Effectively filters, blocks, monitors & manages family members’ computer usage
Intuitive interface; blocks objectionable sites (browser independent); limits access to Net, games & apps; detailed reports
No real-time notification or Web-based management; scheduling can be hacked
While online computer exploration opens a world of possibilities for children, expanding their horizons and exposing them to different cultures and ways of life, they can be exposed to dangers as they hit the road exploring the information highway. There are individuals who attempt to exploit children through the use of online services and the Internet, and there are a number of Web sites out there that are wholly inappropriate for children.
Webroot’s Parental Controls (£24.95) software has been updated (used to be called Child Safe) to bring parents peace of mind with robust security tools to help keep our children safe from online threats and manage their use of the family computer. While there is no substitute for discussing online safety with children, leading child advocacy groups believe communication, in addition to using filtering software, ensures the best online protection for kids. Webroot’s Parental Controls has been improved significantly in appearance and ease of use and is a relatively advanced and flexible software package that parents can add to their home computers to better manage how the family computer is used and what content is acceptable.
Fully compatible with the Windows XP and Vista operating systems, Parental Controls helps you protect your children from computer risks even when you cannot personally monitor your child’s activity. Each subscription also protects up to three personal computers within the household. The software blocks access to inappropriate or dangerous Web content, and enforces rules for how much computer time is acceptable and which programs can be used. It offers predefined user profiles for children in four different age ranges, as well as Custom, Adult, and Administrator profiles. Adult and Administrator accounts aren’t monitored and have no restrictions, naturally.
Additionally, Parental Controls is completely tamper-proof; prohibiting any attempt to bypass security settings or install programs without a parent’s permission. If your kid is a budding hacker, you’ll be pleased to know that Parental Controls can head off most attempts to hack the system by limiting access to such tools as Regedit and Task Manager. It can also prevent changes to various system elements, and can even completely lock the kids out of Control Panel.
You can manage Internet usage for multiple users through customisable profiles that monitor the Web sites your children can access based on any combination of over 60 content categories, specific Web site addresses or keywords. You can set up a schedule to manage each child’s use of specific programs, allocating the amount of time each day and the specific times that a child can spend on the computer accessing the Internet or playing games. More importantly, you can restrict the use of computer programs such as chat, games and other existing programs where access should be limited. Restrictions are customisable for each computer user in the home. Lastly, customisable reports inform you of when and where your children are going online. The reports can be generated daily, weekly or monthly and viewed online or via e-mail, so you can even receive reports away from home.
Webroot’s Parental Controls offers a comprehensive set of features at a great price. It’s a snap to use and does exactly what it promises. Sure it takes time to set the software up so it’s most effect – such as scheduling your children’s use of the computer, the Internet, and specific programs – but its Web filtering is browser-independent and its program control can’t be hacked. The only downsides are that there is no real-time notification for you to respond immediately, nor is there a Web-based management console. Furthermore, the time-control feature can be circumvented if your kids are smart enough to set the system clock forward. But, of course, you can prevent them from doing that – if you remember!