowing you direct access into their Facebook or social media accounts, Norton Online Family keeps tabs on your kid's activity on social network sites by monitoring their interactions with friends and recording their searches. Norton believes that online protection and safety is a two-way process founded in communication between you and your child.
This program lets you set "house rules" for each individual child. While you are the one who sets the limits and restrictions in the program, these house rules are meant to be an agreement between you and your child and should be agreed upon through discussion and understanding. Norton Online Family Premier displays the house rules on their computer or device to remind your kids what expectations and freedoms they have agreed on.
One protection feature we really like is how Norton Online Family lets you set restrictions on the personal information your child can share on social media sites, like social security and telephone numbers. Predators and scammers often find it easy to get kids to reveal personal information by pretending to be their friend online. If your child happens to enter any designated personal data into a social media site, an email alert from Norton Online Family is sent immediately to you. This is a great way to make sure you are aware of what your kids are doing online even when you are away from home.
One of Norton Online Family Premier's greatest strengths is its reporting capabilities. You are always alerted whenever your child breaks a house rule, sends or receives inappropriate messages or shares sensitive personal data. Norton Online Family Premier lets you designate when and how you are alerted to any issues.
Summaries of your child's activities are organized by category. For example, when Susie goes to Facebook and responds to comments or uploads a picture, Norton Online Family marks the date, time and a description of the activity in the Social tab. Alerts are all placed in the Alerts tab. This categorization helps you stay organized and makes it easy to scan and find relevant information instead of manually sorting through pages of information.
Norton Online Family Premier monitors and reports on what your kids are searching for online, what videos they are watching and even how much time they spend on the computer and what programs they use the most.
These reports can be viewed daily on the parental control dashboard, or you can choose to have them emailed to you every week or month. Norton Online Family Premier reports activity for all your kids so there is no need to get onto your children's mobile device or computer to find out what they are doing. This program also stores 90 consecutive days of activity to give you a long-range picture of your children's online behavior.
Norton Online Family is not just a Facebook parental control program; it is an all-around monitoring system that encourages you to take an active role in your kids' lives and to be aware of what they are dealing with as they venture out into cyberspace. With its real-time alerts and compatibility with computers and Android phones, Norton Online Family is a good program to help you keep your kids safe.
Trend Micro Online Guardian for Families
Computers and social media are part of daily life for most children, teens and adults today. While the availability of the web opens doors to unlimited information, games and social interaction, there are a lot of bad influences and inappropriate content that your kids can access with ease. Trend Micro Online Guardian for Families helps you monitor and control what your kids see and do online.
Online Guardian is a powerful and easy-to-use Facebook parental control program that unlocks the mystery of what is going on in your kid's online social media life. This software monitors your children's activity on popular social media sites like Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, MySpace and YouTube and alerts you to any questionable activities or worrisome posts.
After the hassle-free installation, you can create a profile for up to five children and assign each profile a secret three-digit number that unlocks the internet and logs their activity online. This is handy because it lets Online Guardian for Families sort each child's individual activity and report on their online habits. You can also select a picture from your computer to use as your child's profile picture. You can customize each child's profile to match their age level and needs. There are preset categories that are blocked by age, but you can also customize these options for each child. One of the best features of Online Guardian for Families is that it lets you set specific hours your child can be online for each day of the week. This is a great tool to help your kids be able to step away from the computer instead of planting themselves in front of the screen all day. You also have the power to add custom search terms to block.
This Facebook parental control program is great for monitoring on computers, but unfortunately it does not support mobile phone use. This software is mainly for home use, and while it is great to be able to see what is going on at home, we are disappointed that Online Guardian has not extended its reach to mobile devices yet since teens are very active on social sites with their phones.
To monitor your kid's online activity, you will need to install the software on each computer that they use. Each kid will have their own user profile and will be required to input their password to access any online features. To monitor Facebook, you need to have them accept a special app that allows reports to be sent to your Online Guardian dashboard.
While your child is on Facebook, Twitter or other social media sites, Online Guardian for Families monitors their private messages, friend lists and activities. This program also monitors your kid's browsing history, chat logs, posts and messages. Online Guardian runs invisibly in the background and does not interfere with applications and programs. With 28 subject filter categories, Online Guardian does its best to help shield your children from unwanted and inappropriate content. Using the information this program gathers, you will be better equipped to help them avoid cyberbullying and online predators.
Online Guardian for Families is one of the few programs that also monitor YouTube activity. By designating custom search terms, you can keep kids from looking up videos that are tagged with specific inappropriate words.
