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Tech Report – Parental control software

By Michael Connolly

Despite increased awareness of the risks posed to children by unfiltered Internet access and unlimited screen time, many parents still haven't installed or activated parental control software. Recent surveys suggest that as many as 60% of elementary and middle-school children regularly use home computers without any controls.

If your computer is fairly new, then there is a good chance that it has some parental controls built into the operating system. However, if you are looking for something a little more robust, with the option for online reporting, then it may be worthwhile installing one of the many independent parental control software packages.  

All the leading providers will allow you to download their software online – a huge convenience so you don't have to make a trip to Best Buy or wait for the CD to arrive.  The cost for one year's service is around the $40 mark for all the packages and for that you also get free protection updates, product upgrades and customer support.  But there is a catch: all the major brands operate as subscription services, so if you don't renew your subscription at the end of the year the controls are switched-off.

Here are some of the market leaders:

CyberPatrol – a top-rated program by many review sites and magazines, CyberPatrol 7.7 excels for its versatility, allowing customization for up to 3 separate PCs. $39.95 to download for 1 year, although you can save up to 35% for a 5-year subscription. 14-day free trial available.

Safe Eyes – slightly more expensive but has a remote notification feature that sends instant alerts by e-mail or text if your child is trying to access a questionable site. Also, Safe Eyes' remote changes become effective immediately - helpful if you are at work and your child needs extra time online or access to a blocked site. $49.95 to download. Good for one year and the same again to renew annually.

Net Nanny – another package that has won praise for its intuitive interface and general ease-of-use. $39.99 for an annual subscription, although it can only be installed on one PC. A 'Family Pack Special' for $59.98 covers up to 3 Windows-based PCs.

PureSight – a less well-known package but slightly better value at $29.90 for one PC. Additional PCs can be added at reduced rates. 30-day free trial available

Comment by whiteshark0121, posted 3/31/2010, 9:48 AM:

One effective way of monitoring our kids internet activity is installing a <a href="http://www.tuki.com"> parental control software </a> to block all unwanted sites. There are a lot of free softwares available out there and one of them can be found on TUKI (The Ultimate Kids' Internet).
Comment by KenS, posted 1/25/2010, 11:51 AM:

What about our awesome PC Pandora? We have all the same features as the above programs, and now with the new 6.0 - we have even more than they do! Come check us out and try out our new web-based PC Pandora LIVE! upgrade, which will let you monitor and control your child's internet activity from anywhere you can find a browser and an internet connection (even your iPhone!!)... check us out: www.pcpandora.com
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