Parental monitoring is not snooping. It’s about safety. Once your kids start using smartphones, you’re concerned about what they may encounter online. With so many lurking dangers on the internet, it’s your fundamental duty to protect your children from potential harm. So, you’re in the right place if you want to know how to track your child’s phone without them knowing (because you know what kids think about this). There are free ways, but we also tested paid ones.
Statistics show that 70% of children encounter violent or sexual content online while doing research or homework. It goes even further because one in seven kids is contacted online by someone with sexual intentions. These statistics make the need to bolster online kids’ safety even greater.
Here are more reasons to monitor your child’s phone and location:
- Internet addiction;
- identifying their social groups;
- location tracking;
- monitoring kids with health issues.
So, how can parental control apps help?
These are just some helpful features you can expect when you start using monitoring apps on your child’s phone:
- monitor calls;
- real-time location tracking;
- monitor messages, including from social media apps;
- social media platforms activity;
- web browser history;
- filter apps and content;
- set screen time limits, etc.
This review contains the best tracking apps for children. If you find it’s too long to read to the end, here are the top 3 apps for parental control:
This is a top-rated mobile phone tracker app for parental control that lets you monitor a child’s phone. It can see their calls, text messages, location, and web browser history.
When you want the best tracking app for teenager, get uMobix since it can monitor 40+ apps. It has comprehensive monitoring options, so you will never miss a thing.
This app is 100% discreet, and it can track messages, calls, apps, locations, and online activities. It can monitor phones and tablets, so you’ll always be in the know, no matter your child’s mobile device.
Table of Top 10 Apps to Monitor Kids’ Phones
There are endless choices when you want to track your child’s cell phone. All available options claim to be the best. But are they really? After conducting thorough research, we’ve concluded that these options are the best for most parents.
Total Apps Researched: 42
Total Apps Shortlisted: 10
|Service||What sets it apart||Compatibility||Price||Free Trial||Effectiveness|
|mSpy||SIM tracking functionality||iOS & Android||$11-48/month depending on the package||Demo||4.9|
|uMobix||Video & Audio stream||iOS, Windows, and Android||$12-49.99/month||Demo||4.9|
|Eyezy||Browser history on private and incognito windows||iOS & Android||$9-47/month||Demo||4.8|
|Cocospy||iPhone monitoring without jailbreak||iOS & Android||$12-49/month||Demo||4.7|
|Hoverwatch||Automatic front camera photo feature||Android, macOS, iOS and Windows||$12-49/month||3 days free trial for 5 devices||4.7|
|XNSPY||Child’s communications and call recordings||iOS & Android||$12-49/month||–||4.7|
|Qustodio||Block and unblock websites||iOS & Android||$4.58-11.5/month depending on the package||–||4.7|
|Life360||Place alerts, SOS with emergency dispatch, and a crimes report||iOS & Android||$4.99-49.99/month-year – PREMIUM||–||4.7|
and access to camera
|iOS & Android||$0.99-19.99/month depending on the package||–||4.5|
|Google Family Link||Syncs easily with Google accounts||iOS & Android||Free||Free||4.7|
We took some resources from the top reviews of the best, and almost all of them were awful. So trust only verified sources of information or blogs of specialized services related to telecommunications. For example, like our HeyLocate blog.
How Can I Monitor My Child’s Phone Without Them Knowing?
It’s challenging to convince a tween or teen that you need to install a parental control app on their phone. But we can all agree that figuring out how to monitor your child’s phone will go a long way toward your child’s safety.
Remember that boys are more prone to joining street gangs and bad company, while girls are more often likely to fall prey to stalkers. Now with phone monitoring apps for Android or iOS devices, you can stay ahead of online dangers.
These are the best phone tracking apps to monitor your child’s phone without them knowing:
mSpy cell phone monitoring app is fast and easy to install on the target device. After I installed mSpy, the app allowed me to see the child’s location in real-time and their location history.
This app can track an Android or iOS device in stealth mode, so I didn’t worry about it getting deleted. In addition, mSpy can manage calls and sent and received text messages from social media apps such as WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram.
Why Parents Choose mSpy:
- it can monitor keystrokes;
- shows live location and location history;
- it monitors in stealth mode.
- 1-month plan: $48.99/mo;
- 3-month plan: $28.99/mo;
- 12-month plan: $11.67/mo.
Android, iOS, PC.