Online Guardian has comprehensive reporting and alerts to keep you informed and aware of your kid's online activity. You can choose to have reports emailed to you daily or weekly and you can check in anywhere you can access the internet. These reports are clearly broken down, with easy-to-read summaries, graphs and sections for social media. They also show what sites your kids have been visiting, what videos they have watched and if any objectionable or profane content has been left on their profile page.
Online Guardian alerts you immediately if your child posts any sensitive personal information like their address, phone number or social security number. It also alerts you whenever a photo is tagged with their name. This can help you protect their reputation, especially since teens and kids don't give much thought to how damaging posting an embarrassing or inappropriate photo can be.
Protecting your family from the bad things on the internet is a challenge, but it is a little easier to monitor your kids’ online behavior with Trend Micro Online Guardian for Families. Trend Micro knows that your kids are not all the same, and the flexibility of Online Guardian for Families is its greatest strength. While you do need to install it on the computers your kids use, the comprehensive protection and easy-to-adjust settings make this a great Facebook monitoring program.
If you have ever had to face bullies in your life, you are sure to remember feeling the pressure, worry and anxiety weighing you down. Our kids not only have to deal with their own bullies in real life, but online as well. As a good parent you want to shield your child from any cruel, demoralizing and hurtful interaction. While you may not be able to monitor what your kids are up to at school, you can protect them at home from cyberbullies and predators with PureSight Owl.
PureSight Owl is a Facebook parental control program that focuses on protecting your kids from cyberbullies. This software runs silently in the background, scanning and monitoring your child's Facebook profile, comments and messages. There is no system lag, so your computer will function normally.
While you can only have one child protected per license, you can add as many as you need to at any time. PureSight Owl gives you plenty of options to customize the program to your family's needs. You can choose which content subjects to filter, or you can just rely on the preset filter settings that are determined by an age range. We are impressed that you can add custom keywords or phrases to the PureSight Owl filter system. This is especially handy if you are concerned about certain words your kid uses or you don't want them exposed to.
PureSight Owl excels in their keyword blocking and filtering, especially when your child uses chat programs or instant messaging programs. PureSight Owl uses an Active Chat Inspector that filters and removes any offensive words from the chat while it is occurring, not just alerting you after the problem has occurred. We are impressed with this proactive feature and we found that this program is able to catch bad words regardless if they are slang, abbreviated or misspelled.
PureSight Owl allows you to block or allow websites whenever you need to. Simply add an address to the list and your kids will be greeted with a special page that informs them that the page is blocked and explains the reason. Another way to help your kids avoid online problems is to use the effective time scheduling feature. With this feature, you can choose what hours and days your kids can access the internet. You also have the option to set a time limit to determine their overall computer usage. This is helpful, especially if you have a child who has a hard time knowing when to quit, and it can help them learn to ration their time more effectively. Of course, you can always change the time limits to adjust to whatever schedule you want. PureSight Owl is flexible and capable to grow along with your children.
PureSight Owl offers competent protection from sexual predators, strangers, inappropriate content and especially cyberbullies. This program also calls out age concerns with friends on your child's Facebook friends list. If PureSight Owl detects a suspicious friend on Facebook, the program alerts you to this person and others who have similar profiles.
This software can block a contact automatically based upon their conversations with your child. The Active Chat Inspector analyzes and determines if offensive or abusive language is being used and will automatically alert you and block the contact from abusing your child. You can also set specific contacts you want blocked from contacting your kid. This is another layer of security and peace of mind for you and your child.
PureSight Owl provides detailed reports of what your kid posts on their Facebook status updates as well as the pictures and videos they post. We are impressed that this parental control tool locates other secret or secondary Facebook accounts your child may have and monitors those as well. While it may miss out on accounts made by super tech savvy kids, PureSight Owl does a great job alerting you to any active or potential threats or changes in your child's online activity.
Reports are sent in real time to your email address, not simply at the end of the day, giving you up-to-date information to help protect your children. PureSight Owl sends detailed reports about your kid's computer usage, lists the sites they visit and the comments and messages they sent and received. These comprehensive reports are easy to read and decipher, taking away any possible confusion.
PureSight Owl is one of the best Facebook parental control programs available. It is a proactive program that takes the fight to the cyberbullies and shields your child in real time. If your child spends a lot of their time chatting with friends on chat and messenger programs, PureSight Owl is a great choice, and will give you peace of mind as your child explores the social media world.
When it comes to protecting your kids online, it's good to have the big picture laid out in front of you. Qustodio is not only a Facebook parental control program; it has options that let you set time limits, block sites and programs, and receive real-time alerts of your children's activities.
Qustodio displays all the pertinent information about your child's online activity with a colorful, easy-to-read graphic dashboard. This approach makes it easier for you to find relevant information quicker, without having to sort through pages of information. You can see where your kids have been spending their time online, what they spend the most time on and if they have been involved with any questionable activities.
