PhoneSheriff has a more robust feature set, and Net Nanny is easier to manage. But thanks to a visually informative admin panel, cross-platform operability and granular app-management functions, Qustodio is a very worthy alternative. That's particularly true if you're concerned that your child spends too much time on a particular app or communicates too often with specific people. The $45-a-year service covers up to five devices, including Macs and PCs.
Qustodio lets you set time limits on an individual app, not just block it outright. In another welcome example of giving you more granular control, the app lets you set time frames — say, 30 minutes on Sundays only — as well as time limits.
Monitoring texts is another Qustodio strength, with the admin panel easily displaying who your child talks to and texts with the most. You can see who sent your child a message or who your child texted; you can also see the content of SMS and MMS messages from the parental portal.
Qustodio can provide a history of locations, but you can't set a geofence, block usage or receive an alert when the child's device is outside a specific range. You can receive an alert when your child's location changes, though there's a delay of about five minutes.
Text and call blocking tools include the ability to allow or block individual numbers.Qustodio is relatively easy to set up, since it's available on Google Play. As befits a product with cross-platform capabilities, Qustudio makes it easy to manage filters for multiple users. This is great for families with more than one child to monitor. Qustodio also has a panic-button feature that's activated inside the app or via your kid's headphones. Click the controls three times, and Qustodio texts an alert to up to three trusted contacts.
Qustodio also offers a free iOS app if someone in your family has an iPhone or iPad that's among the five devices you want to monitor. While Qustodio Parental Control for iPhone and iPad offers Web filtering and time controls for some apps, it lacks the full parental control features this Android version offers. As frustrated as we were by the iPhone version's limitations, it's still a decent option to have in multi-device households that include an iPhone or iPad.
As strong as Qustodio's app-management features are, I noticed some problems. New apps don't appear in the admin panel until they've been used on the phone. A blocked app can be opened, though not used. I tested this on a Game of Thrones app, which resulted in the app's painfully annoying music playing without end. To stop it, I had to restart the phone.
You can restrict broad categories of Web content rather easily using this app, but I noticed little real effect. Net Nanny's own browser makes Web filters much more workable. For Qustodio, as with others, it's best to review your child's Web activities in the admin panel, then block domains as necessary.
Qustodio lets you set filters for Web content, although some objectionable material still found its way through in our tests.Qustodio claims it can track select Facebook activity, such as posts to your child's news feed, or alert you when your child is tagged in a photo. I could never make it work, until I contacted Qustodio and learned that it's easiest to set things up from the device itself rather than from the admin panel on your computer. It's a multi-step process in which you must log in to your Qustodio account from your child's device and have your child enter his or her Facebook user name and password. It works, but it's an approach that requires you to be upfront with your child about your intentions.
Qustodio's visual timeline offers an engaging minute-by-minute review of your child's online activities, though this can quickly become overwhelming if your children are very active on their devices. Qustodio's cross-platform features will be welcome in multi-device households, though it would be better if you could create settings for each child and assign them to various devices. Instead, you have to establish those settings on each device.
These are relatively minor quibbles, though, in light of Qustodio's strengths. The ability to refine time controls and monitor texts makes this one of the better parental-control apps for mobile.