Modern parental control systems must offer sophisticated tools across many platforms to be useful—a web filter on the family computer is no longer enough. Mobicip (pronounced MOE-bee-sip) offers a good range of parental control features and well-designed apps. However, it’s on the expensive side and requires some nonstandard configuration options. Furthermore, it offers neither geofencing nor a true screen-time cap on device usage.
Pricing and Platforms
For $49.99 per year, you can install Mobicip on up to five devices. If you need to monitor more devices, you can choose from additional plans. It costs $89.99 for 10 devices, $124.99 for 15 devices, and $159.99 for 20 devices. Mobicip no longer offers a feature-limited free version, though there is a free 7-day trial. Mobicip isn’t nearly as good a value as Norton Family Premier ($49.99 per year) or Kaspersky Safe Kids ($14.99 per year), both of which can monitor an unlimited number of devices. Net Nanny, on the other hand, costs $79.99 for a 10-license family protection pass. Qustodio charges $54.95 to monitor five devices. Circle Home Plus requires two components: a hardware box that costs $99 and a $9.99 per month subscription after the first year.
Mobicip supports many platforms, including iOS, Android, Windows, macOS, Chrome OS, and the Kindle’s Fire OS. This level of cross-platform support outshines Norton Family Premier, which specifically works on Windows, iOS, and Android, but not macOS. Qustodio runs on Windows, macOS, Android, iOS, and Fire OS devices. I tested on a Google Pixel running Android 10, a Lenovo Ideapad 320 running Windows 10, and an iPhone XR running iOS 13.
Getting Started With Mobicip
To get started, you first need to create a Mobicip account. Then, you need to install Mobicip on any devices you want to monitor.
Mobicip’s Windows setup is straightforward. You simply download a 32- or 64-bit app (most downloads automatically detect your system, so this choice is strange), follow the installation prompts, and assign the user account to a monitored child. You could install Mobicip’s monitoring software on a non-admin Windows user account to prevent a child (in most cases) from installing any other software that would circumvent Mobicip’s controls, but having to type in your password for every admin-level action could be tedious.
To set up Mobicip in the child mode on Android, first, download the Mobicip app from the Google Play Store and then select the child mode. Next, scan your account’s associated QR code (you can find this on the web dashboard) and select or create a child profile. Then, it’s just a matter of accepting all the permissions that Mobicip throws at you. As with the Windows installation, you might consider installing Mobicip on a non-admin profile so that your child can’t just switch to a guest account. This does introduce an additional problem, since you can’t control which profile an Android device boots into. Only the admin account owner can switch into the monitored profile after a restart, and you need to make sure that admin account is locked behind a password too.
Installing Mobicip on an iOS device is considerably more involved and inconvenient. After you download the app and select the child mode, Mobicip asks you to scan an account QR code and subsequently download and install an MDM profile (via Settings > General > Profile) to enforce restrictions. Then, head back to the app and Mobicip will finish registering your device. You need to allow any permission requests that pop up. At this point, your child’s iOS device is configured for you to monitor internet browsing, screen time use, and location.
To block apps, you need to configure the iOS device via Mobicip’s Supervise app on your Mac or Windows computer. On a Windows machine, you need to install iTunes for this to work. Apple killed iTunes on macOS, so we can’t say how long this will be a viable installation avenue. Performing this process on the Mac does not require iTunes. Once the Supervisor app detects your device, click through the prompts to finish supervising your iOS device.
This setup is extremely cumbersome and takes several minutes. Considering that you can block apps via iOS’s built-in content restrictions settings under Screen Time, we recommend you do that instead. Norton Family smartly redirects you to these tools. Speaking of Apple’s Screen Time settings, you can accomplish most of the same things that Mobicip offers for iOS devices, including blocking websites and tracking device usage.
Note that on a Chromebook, Mobicip is an extension, and thus can be removed without any elevated permissions. Mobicip will send you a notification if your child gets rid of the extension.
Mobicip’s web interface looks clean and is easy to navigate, with well-spaced elements clad in a calm mix of muted colors. At the top, there are four main sections for navigation: Activity, Family, Devices, and Messages. In the upper-right-hand corner, you can access your account and subscription settings. Unfortunately, there is no option to enable two-factor authentication.
