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How Can I Stop My Child from Downloading Inappropriate Content in 2021

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

Both Google and Apple have basic filters that you can turn on for your children’s accounts, in order to limit the content with which they are exposed. These will filter what apps can be downloaded based on the age-rating assigned to each app.

Unfortunately, these filters alone aren’t strong enough or good enough to work on their own. For example, some parents might not have a problem with their 12 years old using apps like TikTok or Instagram, both of which have teen ratings, while other parents might feel they’re not appropriate for their children.

I searched for a better solution that can work with the Google and Apple filters but gives me more monitoring tools and control over how often my kids can use these apps.

After testing more than 20 parental control apps, I concluded that Norton Family has the best tools for preventing my kids from downloading inappropriate content. I found a completely free 7-day trial that gave me access to all the premium features without entering any payment information.

Try Norton Family – Free for 7 Days

Quick Guide to Block Your Kids from Downloading Inappropriate Content

  1. Get a Parental Control App: I recommend Norton Family since it has the best tools to block the kids from turning on specific apps and many other useful features.
  2. Choose a family plan: There, create a family group to set filters for your family and add the children’s account to the plan.
  3. Start monitoring and blocking inappropriate content: Open the dashboard to find detailed reports of what your kids are doing on their phones. You’ll also be able to customize web filters to prevent them from visiting inappropriate websites.

Is Google’s Parental Control Good Enough?

The Google Family Link is a free parental control app, and it was one of the first parental control apps I tried. Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last too long, it took my kids less than 24 hours to find out how to bypass most of the restrictions.

One good thing about it being free is that it’s a nice complementary app. When I used it together with a good parental control app, I prevented my kids from downloading inappropriate apps and monitoring what they did with the apps on their phones.

What to do When Your Child Downloads Inappropriate Things?

When you get an alert on your parental control dashboard that your child is downloading files or inappropriate apps, the first thing to do is either block the app or lock their device. You can easily do this from the dashboard of any of these recommended parental control apps.

Next, it’s important to talk with your child about why you had to block their access to the app.

Explaining to your children the problem with the content they are downloading will show them that you trust them and treat them as young adults. If they don’t understand why you are blocking them, it might cause them to think that you’re unreasonable, and they’ll seek out new hacks or ways to access the content without your knowledge.

Get a Premium Parental Control App – Free for 30 Days!

How to Prevent Your Kids From Seeing Inappropriate Content

Preventing them from downloading adult or harmful content is only half the battle. Whether it’s porn, drug-related content, violent mobile games, or apps with unfiltered chat options, these are typically available through a browser as well.

In such cases, you’ll need to set strict web filters that will block your kids from visiting these dangerous websites. I recommend choosing a parental control app that allows you to customize the filter for each child. The apps that I personally recommend not only allow you to block sites based on the category, but you can also set filters on specific keywords and blacklist URLs. This is helpful since some of these sites are able to hide what category they would fall into, but the kids won’t be able to find it if you’ve blocked the offending keywords.

How to Block your Child from Downloading Inappropriate Content?

Let’s face it, most kids with access to the internet will be able to find a way to download apps or content that, as a responsible parent, you don’t want them to see. One of the easiest hacks they can use is finding the APK file or having a friend share the app with them. This will bypass the Google Play filter and allow the installation.

The first thing you should do is take the child’s phone, go to Settings and make sure it’s set not to allow installation from unknown sources. This way, the only apps they can download come from Google Play or the App Store.

But the kids can easily change the settings and this is why a premium parental control app is a better idea. It can prevent the kids from making changes to the phone settings and allowing downloads and installation from unknown sources. Even if they do find the next great hack and manage to download content you don’t want them to see; you’ll be able to control the situation. The parental control app will let you block the app, or you can lock the device until you can delete the offending file.

The Top 5 Parental Control Apps to Prevent Inappropriate Downloads in 2021

1. Norton Family – #1 App for Top Quality Monitoring and Powerful Control Features

NortonFamily
NortonFamily

Key Features

  • Blocks access to specific apps
  • Monitors which websites your kids visit
  • Instantly lock your child’s device from anywhere
  • Monitors search terms used in Google and Bing
  • Free for 30 days – no credit card needed

With the Norton Family parental control app, I was able to give my kids the freedom to use their phones and tablets without having to constantly worry about which apps or files they are downloading. It seamlessly monitors everything the kids are doing and creates easy-to-read reports, and sends alerts to my phone for anything that needs my immediate attention.

While testing the app, I used all the features to make sure that my kids weren’t downloading any inappropriate content. The first thing I did was go through the list of apps that are installed on their device. I blocked them from opening apps that I didn’t want them to use and then set custom web filters to make sure that they can’t see similar content on the web.

I challenged my kids to try and get around the restrictions, but they didn’t have any hacks that I couldn’t block.

Norton Family does more than just make sure my kids aren’t downloading inappropriate apps and files. It made it easy to monitor what my kids are doing, searching for, and watching on their phones — even when I knew that it was all age-appropriate. I created a screen time schedule and daily limit to ensure that my kids aren’t spending too much time staring at their phones. When they wouldn’t turn off their phone to go do some chores, I was able to lock the device from the parent dashboard remotely.

