Tech in check: app parental controls

Tech in Check

App Parental Controls

Once you have picked devices that suit you and your family’s needs, it’s time to decide whether it’s a good idea to manage your kids’ time online. All kids are different, so deciding what is appropriate for your children will differ from family to family, and child to child.

If you do decide that some kind of control would be a good option to explore, there are a huge number of app parental controls and software that are currently available.

Whether you want to stop your teenager from spending hours in their bedroom on their computer, prevent your child from racking up bills from in-app purchases or keep an eye on the sort of sites they are accessing, there are tailored solutions (some free, others that incur a slight cost) that understand your concerns and seek to provide effective solutions.

Internet Service Providers & Computer Operating Systems

  • All the UK’s main service providers offer parental control options. Sky, TalkTalk, BT and Virgin allow you to set limits that can control your family’s access to certain sites with inappropriate content and limit screen-time. Sky’s Broadband Shield also has watershed options for when the kids are in bed.
  • Windows Family Safety Live includes many of the same features and can be accessed from the Microsoft Family safety section online. Mac operating systems also have parental controls, which you can set up to keep your kids safe. Both these options will give you the ability to manage screen time, set access to websites, apps and movies and make sure that you have control over what information your child can share.

Search Engines

  • Chrome features supervised user accounts that allow you to set limits for websites and keep a log of your child’s online habits. Firefox and Internet Explorer both allow you to operate in a ‘Safe’ Mode, with Firefox going further and offering its FoxFilter add-on, which can manage content through a filtering system.
  • There are a number of child-specific search engines, such as Swiggle and Kidssearch, which promote educational surfing and have filters built-in so that only a certain number of topics can be searched.

Computer & Mobile Package Programs

  • K9 Web Protection, Qustodio and Norton Family all allow for personalized filters to be put into place to block sites and can often be loaded onto multiple devices, meaning monitoring isn’t restricted to computer-based surfing. They give you a monthly report that lays out exactly what your child has been accessing.
  • Mobile phone providers often set their devices by default to access under 18 content only. As the account holder you will have the ability to turn parental controls on and make sure all the sites your child can access are age appropriate!


  • ScreenTime is an app that is directed more specifically at teens and families with older children. Through this app you are able to monitor your child’s activity whilst also setting lights out, school time and curfew functions. Other options on the market are apps like Parents Around and DinnerTime.
  • Kindle FreeTime goes further, the advanced settings allow you to prevent access to any apps that your child may use until they have achieved particular goals such as completing homework or learning a language.
  • Funamo is loaded onto both you and your children’s phones and monitor devices by logging all contacts, calls, SMS websites and applications that they use.


There are a huge variety of ways in which you can do your best to ensure that your child is safe and secure on the internet. Keep in mind that all these controls do need to work in harmony with the tactics outlined in our ‘Technology and Families’ post.

The best course of action is to talk first, have a discussion about how the family will use technology, and only then set any rules or boundaries that you think are necessary.

All our devices are set by default to access under 18 content only. If you’re the account holder, you can turn on parent controls to restrict access to content suitable for under 12s or content rated as 18+.

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