Parental Control Software
I have pre-teen children who are just starting to get interested in the Web. What parental control software do you recommend?
The Great Parental Control Software Debate
As a parent, I understand your concern. In most places, the Internet is still largely unregulated and unrestricted. That means anyone with a computer and an internet connection can freely surf the web and all that it has to offer. And of course that includes the good stuff, the bad stuff, and the downright scary. Surfing with abandon is okay for adults, but for kids, an all-access pass to any and all kinds of websites can cause expose them to material that's either age-inappropriate, offensive, or potentially harmful.
There are several software options parents can use to protect their children from the more nefarious sites on the internet. Parental control software is readily available and tailored to protect children from accessing adult-oriented websites.
But not everyone agrees about the effectiveness or even the necessity of parental control software. Some say the best parental control is placing the computer in a common area where Mom or Dad can always look over their shoulder. Others are staunch advocates against any type of censorship on the Internet, including the censoring of children's web surfing. Bennett Haselton is one such advocate and makes his case on Peacefire.org. "Having a debate about whether people under 18 can handle being on the Internet," Haselton says, "is a bit silly at this point, because we already know that they can." And Jo Glanville, an editor for the Index on Censorship, is a bit more cynical. She claims that "Clamping down on internet freedoms has been a lucrative enterprise for software manufacturers."
The need for internet blocking software to limit what websites can be accessed does go beyond the family computer, though. It can be useful in schools, libraries, or even workplace settings. Whatever your parenting style or position on the matter, the fact is there are plenty of parental control and internet blocking applications available and some are more effecient than others.
Popular Parental Control Software Packages
McAfee, long known for their desktop anti-virus software, has added parental controls feature to their latest consumer product, Total Protection 2009. This security product is for Windows and is compatible with Internet Explorer 6.0 or later version and Mozilla Firefox version 1.5 or later. It lists with a rebate at $39.99 for a one-year subscription. You get other features besides parental control: anti-virus and spyware, anti-spam, firewall, identity theft protection and data backup capabilities. A useful feature is the ability to enable age-appropriate searching for each user of a computer. This setting ensures that the safety filters of popular search engines like Yahoo and Google are turned on so that a youngster isn't exposed to an inappropriate website. Parents can also add specific websites or keywords that may be linked to content they would not want their child to access. McAfee Total Protection Security can be downloaded for a trial period of thirty days, and you can use it to protect up to three PCs.
Safe Eyes is another program designed to shield kids from the darker side of the Internet. Safe Eyes can run on Windows or Mac. It's a robust program and with it parents can perform a variety of safety checks; blocking websites, blocking or logging instant messages, monitor e-mail, or get alerts sent by email or cell phone. It may seem like overkill, but this multi-platform program provides granular parental controls at a relatively low price of $49.95.
Other popular parental control software packages include Net Nanny, CyberPatrol Parental Controls, and Bsafe Online. There's even freeware out there for parental controls. The non-profit group SafeFamilies.org provides a free Internet filter that parents can use to block certain websites. It's called the We-Blocker and the program gives parents control over what kids access online. Not as comprehensive as a solution as McAfee's or as detailed as Safe Eyes, We-Blocker still allows parents to have some degree of control over their children's web-surfing and it's free.
Do these programs guarantee that kids won't find a way around the controls each program offers? No, of course not. Yet, for parents worried about what a child may be exposed to online, or who a child may be exposed to, parental control software can provide some peace of mind when you're not there to keep tabs on their online activities.
This article was posted by Bob Rankin on 12 Jan 2009
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Article information: AskBobRankin -- Parental Control Software (Posted: 12 Jan 2009)
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Most recent comments on "Parental Control Software"
15 Jan 2009
I think a clear distinction needs to be made between control and filtering software and computer monitoring software that actually records activity so parents can see all activity. This introduces the ability to verify and KNOW what your kids do rather than relying on roadblocks and restrictions. Check out our title PC Pandora (www.pcpandora.com); it’s another option for the 21st parent’s arsenal in the battle against web threats.
12 Feb 2009
i for one must say this is silly and another way of saying to your kid i dont trust you,just like camras in school or the kid tracking systems how do you teach trust to someone whos watched 24 hours a aday
everyday kids are confronted with everything be it in school or tv or on the web and we as perents cant be there to tell them this is wrong this is right but we can teach them whats right or wrong and trust them to make the right choises
19 Feb 2009
Knave, I like your point of view. We should treat our kids with respect for them to trust and respect us too. The best way is to set limitations and rules, if you child disobeyed your rules, you can punish him and not let him use the computer for a certain period of time. It is important that you establish connection with them and know their interest and support them in a way that they will feel your concern. My kid and I are so close coz he gets a reward everytime he got a high score on his school card, coz I know that gives him motivation to study harder.
03 Mar 2009
I agree with the other posters, we shouldn't spy on our kids. I think this new product, www.pgkey.com, is worth a look though. Their approach is to make it obvious that the parent can see what the kid is doing, not try to hide it. Their is a device that connects to the computer, so the kid can see it, and remember that even though the parent isn't in the room, they need to act like the parent is. Most experts recommend having the computer in a place where parents can see what the child is doing, and this new product just takes that one step further. Plus, unlike web filtering, this doesn't stop them from being productive on the computer.
26 Mar 2009
I tried the free software from SafeFamilies.org, and as soon as it was installed about a dozen warnings from Spybot S&D popped up; I don't think I'll trust this one.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Most likely false positives. It's not uncommon for anti-malware programs to fight with each other, incorrectly flagging each other because they contain a list of the virus signature strings.
29 Sep 2010
We inform everyone, who feels the responsibility about such problem as upbringing children: nowadays the computer parental controls are possible on a new, high-quality level. To install a new parental control program on your PC, located at www.vebest .com will be enough for this.
After installing this software you may feel confident about the protection from the reading and viewing information from the web, which is not intended for kids.
Advanced technologies of classifying websites according to their content, implemented in our program, allow filtering content with the help of 14 built-in filters and preventing access to prohibited information.
The ability of customizing 10 different profiles with passwords and automatic reports of program about visited sites will give you a 100% confidence in information security. The program has already established itself among our customers - we recommend it to all!