We believe Qustodio is the best monitoring software because it protects your children online better than any other program we reviewed, and it’s easy to install and use. It’s compatible with computers, tablets and cell phones, so you can monitor your kids on every device they use to access the internet.
Qustodio has 26 filter categories, including those that block sites with pornography, violence, gambling, drugs and alcohol. It can also block gaming, online shopping and news sites. When you select a filter, Qustodio blocks all online content that falls under that category. This includes search results, websites actually in the category and sites that mention words associated with the blocked category. For example, if news articles mention the passing of laws about marijuana use, Qustodio will block these from your children if you’ve clicked the Drugs filter category; it will also block websites on drug use, production and distribution.
Sometimes, however, the program blocks sites that are safe for your child to visit. For example, when I used Qustodio to block gaming sites, the software even blocked webpages with educational games that are fine for children to access. The same thing happened when I used Qustodio to block news sites on one of my home computers. One of my children needed to look up an article for a school assignment and was blocked. In both situations I added the URLs of approved sites to the software’s whitelist so they could be accessed while the software still blocked other websites that fall under the selected filter category.
You can use Qustodio to block your child from sharing files with others, or receiving images, documents, videos and other files over chat or email. This ensures people don’t send them inappropriate attachments. The program also captures email and instant messages so you can read the exact conversations your child has with others. Both tools are excellent ways to find out who may be harassing, bullying or enticing your child online so you can step in to protect your child.
In addition to filtering content, Qustodio lets you completely block access to the internet when your child should be paying attention in school, sleeping or doing homework and chores. And since the software is compatible with computers and mobile devices, the same filters and time controls apply to the cell phones and tablets Qustodio is installed on.
This software captures and records everything your child does online. You can see the sites they visit, the names of people they chat with, how long they spend on each site, any links they share on social media and the videos they watch on YouTube.
If your child tries to visit a blocked site, a warning message appears on the screen to tell them it is dangerous, and Qustodio records the site information so you can see what they tried to access. The software also logs the emails your child sends and receives and every search they perform. You can track all this activity without having to jailbreak or root your child’s cell phone, which can interfere with the mechanics of your phone or void the warranty.
The program provides a lot of detailed reports about what your kids do online, but our favorite reporting feature is the screenshots Qustodio takes intermittently so you can see exactly what your children see online. This helps you keep track of their friends’ social media accounts so you know if they post inappropriate content for your kids to see as well as if there are any risqué ads or images on sites that may be fine otherwise.
When Qustodio is installed on your child’s cell phone, you can use the program to keep tabs on where they go with the included GPS tracker. You can also set the app to alert you if your child wanders outside a designated area. This feature is also useful if the cell phone is lost or stolen.
One of the best features of the Qustodio mobile app is the panic button. If your child is lost or in a dangerous situation, they can press the panic button on their phone and Qustodio automatically sends you a text with your child’s location so you can get to them quickly.
Qustodio comes with a minimum of five licenses, so you can install the program on multiple devices. There is no limit of user profiles you can set up on each device, so each of your kids can have their own filters and time settings. You get reports and notifications for each individual user and from each device, and you can view them all in the online parent portal or through the Qustodio mobile app.
We found Qustodio very easy to set up on our computers, laptops, cell phones and tablets. When we did have questions, we found answers in the company’s searchable knowledgebase, which includes very good instructions and images to help you troubleshoot. It’s good the knowledgebase is so informative because the program doesn’t offer any support by phone or email. In fact, half of the programs we reviewed don’t offer any type of live support. The others typically only offer telephone support during set business hours, though Norton Security Family has both telephone and online chat available 24/7.
Qustodio is our top pick for parental control software because it is easy to use, thoroughly monitors kids’ online activity and does a good job blocking inappropriate sites. It comes with enough licenses to install on both your home computer and your kids’ cell phones or tablets, so you always know what they are doing online. Qustodio doesn’t offer live tech support, but it has great online articles that can answer most questions about the software.