As a parent in the digital age, keeping your kids safe online is a top priority. Qustodio and Bark are two of the most popular parental control apps available today. Both offer features like website blocking, screen time limits, and location tracking. However, there are some key differences between these two platforms.
This comprehensive guide will compare Qustodio and Bark across all their main features. It will help you decide which one is better suited for your family's needs.
An Overview of Qustodio and Bark
Before diving into the details, let's briefly look at what each platform offers:
Qustodio is a robust parental control app with comprehensive features:
- Web filtering to block inappropriate websites
- Set time limits for apps and total screen time
- Monitor texts, calls, location
- Panic button for emergencies
- Usage reports and alerts
It takes a lockdown approach to digital safety. Parents get full visibility and control over their child's online activities.
Bark uses AI to detect potential issues and alert parents about:
- Cyberbullying, depression, or self-harm
- Online predators
- Adult content
- Drug or alcohol references
It scans texts, emails, YouTube, social media, and 30+ apps. However, it keeps benign content private and only shows concerning items.
Bark aims to balance child privacy and safety. Their approach gives kids more autonomy while alerting parents about risks.
Now let's compare these two platforms in more detail across some key factors:
Pricing and Plans
The pricing and available plans on Qustodio and Bark offer different options based on your budget and needs.
Qustodio has four pricing tiers:
- Free: 1 device, Limited features
- Small: $54.95/year for 5 devices
- Medium: $96.95/year for 10 devices
- Large: $137.95/year for 15 devices
The Small plan unlocks all key features like web filtering, location tracking, app blocking, etc. The higher tiers simply expand the number of devices covered.
Bark has two main plans:
- Bark Jr: $49/year, Limited features
- Bark Premium: $99/year for unlimited devices
The Jr plan only includes basic monitoring capabilities. You need Premium to unlock social media monitoring, text scanning, and Bark's full suite of alerts.
In terms of value, Qustodio's Small plan provides the most affordable access to robust parental controls. However, Bark Premium offers more flexibility for larger families with unlimited device coverage.
Qustodio and Bark are available on both mobile (iOS, Android) and desktop (Mac, Windows) devices. However, there are some differences in their platform support.
Qustodio is compatible with:
- Kindle Fire
It covers all the major operating systems.
Bark is compatible with:
- Amazon Fire devices
Bark does not work on Windows, Mac, or Chromebooks. Its compatibility is limited compared to Qustodio.
So Qustodio is the better choice if you have a mix of desktop and mobile devices in your family.
The ability to block inappropriate, dangerous, or distracting websites is essential for any parental control app. Here's how Qustodio and Bark compare when it comes to web filtering.
Qustodio lets parents block individual sites or entire categories such as:
- Adult content
- Social media
- Specific apps
- File sharing
- Pirated content
- Web proxies
It has over 35 categories available for blocking. The categories are customizable, so you can turn on/off any categories you want.
Bark also provides website blocking. Parents can block:
- Adult content
- Social media
- Gaming sites
- Streaming sites
However, it has fewer categories than Qustodio – around 15 categories. The control is a bit more limited.
Overall, Qustodio provides more robust web filtering controls for parents. Bark's website blocking is still solid, but Qustodio offers more flexibility with its categories.
Time Limits and Schedules
Both apps allow parents to control when and how long kids can use certain apps or websites. But they take slightly different approaches.
Qustodio lets you set:
- Time limits per app (e.g. 30 mins on Instagram)
- Schedules when apps are accessible (e.g. no social media after 9PM)
- Total daily screen time allowance (e.g. 2 hours per day)
You can set specific limits depending on the day – weekdays vs weekends, for example.
Bark focuses more on schedules:
- Set “Digital Bedtime” schedules to restrict device usage during nighttime hours
- Limit apps during study hours or family time
It does not offer per-app time limits or total daily caps. Bark has less robust time management controls compared to Qustodio.
Social Media and Text Monitoring
For parents, being able to monitor social media and texts for inappropriate content provides peace of mind. Bark offers the most advanced monitoring capabilities here.
Bark monitors and analyzes activity across 30+ platforms including:
- SMS texts
Using AI and machine learning, Bark detects and alerts parents about:
- Depression or self-harm
- Sexual content
- Drug/alcohol references
- Online predators
It only shows the concerning content through screenshots or quotes. Benign texts remain private.
- SMS text monitoring – shows full verbatim transcripts
- Call log monitoring
- Limited social media monitoring for Facebook, YouTube, and Google Hangouts
No email scanning or advanced risk alerts. Parents must manually review full logs to detect issues.
Bark's social media and messaging monitoring capabilities are far superior to Qustodio. The advanced AI detection provides essential context that Qustodio lacks.
Both platforms provide location tracking to show where your kids are throughout the day.
Qustodio's location tracking features include:
- Real-time location on a map
- Location history log for past 30 days
- Create geofences – get alerts when child leaves or enters an area
- Panic alert if child presses emergency button
Updates every few minutes for active tracking. Can also manually request an immediate location update.
Bark takes a more hands-off approach to location tracking:
- Child must manually “check-in” to share their location
- No real-time tracking or geofencing
- No location history log
Significantly more limited compared to Qustodio's robust location monitoring tools.
If location tracking is a priority, Qustodio is clearly the better parental control app choice.
Ease of Use
Both platforms offer user-friendly parent dashboards available via web and mobile apps. But Qustodio has a slight edge when it comes to ease of use.
