Short on time? Here’s the best antivirus with parental controls in 2020:
- 🥇 Norton 360 Deluxe: Excellent protection against all malware with parental controls that include content filtering, app limits, device tracking, and more. Also comes with a VPN, secure storage, and a password manager.
I’ve tested every single antivirus with included parental controls — there are only a few decent choices on the market.
In fact, many “antivirus software” can actually put your children and your family at risk. The vast majority of antivirus programs are not safe, and even many of the “safe ones” have parental controls that are just cheap add-ons.
These bad programs can expose you and your family to malware, offensive content, online predators, and phishing sites that can hack your devices and steal your identity.
You should never download any cybersecurity product without first guaranteeing that it’s safe, secure, and going to keep you protected.
That’s why I made this list. I ran each antivirus through a series of tests — testing both the strength of the antivirus protection and the strength of the parental controls.
Here’s what I found out.
Here’s a summary of my favorite antivirus programs with parental controls in 2020:
- 1.🥇 Norton — #1 antivirus with parental controls. Excellent antivirus protection with parental controls to manage device usage, filter content, limit addictive apps, and track location.
- 2.🥈 BullGuard — Great antivirus protection with content filtering, scheduled device usage, app blocking, and keyword blocking.
- 3.🥉 Bitdefender — Fast, cloud-based antivirus scanning with geo-fencing, content filters, app blocking, and device scheduling.
How to Find the Best Antivirus to Protect Your Family Online
Antivirus protection is important, but staying safe from malware isn’t enough — every parent knows the dangers that children can encounter online.
Not only do you need an antivirus with good anti-malware and web protections, but you also need specific tools to keep kids and their devices safe.
I want to keep my kids safe online, but I also want them to have a healthy relationship with their technology. Too much screen time has been shown to be detrimental for kids, so it’s important to find software that also includes:
- Scheduled device breaks.
- App monitoring.
- App blocking.
The best parental controls can even monitor your children’s location on their mobile devices, so you can be sure they’re safe in real life, too.
There are 5 things you need to look for when finding the best antivirus software with parental controls:
- Level of malware protection
- Parental control features
- Ease of use
- Technical support
- Overall value
And here’s what I did to help you:
- I tested each anti-malware/antivirus engine for detection rates, types of malware covered, and overall strength of the protection offered.
- I used every single parental control feature inside each product to see if it functioned properly and helped kids stay safe both online and in real life.
- I made sure that each product was simple, easy to understand, and intuitive for a wide range of users, both technical and non-technical.
- I contacted each product’s customer/technical support teams to see if they were able to resolve both common and uncommon problems.
- And I assessed whether or not each product provided good value, or if it was way overpriced and unreliable.
Norton’s “Parental Control” feature includes:
- App and device limits.
- YouTube supervision.
- Keyword and content filter.
- Location tracking.
- Social media monitor.
All of these features are contained in one intuitive dashboard — it’s easy to schedule device usage, set time limits for certain apps, and monitor YouTube and Facebook use.
The location tracker can show you where your child is currently located, and it can even track where they’ve gone over the last 30 days.
Less tech-savvy parents will appreciate the 4 built-in age templates. These templates automatically filter content and block websites based on your child’s age, and they’re also super easy to customize.
Norton has a variety of plans that cover 1-10 devices, with the parental controls starting on the Norton 360 Deluxe plan (covering 5 devices). Non-US users can upgrade to 10 devices on Norton 360 Premium.
US users can upgrade to 10 devices on Norton’s mid-tier plan with LifeLock identity theft protection — LifeLock Advantage. And if you need unlimited devices, you can go with Norton’s most advanced plan — LifeLock Ultimate Plus.
Norton 360 Deluxe is my favorite internet security suite of 2020, and the parental controls are the best on the market. Norton’s intuitive dashboard makes it easy to block inappropriate sites, limit both app and device usage, and even see where kids are located at any given moment. All Norton plans offer a 60-day money back guarantee, so there’s no risk in trying it out.
BullGuard’s malware engine detected 100% of the malware samples in my testing — including trojans, ransomware, and spyware.
And the parental controls are really impressive as well — BullGuard offers:
- Content filtering.
- Device access scheduling.
- Application blocking.
- Keyword filtering.
The content filter has automatic settings based on age, or you can customize the filter with almost 40 categories — from peer-to-peer piracy to graphic violence.
The keyword filter is also really good — it keeps kids from entering restricted text into search engines, email, and even some social media sites.
And I really like the device scheduling feature which made it easy for me to schedule screen breaks for my children.
If you’re a parent of a gamer or you’re a gamer yourself, BullGuard’s Game Booster feature is a really exciting tool because it optimizes CPU performance while gaming — it actually increased the framerate on my son’s PC.
