How Can I Remotely Control My Child’s Phone (Tested 2021)

Shauli Zacks Last Updated by Shauli Zacks on February 01, 2021

I’ve tried many different solutions over the past few years to control my kid’s phones remotely, but nothing worked for an extended period of time. My first idea was to turn off the Wi-Fi. This was effective but really annoying for everyone else in the house. The same could be said for changing the Wi-Fi password and only giving them the updated password when they finished their homework and chores.

I looked for a solution that made it easy to remote control my child’s phone without inconveniencing everyone else. That’s when I started testing parental control apps. After buying and installing over 20 apps, I determined that with an Instant Lock feature, powerful web filters, and time management tools, Norton Family gave me the best tools to remote control over my kid’s phone.

Best of all, you can try Norton Family for free for 30 days with its free trial, which means that no credit card or payment information is needed.

Try Norton Family – Free for 30 Days

Quick Guide: 3 Easy Steps to Control Your Child’s Cell Phone Remotely

  1. Create a parental control account: I recommend Norton Family, which gave me remote control over when the phone can be used and what websites the kids can visit.
  2. Download the app on your child’s device: Don’t skip the admin rights request, without it, the parental control feature won’t work correctly.
  3. Remote control your child’s phone: Log in to the parent dashboard. This is where you can lock your child’s cell phone, manage the web filter, and get reports on their online activities.

Is Google’s Family Link Good Enough?

I was hoping to find a free solution to my problems, and so the first app I tried was Google Family Link. I’d heard good things from friends, so I had pretty high expectations. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for reality to set in.

Family Link doesn’t have any remote control tools to help monitor or restrict which websites kids can visit. While it seemed like it had the remote control screen time features I needed, it was very easy for my kids to find ways to bypass the restrictions. After two weeks, I realized I needed a better solution, and so I uninstalled the app and started testing real parental control apps.

How Can I Remote Control my Child’s Phone?

The easiest way to get remote control access to your child’s phone is to download a parental control app. Before you can control your child’s phone, you will need to create a profile for each child and then download the app on the kid’s phone as well.

You’ll have to give the app admin rights on the phone, which prevents the child from disabling or deleting its features without permission.

After the app is installed and set up on the child’s phone, you can log in to the parent account from a mobile phone or desktop. Every app that I recommend below has a parent dashboard that acts as the nerve center for the monitoring. From there, you can remotely control which websites the child can visit by creating web filters that block websites based on the content of the text, images, and metadata.

This will also give you control over how much time your kids can be on the phone, either by setting a schedule or a daily time limit. The really good apps, like Norton Family, also have an Instant Lock option. This works much like a remote control for a TV, just press a button, and it will lock the device.

The 5 Best Parental Control Apps for Controlling Your Kid’s Cell Phone Remotely

1. Norton Family – Complete Remote Control Access to When Your Kids Can Use Their Phone

NortonFamily
NortonFamily

Key Features

  • Remotely control when and how long your kids can be on their phones
  • Instantly lock the phone from anywhere
  • Create comprehensive web filters
  • Kids can’t disable or block parental remote control access
  • Free 30-day trial

I came away very impressed with the remote control capabilities of the Norton Family app. I used their free 30-day trial and tested it on my 16-year old’s Android phone. After installing the app on his phone, I was able to manage his phone from anywhere via the cloud-based parent dashboard.

The dashboard has a very intuitive layout, and in just a few clicks, I set up a daily and weekly schedule. It also has a Lock Now feature, which allows me to lock the device at any time and from anywhere instantly. There is an option for the kids to request more time, and I can accept or decline remotely, which is nice if he’s at a friend’s or I’m not at home when he needs the extension.

Norton Family also comes with a smart, customizable web filter that assigns every website into at least one of 47 categories. From the dashboard, I can block, warn, or allow my kids to visit the website based on its categories. I like that if my son believes that the webpage is appropriate, he can send a request, which instantly appears on my dashboard, and I can unblock the page if I agree.

Norton Family comes with a special feature for remote learning. When activated, I can create a whitelist of the specific websites that my child needs for their homework, and everything else will be blocked. Using the remote schooling feature won’t count against their daily screen time use.

I like that there is one comprehensive subscription plan that includes unlimited child profiles and devices. What’s even better is that Norton Family has a 30-day free trial that you can get without having to give any payment or personal information. If you decide that this isn’t the right app for your family, the account will automatically switch to the basic free plan without you having to do anything.

Try Norton Family – Free for 30 Days!

2. Qustodio – Create Powerful Web Filters Remotely from the Parent Dashboard

Qustodio Vendor Image
Qustodio Vendor Image

Key Features

  • Create and enforce screen time limits from anywhere
  • Set web filters and rules remotely
  • View real-time location and set up a geofence
  • Set different time limits for each app on the child’s phone
  • Try it free for 30 days with a proven money-back guarantee

I had a very good experience with Qustodio when I tested it out on my kids. After installing the app on their phones, I was able to control all the different monitoring features from my phone and computer.

I started out by creating individual web filters for each of my kids, giving my oldest son more freedom and stricter restrictions on the younger kids. Next, I set a daily screen time limit and created a usage schedule. Lastly, I enabled the location tracking to keep track of where they are with the click of a button.

