Despite being an almost unlimited source of knowledge, the Internet can also be a dangerous place for children. Besides simple dangers such as forgetting to finish the homework or refusing to go out because of spending too much time on social network or in games, there are other even more hazardous problems such as pornography, sexual predators, cyber-bullying, etc. Completely banning the Internet or the computer use is not actually a solution as your kids require it to do their homework or to stay in contact with their friends. This means that you will need to find other, more viable, options, like parental control software.
What are parental control programs? They are applications that keep your kids safe while they're browsing the Internet by restricting the access to certain websites (pornographic content, gore content, etc.), recording Internet and computer usage statistics, filtering search engines, blocking access to certain games or applications, monitoring chats, etc. Furthermore, these tools generally run "undercover" and can't be uninstalled or modified without a master password.
Since protecting your kids from the perils of the World Wide Web is your responsibility, here is a list of 5 best programs that can assist you with this task. In addition to their efficiency, the main criteria in creating this list was platform availability, difficulty to bypass and, of course, price.
Overall, JuniorWatch is an average application that normally shouldn't be on this list of "the elites". However, besides the regular parental control features that every application of this kind will offer, this program has a couple of functions that can make it really useful in certain situations. The first important thing is that it doesn't only work on the Windows operating system but also on Android. This means that this parental control software can also show you the current location of the device it's installed on, in Google Maps. Therefore if your kid went out with his/her laptop or smartphone, you will be able to track him/her down in emergency situations.
4. Cold Turkey
Although not a parental control tool in the true meaning of the term, Cold Turkey gets bonus points for originality, bluntness and simplicity. This application is designed for those who are truly "addicted" to websites like Facebook or YouTube and can't do their chores properly because of it. The way this program works is incredibly simple: it offers a list of websites that you can block access to, according to a customizable schedule. You can also add your own websites or applications to the list and, once started, Cold Turkey is incredibly hard to stop or bypass. Moreover, it's distributed under an Open Source license, so you can modify its code to your liking.
3. McAfee Safe Eyes
Recently acquired by McAfee, Safe Eyes is one of the best parental control applications that you will find on the market. This program works on Windows, Mac and Android, is very efficient, and has a reasonable price. Furthermore, this tool can cover three computers with a single license so, if you have more than one kid, you can watch over all of them without any added cost.
2. K9 Web Protection
K9 Web Protection is a fully fledged parental control tool that offers excellent results. This application works on Windows, Mac, Android and iOS, offers more features than most of its competitors on the market and, best of all, it's completely free. I have no idea how it is possible that a tool which is basically better than almost every other one in its sector of activity to come free of any charge, but hey, I won't be the one to look a gift horse in the mouth.
1. Net Nanny
I know you saw this coming, but it's hard to deny the reality. Almost everyone agrees that Net Nanny is the best parental control software currently on the market. It works on all major operating systems (Windows, Android, Mac and iOs) and offers the most advanced filtering and blocking capabilities you will find. As far as I know, this application is the only one which can identify and mask profanities found in the texts of webpages. The only downside of the application is that it won't capture keystrokes or desktop screenshots, but this is the main reason why it's called parental control and not parental spying.