The user interface is straightforward since it has a clear dashboard. Hence, if I needed to see the internet activity of the target phone, all I did was click on the internet activity icon to see the browsing history, website bookmarks, and Wi-Fi networks, among others.
This app also has a geo-fencing feature; it can read emails and access calendar activity.
In comparison with other parental apps mSpy allows more monitoring than restricting.
- detailed reports of cell phone activity;
- installs on child’s iPhone using their iCloud credential;
- 100% legal parental control software;
- no rooting is needed on Android phone.
- the basic plan cannot track social media platforms and email apps;
- many features are not available on non-jailbroken devices.
uMobix requires a subscription to use its services. Thus, after creating an account, I chose the type of phone I needed to monitor. On Android phone, I needed to access the phone physically, while on iPhone, I needed the child’s iCloud credentials.
Why Parents Choose uMobix:
- options for blacklisting websites from the browser history;
- the app tracks video calls, call logs, displays the cell phone number, time of call, and duration of the call.
- 1-month plan: $49.99/mo;
- 3-month plan: $27.99/mo;
- 12-month plan: $11.66/mo.
Android, iOS, PC.
This app let me see who the child is calling, the call history, and how long the phone calls were taking. I could also read text messages, see the GPS location data, and view deleted content.
I liked that uMobix can access the camera and mic on the kid’s phone, so you can see and hear their environment. Nonetheless, this feature is available on iPhones only.
uMobix gives you peace of mind when you want to keep your kid safe from online predators and other dangers of the internet. It hides among other apps and remains undetected, so you can monitor your child’s phone anonymously.
- simple setup process on iPhone and Android phones;
- GPS location tracking;
- it can track all messaging and social media apps;
- monitors with timely logs.
- lacks a free plan;
- some social monitoring features are absent on iPhones.
EyeZy connects to Android devices by installing it directly onto the phone or remotely on iPhones using iCloud credentials.
Why Parents Choose eyeZy:
- complete surveillance on social media platforms;
- identify unknown numbers.
- 1-month plan: $47.99/mo;
- 3-month plan: $27.99;
- 12-month plan: $9.99.
Once the app started running on the kid’s phone, I could see the live location and past locations on the target device. The app also showed the keystrokes, call logs, contacts, and messages.
The best thing about eyeZy is that it can see the browser history on private and incognito windows. I could block and unblock apps, websites, and Wi-Fi alongside accessing files and emails.
- it can locally sync over Wi-Fi instead of downloading directly from a kid’s phone;
- the app sees the child’s calendar to know a child’s schedule;
- it has a sophisticated keylogger and an inbuilt screen recorder;
- comprehensive Instagram-related tracking.
- it cannot set time limits for apps;
- the subscription is only for one device.
Cocospy is a simple parental control app with most of the basic features that you need.
Why Parents Choose Cocospy:
- it can detect SIM card change;
- tracks contacts saved on the kid’s phone;
- accesses social media accounts;
- GPS tracking and geo-fencing.
- 3 devices plan: $69.99/mo;
- 1-device plan: $39.99;
- 12-month plan: $9.99.
Android, iOS, PC.
It installs on the kid’s phone by downloading from the App Store or Google Play Store. In iPhones, you’ll have to jailbreak the phone to install it, but you can also access the target iPhone using their iCloud credentials.
Although there’s no free version, the basic features include call logs, real-time location, browser history, and accessing videos preview, photos, and bookmarks.
I opted for the premium version to get other features like a keylogger, social media monitoring on 10+ apps, and comprehensive online activity tracking. Furthermore, it’s 100% invisible. Once I installed, it disappeared into the background.
- it can track jailbroken and non-jailbroken devices;
- accurate location tracking of kid’s device;
- offers 24/7 assistance.
- limited advanced features on iPhones;
- it does not have a call or screen recording feature.
This app came in handy for the GPS coordinates, checking the browser history, calendar events, and social media tracking. The app can access Facebook, Tiktok, WhatsApp, Instagram, Snapchat, etc.
Why Parents Choose Hoverwatch:
- screenshot style tracking;
- it can track incoming and outgoing calls;
- reads conversations in social media apps.
- 1-month plan: $49.99/mo;
- 3-month plan: $29.99/mo;
- 12-month plan: $12.49/mo.
Android & PC.
After installing Hoverwatch on the child’s Android phone, Hoverwatch allowed me to monitor various features, such as capturing the GPS coordinates of the device. It combines this feature with location tracking, which was great if I needed to intervene before my child ventured into dangerous places.
