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The Best Internet Filters

What is the Best Internet Filter?

More than ever, parents are looking for a reliable internet filter to protect their children from pornography and other explicit content that is readily available online. Harmful content can be found through nearly any platform or gaming site and whether an internet user is looking for it or not, offensive images and information are constantly being programmed to make their way into the safety of your home.

Understanding some statistics about the pornography industry will send nearly any sane person into shock. The industry is grossly manipulative and exists to harm individuals at every age and stage of life through their physical and verbal portrayals of relationships. They often show drug use and illegal activity related to minors.

Monday, December 5th

2022 Internet Filter Reviews

Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award Circle Review 5 Star Rating

Circle

5 Star Rating
  • Free 2-day shipping
  • 30-day satisfaction guarantee
  • Free 14-day trial
  • In-depth, customizable features
  • Cancel anytime
Top Consumer Reviews Best-In-Class Blue Ribbon Award

Circle is devoted to helping people thrive with technology. They help families find balance, set healthy limits, and build good habits with their digital experience. The company was acquired in 2021 by Aura, a digital security firm with an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau. Circle has been highlighted by TechCrunch, Forbes, NPR, GMA, Today, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today for their impressive service.

9 core features

In addition to managing screen time, Circle is able to monitor not just some but all apps and websites. Their core features include:

  • Filter: The ability to choose a level of filtering based on a child's age and interest. Parents can block specific apps and websites, decide what platforms do and don't count against screen time, and more.
  • Time limits: Customize time limits for each family member's profile. Specify how long a certain app or site is available to run and track internet usage.
  • Pause: Temporarily shut the internet off of your family's devices for things like homework time, family dinner, and getting outside.
  • Bedtime: Set the time the internet is unavailable at night for each user. You can set different bedtimes for weekdays and weeknights.
  • Focus: Only allows educational (or other specified) websites to be accessed when you want your kid to be distraction-free.
  • Rewards: Encourage kids to do what they are asked by rewarding them with extra online time.
  • History: View the sites your family members have visited and manage the ones you'd like filtered out. This helps spot overuse of apps and websites and pinpoint problem areas.
  • Usage: Helps parents get a full picture of how their children are spending time online. You can see what websites are visited most frequently, top searched categories, and usage by day, week, and month.
  • Location: Keep track of where your family's devices are and get peace of mind knowing where your children are.

Thorough feature descriptions

Circle does a good job of giving a thorough overview and explanation about all of the features included with their service. You can read a page worth of material about each one to get an idea of why it's been included in their system and how to get the most out of it. For each feature, there is a short video clip showing a demo of what it looks like on the platform and how to access it.

Best Internet Filters

Protect all your devices

Depending on your family's situation, Circle has two options for you when it comes to purchasing their service. You can choose to get the parental controls app starting at $9.99/month that comes with a 14-day free trial or get Circle Home Plus and manage every Wi-Fi device in your home across all networks starting at $69 for 3 months or $129 for the full year. Circle Home Plus comes with a device as well as an app and qualifies for free, 2-day shipping. You can cancel your subscription to Circle at any time by reaching out to their subscriptions department via email.

Satisfaction guarantee

If you try Circle Home Plus for 30 days and decide it isn't right for you, Circle will let you send it back and get a full refund, no questions asked.

14 day free trial

Trying out Circle is a safe bet since you can either get your money back if you aren't happy with Circle Home Plus, or use the 14-day trial to see if you want to pay monthly for the app. The company has unfiltered reviews on their website, which we really appreciate. Some say it is a bit tedious to set up since there are so many features and specifications you can use, but in our opinion this is a good thing and allows for more customization.

Highest rating

Overall, parents are really happy with Circle and all that it has to offer. Most people said Circle gets the job done and is by far one of the best options out there for internet filtering. We agree, and we give Circle our highest rating for internet filters.

Qustodio Review 4.5 Star Rating

Qustodio

4.5 Star Rating
  • Available for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iPhone/iPad, and Kindle
  • Free trial
  • Protect up to 15 devices
  • 30-day money back guarantee

Qustodio (named in reference to the Latin term for guardian, "custodia') supports over 4 million users across 8 languages and 180 countries who are seeking a safe internet solution for their families. The company was developed in 2010 by two friends working together in the cyber security industry. When the iPhone 4 was released, they realized that digital devices would become an integral part of family homes and they wanted to help parents find a way to visually capture data to know how devices were being used. Qustodio helps to protect children from online predators, inappropriate content, and cyberbullies while supporting them in learning good internet habits.

More online exposure means increased risks

Qustodio acknowledges that the percentage of kids who own smartphones is on the rise. Online exposure also increases the risks of online predators, sleep problems, addictions, mental health issues, inappropriate content, cyberbullying, education issues, and online security breaches. Qustodio takes all of these concerns and incorporates them into their platform by providing features to combat them.

Includes key features

You can easily view a detailed description of all the features you'll get with Qustodio straight on their website. They include filtering websites and apps, receiving alerts if a child attempts to access blocked content, real-time monitoring of browsing history, YouTube views, screen time, setting device time limits, locate your family members and get alerts of when they leave or arrive in set locations, track calls and text messages (only on Androids), and receive detailed reports about your child's online activity. All the features except for call tracking and text message reading are available for Windows, Mac, Chromebook, Android, iPhone, iPad, and Kindle.

Try it free first

You can read step-by-step instructions about how easy it is to download Qustodio and have it start working right away. Parents can download the system for free and get an overview of the features before committing to a plan. You could keep the free system, but it's only for one device and only keeps 7 days of activity history. A free trial of the premium version is also available for 3 days.

