Short on time? Here’s the best parental control app for Windows:
- 🥇 Qustodio: Comes with excellent web filtering (not even top VPNs can circumvent it), can detect and block Windows apps that are popular with kids and teens, and has very in-depth activity reports. Also provides access to easy-to-use time limits and scheduling features. Has the best free plan on the market, affordable paid plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
I tested all of the most popular parental control apps to find the best parental apps for Windows in 2023.
I found that many parental apps actually can’t monitor Windows devices (or do a very poor job of it), or are very difficult to set up on your child’s Windows device and don’t have beginner-friendly parental apps.
But all of the parental apps mentioned in this article provide access to features that allow you to monitor and restrict your child’s web and app usage on Windows.
Quick summary of the best parental control apps for Windows:
- 1.🥇 Qustodio — Best parental control app for Windows in 2023. Excellent web filtering (that not even top VPNs can bypass), very easy-to-use time limits and scheduling features, really good app filtering, in-depth activity reports, and even a dedicated YouTube monitoring feature.
- 2.🥈 Norton Family — Great Windows parental app for large families. Allows you to monitor unlimited Windows devices and comes with good web and app filtering, time limits and scheduling, and a dedicated feature for restricting web usage during school hours.
- 3.🥉 Net Nanny — Good web filtering on Windows. Blocks pretty much any inappropriate website and also allows you to create custom filters. Also has user-friendly time limits and scheduling and a dedicated feature that monitors kids’ YouTube usage.
- 4. FamiSafe — Good app filtering on Windows. Lets you block apps, set time limits for them, or set specific periods when your kids can use certain apps. Also provides pretty decent web filtering.
- 5. Bark — Decent web monitoring on Windows. Tracks your child’s web searches, website visits, incognito browsing, emails, and image attachments. Also comes with good web filtering.
- Comparison of the Best Parental Control Apps for Windows in 2023.
🥇 1. Qustodio — Best Parental Control App for Windows in 2023
Qustodio is the best parental control app for Windows in 2023 — it provides excellent monitoring and filtering features that keep your kids safe on the web and also help them to develop healthy digital habits.
Qustodio provides access to the following features on Windows:
- Web filtering. Qustodio blocks access to harmful sites using VPN technology and also comes with 25+ predefined site categories, which is very convenient. You can also block or allow specific websites. I ran multiple tests using top VPNs and none of them were able to bypass Qustodio’s web filtering. In addition, Qustodio has an option that blocks unsupported browsers, so your kids can’t use them to circumvent the app’s web filtering.
- Time limits. Allows you to set daily screen time limits in increments of 15 minutes. When the time is up, you can choose to either lock the navigation (prevent all browsers from using the internet) or lock the device (logs your child out of their account to prevent both online and offline use).
- App filtering. I really like that Qustodio allows you to block access to specific apps or set time limits for them, as this provides more flexibility — for example, you can set time limits for apps like Steam instead of blocking them to provide your kids with some level of online freedom while also making sure they don’t develop screen addiction. Plus, it’s great how Qustodio only displays apps as your kids start using them, as this shows you exactly which apps your kids use the most (and it’s also convenient because you don’t need to go through a long list of irrelevant system apps).
- Scheduling. This lets you set screen time limits for specific periods. For example, you can prevent your kids from using their Windows devices during bedtime.
- Activity reports. Qustodio provides access to daily, weekly, bi-weekly, and monthly activity reports, which show you which restricted sites your kids tried to access, which apps your kids used and for how long they used them, which words your children used the most in their web searches, and more.
Qustodio also provides access to a YouTube monitoring feature, which can track your child’s activity on YouTube’s site on Windows. It will monitor your kids’ YouTube searches and show you detailed information about the YouTube videos they watch (like the thumbnail and the channel name).
I also like that Qustodio’s kids app for Windows runs quietly in the background, so it won’t bother your child. In addition, the app is lightweight, so it won’t slow down your kid’s PC. Plus, I’m happy that the app comes with uninstall protection, which means your kids won’t be able to manually remove it — they’ll need your parental account credentials to do that.
Qustodio comes with the best free plan on the market, as it provides access to web filtering, time limits, and scheduling — but it only lets you monitor 1 device and it limits you to daily and weekly activity reports.