I was also able to create different time limits for each app that is installed on the kids’ phones. I found this helpful because my daughter can spend hours on YouTube watching an endless stream of videos, so I could limit that, but she could still view messages on WhatsApp or check her email.

The one remote control feature that I found lacking is an instant lock option. If I need the kids’ phones to lock right away, I would have to change the daily schedule, so it’s set to turn off right away.

I purchased the Small Plan, which includes protection for five devices, and installed it on a Windows computer and 3 Android devices. It came with a 30-day money-back guarantee, which I tested by requesting a refund after two weeks. I sent an email to the customer support team, and within 5 days, I received a full refund.

Try Qustodio for Free for 30 Days!

3. Net Nanny -Remotely Control What Types of Websites Your Children Can View

Key Features

  • AI-powered web filter with 15 categories
  • Remotely create keyword-based filters
  • Block your kids from downloading apps
  • Try it free for 14 days with a money-back guarantee

Net Nanny is one of the few parental control apps I tested that has a separate app for parents and kids. Through the parent app, I can get remote control access to set web filters and screen time limits on the kids’ phones and computers.

One of my favorite remote control features with Net Nanny is that I can choose which apps my kids can access that are already on their device and block them from downloading specific apps from the Play or App Store.

Net Nanny gave me the option of what to do with the kids’ phone when the schedule shows the kids must be off their phone or their daily allocation of screen time is over. One option is to block the internet. This is a good option if I still want them to have access to the calling feature on their phone, although it still gives them the option of playing with non-internet based apps.

The second option is to block the phone completely, which is what I used at bedtime, so the kids couldn’t play around with their phones when they should be sleeping.

There are several different subscription plans to choose from, all of which include the same remote control features. I used their 14-day money-back guarantee for my experiment and then requested a refund by emailing customer support 12 days after purchasing the subscription. This wasn’t a “no questions asked” policy, so they tried to help me and to convince me not to cancel my account, but once I made it clear that I wanted a refund, they issued it without delay.

Try Net Nanny for Free for 14 Days!

4. Kaspersky Safe Kids – Give Permission for Specific Apps to Run

Kaspersky Safe Kids vendor image
Kaspersky Safe Kids vendor image

Key Features

  • Set filters and screen time limits remotely
  • Receive an alert when child’s phone battery is low
  • Try it risk-free for 7 days

Kaspersky excelled when it came to giving me remote control access over which apps my kids can use and how long they can use them. It compiles a list of all the installed apps, which I can see on my cloud-based dashboard. I’m able to set time limits for each app or block it entirely, and the restrictions are instantly applied on my child’s phone.

Safe Kids also gives me the option to allow select apps to run, even when the phone is locked. For example, if I know that my kids are doing school work, I might unlock the calculator app or educational apps that they need for their homework. This also works with SMS and calling apps and gives me a little extra control over how they can use the phone, even if I’m still at work or out to dinner.

The Kaspersky Safe Kids app has one of the cheapest plans I tested, but it still has room for improvement before I raise it in my rankings. You can test all the premium features free for 7 days without entering your credit card or PayPal information and see if the remote control features are good enough for your family.

Try Kaspersky Safe Kids for Free for 7 Days!

5. Mobicip – Instantly lock all devices remotely

Key Features

  • Set daily and weekly screen time restrictions
  • Set category-based web filters
  • Try it free for 7 days

It’s easy to use the remote control feature to instantly lock your child’s device with Mobicip. However, it will lock all the devices connected to the parent account. This can be a problem if you have multiple children and only need to lock one of their phones.

The general screen time tools and the web filter, both of which are managed remotely from the parental dashboard, can be customized for each child’s profile.

I found a 7-day free trial for Mobicip. I had to give them credit card information when I created the account, but the card isn’t charged until the free trial ends. This meant I had to remember to cancel my account before I got charged for an annual subscription.

Try Mobicip for Free for 7 Days!

How to Turn Kids’ Phones Off at Night (or Anytime, Really)?

I’ve reached the age where I go to sleep before some of my kids. This made it even more important that I found a way to turn off their phone remotely; otherwise, they’d never go to sleep.

I found that there are two ways that the Norton Family app gave me control over when my kids can be on their phones.

  1. Create a Schedule: Norton Family has two screen time management tools, allowing me to create a daily or weekly screen time schedule. This gave me the flexibility to shut down the phone during school hours, homework time, dinner, and bedtime, while also setting an overall time limit. .
  2. Instant Lock: This is a great feature for shutting down the phone at any time. This way I was able to shut down the phone for any reason, and it can be done from anywhere.

Get a Remote Control on Your Child’s Cell Phone

There are many benefits to having remote control access over your kid’s cell phones. It gives them the freedom to use their phones, but you can still stay in control without constantly bugging them about when to get off the phone or letting you know what websites they’re visiting.

Norton Family proved to be the best option throughout my testing process, with an Instant Lock feature, flexible screen time management tools, and a web filter the kids couldn’t bypass. Don’t take my word for it, you can try Norton Family for yourself for 30 days with its free trial, and see how it works for your family.

Try Norton Family Free for 30 Days!

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Shauli Zacks
Shauli is an online privacy expert with a love of all things technology. He spent the past few years testing, comparing, and reviewing different software programs.