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Pricing plans

If you decide to continue with the company, the pricing options include:

  • Small: $54.95/year ($4.58/month)
    • 5 devices
    • Add Care Plus for $12.99
  • Medium: $96.95/year ($8.08/month)
    • 10 devices
    • Includes Care Plus
  • Large: $137.95/year ($11.50/month)
    • 15 devices
    • Includes Care Plus

Care Plus is a guarantee for customers to get priority phone support, ongoing check-ins, personalized help, and the availability to speak to representatives in English and in Spanish.

Money back guarantee

If you're unsatisfied with Qustodio after signing up for one of the three plans, the company offers a 30-day money back guarantee. You can contact their support team to get a full refund on your purchase.

Helpful information for parents

Well-known media outlets like Chicago Tribune, CBS, The Washington Post, Good Morning America, Wired, Fox News, Mashable, Business Insider, and Parents have featured Qustodio for its sleek online dashboard, all-inclusive parental control options, and easy device monitoring. From everything we've seen, this seems like a fantastic company with a lot of help for parents who are concerned about managing internet use. They have a good help center as well as product tips, parenting tips, and safety guides for navigating the online world.

Questions about customer support

We were surprised to find that Qustodio has a "D-" rating from the Better Business Bureau. The reason for this is their failure to respond to 3 customer complaints, most of which revolved around lack of customer support and credit card charging issues. All of these problems are serious, but they didn't seem to worry us as much when we saw that hundreds of customers are really happy with Qustodio.

Great tool for families

Feedback about its effectiveness after years of use, handy platform, and reliable GPS information are some of the reasons that we've given Qustodio such a high rating. If you have open dialogue with your child and work together to set healthy limits, this is a great tool to help.

Bark Review 4 Star Rating

Bark

4 Star Rating
  • "A+" Better Business Bureau rating
  • Free trial
  • Widely-recognized service
  • Monitors over 30 platforms
  • Can monitor more than one account on a single platform

Bark's mission is to help families understand and manage the digital devices that their kids use every day. They were founded in 2015 by a dad of two who wanted to give parents the ability to manage every aspect of their kids' digital worlds. The company offers their services to K-12 schools throughout the U.S., at no cost to them or their communities, to monitor all their digital devices. This contribution was sparked by the tragic shooting in Parkland, Florida. Bark has partnered with several trusted entities like the Child Rescue Coalition, National Police Foundation, Crime Stoppers, CDC, Sandy Hook Promise, and others to advance their mission.

Monitors over 30 apps

Parents can use Bark to manage over 30 of the most popular apps and social media platforms used by people of all ages. Snapchat, Instagram, Kik, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, messenger, Google, Reddit, and Dropbox are just a few of the platforms that Bark can help manage. Specific things that Bark will monitor are signs of issues related to cyberbullying, online predators, sexual content, threats of violence, suicidal ideation, depression, and more.

Runs continually and quietly

If Bark marks a potential danger, you'll receive an email and text alert so you know what to check up on and when. The service runs quietly and continually on all the devices it is set up on, so it can always be monitoring texts, emails, photos, videos, voice memos, social media comments, direct messages, song lyrics, chat rooms, and everything else you choose to set up. If at any time your child changes their passwords to their email or social media accounts, you'll get a notification as an effort to stop them from circumventing the system.

Screen time controls, website blockers, and location tracking

In addition to checking digital content and sending alerts, parents can set up screen time controls, block specific websites, and track the location of their kids' phones. You'll be able to choose when your kids can access the internet and which sites they are able to visit. A comprehensive schedule is available to view, so you could set a bedtime for the internet at the end of the day as well as periods of time during the day when you'd like the internet paused.

Save with annual subscription

There are two options for using Bark's services. The first is their premium package where you can manage screen time, filter websites, keep up with location alerts, monitor texts, emails, YouTube, and 30+ other apps and platforms, and get alerts about cyberbullying, online predators, suicidal ideation, and more. Customers can choose to pay $14/month for this or $99/year with an annual plan. The annual plan saves you up to 42%, so it's definitely the most cost-effective way to go if you're excited about this product.

Best Internet Filters

Option for younger children

Bark Jr. is the second option for families that includes everything in the premium package except for the ability to monitor texts, emails, YouTube, and 30+ platforms. You also won't receive any alerts when Bark notices something to do with cyberbullying, online predators, or other potential dangers you've set. This plan is just $5/month or $49/year. It seems like a much less effective option, but might work for young kids who don't have full access to cell phones and haven't signed up for social media platforms.

7-day free trial

If you're up in the air about using Bark as your family's online filtering service, we highly recommend taking advantage of their 7-day free trial. This will give you time to thoroughly explore their platform and test out their features to see if they'll be a good fit. You will have to provide a credit card for the trial to start, but you won't be charged anything until after the 7 days are up and you decide not to cancel.

Highly featured

Bark has been featured by Bloomberg, CBS News, CNBC, CNN, Forbes, The New York Times, BBC, Vogue, Good Morning America, Tech Crunch, Mashable, USA Today, and other prominent news outlets It's easy to set up Bark on your children's smart devices and only takes a matter of minutes. The company has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, and it's a good way to monitor basic threats on your children's devices without having to take them away every night.

Strong choice

One concern we have is that there are a lot of "sneaky" apps kids can download for chat rooms and gaming that Bark may not integrate with for monitoring. If your child is determined to get around your parental blocks, it seems like they'd figure out a way to do that with this system. However, for younger teens and children, this might be a great option. We highly recommend looking into this company and using their free trial to see if it is what you need.

Net Nanny Review 3.5 Star Rating

Net Nanny

3.5 Star Rating
  • "A+" Better Business Bureau rating
  • Supports Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Kindle Fire
  • Protects up to 20 devices
  • Won't slow down devices
  • 14-day return policy

Net Nanny was created in 1993. It is one of the first software vendors to provide internet filtering to consumers. They boast that they are a pioneer in filtering technology because of its speed, effectiveness, and ability to address a myriad of issues around unwanted internet use. The company has been featured by NBC, Today, The Dr. Oz Show, ABC News, and Good Morning America.