The dashboard under the activity section shows an overview of all your monitored devices, with sections for most-used social apps, most visited websites, recent searches, recently installed apps, and recently watched videos. There’s also a QR code you can scan for quickly setting up a new device. Some sections use helpful graphics and charts that make the data easier to grasp quickly, and you can choose to show data from the current day, the past week, or some other custom date range. You click into any of the sections to view more details. The most-visited websites section, for example, brings you to a Browsing history page, where you can filter by date range, child, device, web page rule (allowed or blocked), and website category.
The Family Section lets you see at-a-glance information about all your monitored child profiles along with any parental profiles you set up. You can directly block screen time for all or some monitored kids quickly as well as click the Configure button to set up rules for the Screen Time, Social Apps, Videos, Mobile Apps, Web Categories, Websites, Phrases, and Networks categories. These options are presented in a clear manner, which we appreciate.
The Devices tab shows all the devices you are monitoring in your account. You can get each device’s location or delete it from your account. Notably, there is no geofencing feature here, unlike that of Kaspesrky Safe Kids. Mobicip also lets you access your subscription settings directly from this section. The Messages section shows an ongoing list of notifications generated from your child’s device use. For instance, there are messages about app installations and website access requests (which you can easily accept or reject). I wish Mobicip included a way to send direct messages to monitored family members though, the way Boomerang‘s family messenger does.
For each child profile, you can pick one of four filtering levels. Choosing the Mature, Moderate, or Strict levels blocks age-inappropriate web categories. If you choose Monitor, Mobicip won’t block any sites, but will still record online activity.
The content filter now handles 30 categories such as Alcohol and Addiction, Chat and Forum, Dating, Gambling, Mature and Adult, Proxies, Shopping, Social Network, and Weapons and Violence. In the Block websites section, you can add specific URLs you don’t want your child to access. Mobicip’s content filtering is browser-independent and it can handle secure (HTTPS) sites, however, we did discover some fairly easy workarounds.
We first tested Mobicip’s browser restrictions on a Windows 10 desktop. Mobicip successfully blocked categories of sites and specific ones when we used regular or private tabs of Brave, Chrome, Edge, and Firefox. However, when we enabled a VPN extension in Chrome, we were able to browse freely. Similarly, with Brave’s New Privacy Tab with Tor Mode, we didn’t encounter any restrictions. Neither a VPN extension nor Brave requires admin rights to install on Windows, so even a child with a standard user account could evade restrictions on Windows desktops.
Mobicip’s web-blocking works fine on Chrome and Firefox Focus on Android, but we were able to get around restrictions using the Tor Browser. You can always just block this app. On iOS, web restrictions worked as expected. Mobicip successfully blocked sites with Chrome, Firefox Focus, and Safari.
Mobicip enforces the strict Safe Search option on Google and Bing automatically, but DuckDuckGo is beyond its control, which means that blocked phrases are allowed here, too. You can block DuckDuckGo’s site if this is a concern.
Mobicip’s time restrictions apply to all device usage, not just internet browsing. That said, this feature might better be called Time Scheduling than Time Limits. Unlike Net Nanny and Norton Family, Mobicip doesn’t actually let you set a daily or weekly limit for online activity. Instead, you can only set access schedules. Qustodio even lets you monitor and set restrictions on how much time a child uses individual apps. Mobicip does apply these limited restrictions across all a child’s devices though, which prevents them from just switching from a tablet to a desktop, for instance.
The first thing to do in the Screen Time section is to select your time zone from the dropdown menu. Oddly, Mobicip lists time zones in alphabetical order, instead of by their difference from UTC. Major cities are listed, so users in less populated areas should look for their closest metro area here.
You set up the time schedule using a simple grid, with days of the week crossing hours of the day. Clicking an hour allows or denies access for that hour all week. Clicking a day allows or denies access at all times on that day. You can also click and drag across time blocks now.
On Android, if a child is blocked, they will see an overlay screen with the time remaining until they are able to use their device again. On iOS, all apps except for Settings and Phone disappear. On Windows, the whole screen is blocked with a timer countdown and your only option is to switch users.
