- Great Android support
- Facebook access
- Easily personalized
- Limited social media monitoring
- Long term concerns
It’s tough being a parent in the digital age and you don’t want to make it more difficult by not having the right app to keep your child safe online. Qustodio aims to make parents’ lives easier with its intuitive and flexible parental control apps. Founded in the beautiful city of Barcelona in 2012, Qustodio has since grown to be one of the most popular parental control software companies on the market – now supporting over two million users worldwide. This popularity is due to Qustodio’s unique features, like its advanced Facebook monitoring as well as its fantastic Android app that includes mobile location tracking. There is a limited free version of Qustodio available, but we recommend the full product to experience the vast number of accessible functions. All subscriptions come with a 30-day money-back guarantee but you can try everything with a three-day free trial.
When you install Qustodio you’ll be asked to create profiles for your children, assign them to a device, and then give each their own individual settings. There’s the option to add time limits to each device and once that time expires Qustodio can lock the device down. The scheduling option enables you to choose what time of day you want to allow device access, although one criticism we have is that the design forces us to click a grey box for every hour we want to enable or disable it. This means you can’t select a specific time and gives us the feeling that we’re playing an incredibly easy game of Minesweeper.
Qustodio has a large website category list that gives users the option to choose between having categories blocked, monitored, or allowed. All the usual ones are there like profanity, violence, and pornography, but the loopholes category is a great way to prevent your child from trying to finding a clever way through Qustodio’s blocking. One feature we’d like to see Qustodio incorporate in the future is a request access button for sites that might be unfairly blocked.
Qustodio deserves attention for having some of the best monitoring options around. From the dashboard parents will see what apps and websites their children visit, for how long, and then any activity that Qustodio finds suspicious is immediately reported by email. Qustodio also gives you the option of looking more in-depth at online activity – thanks to the incorporated website rater Web of Trust, you’re able to see how trustworthy and how child-friendly every site is. Another handy element of Qustodio is the ability to keep Qustodio hidden on desktop devices so children can’t try to tamper with the settings.
Not all social media apps are covered by Qustodio, but it does have in-depth Facebook monitoring. Users will need to get their child to sign in to Facebook on desktop first to have Facebook accept Qustodio’s monitoring before any activity is tracked. Qustodio records status updates, wall updates, as well as who the child interacts with on Facebook, although it can’t read Facebook chat. Besides Facebook, Qustodio doesn’t do a lot of other social media monitoring, but users are able to block certain apps if necessary.
Qustodio covers both Android and iOS but its iOS support is limited in comparison. This is due to a long-running struggle between Apple and several parental control software developers over Apple’s apparent attempt at preventing developers from using Apple’s full system controls. It seems like the disagreement will carry on for some time; for now it means that Qustodio’s iOS version doesn’t have a lot of functions. The Qustodio website does offer a helpful list of which apps can and can’t be blocked or monitored since Apple’s new regulations.
Android support however is much more comprehensive. As well as all the features you get with Qustodio’s iOS app, Android users are able to block incoming and outgoing calls, block numbers, and parents can even read text messages. As well as having a location tracker, one particularly important aspect that Qustodio has for Android is the very useful panic button that, when activated, sends out an SMS or email to a trusted contact list with location information.
Besides Android and iOS, Qustodio has a good variety of device support. Qustodio supports Windows, macOS, and is one of the few companies to have an Amazon Kindle Fire app but doesn’t yet have Chromebook support. Adjusting the settings through a web browser feels outdated and sluggish so in this respect it’s better having it set up a phone or tablet for remote management.
Qustodio does offer a free version of its service, but as you’d expect you don’t get to experience the full product. The free version will only cover one device and gives you limited monitoring options, so we’d recommend the full version instead. Qustodio gives you the choice of three pricing plans depending on how many devices you wish to support. The small plan has up to five devices protected, the medium has ten, and the large plan covers up to 15 devices and all of these offer the same premium features. Currently the cheapest option available is the small plan, at $65.95 for a year which works out at paying just $5.41 per month.
The Qustodio website claims that its medium plan is the best offer available, although how that is worked out is anyone’s guess since actually the large plan gives you bigger savings. It’s also worth noting that currently the prices in Europe are cheaper than in North America, and it seems Qustodio inconsistently offers discounts on getting two-year packages instead of one, which save you 25%. Regardless, all plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee and Qustodio also accepts all the major credit cards, PayPal, as well as wire transfers.
Qustodio could do with better investing in its customer service to catch up with the best parental control software on the market. Although we have to highlight its extensive help section and say that the user manual is a great 135-page step-by-step guide to setting up everything you need.
It typically takes Qustodio one to two business days to reply to email inquiries, which isn’t helpful if you have an urgent problem. Qustodio has a fairly active Twitter and Facebook page but there is minimal customer support to be found there.
Although not perfect, Qustodio does have a fantastic variety of features available for parents to make sure their children are safe online with extensive monitoring and blocking options. The Android app shines, with its thorough monitoring features and the excellent panic button function.
One thing we do have to mention is that some users have reported dissatisfaction with Qustodio in the long-term due to encountering software bugs, so we encourage people to make the most of the 30-day guarantee before fully committing. It’s also unfortunate that Qustodio has fallen foul of Apple’s restrictive iOS management so the app is fairly limited in what it can achieve but we can’t blame them for that.
With a choice of different platforms and plenty of customizable options, Qustodio is a very flexible platform to make your life as a parent much easier and keep you assured knowing that your child is safe online.
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