Kaspersky Safe Kids


Kids today are active on all sorts of devices and platforms, which poses a problem to parents who want to keep an eye on their digital activity. Many parental control programs are best suited for either desktop or mobile platforms, but Kaspersky Safe Kids works well on Android, iOS, Macs, and PCs. You can install it on an unlimited number of devices, and Kaspersky does pretty much everything you might expect from a modern parental control app, including app blocking, location monitoring (with geofencing), web filtering, and time management. That said, Kaspersky doesn’t offer as much control over some of these areas as competitors, lacks browser-independent web-filtering, and doesn’t have safety extras such as an SOS button for emergencies. While Kaspersky Safe Kids is an excellent service, Qustodio is our top choice for parental control.

Pricing and Platforms

Kaspersky Safe Kids is a great value. For $14.99 a year, you can create as many child profiles and monitor as many devices as you want, regardless of platform. Norton Family Premier ($49.99 per year) and Screen Time ($39.99 per year) are some of the few others that also do not impose device limits. A $79.99 subscription for Net Nanny gets you five licenses. For a slightly higher price than Norton, Qustodio covers five devices for $54.95 per year.

You can also use Kaspersky Safe Kids for free. There are some limitations to this version, of course. You can’t track your child’s location, monitor their social media, see their YouTube search history, or receive real-time alerts of suspicious or blocked activity. You can test out these premium features for free with a seven-day trial.

The Windows and Mac editions are nearly identical feature-wise, while the Android and iOS editions have some differences (as we describe, below). On the desktop, we tested Kaspersky on a Dell EliteBook laptop running Windows 10. For mobile, we installed the software on a Google Pixel 3 and a Google Pixel running Android 10, as well as on an iPhone 8 running iOS 11. Much of this review details our experience testing on Android, but we discuss how Kaspersky Safe Kids works on the iPhone in a section towards the end.

If you are specifically looking to monitor your child on mobile platforms, take a look at our roundup of the best parental control apps for your phone.

Getting Started

Installing Safe Kids on a Windows system is quick and simple. You just need to connect with your online My Kaspersky account or sign up for free. As with Norton Family Premier and Qustodio, Kaspersky lets you perform configuration tasks mainly through the online console (or via the mobile apps). The local agent simply enforces the rules. Kaspersky Safe Kids offers a single app on both the Google Play store and the App store; you choose the child or parent mode during setup.

The next step is to add your children (name and birth year) and choose from a small collection of default images or upload an actual photo. With each installation, you tell Kaspersky which of your children uses the device and identify their user account on a Mac or a PC. On Windows, Kaspersky Safe Kids lives as an icon in the system tray. It shows the currently enabled settings for the device, as well as a usage schedule. Accessing settings or pausing the software requires a parent’s password. You can also access an online help portal from here, though that redirects you to the appropriate part of the company’s website. The desktop experience also includes a new tutorial mode called Setup Assistant, which runs you through Kaspersky’s features.

Kaspersky Safe Kids child setup

On Android, this process is more involved. Once you agree to a lengthy license agreement, you need to give it access to admin, accessibility, and system settings, in addition to the ability to display over other apps. On iOS, you need to install a Configuration Profile via Safari and enable some permissions. During the respective setups, it informs you that you must use Chrome on Android and that it blocks every other browser on iOS, including Safari. We go into more detail on web filtering later on in the review.

In terms of data security, Kaspersky says it protects personal identifiers with 256-bit AES encryption via the Microsoft Azure cloud service and stores other non-personal data anonymously. You can read its full data provision policy on its online help portal.

Improved Web Interface

Kaspersky Safe Kids’ web interface uses a light overall color scheme with the Kaspersky green much more sparingly, in addition to favoring minimalist icons. Some of the settings sections have been simplified since the time of our last review, too. It’s better than many competitors’ web dashboards, though it’s not as elegant or responsive as Norton Family’s console. For example, each time you click on a tab, it reloads the page completely (this takes a few seconds); with Norton, switching sections happens instantly.