Customize filters for each user

Net Nanny believes that parenting is the most important job in the world and their goal is to help by giving visibility and insights into your child's digital habits. With Net Nanny, parents can customize filters for each user. It can block inappropriate content in real-time by preventing kids from reaching dangerous websites and provides options to either block or warn about pornographic material when viewing websites. The service is supported on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Kindle Fire.

Wordy, but helpful website

Although Net Nanny's website isn't as appealing as their competitors' and makes it feel like you have to do a lot more reading and searching to find all the details you need, it does contain extensive information about all their features. In addition, Net Nanny shows pictures of what each feature looks like on their app so you can see how sleek their platform is. The list of features includes:

  • Parental controls
  • Screen time management
  • Website blocker
  • App blocker
  • Location tracking
  • Internet filtering
  • Pornography blocker
  • Alerts and reporting
  • Family feed
  • Parent dashboard
  • YouTube monitoring
  • Social media protection

Cost depends on device quantity

The cost of Net Nanny will depend on how many devices you want protected in your home. If you want to protect one PC or Mac computer with all of Net Nanny's features, the cost is $39.99/year. If you want to protect 5 devices (iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, PC, and Mac) the cost is $54.99/year or just $11/device. For families with a lot of devices, the 20 device package will be their best bet and provide the most value. This is $89.99/year, which comes out to less than $5/device. It works for iOS, Android, Kindle Fire, PC, and Mac.

Best Internet Filters

14-day return policy

Net Nanny doesn't have a free trial, which is a bummer. However, they do have a 14-day return policy in the event you get started with their product and find that you're unsatisfied. They ask that you contact them by email with a detailed reason for your refund request to initiate the process.

Won't slow down devices

A common complaint that many people have about internet filtering products is that they slow down devices. Net Nanny specifically addresses this by saying that they've fine-tuned their system for over 20 years to make sure that it is both fast and accurate. With Net Nanny, you shouldn't have to worry about delays when you're browsing online.

Needs some work

The Better Business Bureau doesn't have a rating for Net Nanny, but they do give an "A+" to Content Watch, which is another name under which Net Nanny operates. One place Net Nanny is definitely lacking is in their customer reviews. From what we've seen, some of the biggest complaints are that Net Nanny goes overboard and prevents kids from accessing innocent websites that they need to use. Others say it often crashes or has glitches that make it hard to keep the app running without the kid constantly being reminded that they're being "watched" . For the most part, parents are happy with the features but say that Net Nanny still needs some work to make it run smoothly. Because of this we've given them an average rating.

Mobicip Review 3.5 Star Rating

Mobicip

3.5 Star Rating
  • "A+" Better Business Bureau rating
  • Protects iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Chromebook, and Kindle
  • 7-day free trial
  • Money-back guarantee

Mobicip (pronounced mow-bee-sip) is named after mobile CIPA, which is the Children's Internet Protection Act. This is a US government regulation that mandates secure internet access for kids at school and in libraries. Mobicip was created to foster the safe use of technology for learning and has had millions of downloads over its 10 years of existence.

Limit, protect, monitor, collaborate

In addition to helping schools, Mobicip has developed a parental control app to keep kids safe online while having fun. The four main words to sum up the purpose of Mobicip software are: limit, protect, monitor, and collaborate. Parents can limit screen time, restrict apps, and set schedules for when certain apps and websites can be accessed. Internet filters can be used to block adult websites or prevent kids from accessing certain social media platforms, games, or videos altogether.

Monitors social media

Mobicip proactively monitors social media for harmful content, sends live locations about the whereabouts of kids, and provides an activity summary of how a child is spending time online. Lastly, Mobicip has a child dashboard to let kids keep an eye on their own screen time and learn self-regulation.

Try free for 7 days

To get a more thorough description of each feature, Mobicip provides helpful details about how the service works along with screenshots of what certain features look like in the app. Mobicip is a sleek, easy-to-understand platform with data that's simple to read. Customers can try Mobicip free for 7 days with their name and email before having to pay monthly for the service.

Best Internet Filters

Three levels of control

The parental control app has a basic, standard, and premium version that customers can choose from depending on how many features they want access to. Each plan includes:

  • Basic ($0)
    • 1 managed device
    • Website blocker
    • Lock all devices
  • Standard ($4.99/month billed annually)
    • 10 managed devices
    • App blocker
    • Screen time limits
    • Activity schedules
    • Lock all devices
    • YouTube monitor
    • Family locator
    • Website blocker
  • Premium ($7.99/month billed annually)
    • 20 managed devices
    • App blocker
    • Daily screen time limits
    • Activity schedules
    • Lock all devices
    • Social media monitor
    • YouTube monitor
    • Family locator
    • SOS panic button
    • Goals & rewards
    • Parenting expert advice
    • App limits
    • Website blocker

Money-back guarantee

If you change your mind about Mobicip, they offer a 30-day money-back guarantee on annual plans. You can cancel at any time by emailing customer service or submitting a request directly through their website.

Worth giving a try

Mobicip has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau and has been featured by Today, The New York Times, PC, Tech Radar, FOX, and more. Some customers have said that because it's easy to deactivate Mobicip, it's not great for older teenagers, but overall parents like it and it includes all the main features that you'd be looking for in an internet filtering service. We like that it's available on iOS, Android, macOS, Windows, Chromebook, and Kindle and comes with a free trial. This is a good option for parents and definitely worth trying out their free trial to see if it's also a good fit for your kids.