Qustodio has a intuitive dashboard clearly organized by child profile. Main sections include:
- Activity timeline
- Location map
- App usage
- Web usage
- Text summaries
Detailed activity reports and controls are one click away. The layout is clean and simple to navigate.
Bark focuses heavily on alerts from its AI monitoring. The main dashboard shows:
- New alerts flagged by Bark's algorithms
- Trend graphs
- Option to view limited usage data
It provides less visibility into full activity history and controls. The emphasis on alerts over data filters makes the UI cluttered.
Qustodio's UI design and layout offers a superior user experience compared to Bark. Finding information is easier with Qustodio's interface.
Pros and Cons Comparison
Here is a quick pros vs cons breakdown of the two platforms:
- Robust web filtering
- Time limits and schedules
- Solid location tracking
- Intuitive parent dashboard
- Affordable pricing
- Broad platform support
- Limited social media monitoring
- No risk alert system
- Can feel invasive for kids
- NEXT GEN DELIVER
- Class-leading social media monitoring
- AI-powered risk alerts
- Emphasis on child privacy
- Unlimited devices
- Limited compatibility
- Less control over usage limits
- Less detailed activity logs
What age is each platform best suited for?
Taking into account their respective features and philosophies, Qustodio seems better suited for younger children while Bark meets the needs of teens:
Qustodio shines if you have younger kids who:
- Do not have social media accounts yet
- Require more limits on screen time
- Need close supervision on their web browsing
The extensive controls provide the right level oversight.
Bark is ideal for teens who:
- Are active on social media
- Value some privacy and autonomy
- But still require monitoring for risky behaviors
Bark balances safety and independence for teens based on trust.
So in general, Qustodio excels for younger kids, while Bark is better for teenagers. Of course, assess your specific needs, but this age division is a good rule of thumb.
What Parents Are Saying
It's helpful to hear real parent's perspectives on using Bark and Qustodio:
“As the mother of a 14 year old boy, I was worried about cyberbullying and sexting. After using both Bark and Qustodio for months, I'm blown away by Bark's social media monitoring capabilities. The sexting alerts alone are worth the subscription for my son's safety.”
“I have 8 and 11 year old daughters who just got phones. Qustodio's screen time limits and YouTube filtering gives me the peace of mind I need. My girls don't use social media yet, so Bark's extra features would be overkill for our needs right now.”
“My sonfelt like Qustodio was too invasive since I could read all his texts. We made the switch to Bark and it's been a better fit. The privacy aspect gives him more freedom while I still get alerts if there are issues.”
Key Takeaways: Choosing Between Qustodio and Bark
- Qustodio offers more extensive controls over screen time, web filtering, and detailed monitoring. It's ideal for closely supervising younger kids.
- Bark puts more emphasis on privacy and uses AI to detect problems. It provides superior social media monitoring, perfect for teens.
- Qustodio has better pricing and wider platform support, covering Windows, Macs, Chromebooks.
- Bark limits usage less, but also provides less visibility over full digital activity.
- If social media safety is your main concern, Bark wins out. But Qustodio is stronger for restricting devices usage itself.
- Take your child's age and maturity level into account. Qustodio suits younger kids better, while teens benefit more from Bark's approach.
Neither platform is definitively “better” overall. Look at your family's needs to decide if Qustodio or Bark (or another app entirely) makes the most sense. Both platforms offer free trials, so you can experiment to determine the best fit.
Frequently Asked Questions
Does Bark or Qustodio offer a free version?
Qustodio has a limited free version with basic functionality for one device. Bark does not have a free plan, but provides a 7-day free trial of their premium service.
Can kids remove or bypass the apps?
Both platforms have measures in place to prevent kids from uninstalling the apps without the parent's password. However, tech-savvy kids can potentially find ways to circumvent parental controls using VPNs or other tricks.
Is the child's data safe?
Both companies state they use encryption and access controls to protect user data security and privacy. However, parents ultimately have to weigh the risks vs benefits of monitoring their child's activities online.
Which app works on the most devices?
Qustodio supports iOS, Android, Mac, Windows, Kindle Fire, and Chromebooks. Bark only works on iOS and Android devices.
Do they drain my kid's phone battery?
Excessive battery drain is a common complaint with parental monitoring apps. Both claim battery optimization, but some battery impact is inevitable with active monitoring enabled. Disable features like constant location tracking to improve battery life.
Can I monitor multiple kids on one account?
Yes, both Bark and Qustodio allow a single parent account to monitor and manage multiple children. The pricing tiers determine how many child profiles you can have.
Is it easy to install and set up?
Both apps offer intuitive setup processes that can be completed in under 10 minutes. Detailed installation instructions are provided on the company websites.
What if my child loses their phone?
Bark and Qustodio allow you to remotely lock or wipe data from a lost phone using the parent dashboard. You can also enable geolocation tracking to help locate the phone.
Wrap Up: Find the Right Balance for Your Family
Ultimately, picking the right parental control software boils down to:
- Your child's needs and maturity level
- Your family's priorities – privacy vs control
- Finding the ideal balance of safety and autonomy
While Bark and Qustodio take different approaches, both offer robust features compared to competitors. Read this guide to understand the key strengths of each, then choose the one aligned with your parenting style.
Install the free trials, involve your kids in the decision, and re-evaluate over time as needs evolve. With an appropriate and flexible approach to parental controls, your children can safely unlock the wonders of the digital world.