There are some other design oddities as well. For example, the eight top-level menu icons do not fit in the same view; you have to click the direction arrows to reveal the last one. The interface also requires you to scroll down quite a bit on a page before you reach some options.

You can select individual child profiles from a drop-down menu on the left-hand side or easily add a new one. To the right, you can find the aforementioned icon menu icons: (from left to right) Summary, Where Is My Child?, Internet, Device use, Applications, Social networks, Child’s Devices, and Profile.

Kaspersky Safe Kids Notifications menu

Each section is broken down into two interactive tabs: Settings (to configure rules for the child) and Reports (to see what the child has been doing). Summary simply shows snippets from each reporting category, such as commonly visited websites and search terms, frequent contacts, the most used applications, and more.

The bell icon at the top right displays the number of pending alerts. Notifications are broken down into four different categories: Devices, Kids, Licenses, and Support. Some notification items include action buttons. For example, when the product alerts you that your child tried to open a restricted site, it offers a button to edit those settings. A geofencing alert displays a button to check the child’s location. You can choose which alerts you get, as well as whether you want to receive alerts via email, push notification, or both. By default, you receive alerts for actions related to all the major categories, but the options for each are extensive.

Rounding out the interface, you can access account settings or technical support help via links in the upper right corner. Unusually, detailed notes written by clinical psychologist Christopher M. Bogart, Ph.D., show up throughout the interface. These sections generally explain topics and suggest ways to approach conversations with your child about them.

Content Filtering

Filtering out websites with nasty or otherwise inappropriate content is perhaps the most common parental control feature. Safe Kids identifies 14 content categories, among them Adult content, Violence, and Weapons. Based on each child’s birth year, it preconfigures restrictions. For an imaginary 11-year-old’s profile, it marked the Adult, Anonymizers (proxies such as Hide.me), and Weapons categories as forbidden. There’s also a setting for blocking explicit content from appearing in Google, Bing, Yahoo, and Yandex (but not DuckDuckGo) searches. The software successfully sent us a notification when we ran a search for an offending topic.

Kaspersky Safe Kids marked a number of other categories with a Warning distinction in our testing. If kids try to access a site that falls under a category marked as such, Safe Kids displays a warning and notifies parents if the child ignores the warning. Among these were Internet Communications, Profanity, and Religion. As a parent, you can mark categories as Forbidden, Warning, or Allowed, in any way you please. Net Nanny and Norton are among the few other products that can display a warning rather than outright blocking access.

Kaspersky Safe Kids web filter categories

There are, of course, some browser-based restrictions. On the desktop, Kaspersky officially supports Microsoft Edge, Safari, Internet Explorer (version 9 or later), Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and the Yandex Browser. On mobile, Chrome (on Android) and Kaspersky’s Safe Browsers (on Android and iOS) are your only options. Mobicip is browser-independent.

We tested out these features on both Chrome (Android and Windows), Edge (Windows), and Kaspersky’s Safe Browser (Android and iOS). Safe Kids reliably blocked sites in Forbidden categories across all browsers and reported relevant activity. We decided to test Kaspersky with other browsers, as well, to see how it performs. For example, we tried to access forbidden sites via a tiny browser Neil wrote himself; it blocked most content, but let us access several anonymizing proxies. We also ran the Vivaldi browser (on Windows) and Firefox Focus (on Android) and found that it did not block or filter web content whatsoever. To bypass this limitation, parents could use application control (more about that below) to block browsers in general, then create exceptions for the specific browsers that Kaspersky supports.

The Warning page includes a link at the bottom titled Login for Parents. Using this link, a parent can pause the product’s filtering for a period of time. When Safe Kids displays a warning, the link at bottom changes to Go There Anyway. Like Net Nanny and Qustodio, Safe Kids doesn’t just rely on a database of known sites and their categories. It also actively inspects pages and heuristically blocks those that seem to be inappropriate.