BullGuard offers parental controls on its Internet Security plan, but it only covers 3 devices (and adding more is too expensive). BullGuard’s Premium Protection plan is a much better deal (especially with this 60% off discount) — it covers 10 devices and includes identity theft protection.
BullGuard’s anti-malware engine is extremely secure, and the parental controls provide tons of features to keep kids safe online. There’s good content filtering, keyword filtering, and device scheduling, along with an excellent Game Booster for PC gamers. BullGuard offers a 30-day money-back guarantee on all plans.
Bitdefender Total Security earned a perfect 100% in my malware tests — and because it’s cloud-based, all scans are extremely fast and the whole program is extremely lightweight.
Bitdefender also provides parental control features, such as:
- Location tracking and geo-fencing.
- Safe browsing.
- App monitoring.
- Screen time limits.
Out of all the parental control apps I tested, I found Bitdefender’s geo-fencing feature to be the easiest to use with some of the most advanced functionality. With geo-fencing turned on, Bitdefender notified me the moment my child left a specified safe zone.
I also really like the “Safe check-in” feature that lets kids check-in via the app to let you know they’re safe.
Bitdefender offers several value-packed plans — Bitdefender Total Security is the best, covers up to 5 devices, and comes with webcam blocking, device optimization, and protection for all operating systems (lower-tiered plans only cover Windows).
Bitdefender is a fast, lightweight antivirus with good parental controls. The malware engine is cloud-based, so it doesn’t weigh your computer down with bulky software. And I really love Bitdefender’s geo-fencing feature — it’s unique, easy to use, and functions perfectly. All Bitdefender plans come with a 30-day money-back guarantee.
Comparison of the Best Antiviruses with Parental Controls
|Antivirus||Screen Time/App Usage Limits||Location Tracking||Geo-Fencing||Content Filtering||YouTube Controls||Facebook Monitoring|
|1.🥇Norton||Yes||Yes||No||Yes||Yes (website only)||Yes (Windows only)|
Antivirus Software with Parental Controls — Frequently Asked Questions
🕵️ What’s the benefit of using an antivirus with parental controls?
Standalone parental control apps are great, but they don’t protect against malware.
When I first started using a free parental control app, my only thoughts were keeping my kids safe from predators and making sure they weren’t using their devices too much.
But after my son’s device got infected with malware, I realized that malware and phishing sites are also targeting our kids. Children are at a very high risk of accidentally compromising their devices, and if that happens, your whole network could become infected with malware.
Bundling parental controls with antivirus software makes sense because it puts all the necessary cybersecurity protections into one place. For instance, BullGuard’s parental controls are conveniently located in the same dashboard as its web protections, malware scanning, and identity theft protections.
While there are some really powerful and comprehensive parental control apps on the market, if you want to keep both your kids and your kids’ devices safe, you’ll need an antivirus.
🤔 Do I really need to use parental controls?
Yes, you really do. There are all kinds of dangers hiding on the internet.
- Online predators can deceive children and get personal details and images.
- Scammers can trick kids into giving away sensitive social security and financial data.
- Media websites can embed malware in files that are aimed at children.
There are also numerous reports of children experiencing trauma after being exposed to violent, hateful, and graphic content on the internet.
Furthermore, studies have shown that children and teens are particularly susceptible to the harmful consequences of screen addiction. From mood disorders to developmental delays, there’s a ton of data showing that kids need limits on screen time.
All the programs on this list help protect kids against these threats. Norton even includes app limits so you can block specific apps while still giving your kids access to creative and educational programs.
Whether you’re trying to keep your child and your devices safe from predatory users, or you’re just trying to safeguard your child’s mental health against the consequences of screen use, parental controls are a necessity.
💾 What is the most effective parental control for my family?
You are the most effective tool for protecting your family online.
Many studies have suggested that honest, age-appropriate conversations are the best way to keep your kids and your kids’ devices safe. That’s why Norton’s parental controls come with a “Smart Talk” template to help parents and kids come together to set smart limits for their children’s device usage.
Despite our best efforts, our kids are going to encounter the dangerous and disturbing parts of the internet some day. The tools on this list can help protect kids, but ultimately, it’s up to us as parents to help our kids navigate the digital world.
🚫 Can my kids deactivate their parental controls?
Sometimes, yes. There are different levels of control with different parental control apps — some of them can’t be changed without a password, while others send the parent’s device a notification if any changes are made.
Bitdefender’s geo-fencing feature can even send you a notification if your child puts their device into airplane mode.
And content filters are powerful tools, but they only work with some sites. Many apps like WhatsApp and Signal offer encrypted messaging, so there’s no way to track or filter interactions on those apps.
That said, all the programs on this list include app blocking features, so you don’t have to worry about your children being exposed to dangerous conversations on encrypted messaging apps.
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