PureSight Review 3.5 Star Rating

PureSight

3.5 Star Rating
  • Free demo
  • Supports iPads, iPhones, and Android phones running on updated systems
  • Pay monthly or yearly
  • 9 main protection features
  • Positive customer reviews

PureSight is a company based out of Israel. They state that their mission is to "create a safer internet everyday, blocking and alerting parents to every threat existing online, across every device, platform, language and culture." The company keeps up with emerging apps and communication methods to protect children as soon as new tech hits the market. Initially, PureSight started out as a service to protect employees in the workplace, but evolved to focusing on protecting kids who use the internet.

Digital toolbox features

The digital parenting toolbox available through PureSight includes features on an app called Surfie to keep kids safe online. These tools include:

  • Advanced internet filtering: Monitor and filter internet consumption based on age. Parents can block and restrict access to certain platforms based on what they deem appropriate.
  • Social media monitoring: View conversations across platforms like WhatsApp, Viber, Instagram, Facebook, and more. Surfie picks up troubling keywords related to inappropriate behaviors, situations, and conversations.
  • Parental alert notifications: If Surfie detects an issue, parents will receive a notification.
  • 24/7 cross-device monitoring: From one dashboard, parents can monitor kids' online activity 24/7.
  • Screen time limits: Limit the amount of time kids can use a specific app, block websites, or set screen time limit totals.
  • Manage apps and games: Choose which apps and games kids can use on their devices.
  • Geolocation: Know exactly where your kids are and get location alerts when they reach certain places.
  • Internet disconnect: Disconnect kids from the internet altogether when you need them to take a break.
  • Browsing habits: See a list of the top 10 websites your kid is visiting.

Schedule a demo

The features offered by PureSight are similar to what most other internet filtering services offer. It's hard to know if this company is better or worse than others without a free trial. However, you can schedule a demo of the software. To do so, you'll need to provide your name, email address, and a message (optional) and you'll be contacted by a salesperson who can walk you through the platform.

Protect up to 20 devices

Parents can protect either 5, 10, or 20 devices through PureSight. You can choose to pay annually or monthly, though paying monthly will end up costing more overall. For 5 devices, the total is $79.90 ($6.65/month), 10 devices is $89.90 ($7.49/month), and 20 devices is $99.90 ($8.32/month). The platform is not compatible on computers, kindles, or any devices besides iPhones, iPads, and Android phones running on updated systems.

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No return policy or customer reviews

Two major things we wish PureSight would add to their website are a return policy or satisfaction guarantee and unfiltered customer reviews. If you're unsatisfied with the functions of Surfie after you install it on your family's phones, can you get your money back? It's unclear since there is no mention of it. They also don't give photos of the platform or short video clips to help us see what their app looks like without scheduling a demo. We would honestly prefer a free trial over a demo, so that's something that other companies have over PureSight.

A good tool for parents

PureSight does not have a rating from the Better Business Bureau. It's a bit harder to find customer feedback about this app and this can probably partially be attributed to the fact that it isn't based in the US and is adapted for other countries. There are few reviews in the app store for Surfie, but it gets mostly good ratings from users. We were happy to see that many people said they like the interface, it's easy to set up, and the features seem to mostly work as described. Like many other internet filters, it seems that it's easy to bypass, which might make it less effective for older kids. However, overall it is reported to be a good tool for parents.

Decent option

We wish that Surfie worked on a wider range of devices, but Android and iOS are definitely going to be the most commonly used systems. It seems that this platform has a lot of potential, so our recommendation is to set up a demo and take a deeper dive into how it all works and what it's capable of. In the meantime, ask them about a return policy since this is an important part of committing to an app like this. Overall, Surfie seems like a decent option, so they've earned an average review from us.

Canopy Review 3 Star Rating

Canopy

3 Star Rating
  • 30-day free trial
  • Cancel anytime
  • Protect 3, 5, or 10 devices
  • Instant pornography blocker

Canopy recognizes that the digital world is difficult to navigate and has set out to empower families to create a customized internet experience. They're all about helping unlock the internet while removing harmful content rather than taking a blanket approach and blocking websites altogether. Their four core beliefs are that technology is a good, amazing thing, some content isn't for kids, open communication is important, and families are better together.

Too laid back? Or a smarter way?

When we were first trying to understand how Canopy worked, we questioned whether or not they took too lax of an approach to filtering services. Their "protection, not intrusion" mantra seemed like a way to make parents feel like they were monitoring and protecting their kids without having to be the "mean parent" and actually get nitty-gritty with the controls. However, Canopy promises that you won't have to worry about explicit content since their system seamlessly detects, blocks, and then removes pornographic content in your web browser.

Good technology

Their technology is programmed to protect families from being exposed to nudity and pornographic materials. It also prevents sexting, and allows parents choose what apps are allowed on which devices. The idea is to let adults and children explore all the good of the internet without worrying about the bad.

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Honest with limitations

Canopy is honest about the limitations of their service. They say they filter all websites by replacing pornographic material with blank white boxes, but they cannot filter inside of apps. Their claim is that no parental control app available today can filter in apps either since there are privacy restrictions set by these companies. Some of the main features included with Canopy are:

  • Scans and analyzes photos taken/downloaded on devices
  • Block or unblock apps
  • Removal prevention
  • Location awareness

Free 30-day trial

It's hard to give a complete overview of a platform without seeing it in action. Canopy has a handy video available on their website to show parents the difference between a phone with Canopy and without it. However, the best thing you can do is try Canopy's free 30-day trial to dive into their features and test out their claims.