Hoverwatch also operates in stealth mode, so I knew it wouldn’t be found among standard apps on my kids phones.
- it shows the exact location on Google Maps;
- allows changing of settings remotely;
- shows search queries and websites visited;
- all monitoring features are available on all pricing plans.
- it’s not available for iOS tracking;
- it’s costly to track multiple devices.
Best of all, the app has stealth mode operation. Thus, it’s a good option when you want a comprehensive parental control app with advanced features to track a child’s phone without them knowing.
Why Parents Choose XNSPY:
- it can track GPS locations;
- monitors phone activity remotely;
- it can record a child’s surroundings;
- offers remote control of the target phone.
- 1-month plan: $29.99/mo;
- 3-month plan: $13.99/mo;
- 12-month plan: $4.99/month;
- premium plan: $35.99/mo.
I could connect XNSPY on rooted and unrooted Android devices by simply installing the app on the phone. The option to install it on iPhone is if you’ve jailbroken the device. Since the iPhone I wanted to monitor was not jailbroken, I used their iCloud credentials and enabled iCloud backup on the iPhone.
Some of the XNSPY features I liked include; remotely checking all phonebook entries, seeing the GPS locations, and getting alerts from the GPS watchlist. This app also has text message monitoring, which was great for seeing my child’s communications and call recordings.
In addition, I could monitor instant messaging apps, monitor keystrokes, and record audio of the child’s surroundings.
- offers jailbreak and non-jailbreak options;
- there are alerts for specific phone activities;
- it can monitor WhatsApp on non-jailbroken Android-based phones;
- it sends the data it collects in real-time.
- customer support is not 24/7;
- lacks time controls for apps mentioned.
Qustodio is a good app since it offers many features that I found helpful for tracking someone’s phone.
Why Parents Choose Qustodio:
- it has comprehensive time restrictions;
- allows app blocking on mobile and desktop platforms;
- web content filtering;
- it can monitor up to 15 devices.
- 5-device plan: $54.95/year;
- 10-device plan: $96.95/year;
- 15-device plan: $137.95/year.
Android, iOS, Windows, Chrome OS, Kindle Fire, Mac.
The first step to using this app is to create an account and the child’s profile, which I did. After which, I enabled the necessary permissions upon installing it on the kid’s phone.
This tracking app has text and call logs monitoring. I also liked the app management feature, as it allowed me to set daily time limits for the apps my child visits. This feature works great on Android mobile devices, but not as great on iPhones.
Nevertheless, I could block and unblock websites, filter searches, and view my child’s location and location history. However, it does not go into stealth mode automatically. I had to hide it using the parent’s dashboard.
- it can limit apps usage;
- one plan can monitor five cell phones;
- allows app blocking and web filtering;
- it has an interactive map with a geofencing feature.
- VPN can bypass the web filter feature on desktops;
- social media tracking is only on Facebook.
Life360 allowed me to track my child’s phone without them knowing for free. This app is mainly about cell phone location safety.
Why Parents Choose Life360:
- it can track a vehicle’s speed;
- the app can send out SOS signals in an emergency;
- shows a kid’s exact location at all times.
- basic plan: free;
- premium: $4.99/mo;
- premium yearly plan: $49.99/year.
Apple iOS 13 and up, Android OS 8 and up.
I liked its location sharing, which allowed me to always find my child’s phone. I could also see the phone’s location history for the past month and how long my child was in a particular location.
Life360 has a Bubbles feature to show the general location instead of the exact location. Other features that I liked include place alerts, SOS with emergency dispatch, and a crime report feature to know about crimes in the area that my child visits.
Driving and digital safety features also helped me take charge of my child’s personal safety.
- SOS alerts in an emergency;
- provides data breach alerts and ID theft protection;
- roadside assistance and crash detection features;
- real-time whereabouts of the kid’s phone.
- it does not have a stealth mode;
- it does not work on Blackberry and Windows phones.
Google Family Link
Google Family Link is basic since it’s free. Thus, it lacks most of the features of paid parental apps. Nevertheless, I found it’s great for monitoring app usage, screen time, and cell phone location.
There are separate apps for parents and children, so I had to install both apps to benefit from the features.
Why Parents Choose Google Family Link:
- web and app filtering;
- allows screen time limits;
- offers location tracking of child’s phone.
