Parental Control Software Resources
If you want to protect your kids from the darker corners of the Internet, parental control software – also known as Internet-monitoring or –filtering software – helps keep children safe even when you’re not around. Parental control software lets parents limit what their children see and read online. It also lets parents manage time spent on the Internet or computer, select which programs children can use, and monitor and log all Internet activity. Parental control programs sometimes over-block or under-block, but performance has improved significantly over the years and is good enough to give reviewers confidence in recommending programs. Reviewers also say the top filtering programs are nearly impossible for children to circumvent.
ConsumerSearch editors looked at reviews from several sources, primarily tech publications, who say kids won’t be able to disable or fool the programs recommended below. We’ve listed their top safety filters (you can go online at http://www.consumersearch.com/parental-control-software for the full reviews and features to see what is best for your family).
Bsecure Online – Besecure Online’s mix of effective protection and top-shelf features make it the parental control software to beat, experts say. The program features some of the most comprehensive social-network and multimedia blocking around, and it protects against circumvention attempts via HTTPS encryption and proxy software. Bsecure applications safeguard mobile Apple devices, and the software’s Whole Home Filtering feature works with your router to apply content-blocking settings to any device connected to your home network. However, while the program is robust, it’s not 100 percent foolproof – a shortcoming of all filter programs. Approximate cost is $50.
Safe Eyes – (recommended by Dave Ramsey) Many reviewers say Safe Eyes, now owned by McAfee, is a top program. Safe Eyes is available in a Mac version that’s more robust than most other Apple-focused parental control programs (it also works on PCs), and it is especially recommended by critics for households with both Macs and PCs. Another advantage is that Safe Eyes’ remote changes become effective immediately – that’s helpful if you’re at work and your child needs access to a blocked site or needs extra time online. However, it lacks some of the advanced bells and whistles found in the best Windows-based filetering software. Approximate cost is $50.
Norton Online Family – While the Web-based Norton Online Family isn’t quite as feature-rich as top contenders like Bsecure Online, reviewers prefer it to other free parental control programs – and many paid ones. This program sets time limits for users and filters inappropriate content while they browse the Web on PCs, Macs, and Android devices. However, one downside is children can bypass its protection using proxies with HTTPS encryption. Stepping up to Norton Online Family Planner Premier (*Est. $50) unlocks more robust filtering and notifications options. Approximate cost is free.
Net Nanny – has long been a darling of critics, but it hasn’t seen a major update since 2010. Despite that, experts say the program holds up well, offering remote administration and the ability to block a wide variety of applications including chat, newsgroups, instant messaging, peer-to-peer file sharing, and email. Video games can also be white- or blacklisted based on their ratings by the Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB). While that’s a well-rounded list of qualities, critics say the program’s particular strength is its intuitive interface, which is designed with non-tech-savvy parents in mind.
Approximate cost is $40.
Covenant Eyes – is an accountability and web filtering software downloaded from the Internet that monitors Internet use and sends an e-mail report to a designated person that allows you to see the web search terms used and the sites that have been visited. There are multiple levels of filtering and time restrictions that can be employed for more than one user. Covenant Eyes is unique in that is doesn’t block any websites you visit like other web content filtering applications. Instead, it monitors all the sites you visit and sends a report to your Accountability Partner. You can continue to use the Internet like you normally do. While you’re online, Covenant Eyes works in the background, recording and rating every site you visit and emails a report to someone you trust, your Accountability Partner. It is available for Windows, Mac, iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch.
Approximate cost is $8.99/month for first username, $2/month for each additional username.