Protect 3, 5, or 10 devices

If you decide Canopy is the right platform for your family, the plan you choose will depend on the number of devices (works with Android devices, iPhones, iPads, Apple computers, and Windows computers) you want to install Canopy on. If you want to secure 3 devices, the cost is $7.99 a month. A family plan of 5 devices is $9.99/month, and a full house with 10 devices is $15.99/month. Customers can cancel at any time. All of the packages come with Canopy's customer support that you can reach by phone or email.

Not our first choice

We wish Canopy had a rating from the Better Business Bureau or easier access to unfiltered customer reviews. It would be nice to hear from others about their experience with setup, effectiveness, and the range of features. Some comments we found were that sometimes it slowed phones down, appropriate images were flagged incorrectly, it required devices to have a lock screen, and it had one too many glitches for some people. However, one of the best ways to decide if this is the right choice for you is to use their 30-day free trial. Put the service to the test and see if it does everything it promises to. We feel that this is a more laid-back approach to filtering devices without a lot of positive customer testimonials to prove otherwise, so it isn't our first choice.

Family Zone Review 2.5 Star Rating

Family Zone

2.5 Star Rating
  • Supported on iOS, Mac OSX, Android, Windows, and Chrome OS
  • Only $1.99/year
  • Unlimited device protection
  • 30-day money back guarantee

Based out of San Diego, California, Family Zone is an internet safety solution that aims to let kids take part in online fun without the risk of running into adult content. They say "Family Zone lets kids be kids - and empowers parents to be parents." They also have a sister site called Linewize that caters to school communities to help teachers keep kids focused and away from inappropriate content while working online.

Manage digitally with 8 main features

There are 8 main features included with Family Zone to manage your kid's digital world: limiting screen time, blocking adult content, limiting social media, having unfiltered parental access, limiting online gaming, tracking all smart devices, managing in-app purchases, and setting bed and study times. Family Zone is supported on iOS, Mac OSX, Android, Windows, and Chrome OS.

Looking for more details

On Family Zone's website, potential customers can view screenshots of the platform to see what the included features look like. Everything can be managed from your own smartphone. Parents can deny access to certain websites and apps as well as device features like the camera or screen capture. Family Zone says that parents can receive alerts and reports for each child. Our only complaint here is that although all these features and abilities sound great, we really would like to see Family Zone dive deeper into the details of what the platform can do. For example, what's included in the report? What would parents get alerted about? When it says that adult content is removed for safe searching, does that mean bad websites are blocked? Or pornographic images simply don't show up on the screen? Family Zone doesn't give important details like this.

Extremely affordable

Pricing is where Family Zone really shines. They are a lot less expensive than many competing services. They have a free visibility and online monitoring app called "Family Zone Insights" that's completely free. This includes screen time reports, alerts for adult content, monitoring of online behavior, and device location history. You'll get a lot more with the "Family Zone Premium" option that's only $6.99/month or with a "limited time offer" just $1.99/year. In addition to everything in the Family Zone Insights package, Premium includes managing screen time, blocking adult content, controlling social media access, managing app downloads, managing iTunes, new app installation alert, device tampering alert, managing phone camera, controlling access to specific apps, unlimited device protection, cyber expert advice, and a 30-day money back guarantee. For $1.99/year, it just can't be beat.

Best Internet Filters

Get expert help

Cyber experts are available to chat with customers about a number of things related to digital safety. They can give professional advice about age-appropriate controls for sites, games, and social media as well as helping set practical schedules and calendars to fit your family's screen-time needs.

Mixed reviews

Family Zone has mixed feedback from customers and unfortunately the company hasn't been accredited or rated by the Better Business Bureau. We noticed that many of the bad reviews of the app come from kids who don't like their parents restricting so much access to their smart devices and controlling their screen time. This is somewhat to be expected regardless of the internet filter in question. However, some parents have said that their kids quickly got around the system and it was a waste since it was too easy to hack. It's best for young children who don't have advanced technological skills yet. Others say it blocks more websites than it should and parents are constantly having to give access even for educational materials, and the service tends to drain your device's battery and slow down the operating system. There were a few people that said it was a good option for parents and gave enough controls, but this was the minority of customers.

Can't compete

Overall, we aren't confident in the efficacy and quality of Family Zone. It seems like it still could use some work to be more foolproof and the company could do a better job of educating parents about exactly how their system works. Luckily it's not expensive, so if you try Family Zone and aren't happy with it, you haven't lost much. It doesn't quite compete with the higher-rated internet filter companies in our review, so Family Zone has earned one of our lower ratings.

Norton Family Review 2.5 Star Rating

Norton Family

2.5 Star Rating
  • "A+" Better Business Bureau rating
  • Works with iOS, Windows, Android, and Mac
  • 60-day money-back guarantee

Norton offers 13 different products to help with device security, identity protection, online privacy, dark web monitoring, malware protection, virus protection, parental controls, and more. Their goal is to make it so people can worry less about the dark side of cyber crime and feel safe in their digital life. Norton Family is the product that focuses specifically on helping parents foster a healthy balance for children on their smart devices while teaching safe and smart online habits.

Brief description of features

There are so many products offered by Norton that they don't deep dive into any of them as much as we'd like. They list the features included with their internet filtering system and a brief explanation of each one, such as:

  • Web supervision (block unsuitable websites)
  • Time supervision (set internet schedules)
  • Search supervision (see phrases, words, and topics kids are searching)
  • Parent mobile app (monitor everything from your iOS or Android device)
  • Access request (kids can send a note if they disagree about a blocked website)
  • Video supervision (See a list of watched YouTube videos)
  • Mobile app supervision (See which apps are downloaded)
  • Instant lock (parents can lock devices if kids need focus or family time)
  • Email alerts (find out if your kid tries to visit a blocked site)
  • Location supervision (find out where kids are and see a 30-day history of where they've been)
  • School time (pause the internet while kids are in a learning environment)
  • Favorite locations (establish approved boundaries for a child's physical location)

Introductory pricing

Some of Norton's products come with a free trial, but unfortunately Norton Family is not one of them. The cost for the system is $49.99/year, but the catch is that this is just an introductory price. The fine print says that after your term is up, you'll be billed with renewal pricing, which is not listed on the website. However, from the look of renewal pricing for other services, you can easily pay a couple hundred dollars for a product here. This is much more expensive than what we've seen elsewhere. If you purchase Norton 360 Deluxe or Norton 360 with LifeLock, Norton Family is already included.