To be able to monitor 5–15 devices and get access to app filtering, YouTube monitoring, and bi-weekly and monthly activity reports, you need to upgrade to Qustodio’s paid plans, which start at US$54.95 / ปี. While the pricing is a bit steep, it’s worth it because Qustodio is the best parental app on the market, and it also provides a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Qustodio is the best parental app for Windows in 2023. It provides access to excellent web filtering (which not even top VPNs can bypass), app filtering that saves you time by only displaying the apps your kids use, time limits, scheduling, and in-depth activity reports. It also comes with a really good YouTube monitoring feature and uninstall protection. Qustodio has the best free plan out there, affordable paid plans, and a 30-day money-back guarantee.
🥈 2. Norton Family — Good Windows Parental App for Large Families
Norton Family allows you to monitor unlimited devices, so I think this is a great pick if you have a big family and need to monitor tons of Windows devices. It also provides many good features that allow you to monitor and restrict your child’s web and device usage.
Norton Family provides good web filtering, as it comes with 45+ predefined site categories and even predefined web filtering rules by age. I even tested Norton Family’s web filtering with ExpressVPN, which is the best VPN on the market, and I wasn’t able to circumvent it. That said, I don’t like that Norton Family doesn’t use VPN technology to block inappropriate sites on Windows (like Qustodio does) — instead, it uses browser extensions, which kids can easily disable. Norton Family will alert you if your child does that, though.
There’s also good app filtering that can detect and block apps like Discord, Steam, GOG Galaxy, and Skype. But Norton Family doesn’t only display the apps your kids use — instead, it displays all the apps installed on your child’s device, so you might need to go through a long list of apps until you find the ones you need to restrict.
Norton Family’s daily time limits and scheduling features are easy to use since you can set time limits using increments of 30 minutes. There are also predefined time limits by age. But I think it’s a shame that Norton Family doesn’t let you set time limits for specific apps (Qustodio does this) — that way, you could reward your child with 2–3 hours of offline games, which is better than whitelisting the games and potentially forgetting to blacklist them when the time is up.
I really like that Norton Family also comes with a School Time feature, which allows you to restrict your child’s web usage during school hours. What’s more, there are also features that show you what your kids search for on YouTube and search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo!. And Norton Family also displays which videos your kids watch on YouTube and Hulu’s sites. I also like that Norton Family’s kids app for Windows runs silently in the background (so it won’t distract your children) and comes with uninstall protection.
Norton Family is available as a standalone subscription, which costs only US$49.99 / ปี. It also comes bundled with the Norton 360 Deluxe (US$49.99 / ปี) and Norton 360 Advanced (US$54.99 / ปี) subscriptions — those subscriptions also provide access to Norton 360, which is the best antivirus in 2023. Norton backs all purchases with a 60-day money-back guarantee.
Norton Family is a great parental control app for large families, as it allows parents to monitor unlimited Windows devices. It comes with great web filtering and app filtering, as well as with easy-to-use time limits and scheduling features. In addition, there’s a feature dedicated to school hours and a way to track your kids’ searches and the videos they watch. Norton Family is available as a standalone subscription or bundled with the Norton 360 Deluxe and Norton 360 Advanced subscriptions. It also has a 60-day money-back guarantee.
🥉 3. Net Nanny — Great Choice for Web Filtering on Windows
Net Nanny provides really good web filtering and monitoring on Windows, as well as other helpful web and screen time monitoring features. I really like that Net Nanny’s web filtering works using VPN technology, as that makes it nearly impossible for kids to bypass it.
Net Nanny only has 10+ predefined categories, which is fewer than Qustodio’s 25+ categories and Norton Family’s 45+ categories, but I like how Net Nanny lets you create custom filters — you just add a list of keywords you want Net Nanny to detect and name the new custom category.
I also like how Net Nanny has an option to mask profanity on websites — basically, it replaces all profane words with “######.” I tested this by visiting 10+ web pages that contained swear words, and Net Nanny always censored them.
On the plus side, Net Nanny has a daily time limit feature, which is very easy to use because you can set the limits using increments of 15 minutes. I asked a friend who has 2 kids to test this feature, and he said it works really well — when his kids reached their time limits, Net Nanny always blocked access to the internet and minimized all their windows. His kids tried to open new windows, but Net Nanny displayed a message saying they exceeded their time limits. That said, I think it’s a shame that Net Nanny doesn’t also let you set time limits for apps, like Qustodio does.
