Qustodio for Families Premium Review

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 paid service has three pricing tiers: $55 a year covers up to five devices, including iPhones, Macs and PCs; $97 covers 10; and $138 covers 15 devices.

The Good

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.

MORE: Best Parental Control Software for Cell Phones

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.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.

The Bad

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 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. 

Bottom Line

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.

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  • ibssguy
    Much of the software works as advertised, but one of the most important and foundational functions, not only doesn't work, but the software tells you it works when it really doesn't, and they know it but aren't forthcoming with their customers. In the rules, one option allows you to 'block' or 'allow' specific domains, for instance you can tell it to block youtube.com. The ugly truth is, even though you tell it to block a site, it won't. HOWEVER it will tell you, the parent, that the site is blocked. I pay for the premium service, and sent an email regarding this to their tech support. The answer I got was "yes, we are aware of that problem and our engineers are working on it, is there anything else I can help you with?". Bottom line is you can't trust Qustodio.
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  • Becky_2
    I purchased this product based on your recommendations. However, it does NOT tell you that the app blocking/time limit software does not work with iOS. That is the SOLE reason I purchased the software. Now, I'm forced to attempt to get my money back from Qustodio. BUYER BEWARE!!!!
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  • bernad
    The new 'improved' iOS app is hopeless. It routes traffic through a VPN which in turn breaks all online games on the phone making them unplayable. The VPN itself can also be turned off without parent controls preventing it by disabling the VPN on demand setting from it's info section, which then allows the VPN to be turned off.

    If this app had been tested at all in any practical sense this really should have been picked up. Very poor indeed Qustodio
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  • EJNaiman
    Be aware that we spent tens of hours trying to get this software to work on ~100 phones. ABout 20% of iphones did not work. You have to wipe an iphone first to prevent the VPN from being turned off. Way too easy to uninstall it from an Android.
    All in all - the company disavowed responsibility for for what they promised and their support was sorely lacking.
    And the clincher - they did not honor their money-back guarantee - stay away!
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  • MONICA VALENTE
    The program ( Qustodio ) should not be used on teenagers/young adults in the first place. It breaks trust between parent and child. With extreme internet limits the child does not need to exercise self control when it comes to social media, as the program does that for them.The child therefore is inclined to go wild without self control when there is no longer such extreme limitations on the social media time and internet search.This will be more damaging to the child and the child would probably no longer care as they feel they are not trusted by the parent anyway to put their own self control to good use when it comes to social media and the internet. i have experienced this first hand.
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  • adenicol
    Our son has a Androd Phone, a Laptop and a PC he uses for homework. We downloaded this because we wanted to limit his time on his laptop and phone to 2 hours a day of play time. We still wanted him to have access to his phone to make calls or text us so if he is out and needs to get in touch with us he can. Unfortunately, after talking to support this isn't an option. Basically when you set a max time for the device you can't have any exclusions such as the phone or texting features. If anyone know of something that will do that, please let me know :)
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  • rajsookrah
    I had lots of issues one of them being that other user accounts would periodically get locked out on windows and the service would deny login. Its a bug in the software but they are denying it exists. Once I mentioned a refund I never heard from them again.
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  • appliancethug
    In terms of features, QUSTODIO was may favorite. I used it for 1.5 year, but the past six months, QUSTODIO deleted all my custom settings, deleted my devices, deleted everything multiple times. Their tech support is non-existent. It seems they're going out of business.
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  • groaningjim
    Of all the parental control products I see reviews for here, this is the only one I've tried but also the closest to what I'm looking for. It still seems a bit OTT to me though. I liked being able to add multiple users and multiple devices per user, and I like their time limit system. There's quite a bit of spy stuff on there though which I just don't want to even be tempted to look at. I actually prefer this new wave of parental control app startups: ourpact, unglue, kidslox (which we're trialling now), which offer something very similar to qustodio, but without such an emphasis on watching your kids every move. They're all a bit flaky and startuppy of course, but they're going in the right direction and they all release new features and updates like there's no tomorrow... Of course, they don't help with desktop computers though, so we still have to use multiple solutions. And games consoles are another beast altogether. This problem's not going away any time soon.
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