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Money-back guarantee

Norton doesn't make it easy to find their refund or cancellation policy, but after some digging we found that they have a 60-day money-back guarantee. If you purchase an annual plan through them, you can cancel within the first two months if you uninstall and delete all copies of the software from the device. You can submit a request via live chat through Norton's website to initiate a refund.

Not Norton's specialty

With Norton having such a wide variety of systems to protect computers, it doesn't seem like they specialize in parental controls like some other companies do. We wish they offered more details as well as pictures of their platform for parents who are trying hard to find the right system for their family. Parents would agree that Norton needs to put more effort and work into their app since overall their ratings are quite low. Reports of how easy it is to uninstall the app, messing up existing apps on phones, using up a lot of cellular data, and other issues are concerning. There are some parents who say that it does as they expect and they can use the features as they hoped, but this is the minority of customers.

Not impressed

Although Norton has an "A+" rating from the Better Business Bureau, we'd like to see more work put into their parental control app. A more detailed explanation of features and a free trial would be a good starting place. We are also unimpressed with their customer reviews, so we don't see why Norton Family should earn a high rating compared to more comprehensive internet filters.

McAfee Safe Family Review 2 Star Rating

McAfee Safe Family

2 Star Rating
  • 30-day free trial
  • Works with iOS, Windows, and Android devices
  • Monthly or yearly subscription plans

McAfee is probably one of the most well-recognized companies in the online security industry. They focus on protecting people, not just devices. The company is based out of San Jose, California and has a variety of products to meet the specific needs of customers. They provide products for digital virus protection, identity monitoring, malware and phishing protection, data cleanup, and parental controls.

Vague feature details

McAfee Family Safe is a parental control software aimed at keeping kids safe while they browse the internet. The features included are similar to what can be found through other companies, but McAfee doesn't give in-depth details about how customizable their platform is and doesn't show a demo or screenshots to give people an idea of what the app looks like. The main features they list include:

  • Monitoring daily activity on devices
  • Restrict device usage to certain hours
  • Block and restrict access to inappropriate or distracting apps
  • Filter websites
  • Create rules to motivate kids
  • Receive alerts when kids break device rules
  • Place kids in digital time-out
  • Monitor children's location

Pay monthly or yearly

There are two pricing options for McAfee Family Safe: pay $7.99/month or save and pay $49.99/year. If you want to try out the system before committing to a monthly purchase, you can use McAfee's 30-day trial. Once the 30 days are up, you'll be billed unless you cancel the service.

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Unclear return policy

If you change your mind about McAfee once you've paid for it, you'll need to contact customer service to see if you're eligible for a refund. They give hardly any information about this besides stating that there is a money-back guarantee, but it depends on the type of product, subscription terms, time elapsed since purchase, and more. All of this is vague, but they do make it clear that if you're paying month-to-month, you can cancel, but you can't get any money back.

Cannot run on Macs

If you have an iPhone running the most updated version of iOS, an updated Android, or Windows 7, McAfee will work for you. At first we tried to access their free trial on a Mac and found that it wasn't supported. This is more limited than some other internet filtering services, so it's disappointing that not everyone will be able to use McAfee.

Frustrating to deal with

The Better Business Bureau does not have a rating for McAfee and unfortunately, in recent months the company has received a slew of criticism about their unpleasant customer service team, difficulties uninstalling software from devices, glitches, unwanted changes to devices on which the software is installed, and more. The reviews include feedback about their range of products, but there are also specific issues with Family Safe as well. Some complaints include how easy it is to disable the system, slow response time to control changes, lots of bugs, and other problems. It sounds extremely frustrating to deal with, so we don't recommend wasting your time with this particular internet filter.

ClevGuard Review 1.5 Star Rating

ClevGuard

1.5 Star Rating
  • 100% undetectable system
  • 30-day return policy
  • No jailbreaking
  • Cancel anytime
  • Works for Androids, iPhones, and iCloud
  • 1, 3, or 12 month plans

ClevGuard is a Chinese monitoring app that has often been referred to as "spyware" or "stalkerware" . It is a smartphone tracking and home computer monitoring program. Their three main products that all revolve around data protection and monitoring are KidsGuard, MoniVisor, and ClevGuard. KidsGuard is meant to give parents access to all the information on a child's phone in an effort to protect them from harmful online exposure to pornography, bullying, predators and more, while the other products essentially help you spy on your spouse, employees, or anyone else close to you.

5 KidsGuard products to choose from

The KidsGuard product sold by ClevGuard is available for monitoring Androids, WhatsApp, iPhone, and iCloud. The differences between these products are a little bit confusing and parents may initially have a difficult time choosing which of these options they should use. There are also purchase options that include 1 month, 3 month, and 12 month plans.