A new Safe Search tool allows you to block your kids from searching for inappropriate terms (those that appear in the Alcohol, Tobacco, Drugs, Profanity, Racism, Adult categories) in the YouTube app or on the YouTube website. In testing, Safe Kids successfully blocked searches with terms in such categories, but this is not a perfect implementation. It’s possible for your child to find age-inappropriate content without using forbidden search terms, so we recommend enabling YouTube’s restricted mode for additional content filtering. Parents who subscribe to the Premium Safe Kids tier can also view their child’s YouTube search history.

Social Networks

You can configure Safe Kids to monitor your child’s account on Facebook and on VK, a popular social network in Russia. This feature totally requires the child’s buy-in. To enable it, you have Safe Kids send an email with a link that installs an app within the social network profile. The child can simply refuse to install the app or disable it at a later time. Of course, Safe Kids notifies parents if their kids disable the app. Presuming your child accepts the app installation, Safe Kids tracks and reports on posts “with a delay of no more than 24 hours.” You can see what posts your child has made and, if necessary, log into the account to dig deeper.

Norton doesn’t require an app to monitor Facebook, but its monitoring ability is limited and is oftentimes rendered useless after a change to the social media site. Qustodio may be the cleverest in this area. It does rely on an app, but if the child disables the app, Qustodio blocks the social media site.

ContentWatch used to offer Net Nanny Social for in-depth monitoring of your child’s social media activity across many different platforms, but that service is no longer available. For now, this fixation on monitoring Facebook seems antiquated, since kids likely spend an equal amount of or more time using other services such as Snapchat, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter.

Application Control

Safe Kids has the ability to monitor and block individual applications on all platforms, albeit with some limitations on iOS. One feature that does work with iOS is its ability to block access to games or apps based on their age ratings. Microsoft Family offers similar functionality on PCs.

Application control works in two distinct ways. First, you can choose to block access to all apps matching any of 16 categories, or those whose category is unknown. Among the categories are File Sharing, Games, Online Shopping, and Social Media. One nice touch is that you can sort the application list by these categories for easier management.

Perhaps more interesting is the ability to fine-tune the use of specific applications. When you select a device, Safe Kids lists everything installed on it. You classify each app as Allowed, Forbidden (completely blocked), and Limited (usage schedule on a per-day basis). Your child can’t get around the block by copying or renaming the file. Qustodio and Norton also let parents put time limits on apps. The Report tab shows you how much time they spent using any one application. Locategy generates more detailed reports on Android app use, specifying each instance of the app launch.

Device Monitoring and Time Limits

Scheduling or limiting children’s access to the internet or use of devices is a very common parental control feature. Kaspersky’s implementation of this feature is solid, but not the most flexible we’ve seen.

To start, you must turn on device monitoring; it’s not enabled by default. You select from one of three options: Statistics only (selected by default), Show Warning (notifies your child that they have reached the time limit, but does not block them), and Block Device. If the child ignores that warning, though, parents receive a notification.

Kaspersky Safe Kids device use settings

The Block Device option allows you to set a total time limit and create a usage schedule. Qustodio offers similar functionality. Note that these settings apply on a per-device basis, which means that a child can simply switch to another gadget if another still has additional usage time remaining.

Kaspersky cannot lock down an iOS as it would on any other platform, but it can prevent kids from launching any apps.

Where Is My Child?

If you install Safe Kids on a child’s mobile phone or tablet, you can turn on the location-monitoring feature. This lets you check your child’s location at any time with a simple click. Many parental control apps, including Norton Family and Qustodio, offer at least this level of location tracking. Kaspersky Safe Kids goes a step further with its geofencing feature. This lets you define any number of allowed areas (places where the child should be at a given time) and tracks whether a child is within that region. If your kid leaves the area during a scheduled time, you get a notification. In testing, we found that geofencing works just fine. We set up an allowed area around our office and got a notification each time we left during the specified hours.

Kaspersky Safe Kids Allowed Area menu

That said, it’s not as robust as other services we reviewed. Our biggest concern is that the smallest possible zone that you can define around an area is a whopping .4 miles wide. That’s equivalent to around 644 meters or 704 yards. We much prefer FamilyTime, which lets you define more precise areas (down to 150m) or Boomerang, with which you can draw custom boundaries on a map.