I took advantage of the 30-day free trial before I committed to a subscription, and I recommend you do the same. Unlike other apps, I didn’t have to provide any payment information to activate the account and get complete access to all the premium features.

Try Norton Family – Completely Free for 30 Days

2. Qustodio – Blocks Apps From Opening and Includes Smart Web Filters

Qustodio Vendor Image
Qustodio Vendor Image

Key Features

  • Create time limits for each app
  • Comprehensive filter with more than 40 categories
  • Customize screen time limits
  • Get real-time updates on your parent dashboard
  • Test it risk-free for 30 days

I found that Qustodio had the tools that I needed to make sure that my kids aren’t downloading inappropriate content. The smart filter can detect over 40 categories based on the content, metadata, images, and more. This means that my kids weren’t able to find alternative ways to download files.

Even if they manage to find a way to get the apps or files on their phone (which my kids couldn’t do), Qustodio has plenty of tools to stop them from viewing the content.

On the Qustodio parent dashboard, I can see every app that is on my kids’ phones. I can completely block access to the app, or if I’m OK with them using it in moderation, it allows me to create time limits for each app.

For downloads that aren’t apps, the monitoring tools show me exactly what my kids are doing and watching. If it’s something that I don’t want them to see, I can remotely lock their device and only unlock it when I’m home and can check they deleted the file.

I bought the “Small Plan,” which can be installed on five devices and has a 30-day money-back guarantee. After two weeks of testing the app, I emailed their customer support staff and requested a refund. Without asking any questions about why I wanted to cancel, I received a full refund within five business days.

Get Qustodio for Free for 30 Days

3. Net Nanny – Monitors Your Kids’ Mobile Downloads and Has Strong Screen Time Tools

Key Features

  • Shows you what apps are on your child’s device
  • Get app usage reports to get a better understanding of what your kids are doing on their phones
  • Powerful web filter to block inappropriate content
  • Try it free for 14 days with its money-back guarantee

Net Nanny has most of the tools needed to monitor, block, and restrict what apps my kids could download. The web filter is one of its standout features, which helps prevent the kids from downloading any content from websites that deal with drugs, alcohol, violence, porn, and other adult topics.

One of the nice features that Net Nanny has, that I didn’t see with other parental control apps, is they provide a description of the app, including reviews from other parents. I found this helpful when one of my kids wanted permission to download an app that I didn’t know.

Net Nanny has a well-organized parent dashboard that alerts me to each new download, plus it shows me what websites the kids go to, how much time they’re on the phone, and much more.

I purchased an account, which includes a 14-day money-back guarantee. After ten days of using Net Nanny, I asked for a refund through its live chat feature. Before they approved my request, I had to provide a reason for canceling. Only when they couldn’t solve my problem did they issue the full refund.

Try Net Nanny for Free for 14 Days!

4. Kaspersky Safe Kids – Has Strong Monitoring Tools and Sets App Time Limits

Kaspersky Safe Kids vendor image
Kaspersky Safe Kids vendor image

Key Features

  • App usage monitoring tools
  • Enforces SafeSearch in Google and YouTube
  • Try it free for 7 days – no credit card needed

While it isn’t the best app I’ve tested, Kaspersky Safe Kids does have some useful monitoring tools. I found these to be helpful when seeing what apps my kids downloaded and what websites they like to visit.

On the parent dashboard, I can see a complete list of the apps installed on the device and set time limits or block the app completely. The benefit of the SafeSearch being enabled is that I don’t really have to worry that they’ll find inappropriate downloads to download.

Kaspersky Safe Kids has a completely free 7-day trial, which gave me a perfect chance to test it out on my kids’ Android device.

Try Kaspersky Safe Kids for Free for 7 Days

5. Mobicip – Restricts or Blocks Apps and Games

Key Features

  • Create custom web filters
  • Automatically block apps and games
  • Free 7-day trial

I liked that I could preemptively block some apps from downloading to my kids’ devices based on the app category. While it can’t stop my kids from going to Google Play, the instant the app is installed on the device; it’s automatically blocked.

The parent dashboard uses colorful graphs and charts to show me which websites and apps my kids are using. It also gives the freedom to block or restrict the apps on their phones or instantly lock the device if I’m nervous that they found some hack or workaround to access inappropriate downloads.

Mobicip does have a 7-trial free trial, but they do take your payment information when you create the account. I had to remember to cancel the account before the trial ended. Otherwise, I would get charged for an annual account.

Try Mobicip for 7 days!

Get a Parental Control App to Protect Your Kids Online!

After several months of testing parental control apps and seeing the positive effects they have on my kids, I believe that it’s the most important app you’ll ever purchase. Together with the Google Play or App Store filters, you can prevent your kids from downloading inappropriate apps and files.

Throughout the testing process, I concluded that Norton Family is the best parental control app based on the app monitoring features, web filters, and screen time management tools. Get a completely free trial and test how it can help you protect your kids online.

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.