How to Pick the Best Parental Controls

If you're a parent, chances are you've thought about the dangers of the Internet. Whether it's cyber bullying, online predators, or pornographic materials, there are a lot of reasons to protect your kids online. This guides shows you how to choose the best parental control software, how to deploy it, and how to manage it with your children or teenagers.


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    Know what to look for. Your ideal parental control software should allow you to the following:
    • Block websites on a set of criteria you choose, for example, sex, violence, or drugs;
    • Whitelist useful sites such as WikiHow or Wikipedia
    • Provide you with a monitoring function;
    • Be extremely hard to circumvent for even the most technical of teens;
    • Allow you to manage access across different devices, including PCs and Smartphones
    • Allow you block internet access at set times, for example after bedtime
    • Work across social media, for example by not permitting chats with people that you don't know and
    • Have good technical support.
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    Explore your main options:
    • The inbuilt parental controls in Windows or Apple Mac. These are free products and implemented within the computer. However, they're not as flexible as standalone products and obviously work only on Windows or Mac - not on other devices. Rapid bug fixing may not be a priority for companies which may have bigger fish to fry
    • Parental control addons within web browsers such as Internet Explorer or Firefox. These are free, but they give you no real advantage over other solutions, They are also much easier to circumvent
    • Standalone software options. This is probably your best choice. Unfortunately, they're usually not free - there will be an annual fee to pay. On the plus side, they're more customisable than free products (you get what you pay for after all). For example, some allow you to block on over a dozen criteria, including sex, pornography, adult, drugs, guns, suicide, abortion etc. They are also less tied into the Windows or Mac system. Products which charge often offer trial versions so you can experiment and compare on your own PC before making your decision.Norton Family, however, does have a free edition.Qustodio has a free edition for Android smartphones
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    Install parental controls as soon as your kids begin to use a PC, and every time you buy a new PC or smartphone – it's your commitment to them! Be aware that teenagers often hate this sort of software even though it's for their own protection, and so you don't want to have to argue about installing it when they have always been used to unlimited access.
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    Make sure they can't interfere with the software!! The internet is full of pages on how to do this, but properly installed software is almost impossible to remove;
    • Always give kids and teens a separate account on the house PC, and on their own laptop when they have one too. You then install parental controls for their account. You then have a separate administrator account with full access. As your teenagers then have a standard Windows user account and not an administrator one, it is much harder for them to interfere with the parental control software as access to key settings requires your password.
    • Lock down your computer's BIOS so that it cannot boot from USB or CD, and password protect the BIOS. This blocks attempts from very techy teens to boot from another operating system
    • These steps also provide extra protection against downloading viruses or malware.
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    Discuss and be honest. Make sure they understand why they have this – that it's for their protection and does not mean that you do not trust them. Promise that you will be content with blocking, and that you will not use the monitoring capability to spy on them – and be sure to keep that promise.
    • This is why you should avoid so-called stealthware programs such as eBlaster which operates silently in the background. With no blocking you are forced to spy on your teenagers' online behaviour – which explodes the trust relationship between you. Parental controls should be open visible and honest.
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    Be conservative at first. Many parental control companies provide sample age-related profiles and it makes sense to try the one just below your kids/teens age group. But regularly review how things are going. Even the best software may inadvertently block useful sites and so you need to be able to whitelist them on request. Listen to well-founded complaints about it being too restrictive and consider what to do. Be prepared to make it less restrictive – but do not negotiate on the principle that the software is necessary for their own good.
    • Do not begrudge the time you spend doing this – discussing online usage and pitfalls is part of their education, and if you keep administrative control of their PC then you will need to add software for them anyway when required.
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    Remember the age of your kids matters - but not in the obvious way! When you are configuring restrictions, remember that the group most at risk of online abuse are teenage girls, because they spend more time on line, and want to experiment – and are the natural target of unpleasant people. It follows that they need parental control software most of all, even though they may not think so.


  • Always talk to your kids about the dangers of the Internet; if they know what to look for, they're less likely to become the victim of a predator or a bully.
  • If you suspect your child has been the victim of cyber bullying or an online predator, contact the authorities right away.

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Categories: Internet Security | Parenting and Technology