KidsGuard plan details

To make things a little easier, here are the basic plan differences:

  • KidsGuard
    • Web blocker features, app blockers, capture/lock screen, GPS, call filter, activity report, geofence, and phone activity report
    • $29.95/month, $16.65/month for 3 months, or $8.32/month for 1 year
  • KidsGuard for Androids
    • Monitors over 30 files/apps on an Android (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Tinder), runs 100% undetectable, built in GPS tracking, access to contacts, call logs, photos, browser history, calendar, screenshots, phone call recording, and the ability to take secret photos.
    • $9.99/month, $6.66/month for 3 months, or $4.16/month for 1 year
  • KidsGuard for WhatsApp:
    • Reads WhatsApp messages, view statuses even when expired or deleted, track calls, record calls, view and save photos, voice messages, videos, and documents.
    • $19.95/month, $13.32/month for 3 months, or $7.50/month for 1 year
  • KidsGuard for iOS:
    • Can only be used to view information on a computer
    • Monitors over 20 files/apps on an Android (Snapchat, Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, Tinder), runs 100% undetectable, access to contacts, call logs, media files, calendar, view text files, safari history and bookmarks, read messages, and more.
    • $39.95/month, $19.98/month for 3 months, or $9.16/month for 1 year
  • KidsGuard Pro iCloud Monitoring
    • Check videos, contacts, calendar, location, reminders, notes, videos, photos, iCloud Drive, and more on someone's iPhone. You can view any photos, videos, and notes that have been deleted within the last 30 days.
    • $29.95/month, $16.65/month for 3 months, or $8.32/month for 1 year

To get a visual of what KidsGuard's platform looks like and how you can view all the information that is synced in real-time, scroll to the bottom of ClevGuard's product pages.

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"30-day return policy"

ClevGuard says customers may be eligible for a complete refund within 30 days from the date of purchase. However, upon reading further into the policy, they say "no refund will be initiated if the problem is beyond ClevGuard's control. These include, but are not limited to" and then gives a list of reasons a refund would not be given. One of them is in the event that a person changes their mind after purchase. We aren't really sure what it would take for the company to think a customer was eligible for a refund, so we wouldn't plan on getting your money back if you're unhappy with the product.

Feels like a breach of privacy

The extent to which a parent wants to monitor their child and when they feel it is ethical or not might be different for everyone. However, to us it feels like ClevGuard is sneaky and assumes you have absolutely no trust in your child. It's meant to be a near complete breach in privacy for the person's device on which it is installed and truthfully we are shocked that the company can get away with the features it has. Rather than focusing on setting limits together with your child, KidsGuard is a spy tool where you can see everything happening on the phone without anyone else ever having to know.

Not a fan of the approach

In 2020, ClevGuard had a PR nightmare when it was revealed that their app was leaking customer phone data to the internet. Besides this glaring issue, it feels like a lot of things could go wrong in a relationship between a parent and child or spouses using ClevGuard. We aren't fans of the approach the company is taking to data monitoring and we don't feel like it's as much of a protective software for kids as it is a spyware platform. They also have an "F" rating from the Better Business Bureau because of complaints filed against the company. However, ClevGuard does have positive customer reviews about their support team and ability to use GPS features and other tracking information through the app. Despite this, ClevGuard has earned one of our lowest ratings.

SentryPC Review 1.5 Star Rating

SentryPC

1.5 Star Rating
  • Protect up to 100 or more computers
  • Works for Mac and Windows
  • 24/7 remote access to the platform
  • Free online demo

SentryPC is designed for parents monitoring their children, schools keeping an eye on students, and employers wanting to keep an eye on employee internet usage. The company originated in 2001 under the name of Access Control Software. They boast that they are a "total package solution" for anyone wanting to filter, monitor, and restrict computer usage.

Only works on Mac and Windows

Right off the bat, we recognized that the biggest barrier to parents wanting to use SentryPC is that it's only for computers. A huge concern is what kids are doing on their mobile devices, so the fact that SentryPC doesn't work for that is extremely limiting. The software can only be used on Windows and Mac products. The three main things that it is designed to do is record a user's activities, filter content, and schedule usage.

Feels like spyware

A user's SentryPC account is cloud-based, so they can log in from any web-enabled device and view activity logs or change settings. A user can view real-time activities of the remote computers that the system has been installed on without anyone knowing. This is what makes SentryPC feel like it falls into the "spyware" category even though they also have features that parents are usually looking for like blocking apps and websites, preventing keywords and phrases from being used, providing alert notifications, and more. This sort of system seems to be most effective and make sense for school administrators, rather than parents monitoring kids or employers looking over their employees' shoulders.

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Pricing not suited for families

It's highly recommended that you check out SentryPC's demo account before diving into a subscription. You can play around with all the settings and see how information is displayed. It's quite a comprehensive platform, so that somewhat explains the extremely expensive yearly pricing. A basic plan with a single license to manage one computer is $59.95/year ($19.95 for additional licenses). From there, you can jump to a business account that manages up to 50 licenses for $995/year. Lastly, an account with 100 licenses costs $1,595/year. This pricing is another reason that SentryPC does not make sense for families.

No refunds or satisfaction guarantee

There is no satisfaction guarantee or refund policy through SentryPC. You can cancel at any time, but all this means is that your yearly subscription won't renew. You'll still be out the initial cost and your license will run through the rest of the year.

Not an all-inclusive option

We did not find a profile for SentryPC with the Better Business Bureau. In addition, they don't have a lot of customer reviews, especially from parents using the system to protect their kids. We aren't surprised, since there are quite a few reasons that SentryPC isn't an all-inclusive option to protect a child's online experience. For computer and digital internet filtering, try a higher-rated service.

Compare the Best Reviews

Continued from above...

Over $3,075 is spent on porn every second on the internet - and nearly 35% of all downloads are related to pornography. 34% or more (we would gamble that this statistic is much lower than reality) of people say they have been exposed to unwanted content through ads, misdirected links, popups, and emails. It is especially dangerous for children who are learning to use the internet, as they trust innocent-looking games and chat rooms online, then quickly become addicted to explicit content.

