Qustodio Overview July 2022
Update: This review has been updated after the latest Qustodio update, which includes updated features, a new modern design, and improved functionality.
I was hesitant to test out the Qustodio app on my kids’ computers, phones, and tablets. It’s a little more expensive than other parental control apps I’ve tested, but my kids usually find hacks or ways to bypass the restrictions with the other apps I tried. Will Qustodio be able to withstand my tech-savvy kids and give me peace of mind? If so, I’ll consider it money well spent. In fact, they even have a hidden deals page, so you know you’re getting the best price to go along with a 30-day free trial.
As a father to five kids from ages 5 to 16, four of whom have phones and the fifth uses a tablet, finding the best parental control app was a necessity. Together with my kids, I tested over 50 apps and ranked them according to their features, strengths, and weaknesses. My goal here is to help you pick the best app for your family without having to spend all the time and money doing the research.
I got the annual package that comes with connections for up to 5 devices (they also have packages with 10 and 15 devices) and installed it on my daughters’ tablet and my son’s Android phone. Setup and installation took a few minutes, lots of clicking through to accept the permissions, and then it instantly started working.
I found that it has an incredible list of features and rules that I can manage from my phone or computer. Best of all, I challenged my kids to bypass the time restrictions and app blocks I set up, and they haven’t found a hack yet.
Qustodio has all the features that I look for in a parental control app. It gives me the remote access I need to monitor what my kids are doing online, who they’re talking with, which apps they are using, and how much time they spend on their phones. I use that information to create healthy screen time schedules and filters to protect them from inappropriate websites and screen time addition.
The Dashboard Shows Me Exactly what the Kids are Doing
As the parent account holder, I can view the dashboard on my smartphone or by logging into my Qustodio account on any browser. Both dashboards give a clear overview of what the kids are doing online and where they have been.
To set the rules and limitations from the browser-based dashboard, log in to your account, and you’ll see the list of available settings on the menu bar on the left-hand side. Click on any item to open a new page in the dashboard and set the rules.
There is also an activity timeline that gives you a detailed breakdown of what each child has been doing.
Prevent Screen Time Addiction with Daily Limits
Set a general time limit for how much time is allowed on the device per day. You can set different limits for each day of the week, allowing for more time on the weekend, for example. The daily time limit can be set in increments of 15 minutes. One thing that was very important to me, that I didn’t see in other parental control apps, such as Google’s Family Link, is that when the time limit was up on their phones, they could still make phone calls and access the contacts. As a parent I found this very helpful, knowing they could call me or my wife even when the rest of the phone is locked. Of course, if we’re all at home and I want them off the phone, Qustodio does have the option to block the Dialer and Contacts.
Set a Daily Usage Schedule
This allows you to set specific times each day that the phones will remain locked. I found this to be more helpful than a general time limit, as I was able to make sure that the kids weren’t on their phone in bed or when they should be doing homework. My biggest concern with the restricted time features is that you can only allow or restrict times in hour-long chunks, beginning from the top of the hour. In other words, I can’t block the phone from 5:00 – 5:30 and then allow the kids to use it from 5:30 – 7:00.
See What Your Kids on Doing on YouTube
While the YouTube monitoring feature won’t block videos, it will show you search and viewing history for each child. One feature I really liked that I didn’t see on most other parental control apps is that Qustodio can monitor and block both the YouTube app and browser. This is great because, with other parental control apps I tested, my kids quickly figured out that they could just go to YouTube through the browser and watch for as long as they want. However your kids get on YouTube, Qustodio’s monitoring will show you their search and viewing history.
- YouTube.com – Qustodio can block access to the site completely.
- YouTube App – Allows you to set daily time limits for how long the kids can use the app.
Set Rules for Each App and Game
This is where you can set specific rules for each app on your kids’ devices. I find this to be the most helpful feature since my kids need some apps, such as WhatsApp, for school and youth groups, but I still want to restrict how much Netflix they watch.
Call & SMS Monitoring: See Who Texts and Calls your Kids (Feature not Available through Google Play app)
However, you can download the full app directly from the Qustodio website.If you’re using the full version of the app, this feature will allow you to monitor SMS messages, see who your children are talking to, block specific numbers and contacts from calling, or turn on incoming and outgoing calls entirely. You will not be able to block incoming SMS messages.
This feature is only available for Android.
Location Feature Will Track Your Kids in Real-Time
With the Qustodio GPS tracking, you won’t have to worry about where your kids are, as long as they have their phones with them. You can view their location, in real-time, on both the computer and mobile dashboard. Their avatars are superimposed on a map, so you’ll know if they’re really studying at their friend’s house, or if they’ve gone to some other location.
One of the biggest improvements in the updated Qustodio app is creating a geofence. It is known as ”My Places” on Qustodio and can only be set up through the parental mobile app.
You can set a location with a radius between 100 – 200 meters, and whenever your child enters or leaves the area, you’ll receive a notification. You can set the geofencing by tapping the “See Locations” link next to the location tracker in the timeline > Tap the location pin icon > Add A New Place. Now you can enter the address and a radius of up to 200 meters.
Monitor Your Kids on Social Media
This can really be called Facebook Monitoring since that is the only social network it can monitor. You will need to have your child log in to their Facebook account and allow access to the Qustodio app. Once connected, you will be able to see Facebook posts and comments on their wall. To be honest, this is a feature that doesn’t add much value — especially if you’re Facebook friends with your child.
