Navigating the world of parental control apps to monitor children’s online behavior

Parents want to protect their children from the dangers they face online, but how do parental control apps help? News 12’s Walt Kane takes a look in this week’s Consumer Alert.
Today, monitoring your child’s online activity means monitoring computers, phones, tablets and even gaming systems. Parental control apps can help you do that, for a monthly subscription fee.
"There is software that is called parental control, and it's not really clear how much you can control the kids,” says Neil Rubenking, PCMag's lead analysts on security.
Rubenking advises talking to your kids before installing one of the apps.
“You know, if there's an adversarial relationship – ‘I’m watching you’, they might take it as a challenge and they probably can out-tech you … So you need the cooperation,” says Rubenking.
Most parental control apps offer filters that can be configured to block access to certain types of websites and prevent certain types of apps from being downloaded. Some utilize timers to limit screen time. Parents concerned about physical safety may want to consider an app that offers geofencing - which notifies a parent if a child goes a certain distance from where they’re supposed to be. Rubenking again advises to talk to your children about utilizing that.
“Let them know - you want to know where they are not because you're like, ‘Hey, you weren't supposed to go to Brenda's house,' but because like, ‘You're supposed to be at school and you're in a car heading away from school. And I'm worried.'“
Many parental control apps offer free trials, and Rubenking recommends taking advantage of that.
Click HERE to read his full report on which apps ranked the best.