The Block Apps section lists many popular apps you can choose to allow or block. You can also search for and add apps on your own. Mobicip allows you to search both the Google Play Store and App Store for apps to block, which is helpful. You’ll find one excellent feature under the Advanced Settings menu: You can switch to an Approved Apps Only setting to block everything other than those apps you’ve specifically approved.
Mobicip oddly distinguished Social and Video Apps from the main section. The Social Apps section includes entries such as Down, Facebook, Instagram, Kik, Secret, Snapchat, TikTok, Tinder, and WhatsApp. The Videos section similarly lets you block specific video sites and apps, such as Netflix, Hulu, and YouTube. However, all the apps in the Social and Video Sections appear in the main Block Apps categories, rendering them redundant. The only purpose seems to be the ability to track usage by those specific categories, but without the ability to add other apps to those sections, this implementation is limited. Mobicip needs to streamline these categories.
App blocking works fine in testing. On Android, you get a message that the app has been blocked by Mobicip. On iOS, the app icon just disappears from your home screen. Parents can unlock an app directly from the device on Android, if they so desire.
The Phrases section allows you to add keywords to a list that you want to be blocked. According to a company representative, these blocks do not only apply to searches, but rather that “Any website, article, page (or video with accompanying text) that contains the phrase will be summarily blocked.”
However, one major problem is that added phrases must be at least five characters long. We can think of many words and phrases that are four letters or fewer that you might want to add to this list. We guarantee that your kid can, as well. We tried blocking the phrase “PCMag” and found that this worked in testing. We recommend keeping phrases as specific as possible to prevent any unintended behavior, since we had trouble figuring out why a site had been blocked in some instances. Mobicip should inform monitored children exactly why a site is blocked.
We also found that Mobicip still suffers from what Wikipedia calls the Scunthorpe Problem. That is, the filter finds those words even when they’re not present as such, but only as a substring of some other word. For example, if you choose to block the word “kills,” it will also block search results for “job skills”. Again, keeping your phrases as narrow in scope as possible helps avoid such issues, but Mobicip should fix this implementation anyway.
All is not lost if your poor choice of phrase causes Mobicip to block the wrong site. The page that appears when a page is blocked contains a large button that lets the child request access. In the online console, you’ll see a notification when any such requests are pending. You can allow or reject the request or, if appropriate, allow all content on the specified site.
You can also configure the product to skip content filtering for specific networks, either a single IP address or an IP range. The average parent probably doesn’t need to do this, but Mobicip is also used in schools, and in business. If the network has content filtering built-in, there’s no need for Mobicip to pile on. Yet when the student or employee connects to a different network, Mobicip resumes control.
Mobicip on Mobile
Mobicip’s parental controls on Android and iOS let you monitor your children’s activities and set up restrictions on any of your child’s devices. The app looks great and navigation feels smooth. The main page mimics the web dashboard with all the same data and filtering options. From a hidden left-hand menu, you can jump to sections for managing screen time, viewing locations, or blocking apps. You also can access the MyMobicip section to view account information such as your family, registered devices, profile, and subscription details. The Messages section lets you easily approve or deny requests sent by your children. Changes made in the app take effect quickly on monitored devices.
The child app is comparatively simple. You just get a message that you are being monitored and it lists the types of monitoring active such as Filtering, Screen Time, App Management, and Location Tracking. There’s no panic button here, which should be a standard feature for child management apps. A panic button should allow a child to press a single button to broadcast their location and a message to a group of trusted contacts, should they ever find themselves in danger. Locategy and Boomerang include a panic button or emergency mode. That said, a child can still use the phone app in an emergency.
A Good Foundation
Mobicip is designed for the modern multi-device family and its range of supported platforms is notable. Its web interface is much improved and Mobicip now sends out real-time notifications of requests and activity, too. On the other hand, the setup on iOS devices is complex and Mobicip broadly lacks some useful features such as geofencing and capping daily or weekly Internet use. Plus, Mobicip is more expensive than other services that offer similar monitoring capabilities for an unlimited number of devices at a comparable, or even cheaper, price. Our Editors’ Choice pick, Qustodio, offers more robust features and better customization options.