In addition to time limits, Net Nanny also lets you schedule downtime or curfews, provides in-depth activity reports, and has a dedicated YouTube monitoring feature that shows you what your child is watching and what they’re searching for.
Net Nanny has 3 paid subscriptions, which all provide access to the same features but monitor a different number of devices. Its basic subscription, which is priced at US$39.99 / ปี, is very affordable but only covers 1 Windows device. Net Nanny also has 2 Family Protection Pass subscriptions — one that covers 5 devices (US$54.99 / ปี) and one that covers 20 devices (US$89.99 / ปี). Net Nanny backs its plans with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
Net Nanny provides good web filtering on Windows, as it uses VPN technology (so kids can’t bypass it) and also allows you to create custom filters. In addition, it can censor profane words, and it provides access to time limits, scheduling, activity reports, and a dedicated YouTube monitoring feature. Net Nanny has 3 paid subscriptions and comes with a 14-day money-back guarantee.
4. FamiSafe — Good for Restricting App Usage on Windows
FamiSafe comes with very flexible app filtering options, providing you with many ways to limit your kids’ access to Windows apps. This parental app can detect and block apps that are popular with kids and teens, such as Steam, Skype, Discord, and even torrent clients.
It also allows you to set time limits for apps or schedule specific times when your children are allowed to use certain apps — for example, you can reward your kids with 2 hours of Minecraft for doing their homework, which is much more convenient than whitelisting the game and having to remember to blacklist it after the 2 hours pass.
FamiSafe also provides decent web filtering since it comes with 10+ predefined site categories, it can enable safe search, it covers most browsers, and it blocks most adult sites. That said, I don’t think FamiSafe’s web filtering on Windows is as good as Qustodio or Norton Family’s web filtering — Qustodio has 25+ predefined site categories and Norton Family has 45+ categories, so they can block way more inappropriate sites by default (with FamiSafe, you need to manually block many sites to keep your child safe online).
FamiSafe has a free plan that provides access to all features, but it limits you to 1 device. ts paid plans are pretty affordable, as they start at US$10.99 / เดือน, and they can monitor 5–10 devices. FamiSafe backs all of its paid plans with a 7-day money-back guarantee.
FamiSafe provides very flexible app filtering on Windows — you can choose to block apps, set time limits for them, or schedule specific times when kids can use certain apps. Its web filtering is also pretty decent since it works on most browsers and can block most inappropriate sites. FamiSafe has a free plan (but only for 1 device), affordable paid plans, and a 7-day money-back guarantee.
5. Bark — Decent Web Monitoring on Windows Devices
Bark provides pretty in-depth web monitoring on Windows, and it’s also a good pick for large families because it allows you to monitor unlimited devices. On Windows, Bark can monitor stuff like website visits, searches, and incognito browsing on Chrome and Edge, sent and received emails, and image attachments.
However, keep in mind that Bark won’t display everything your kid does on the web — instead, it will scan messages, images, and videos for harmful content and alert you if it detects anything concerning. Due to that, I think Bark is more suitable for parents of teens who have a lot of trust in their kids.
Bark also provides good web filtering — in my tests, it was always able to block my access to adult sites on my Windows device. That said, Bark doesn’t use VPN technology on Windows but relies on a browser extension to block sites instead. The problem with that is that kids can easily disable the extension.
Bark comes with 2 tier-based subscriptions — Bark Jr. (US$49.00 / ปี) provides access to screen time management, web filtering, and location tracking, and Bark Premium (US$99.00 / ปี) adds access to all features. Unlike the other parental apps on this list, Bark doesn’t come with a money-back guarantee.
Bark provides tons of information about your child’s web browsing on Windows — like what they search for, which sites they access, and what emails they send or receive. But instead of showing you everything your kid does online, it only alerts you if it detects concerning content. It also allows you to monitor unlimited devices and provides decent web filtering. Bark comes with 2 tier-based subscriptions and doesn’t have a money-back guarantee.
Comparison of the Best Free Parental Control Apps for Windows in 2023
|Parental Control App||Starting Price||Web Filtering||Time Limits||App Filtering||Number of Devices||Money-Back Guarantee|
|1.🥇Qustodio||US$54.95 / ปี||✅||✅||✅||5–15||30 days|
|2.🥈Norton Family||US$49.99 / ปี||✅||✅||✅||Unlimited||60 days|
|3.🥉Net Nanny||US$39.99 / ปี||✅||✅||❌||5–20||14 days|
|4. FamiSafe||US$10.99 / เดือน||✅||✅||✅||5–10||7 days|
|5. Bark||US$5.00 / เดือน||✅||❌||❌||Unlimited||❌|
How to Choose the Best Parental Control App for Windows in 2023
- Can monitor Windows devices. The parental app needs to either have a kids app for Windows or a browser extension, so that it can monitor and restrict your child’s web or app usage.