Android 4.4 KitKat and higher and iOS 11 and higher on parental app. Android 7.0 Nougat and higher, 5.0 Lollipop and higher, and 6.0 Marshmallow and higher on kid’s phone.
Google Family Link allowed me to choose the sites my child could visit and the apps they could install. In addition, I could set screen time limits, schedule days of the week for phone use, and track my child’s location.
Google Family Link also generates a report of the child’s phone activity.
- intuitive sorting of child’s apps by name, time spent, and when the app was installed;
- allows you to choose age-appropriate content for your child;
- it can breakdown the daily use of apps.
- the dashboard is only accessible from a cellphone;
- a child can opt out of the app once they turn 13.
I had first to download mLite on my phone and then on the child’s phone to start monitoring the phone’s activity.
Why Parents Choose mLite:
- it can record calls;
- shows GPS location of child’s phone;
- it can monitor SMS and contacts activity.
- 1-day trial: $0.99;
- monthly plan: $14/99/mo.
The first feature I tried out was real-time location tracking of the target device. I created safe zones, and the app could alert me when my child left those safety zones.
mLite allowed me to listen to my child’s surroundings by remotely turning on the mic on their phone. The app also supports viewing call logs, app monitoring, and reading text messages.
I liked the panic button most since a child can send an SOS message by simply clicking on it to alert me of an emergency. Nonetheless, I could not hide it on my child’s iPhone since it requires the latest iOS 16.1.2.
- offers website monitoring and blocking;
- tracks incoming and outgoing calls;
- tracks location in real-time;
- it has alarms for different features.
- limited phone monitoring features;
- uses the phone’s battery extensively.
How to Track My Daughter’s or Son’s iPhone Location
What You Need to Use It:
- create a Family Sharing group;
- your child has to be in your family group.
- Create a Family Sharing Group.
Go to Settings > Your Name > Set Up Family Sharing. Follow the onscreen prompts and add a payment method. Invite family members and enable family-sharing features on your device.
Your Name > Set Up Family Sharing”>
- Create A Child Account.
Open Settings > Family Sharing. Tap Add Family member and select Create a Child Account. Sign in to that account using the email address and password you used to create that account.
- Start Monitoring Phone Activity.
Set screen time. Enable content and privacy restrictions. Allow or block apps. Set permissions for apps that your child can download.
How to Track Your Child’s Android Phone
What You Need to Use It:
- enable Location sharing on the child’s phone.
- Open Google Maps on your kid’s phone.
- Click on settings > Location Sharing.
- Tap Get Started.
- Choose how long to share location between one hour and until you turn off the location sharing feature.
- Tap Share.
You will always see your child’s phone when you open Google Maps on your cell phone.
Bonus: Track Child’s Location Via SMS
If you don’t want a dedicated app for tracking the location of your child’s phone, there are options to know your kid’s location without installing software on their device.
These online location-tracking services allow you to send anonymous texts with location-tracking links. Our top recommendations are Scannero.io and Locationtracker.mobi.
While Scannero allows you to send regular text messages, Locationtracker.mobi has options for sending messages via WhatsApp, Facebook, and Instagram. These location trackers are ideal in emergencies and one-off tracking of a child’s cell phone location.
Monitoring your child’s phone can help keep your child safer online, and it helps you become aware of the things that children, especially teens and teens, aren’t willing to share. Paid apps are the best for their comprehensive features, accuracy, and real-time tracking.
If you’re looking for the best option to help you identify potential dangers and always know your child’s location, mSpy is our number one recommendation. uMobix is another excellent option, as it has detailed reports of the target device activity. When you want to monitor multiple devices while accessing advanced features, Cocospy will come through in a big way.
Hopefully, this list helps you stay ahead of your child’s safety by choosing a cell phone tracking app that fits your parental control needs.
Online services that track a phone with just the number are ideal for location tracking. The best ones are Scannero.io and Locationtracker.mobi.
If you’re asking how to track my daughter’s phone for free, consider Google Family Link, Life360, and manufacturer tracking options like Android device manager and iPhone’s Family Sharing.
Google Family Link is free, and Life360 has a free plan.
The only reliable, completely free parental control app is Google Family Link. However, its features are limited, unlike paid counterparts.
Google Family Link has the option to see your kid’s text messages for free.
For those asking how to track my son’s iPhone without installing an app, you can use their iCloud credentials to access features on their iPhone using apps.
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