Parents do not allow their kids access to adult content while reading a magazine or watching TV, so the same should be taken into consideration when it comes to using the computer and mobile phone. Yes, mobile phones too. Ideally, parents would like to shoulder surf while their kids are on the Internet, but the reality is that’s not always possible. Teaching kids to use the Internet properly and not to disclose personal information as describe in a recent article is a very important step in keeping them safe, but adding a bit of insurance with an Internet content filtering software geared towards protecting kids can also compliment a potential dangerous situation.
Internet content filtering can best be described as a software that filters and/or deny access to any unwanted or unauthorized material on the web. Some of the content that can be blocked are advertising material, sexual and adult content, file transfer sessions and malware. When a request for an unauthorized website or page is made, the Internet filtering software keeps the request from being completed by either blocking it completely or redirects the child to a safe landing page and a report is created of the violation.
A reviewed a five Internet content filtering software targeted to aid parents protect their kids was conducted and here is what I found:
1. Net Nanny – www.netnanny.com
PC, Mac and Mobile (BlackBerry, Windows Mobile 6. Android, Symbian)
$39.00 (PC & Mac) / $29.00 (Mobile Phones)
I found Net Nanny to be a very complete tool that runs on Windows, Mac OS X and mobile phones. Parents have the capability to schedule when the child can have Internet access, Block access to social networking sites such as MySpace and Facebook. The ability to stop inappropriate chat session and stop illegal file sharing is some additional key features parent can employ. Net Nanny provides the parent with the capability to monitor where their children are going online and to receive email and mobile alerts when violations occur.
2. CYBERsitter – www.cybersitter.com
Windows XP, Vista and Windows 7 (all 32/64-bit versions)
CYBERsitter has many interesting features. Off the top, I was impressed on the layout and its ease of use without having to know in detail what I wanted to do. Some interesting features are the per user content filtering controls and strictness controls. A very intuitive user definable time schedule for all users. One of the best feature is the ability to record Facebook, Twitter and newsgroup activities.
3. CyberPatrol – www.cyberpatrol.com
1 User License. Yearly – $39.95
CyberPatrol has the ability to block inappropriate web sites and images from predefined categories such as Adult, Chat, Drugs and Gambling. Restricted access to social networking site such as Facebook, YouTube and MySpace as well as blocking programs are all built-in functionality. An interest aspect of CyberPatrol is parents can also create their own pre-approved list of sites that kids may access.
4. McAfee Family Protection – us.mcafee.com
McAfee Family Protection has a very good website blocking feature that consist of 35 categories of objectionable websites. It also blocks unknown email addresses so children cannot communicate with strangers. The software also allows for the monitoring and recording of postings, YouTube access and instant message conversations as well as allows parents to manage the amount of time their kids spend accessing the Internet
5. Safe Eyes – www.internetsafety.com
PC, Mac & iPhone/iPad/iPod
$49.95 (PC & Mac) / $39.95 (iPhone/iPad/iPod)
Very nice product that allow parents to implement category blocking, and have costumed allowed and not allowed list for website access. A nice feature is the Safe-Search that allows the rules to be implemented on all search engines such as Google, Yahoo and Bing access as well. Parents are able to receive instant alerts when banned sites are accessed and receive daily reports through email. The one draw back, even thought Safe Eyes run on both PC and Mac, the features on both versions are not the same, so please read up on both versions before making a decision.
Internet content filtering software by far is not the answer to protecting our kids on the Internet. Talking to them, education, monitoring and more talking are the best solutions. Internet content filtering, does add a layer of protection and assurance that is essential in the total protect plan. The five tools mentioned above are just a small subset of software in the market, so please do your research.