- Has essential parental control features. The parental app should provide you with access to industry-standard parental control features on Windows, such as web filtering, app filtering, time limits, scheduling, or activity reports.
- Good performance. The parental control app’s features should work without any issues — for example, VPNs shouldn’t be able to bypass its web filtering, and its app filtering needs to be able to block Windows apps that are popular with kids and teens like Discord, Steam, and Netflix. Also, the provider’s kids apps should be lightweight, so that they don’t consume too many resources (which can slow down your child’s PC).
- Ease of use. Each one of my top picks has parental apps that have a very intuitive interface, so that even non-tech-savvy parents can easily use them. Also, it doesn’t take more than a few minutes to set up the kids app on your child’s Windows device.
- Good value. Some of the parental apps in this article also provide access to additional features, such as YouTube monitoring and uninstall protection (like Qustodio and Norton Family). What’s more, all of my top picks have affordable plans and come with free plans, free trials, or generous money-back guarantees, so that you can test their services risk free.
Top Brands That Didn’t Make the Cut
- Microsoft’s Family Safety. This parental app comes with many features, including web and app filtering, time limits, and activity reports. That said, its apps are glitchy and often display errors, and some of its features don’t work — for example, its time limits often don’t disable access to kids’ devices. Plus, Family Safety can only block sites on Edge, so your kids can use other browsers to bypass the filtering (unless you use Family Safety’s app filtering, which is inconvenient to use on Windows).
- KidLogger. KidLogger shows you how much time your kids spend on the PC, monitors web and app usage, and can block sites. But it also takes screenshots of your child’s screen, which I honestly think is too invasive and will only damage your relationship with your kids instead of improving it. Plus, KidLogger can’t block Windows apps, doesn’t let you set time limits, and its parental apps are not user-friendly.
- OpenDNS. This parental control service is free to use, but it can only filter inappropriate websites. So, you can’t use it to set time limits, block apps, or monitor your child’s YouTube activity. What’s more, OpenDNS doesn’t have a kids app for Windows — instead, you need to manually set it up on your router, which is time-consuming and inconvenient.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best parental control app for Windows?
I think Qustodio is the best parental app for Windows in 2023 — it provides excellent web filtering (not even top VPNs can bypass it), really good app filtering, time limits and scheduling, in-depth activity reports, and a dedicated YouTube monitoring feature.
But the other parental apps on my list also provide good value — Norton Family is a great pick for large families, and Net Nanny provides great web filtering on Windows. FamiSafe comes with flexible app filtering on Windows, and Bark has pretty good web monitoring.
Are there free parental control apps for Windows?
I don’t normally recommend using free parental apps because they’re either dangerous to use (since you give them tons of permissions to access sensitive data) or they lack essential parental control features. That said, if you insist on using a free parental app for Windows, I’d go with Qustodio’s free plan, as it’s the best on the market — it comes with web filtering, time limits and scheduling, and daily and weekly activity reports, but it only allows you to monitor 1 Windows device.
But, overall, I only recommend using a free parental control app to test the service to see if it’s right for you — you get significantly better value by upgrading to a premium paid parental app, like one of Qustodio’s paid plans.
Can’t I just use built-in parental controls on Windows?
Windows comes with built-in parental controls called Family Safety, but I don’t recommend using them — while it has many features, most of them don’t work well. What’s more, web filtering only works on Edge, so your kids can use unsupported browsers to access inappropriate sites (you can block them using the app filtering feature, but it’s time-consuming because it’s not user-friendly).
I honestly think you’re much better off using a premium parental app like Qustodio — it provides excellent web and app filtering on Windows, and also comes with time limits, scheduling, in-depth activity reports, and even a dedicated YouTube monitoring feature.
Can I monitor my child’s PC from my Android or iOS device?
Yes, as most parental services have apps for parents that run on Android and iOS devices — for example, Qustodio has parental apps for iOS and Android that are very intuitive, so you’ll have an easy time getting used to them even if you’re not tech-savvy.