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Parental control software
Parental control software comparison chart for 2021
Parental control software explained
The web is an integral part of our lives. But while the web brings a world of potential straight into our living rooms, the web also carries risks. The challenge of keeping children safe online grows harder by the day. Parents want a simple way to protect their children, without having to constantly watch over their shoulder.
Why is parental control software important?
Parental control software gives parents full control over their children’s access to computers. From setting time limits for computer access, blocking unsafe content, monitoring emails and instant messages (IM) or preventing kids from having undesirable conversations – parental control software allows children to explore the web in complete safety.
What does parental control software do?
Every parental control program offers different features and different levels of control over what your kids can see and do online. You can expect a few standard features, such as web content filtering and blocking of unsafe websites, to be offered by all programs. You may want a simple filter that detects obscene content online, or you may prefer the ability to monitor every button your child presses on the keyboard, every email they send or receive and every instant message that goes between them and their friends.
How does parental control software work?
Parental control software gives you choices about what your children can access using your home computers and mobile devices (like cell phones, iPods and iPads). Many programs offer pre-defined profiles for different age ranges. If you have children of different ages, you’ll want the ability to define different access levels for your children. Your children may attempt to work around the parental control software, so a key consideration when choosing your program is how difficult the program is to turn off or evade.
Filtering and blocking
Parental control programs can block access to websites that are unsuitable for children, so you can let them roam the web in relative safety. Programs can also filter out and mask obscenities – so your children can view entire web pages without seeing the profanity.
Decide how long your children spend online and what times are acceptable for them to use the web. Ideal if you worry about your children spending too much time online or about them being online when you’re out or asleep.
Reports and alerts
Choose software that gives you regular reports of your children’s online activity, or set alerts to be notified whenever your children try to access unsuitable websites or use worrying language in their emails or instant messages with friends.
Total protection for cell phones, games and music
Just as you think you’ve protected your children online, you realize they’re accessing the web from their cell phones. Also, it’s worth remembering that kids are crafty and can easily get into trouble when they’re offline, or sending emails, or playing games, or downloading music. Parental control software can cover cell phones, emails and offline activities, but not all programs offer advanced features like iTunes download monitoring or age-restricted PC game blocking.
Child-proof parental controls
Clever, computer-literate children may notice that parental control software is being used, and they may try to turn it off, or work around it. One popular method of getting beyond the reach of parental controls is the use of proxy websites. Proxy websites are designed to obscure the identity of people online, and can undo the work of parental control software. So if your children are a bit older or slightly more determined you should choose software that can’t be evaded with proxies. Most parental control software is designed to be unobtrusive and to go unnoticed by your children. Invisible parental control software is desirable because children are less likely to tamper with something if they don’t know it’s there.
Ease of use
As much as you want to protect your kids, you don’t want to spend all day monitoring your kids online. Most programs are designed to take over and let you relax while your kids can explore the web, but for greatest ease of use look for parental control programs that allow you to create alerts – so you get an email as soon as your kids go astray. Or choose a program that generates automatic reports of children’s activity online.
Many parental control programs are sold for a one-time fee, but others are sold on a monthly or annual subscription basis. Check before you buy and make sure you understand what you’re buying before you click.
Help and support
You can typically find fast answers to your questions online, but many parental control vendors offer support by email too. Parental control software is designed to be easy to use and easy to set up – often giving you pre-defined settings that you can then adjust to suit your own children – so you may need very little help and support.
Q. What is parental control software?
A. Parental control software prevents children from accessing unsafe material online, or seeing obscene language, or from having unacceptable conversations via email or instant messaging services. Parental control software is designed to let children explore the web safely, without the need for constant parental supervision.
Q. Does parental control software monitor websites like Facebook and Bebo?
A. Yes. Parental control software can monitor children’s activity on all kinds of social websites, including Facebook, Bebo and MySpace. Software can alert you when your children receive inappropriate messages and it can mask rude language on-screen, preventing children from seeing anything undesirable.
Q. Can I prevent my child from seeing obscene language online?
A. Yes. Choose a parental control program that includes language filters so you can prevent your children from seeing foul language. The program will then mask any words that you choose to block.
Q. Can I prevent my child from uploading pictures?
A. Yes. Parental control programs can prevent your child from uploading pictures – perfect if you have concerns about your child receiving unwanted attention from strangers online.
Q. Can I monitor the conversations my child is having?
A. Yes. The degree of control ranges from programs that monitor emails and instant messages (IM) to programs that monitor every keystroke typed on the keyboard.
Q. Can I prevent my child from commenting on forums and blogs?
A. Yes. Children can easily forget that everything that happens online is public and open to all. Look for a parental control program that prevents your child from leaving potentially-damaging messages on forums and blogs.
Q. Can my child work around the parental control software?
A. Most parental control programs are hidden from view. So they protect your children without their knowledge. However, children may realize that some websites are beyond their reach and they may use a proxy website to get around your controls. If your children are older or wiser then choose parental control software that can’t be bypassed with proxy websites.
Q. Can I prevent my child from playing violent or obscene games?
A. Parental control software can even block access to age restricted computer games. These filters depend on the game being officially rated and certified by an organization such as the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB).
Q. Can I see what emails my children are receiving?
A. Parental control programs can help you monitor all of your children’s communications – including emails, instant messages (IM) and posts on social networks like Facebook.
Q. Can I control what my kids do on their cell phones?
A. Yes. Cell phone web browsing is increasingly popular and allows children to explore the web wherever they are. Get comprehensive protection with parental control software that monitors cell phone activity.
Q. Can I control what my kids see via search engines?
A. Even an innocent search may deliver obscene search results, particularly when searching for images. Choose parental control software that prevents your children from turning off the safe search options.
Recieve an email whenever your kids attempt to view blocked websites or engage in unsafe behavior.
IM (instant messaging)
Applications like Gmail, Facebook, MySpace and Jabber let people send fast messages back and forth – or chat. Parental control software can monitor these conversations and help you spot damaging behavior early.
Software can hide (or mask) rude words, so your children can still view and use the website, without being bombarded by obscene language.
If you want to see everything your children type, choose a program that includes a key-logger.
Proxy is a website that people use to hide their identity online. Proxies can sometimes be used to sneak around parental controls. So you may prefer a program that cannot be avoided with a proxy website.
Software that you can access remotely, from other computers – such as your work computer or from a laptop from when you’re away from home.
A screenshot is a picture of a computer screen. Parental control software can take pictures of the screen - so you can see exactly what your children can see.
Choose parental control software with search integration to prevent your children from discovering pornography or obscenities when they use search engines.
McAfee Safe Family