They may be competitors, but all of the parental control apps we've reviewed agree on one thing: We have to save our kids from the Internet. With these services, parents can protect their children from online unpleasantness wherever youngsters browse the Web. And mobile versions of these programs include extra features tailored for the platform. ESET's parental control Android app was previously available as a standalone service, and now it's also part of the company's recent Multi-Device Security 9 suite. But no matter how you get it, ESET Parental Control for Android is a solid solution for families—despite a few missing monitoring features. There's no iPhone version, however.
An annual subscription to ESET Parental Control for Android costs $29.99 per year. This is more expensive than the other standalone Android parental control app, Net Nanny, but the higher price pays for more power. You can now also acquire the app as part of ESET Multi-Device Security 9, which starts at $84.99 per year for six licenses. You can try out all the premium features in a 30-day free trial. Licenses are also available as part of ESET Mobile Device Security, and you can mix and match them across devices. A single Android license can be used to download the app on an unlimited number of children's devices.
As a standalone Android app, ESET doesn't require parents to deal with a separate Web interface to access their filtering and monitoring tools. Everything parents need is right in the app. Only our Editors' Choice Norton Family Parental Control offers an Android app this functionally independent, and it's only available bundled with its Web counterpart. However, while both apps are comprised of separate and secure Parent and Child modes, switching between them is much easier on Norton. That said, once parents install the app on their device and their child's device, there's little reason for either user to actively switch between modes. To enable ESET's Web browsing filtering, grant it permission to use Accessibility Services under Settings in the Android OS. The app explains how.
Using ESET on Android
ESET's Web filtering, called Web Guard, blocks kids from visiting potentially harmful websites. ESET blocks certain illicit material by default, depending on the age of the child, but you can customize rules for children under their individual profiles. As part of Multi-Device Security, rules you establish for a profile carry over across devices. You can approve or block content categories such as Social Networking and Sex Education. You can also create exceptions for specific URLs. After modifying rules on one phone as a parent, changes didn't always immediately take effect on another tablet I set up for my hypothetical child. However, Web filtering was mostly excellent on the Moto X I primarily used for testing.
The App Guard component delivers similarly impressive app management features. Parents can see what apps their kids are installing and block inappropriate ones. Are kids spending too much time playing a hot new Android game? Are they way too into the WWE? Create a time limit for how long they can access particular apps or app categories. Create schedules as well, since messing around online during the weekend isn't as bad as it would be on a school night. These are great, Android-specific features we wish were included in rivals such as Net Nanny and Mobicip.
Web Guard and App Guard affect kids the most directly, but ESET has a few more tools parents should pay attention to. The app delivers periodic summaries of your child's online activity. Data includes what websites they're visiting and how long they are using certain apps. Other features are more proactive. Parents can send children an urgent message the child must respond to before they can use their phone again. It's like benevolent ransomware. Finally, parents can track their child's location, a feature Norton and Qustodio include as well.
That's a healthy amount of extra functionality, but there could've been more. Norton and Qustodio can both block calls and texts from specific numbers. ESET does not. Social monitoring features in ESET in general are also a little lacking, especially compared to a robust dedicated tool like Net Nanny Social. You can block communication apps outright but not control who your child can contact.
ESET Keeps Kids Safe
ESET Parental Control for Android is a great service in its own right and a fantastic addition for users of ESET Multi-Device 9. Norton Family Parental Control, our Editors' Choice for Android parental control apps, surpasses it—slightly—when it comes to usability and number of quality features, but that app isn't standalone. So if you're a parent who only cares about securing a single Android phone or tablet for your child, ESET might actually be the better, more affordable option.