Qustodio is one of the leading names when it comes to internet filter software (opens in new tab), and it generally does a good job of keeping your children safe online. Qustodio monitors your kids' activity, how much time they’re spending online and who they’re communicating with. Qustodio goes further with support for mobile devices, from smartphones to tablets, but it is one of the more expensive parental control apps around – so does it justify the cost?
We've based our review on the Premium version of Qustodio, which you do have to pay a monthly fee to use, but there is a free version available, which comes with very limited features. We think that when it comes to the safety of your kids, that piece of mind is worth paying for.
Qustodio Premium: Monitoring features
Qustodio Premium certainly does have good core functionality. It uses 26 different categories to filter content away from prying, impressionable eyes – the app automatically blocks your child’s access to websites with gambling, pornography, drugs and alcohol, and you can pick from loads of other filters, including those that block violent or religious content and other topics. Parents can choose whether content will be blocked, devices locked or instant alerts delivered when those filters are triggered, so there’s good flexibility there. The filters work extremely well, and deliver great versatility that allows parents to control how they react to inappropriate content.
Qustodio’s filtering works on a broad range of devices and browsers. It works on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS and Amazon Fire and Kindle devices, and its blocking and filtering works on Chrome, Safari, Edge, Firefox and Amazon’s mobile browser.
This app goes further than just filtering websites. You can control the amount of time that your kids spend on their devices, too: you can set windows for when they’re allowed to use their devices and when they’re not permitted, and parents can assign kids daily time allowances. Those allowances can be different on different days – so they can have more freedom at the weekends, for instance – and the allowances are maintained across different devices, so kids can’t just switch to another computer or tablet when they’ve run out of time. Each child can have their own profile and dedicated schedule too.
Parents can block particular apps and games from devices, and apps can be assigned their own time limits. Conversely, you can whitelist sites, apps, and games that you’re comfortable with them using.
Qustodio Premium: Ease of parent use
An attractive and intuitive web dashboard can be used to monitor your child’s activity on PCs and laptops, and the parent app can also be used in the same way. A handy feed presents your children’s online activity for easy monitoring, and you can get weekly or monthly reports delivered to your email alongside thumbnail screenshots of kids’ activity. You’re also able to see how much screen time each child has used and see reports of terms and activity that have been caught by filters, and data is presented in graphs and charts that are easy to understand.
Qustodio also has smart location-specific features. You can see where your kids have been and receive notifications when they arrive or leave certain places, like home or school, and these location reports are included in the dashboard’s overall activity timeline.
Elsewhere, Qustodio has a file-sharing filter that means your kids won’t send or receive any files. Qustodio only allows your children to use safe, approved search engines and it’ll also flag up inappropriate searches and won’t allow children to install browsers that the app doesn’t support. The app has a panic button so kids can get in touch with a trusted contact if they need help.
Qustodio is easy to install on any device. The configuration wizard walks you through each step of the process, showing you how to set up filters, web blockers and alerts so you can start monitoring online activity fast.
Qustodio Premium: Social media monitoring
This app also has loads of Facebook-specific features. Qustodio can monitor what your children post on Facebook and what their friends post, and you can monitor their conversations too. Qustodio also allows you to view your children’s phone calls and SMS conversations and block phone contacts.
While Qustodio is easy to use and it has a great range of features, but there are some areas where we wish it were better. It doesn’t have in-depth monitoring for social networks like Snapchat, Instagram, WhatsApp and TikTok – the networks that are more popular than Facebook with kids and teenagers. Only Facebook has advanced support here. While you can just block apps like Snapchat, Instagram and TikTok, many parents would prefer more granular control and monitoring rather than just having to block apps entirely – especially as that’s likely to cause arguments with the kids.
Qustodio can’t add specific keywords to the filtering system, which is another notable omission, and there’s no way for kids to communicate with their parents from within the app – a feature that is included on several rival tools as a way for children and parents to communicate more openly. And while Qustodio’s location tracking and monitoring features are decent, there’s no way to monitor how much battery life is left on your children’s phone. There’s no category that blocks access to VPNs, either.
Qustodio Premium: App features and prices
Qustodio’s features also differ based on what platforms you’re monitoring. On Android you get location tracking, the panic button and phone call and SMS monitoring, but those aren’t available on iOS. There’s also no Chromebook support with Qustodio. It still ranks among the best cell phone parental control apps (opens in new tab), despite these small omissions.
Qustodio is available with a free version, although this is basic – you can monitor one device and it only uses entry-level features. We’d recommend that you opt to splash out on the Premium version, which unlocks every feature the app offers. Prices range between $54 and $137 for an annual plan, depending on how many devices you need to secure – the cheaper options protect five devices and the pricier ones can handle fifteen bits of hardware.
Should you buy Qustodio Premium?
That price is a little higher than many other parental control tools, but there’s no denying the quality here – Qustodio offers an impressive level of control of your kids’ online activity and loads of features in a slick, stable system that presents information clearly and consistently. It’s a shame that some features are missing and the app functions differently on different platforms, but those issues will only be a problem for some families – for plenty of people they won’t have any impact at all. Indeed, if you’re serious about protecting and monitoring your children online then there aren’t many slicker or better apps than this.