We applaud the ability to set a schedule for when the child should be inside each allowed area. With Safe Kids, for example, you can specify what hours a child should be in school and at home afterward. We haven’t seen that in other products.

Kaspersky Safe Kids for Android

As previously mentioned, when you install the Kaspersky Safe Kids app, you need to choose between the parent and child mode during setup. We tested both modes on Android. We like the app’s clean design and did not experience any performance issues in testing; changes we made to rules took effect immediately. Navigation is quicker on the app than on the web, too.

The first thing you need to do before using the parent mode is to set up a four-digit PIN, which you will need to enter each time you open the app. This prevents children from tinkering settings from their parent’s phone, though you can turn this off for whatever reason. The interface itself is divided into five tabs running across the bottom: Summary, Alerts, Where Is My Child?, Settings, and Additional. Each section works in the same manner as it does on the desktop, though some specific settings are missing. For example, Social Media settings do not appear anywhere. The Alerts section also redirected us to the My Kaspersky web portal for more details.

Kaspersky Safe Kids app on Android

In child mode, the Kaspersky app is fairly straightforward. The top section lets you view all of your parents’ replies to any app or website access requests you sent, as well as the currently enabled rules. The bottom section is dedicated to parents. They can either temporarily disable or uninstall the app entirely.

We do appreciate the persistent notification, which serves as a constant reminder to the child that their parents are monitoring them. Kaspersky Safe Kids no longer monitors calls and SMS texts on Android devices, in accordance with Google Play’s policy change.

Kaspersky Safe Kids is notably missing an SOS button for emergency situations. Other apps, like Qustodio and Locategy, let children quickly send out an alert to either a set of trusted contacts or parents themselves with their location details. Kids can still access the phone feature to make emergency calls in these situations.

Kaspersky Safe Kids for iPhone

As with other parental control solutions, Kaspersky Safe Kids has some limitations on iOS. For example, you can’t monitor app usage (it blocks/hides apps based on age restrictions) or block access to a device after a child exceeds a time limit (you can only warn them). That’s about par for the course, though some apps, such as Qustodio, offer a bit more control over specific apps. Check out our guide to iOS’s built-in Screen Time tools for an alternative.

The Kaspersky Safe Kids child app on iOS is also very basic; it’s essentially just Kaspersky’s Safe Browser. As previously noted, Safe Kids blocks all other browsers on iOS, so your child is stuck using this one. In testing, it reliably blocked any websites that fell into forbidden categories, including web proxies. Kids can still send permission requests to their parents. The browser is reasonably quick and supports modern functionality, such as tabs, bookmarks, Notes, and creating PDFs. You can also view alerts for any location and permission requests. This child mode also does not have an SOS feature.

Kaspersky implements a clever uninstall process. To remove the Configuration Profile, you need to enter a code that you can only access via the parent mode app or the online console. It also sends you an email notification if someone disables the app. This is unique since developers cannot password protect an MDM profile, which is how many competitors manage settings on iOS.

Speaking of the iOS Parent mode, it looks and works mostly the same as its Android counterpart. It arranges the same five categories across the bottom; Summary, Alerts, Settings, Where Is My Child?, and Additional. Performance is similarly smooth, and we had no issues applying settings.

A Well-Rounded Product

Kaspersky Safe Kids does everything you expect from a parental control product and across all popular platforms. It notably works on an unlimited number of devices and offers excellent web filtering and app blocking capabilities. However, it lacks some features found in other tools, such as an emergency broadcasting button in the child app, and it doesn’t offer the granular geofencing options of some competitors. Although Kaspersky’s mobile apps are among the best in the category, its web interface felt slow to navigate. For those reasons, Qustodio remains our Editors’ Choice pick because of its excellent feature set across all platforms and top-notch web and mobile apps.

Kaspersky Safe Kids Specs

Free Version Yes
Device Limits None
Per-User Settings Yes
Web Filtering Yes
Screen Time Management Yes
Geofencing Yes
Social Network Monitoring Yes
Remote Management Yes
Supports Windows Yes
Supports macOS Yes
Supports Android Yes
Supports iOS Yes

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