Call for Help with an SOS Button
In my original review of the Qustodio app, I was not very impressed with the SOS feature. It’s supposed to be a button that the child can press to send out an instant “Help Me” message, with GPS coordinates to a trusted contact. I thought it had a lot of promise, but it was too buggy and difficult to use.
I’m very happy to report that with this latest update, the SOS feature is much improved.
Click the Settings gear on the button on the right corner on the mobile device and click Set Rules, or locate the SOS button on the left-hand menu on the browser-based dashboard to access the rules page.
You can invite multiple “trusted contacts” that will be alerted whenever the SOS button is pressed. Each contact can have a phone number and email address, so they’ll see the alert right away.
The child can access the SOS button through the Qustodio app on their phone. On the bottom of the screen is an SOS button. Once they click it, it will open the SOS alert button. After they press the button, Qustodio will send an alert with the child’s current location to the listed email and phone numbers.
When the danger is over, the child will press the button again to end the alert, and the system will offer to send a message via SMS, Facebook Messenger, or Hangouts to let the trusted contacts know that everything is OK, and it will also include the child’s current location.
After purchasing a subscription, I created a user profile for my son, which just means adding his name, birthday, and gender. I received a download link, which means that I needed access to my son’s Android phone to install the app.
I opened the link on his phone, which automatically redirected me to the Google Play Store. After downloading the app, it walked me through all the different settings I needed to change in his phone, such as giving Qustodio access to his GPS, contacts, photos, the ability to display over other apps, and accessibility. These are standard with all parental control devices because the app can’t monitor or restrict anything without them.
Lastly, I needed to give Qustodio Admin Rights on the phone. This seems scary, and Android won’t let you click OK without 10 seconds, but for Qustodio’s purposes, it just prevents the app from being deleted.
When I was setting up the rules and got the Calls and SMS section, I saw a message that users with the Google Play app couldn’t activate the feature. If I want to monitor calls and text messages, I need the full app, which isn’t available on Google Play, but if I want it, I can click on the Download Now button, and the app will download directly from the official Qustodio website.
I don’t understand why this option wasn’t offered initially, instead of first sending me to Google Play. The installation process is the same, although you do have to make sure that the phone settings allow installation from unknown sources.
After I finished installing the app on my son’s phone, After I finished installing the app on my son’s phone, I downloaded the Parental app. This was the same as downloading any app, and I didn’t need to give it any special permissions to work.
Ease of Use9.8
Qustodio will automatically start working from the second it’s installed on your kids’ devices. However, it can take some time to adjust some of the settings and web filters to your standards. We had an issue on the first day when some websites were triggering the filter and blocking access, even though the site was clean. The web filtering section has around 30 categories, and you can set each one to either “Allow,” “Block,” or “Alert Me.” In our particular scenario, since I wasn’t sure why the site was being blocked, we just added the URL as an exception. After that, my son was able to continue using his phone without any more issues.
From the parents’ side, the Qustodio app and browser-based dashboard are extremely easy to use, without any technical knowledge at all. All of the data is presented in a clean format, and the rules and settings are very clearly presented.
I was surprised to see that there is no Live Chat customer support option. All questions must be submitted through their ticket system, and then you have to wait up to 2 business days for a response.
I wanted to see if there was a way to improve the SOS feature, so the kids wouldn’t have to manually send the SMS. I submitted a ticket and received a professional, helpful response in just a few hours.
To their credit, Qustodio does have an extensive FAQ section that can answer most of the common issues that come up.
Is Qustodio safe?
I tested the Qustodio file on multiple platforms, and it was 100% safe. The online dashboard doesn’t have any malware or viruses connected to it. Make sure to download only from reliable websites or from the this hidden Qustodio page, where you can also get the best price I saw online.
Can Qustodio be bypassed?
I tested more than 50 parental control apps and was shocked at how many of them have poor performance and how my kids managed to easily bypass blocks apps and time restrictions. So far, Qustodio seems to be one step ahead of the kids when it comes to finding a way to bypass blocked apps and time restrictions.
Can Qustodio block YouTube?
Yes, in the rules, you can block or set time limits for any app or website, including YouTube. The YouTube Monitoring feature will show you the search and viewing history during times your child can be on YouTube.
Can I set a daily time limit on Qustodio?
Yes, one of Qustodio’s best features is a time management tool. It allows you to set both specific days and times throughout the day when the phone will be locked plus a general time limit for screen time.
What devices can Qustodio monitor?
Qustodio can work across most major platforms. It works on Windows PC, Mac, Android, iOS, Chromebook and even Amazon Kindle and Fire Tablets.
Can I read messages that are sent and received on my kids’ devices?
If you download the app through the Qustodio website and not through the Google Play store, you will be able to turn on the feature to read the SMS messages that are written from and sent to your child’s phone. For other chat apps, such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Snapchat, Qustodio will not be able to show you the content of the messages, just the time spent on the apps.
There are three different premium packages and they each include all the same features. The only difference is the number of connected devices.
- Small Plan – 5 devices
- Medium Plan – 10 devices
- Large Plan – 15 devices
While the price may seem a bit high at first glance, especially if you need the Large Plan, in reality, we’re talking about protecting your most valuable commodity — your kids. Between my peace of mind and the kids knowing their limitations on the phones and tablets, it’s easily the best money I’ve spent this year.
Before you commit to one of the subscription plans, you can try Qustodio risk free with a 30 day free trial. I liked that I didn’t need to enter my credit card information to activate the free trial.