Thousands of new porn sites are created every week and the amount of easily-accessible, inappropriate content is staggering. To protect families, it requires a combination of strict rules and expectations for internet use as well as top-rated internet blockers to filter out content. Thankfully, there are quite a few companies working hard to develop systems to combat the harmful effects of the pornography industry and other individuals who seek to hurt members of your family.

Since there are many companies that offer internet filtering services, we have provided important information for you to consider when shopping around:

  • Features: How specific can you get with the content you want blocked? Are you only able to block certain websites or are you able to limit file-sharing services, chatrooms, gaming sites, and more? Are they child-proof in that you'll be able to stay in control of the settings you choose?
  • Customer support: If you need help setting up the internet blocker, do they have assistance readily available for you? Make sure their team is committed to helping you use their product to its fullest and cover all your bases with your filters.
  • Cost: Your family is worth every penny you'll spend on an internet blocker, but be sure to do your homework by comparing the cost of one service to another. Are you locked into contracts for months or even years? Do you have to pay extra if you need help with questions about the service?

TopConsumerReviews.com has reviewed and ranked the best internet filter services today. We hope this information helps you find a solution you're confident with to protect you and your family.

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Internet Filter FAQ

Internet filters are useful for anyone who wants to ensure that illicit content is not available to users of their Internet connections and services. Customers of Internet filtering solutions tend to be parents, with the remainder being libraries, religious and community organizations, and businesses.
Internet filtering solutions are more commonly designed and implemented on an individual basis, particularly for parents who are concerned about their children accessing problematic content online. However, businesses are also customers of Internet filtering software companies because they have specific liabilities they want to avoid when it comes to employees accessing pornography, gambling, or engaging in other online activities that are not part of their job descriptions.
Internet filtering software costs differ depending on the pricing and subscription models each vendor follows. They can range from under $10/month per device to $70-$150 for multiple computers. Cost will also vary depending on the number and complexity of the features involved in the software.
There are many different kinds of filters: software, hardware, DNS, proxy, and Virtual Private Network (VPN). Each of these has a different way of detecting and blocking access to sites known to contain or link to undesirable content. Some rely on "allow lists" of good online resources and block lists of bad online resources. Others have sophisticated programming that scans and analyzes a site prior to allowing or blocking access to it on screen.
Setting up an Internet filter should only take a few minutes if the software is designed well. The best Internet filtering software typically has a configuration "wizard" routine that will walk you through all the default and recommended settings to get you started right away. Once the software is set up, it shouldn't take any further configuration or intervention beyond the occasional adjustment for newly problematic websites.
No internet filtering solution is perfect. Users have been able to successfully interfere with almost every internet filtering software solution in existence. They often get "cheats" and special code or passwords from friends or online resources where such things are published. It is important for the administrator of the software to regularly review access logs and determine whether a particular user is abiding by the rules and agreements around the devices and use of the internet connection they have access to.
Internet filtering software should include such features as remote and local administrator controls, time management, profanity masking, alerts and notifications, reports about a user's online activity, individual user profiles, and controls to fine tune the specific websites that might have been blocked but that the user should still have access to. It should also have good support from the software vendor, the very least of which should be email and chat with a customer service representative at extended hours.
At times, internet filtering software can be either over or under aggressive in blocking specific types of content. For example, information about the human body, which may include reproductive organ descriptions, could be blocked when a student is doing a science report for an anatomy class. That would be an example of overblocking. An example of underblocking is when a website for a video game is mainly graphical and changes often, thus not providing enough current information in a textual format that is easy for the software to interpret and execute a blocking routine on.

Compare Internet Filters

Select any 2 Internet Filters to compare them head to head

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  • Circle
  • Qustodio
  • Bark
  • Net Nanny
  • Mobicip
  • PureSight
  • Canopy
  • Family Zone
  • Norton Family
  • McAfee Safe Family
  • ClevGuard
  • SentryPC
Circle vs Qustodio Circle vs Bark Circle vs Net Nanny Circle vs Mobicip Circle vs PureSight Circle vs Canopy Circle vs Family Zone Circle vs Norton Family Circle vs McAfee Safe Family Circle vs ClevGuard Circle vs SentryPC Qustodio vs Bark Qustodio vs Net Nanny Qustodio vs Mobicip Qustodio vs PureSight Qustodio vs Canopy Qustodio vs Family Zone Qustodio vs Norton Family Qustodio vs McAfee Safe Family Qustodio vs ClevGuard Qustodio vs SentryPC Bark vs Net Nanny Bark vs Mobicip Bark vs PureSight Bark vs Canopy Bark vs Family Zone Bark vs Norton Family Bark vs McAfee Safe Family Bark vs ClevGuard Bark vs SentryPC Net Nanny vs Mobicip Net Nanny vs PureSight Net Nanny vs Canopy Net Nanny vs Family Zone Net Nanny vs Norton Family Net Nanny vs McAfee Safe Family Net Nanny vs ClevGuard Net Nanny vs SentryPC Mobicip vs PureSight Mobicip vs Canopy Mobicip vs Family Zone Mobicip vs Norton Family Mobicip vs McAfee Safe Family Mobicip vs ClevGuard Mobicip vs SentryPC PureSight vs Canopy PureSight vs Family Zone PureSight vs Norton Family PureSight vs McAfee Safe Family PureSight vs ClevGuard PureSight vs SentryPC Canopy vs Family Zone Canopy vs Norton Family Canopy vs McAfee Safe Family Canopy vs ClevGuard Canopy vs SentryPC Family Zone vs Norton Family Family Zone vs McAfee Safe Family Family Zone vs ClevGuard Family Zone vs SentryPC Norton Family vs McAfee Safe Family Norton Family vs ClevGuard Norton Family vs SentryPC McAfee Safe Family vs ClevGuard McAfee Safe Family vs SentryPC ClevGuard vs SentryPC
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