Parental Control Software
The Internet and new technologies are affecting all spheres of life, and parenthood hasn’t been left out. Besides numerous benefits of raising your kids in the Information Age, there are several bumps in the road. It’s easy when kids are small and when all they’re interested in are cartoons or shows like Sesame Street, but once they hit the teenage years and learn how to use various high tech devices, parents feel helpless. Not so long ago codes like PG (Parental Guidance) or PAL (Parental Advisory label) allowed parents to keep their kids away from unsuitable movies or music that contained violence, porn or profanity. Nowadays, there aren’t just movies, music and magazines that have to be censored. There are those vast and dark expanses of the Internet that seemingly can’t be controlled. Fortunately, there are cyber guardian angels in the shape of parental control utilities that can help you protect your kids from the unwanted content.
Parental Control Essentials
This useful software has several handy features that can protect your child from various dangers and inappropriate content it can encounter on the Internet. This can be done by means of blocking access to websites categorized as questionable and dangerous and you can choose what categories you want to filter. There are also several features that you have to be acquainted with if you want to use the full protective potential of parental control software. In order to select the utility that best fits your needs you should take into consideration factors such as the number of devices that you want to control, HTTPS filtering, remote management, social networking tracking, real-time abuse notification and operating system compatibility.
Many parents nostalgically remember those simpler times when there was only one computer in a household that had to be protected. Nowadays, when kids have laptops, smart phones, tablets and various kinds of devices that can be connected to the Internet, parents feel as if they need a whole armada in order to keep all those gadgets protected. As a matter of fact, they only need to find reliable parental software that supports several devices. In case that the situation with the number of devices that have to be controlled gets out of hand, you can always set the protection on the network level and systemically deny access to unwanted online content.
Keeping Strangers at Bay
The Internet has given various dangerous individuals a new possibility to prey on naïve and unsuspecting victims and children belong to the most vulnerable category. Sometimes even adults fall for a predator in cyber disguise, let alone inexperienced and often too gullible kids. Social media tracking is a valuable feature of top-notch parental control software as it allows you to keep an eye on your kids when they’re on social networks. This clever option keeps you posted and gives you the opportunity to observe with whom your kid communicates. You can also search for particular words or phrases and see whether they show up in your kid’s interactions with other people. But there’s a catch – your kid needs to let you use this feature as it can be easily disabled.
Filtering the Filth
In order for content filtering to be efficient, it has to encompass HTTPS traffic which means that this has to override browser settings. Why is this important? Well, many older kids tend to know hacks and cheats that could overcome browser-based obstacles so that they could gain a full access to all the Internet content. Bear in mind that kids are usually more into high tech stuff than adults and they know how to hide their web activities by masking their IP address and voila – they’re outside the fenced area.
Other Important Features
You certainly don’t want your kids to know that you are spying on their online activities and that’s why it’s important to find software that will allow you to keep a low profile. Having all your kids’ activities recorded is another useful option and it enables you to see what websites they accessed and even see screenshots. Remote management and limiting the Internet usage on a daily or weekly basis can also come in handy. Many parental control tools have texting or email services that inform you about potential threats and alerts.
Top Parental Control Tools
Here’s a list of 5 best parental control utilities on the market that might help you make up your mind:
- Net Nanny – sophisticated and yet easy-to-use software offers 24/7 online protection for your kid. It’s available for almost all operating system except iOS. This program has great ratings and its only shortcoming is that it doesn’t record keystrokes and screenshots.
- KidsWatch – an excellent choice if you want the Real McCoy that includes HTTPS content filtering, recording IM conversations and time scheduling for Internet. This superb utility is only slightly disappointing when it comes to remote access, but it’s completely reliable in all other departments.
- Symantec Norton Family Premier – Symantec is a famous brand for all kinds of protective programs and this product doesn’t fall short of great features. It offers video tracking and flexible content filtering. An interesting option is the control of Android SMS contacts. Many people will like the fact that numerous features are available even in its free edition. Unfortunately, its lack of Mac support and poor social media tracking tarnish its reputation a bit.
- McAffe Safe Eyes – this is another trustworthy brand known for the Internet protection utilities. Safe Eyes is compatible with a wide variety of devices, including iPhones, Windows and Mac gadgets. You can protect different kinds of content including TV, music, IM, games etc. The lack of compatibility for Android devices is its weakness.
- Qustodio Parental Control – this parental control tool offers different plans so that you can choose the number of devices that you want to protect. Advanced Facebook Monitoring option is something that many parents will be thankful for. Tracking your kid’s device on a map adds another layer of safety. The lack of SMS alert might be considered a flaw.
You can also check out other highly-rated parental control utilities such as Mobicip, SafeDNS, Witigo Parental Filter, ContentBarrier or WebWatcher. If you’re unsure which one to pick out, each of them offers a free trial so that you can try them and weigh your options.