Testing Apple, Google and Microsoft for child online safety

testing apple google and microsoft for child online safety

Homeschooling during the pandemic offered children a crash course in online learning. These days, giving your child an iPhone or computer is no longer a choice for the majority of parents. After all, homework that was once done on paper is now regularly set on Teams.

But for the young ones, increasing digital usage is making threats online starker as incidences of cyberbullying and receiving unsolicited material have spiked dramatically following the lockdowns. Thankfully, most tech companies provide digital guardrails for essential safety.

Best Apps To Monitor Your Child’s Digital Usage

The team at The National tested out safety features from the most prominent players on the market, comparing them based on their screen-time controls, location tracking, message monitoring and even resilience against child tampering.

Apple Parenting Controls

Apple allows parents to set screen-time restrictions, restrictions for age and restrictions for which apps are available on the device. It rates best in location tracking via the “Find My” app. Even if an iPhone doesn’t have service or is off, it can still be located.

Screen-Time Controls: 5/5

Message Monitoring: 3/5

Location Tracking: 5/5

Resilience Against Child-Tampering: 3/5

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Microsoft Family Safety

Microsoft delivers a monitoring report of your child’s search history every week, in addition to the apps that were visited and the times spent online. Although it all sounds convincing, parents of older children stress it’s relatively easy to avoid the technology’s controls.

Screen-Time Controls: 5/5

Message Monitoring: 1/5

Location Tracking: 3/5

Resilience Against Child-Tampering: 2/5

Google Family Link

Similar to the aforementioned choice, Google also offers monitoring and restrictions for its products, including providing feedback on the apps that were accessed and the time spent on each. Though these offerings sound good, they are also “not watertight”.

Screen-Time Controls: 5/5

Message Monitoring: 3/5

Location Tracking: 4/5

Resilience Against Child-Tampering: 3/5

Nevertheless, experts say the trick to safer digital usage is always parenting and not policing.



Sulaiman keeps an important eye on domestic and international politics while he has mastered history.

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