You will need to install Qustodio on any of the devices you want to monitor, but once it is installed, you can log in and monitor from any computer with internet access. During setup you can choose how many children you want to add and even create individual login profiles for them, complete with passwords. This option makes it easier to track online activities if you have multiple users on a single machine. In addition, you can choose to run Qustodio invisibly in the background or let the users of the device know Qustodio is installed. Running the program invisibly is handy when you want to see your child's natural online behavior and can lead to some insights into what they are really looking at.
This social media monitor is very flexible and allows you to set many preferences and custom filters. With Qustodio, not only can you block websites – you can choose to have an alert sent to your email account if your kids access certain sites. You can set safe search to be enforced even if your kid tries to change the setting on the computer. Qustodio also lets you block websites by category. The program can block 29 pre-designated categories, ranging from gambling, profanity and drugs to games, religion and entertainment. It also is defaulted to block websites that are uncategorized to give your kids even more protection.
Qustodio helps protect your kids on Facebook by allowing you to monitor their friend list and see what comments they are sending and receiving. You also can choose to receive alerts when your child engages in conversations with strangers or friends, and you can see what content is being shared. Using Qustodio to monitor your kids will help protect them against cyberbullying, predators and dangerous content.
Qustodio is capable Facebook parental control software thanks to its uncomplicated options and easy-to-decipher reports. Remember that parental controls are just a tool that can help your child; you need to take an active part in their lives to help educate and protect them from the dangers of the internet. Qustodio gives you the help you need to give your kids that extra bit of protection.
Are your kids spending too much time on social media sites? Safe Eyes is a Facebook parental control program that provides tools and reports that let you know just how much time your kids are spending and what activities they are involved in. Using this Facebook monitoring program lets you have direct influence on what your kids are exposed to on Facebook and other social media sites.
One of the strengths of Safe Eyes is that you can set filters and monitoring by age range. This is great because you can have one computer set with high sensitivity for your elementary and tween-aged children and another less restricted for your older teenagers.
You can install Safe Eyes on up to three separate computers, either PC or Mac. There is also an app available for iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch. Once you have Safe Eyes installed, you are given the option of creating a single family profile or individual profiles for each user. Be advised that filter and blocking strength will be the same for any user if you make a family profile. This may cause problems if you have multiple users of different ages and homework search topics.
Like most Facebook parental control programs, Safe Eyes sends you email alerts when your kids post sensitive information or receive inappropriate and hurtful comments from cyberbullies or acquaintances. Safe Eyes also gives you the option to receive a phone call or text message.
Safe Eyes has 35 web content categories you can choose to block or allow, or to be alerted about right away. We are impressed that you can create your own category if it is not already present or you need a custom topic. This feature lets you customize Safe Eyes for your family instead of restricting you to a few presets.
Another great feature is the ability to set a schedule for when a social media site or the internet can be accessed. With these time controls, you designate when your kid can be online. This reduces the chance of them sneaking onto Facebook after bedtime or in the middle of their school day on their mobile device.
You can set Safe Eyes to send you daily or weekly reports of all the online activity of a computer. These reports give you a summary of information regarding your child's most common searches, what sites they visit the most and their activity on Facebook. Activity reports can also be stored on your computer for future reference. You can also generate a current report on the computer your child uses. Simply right-click on the Safe Eyes icon in the bottom right toolbar and select Run Report to generate a quick updated report of the activity on that computer.
Keeping your kids safe can be a nightmare if you don't have the right tools. Fortunately, Safe Eyes gives you a great way to monitor your kids while they are active online and in the realm of social media. Safe Eyes will help you stay informed and keep your kids safe.
Net Nanny Social
Keeping your kids safe online is essential, especially if they are active on social media sites like Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Net Nanny Social is one of the best Facebook parental controls you can use to help protect your kids from sexual predators, cyberbullies and inappropriate content.
While Net Nanny Social doesn't let you restrict a child's questionable online activities, it does a great job of keeping you informed about your kids' social media habits. This program is completely cloud based and does not require any software downloads. Your account dashboard is accessible on any device with an internet connection. This is convenient for on-the-go parents as alerts can be texted or sent to your email account whenever your kids use Facebook.
With Net Nanny Social, you can cover your whole family with just one license. To add additional kids, just input their names and the email addresses that are linked to their social media accounts. This may prove a problem if you do not know their email addresses and your kids do not want to give them you. Also, if your children have additional social media accounts registered to unknown email addresses, you will be left in the dark. Once you know your kids' email addresses, you can add their Facebook accounts and search Twitter, Tumblr, LinkedIn and Google Plus for accounts with their email addresses. Also, you can use Net Nanny Online to connect your Facebook account to your children's accounts, giving you a better personal connection with your kids.
Net Nanny Social covers eight categories that set off alerts. If your kid comments or receives any comments that include words associated with alcohol, drugs, sex, vulgar language, suicide or include any bullying, profanity or racist remarks, Net Nanny Social will flag them and notify you. Net Nanny Social shows the profile pictures of your child's friends on Facebook as well as their ages if they have entered them into Facebook. You can access their friends' Facebook pages from the friends list, giving you direct access to posts and information on their pages.
While Net Nanny Social is a great informer of activities that have taken place, it is not the best preventer. We are disappointed that there are no controls that parents can use to actively block or unfriend people to limit contact between your children and anyone you judge to be bad influences on them.
Social media is here to stay, and with all the good things it brings, there is also a potential for danger and harm. Net Nanny Social is a good way to keep tabs on your kids while they use Facebook and other major social media sites. The easy-to-use interface and wide social media coverage will definitely help you give your kids the extra protection they need as they explore the online social universe.
There comes a time when you may just need to find out exactly what your children are doing online. Perhaps they are being cyberbullied, or maybe they are spending too much time playing World of Warcraft or messaging strangers on Facebook. SniperSpy is a Facebook parental control program that focuses on monitoring and recording kids' online activities.
SniperSpy is easy to install, and can be remotely installed on most computers through a module. SniperSpy is compatible with Windows 8, 7, Vista and XP. It is also works on Mac computers. The best feature of this program is the ability to watch what is going on in real time. This means that while your kid is surfing the web, chatting on an instant messenger or posting on Facebook, you can see exactly what they are doing on your screen. You can also remotely freeze a mouse, log off a user or restart the computer completely from your computer.
While it is not as robust as other Facebook parental control programs, SniperSpy does possess some handy tools to help keep your kids safe on social media. This software records chats and tracks documents and application use. It also logs keystrokes. This feature can give you login names and passwords, and must be used with caution.
Some other good parental control features include the ability to block social sites and messenger programs, a profanity alert and recording, as well as a black list that you can enter website URLs that you want the program to block.
SniperSpy excels at recording information, but it lacks preventative tools found in other Facebook monitoring programs. While it lets you block websites and view what your children are doing, there is not much beyond this to keep your kids from accessing and viewing objectionable content. It is more of an evidence gatherer, and we would like to see more proactive features in future updates.
SniperSpy reports are always available and are easily accessed through the dashboard. All activity is neatly categorized and put into list format for easy searching. You can also generate bar charts for websites your children visited, which applications they used and their searches and IM activity. This makes it easy to see where they spend the most time.
Protecting your children online is a major part of being a parent today. Being able to see what your children are doing as well as who they are interacting with will help you know what they are involved with and facing on a daily basis. SniperSpy is a step forward in becoming involved. If you are looking for a basic monitoring program, SniperSpy is a good choice.
HT Parental Controls
Your kids face many dangerous situations online each day, especially when they use social media sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. Kids can be exposed to inappropriate content, cyberbullying and even unknowingly become friends with a sexual predator. While most children do not encounter these situations, what can you do if your kids do? Using Facebook parental controls program is one way to help combat these online awful forces and protect your kids online.
HT Parental Controls helps keep your kids safe online with its wide range of tools. Unlike other Facebook monitoring programs, HT Parental Controls focuses on removing the option to access Facebook and other social sites by blocking them, rather than monitoring them to track what your kids do on them.
This program covers one child per license and needs to be installed on the computer you wish to monitor and control. You can add another computer to monitor with the purchase of an additional license. Installation is very fast, and the program runs silently without disrupting the computer's normal functions. HT Parental Controls records which applications are being opened and used. This is helpful when you want to know whether your kid is spending time doing homework, playing World of Warcraft or visiting Facebook.
HT Parental Controls also monitors the websites your child visits, logging the addresses and time accessed. This program allows you to block websites based on their content, and you can enter specific addresses to block as well. HT Parental controls has predefined site categories to make filtering easy.
One of the best things about HT Parental Controls is its ability to determine the amount of time your children can use the computer. This program lets you set which hours and days your child can access the computer, as well as the maximum number of hours. This helps your kids stick to a schedule that you designate and ensures that they won't exceed the amount of time you specify.
If your kids are tech savvy and like to tinker with the computer settings, you can rest assured knowing that HT Parental Controls has custom tamper resistant security. This program has an extra layer of security with built-in password protection and user-access permissions. You can also block attempts to edit the registry, prevent your kids from changing the system time to extend their allotted times and block access to the control panel.
When it comes to your kid's security online, you need to have the strongest tools available. HT Parental Controls gives you the security options you need to make sure that your kids cannot access the social sites and messaging programs you don't want them to use.