The hidden truth about most parental control programs is that they are simply to easy to get around for older children. Children today have grown up with the internet and computers and they quickly learn that they can use a simple proxy server to surfe anonymously. The standard programs of course try to combat this by keeping lists of known ‘proxies’, but there are simply to many to keep up with. Net Nanny is unique in that it can, according to the developers, block any access to unwanted content, even if a brand new proxy server is used. So if you block gambling or porn sites, then no amount of proxy servers or ‘tricks’ will allow these sites to be viewed.
Net Nanny is easy to customize and very flexible if you take the time to configure it. You may, for example, be more concerned with violence than with nudity or the opposite. Net Nanny allows you to customize access completely, but even complete computer novices can use it by choosing from predefined profiles (such as young child, pree-teen or teen). You can use the profile as is, modify it or create a new user profile from scratch. The default profile for young child is a list of ‘white listed’ sites, such as Disney.com and NickJR.com. The default setting also blocks all ads even on whitelisted sites.
The Teen profile by default limits peer-to-peer connections. It does allow chatrooms and similar, but it constantly monitors the chats for suspicious language or content. It also automatically shuts down online access from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. You can also easily set the maximum allowed online hours per day or week.
This is all very good news, but what about when you are not home to watch that everything is ok? Net Nanny allows you to control it and view reports of your childs use from your job or elsewhere, through an online interface. You can set it up to receive email if your child tries to access a blocked site, you can even get notification if your child’s Facebook profile is too revealing.
You can select one of the predefined age-based profiles and modify its parameters to fit your child’s needs. You are basically always in control.
Of course, for older children and teens, such settings may be a bit too draconian and heavy handed. Net Nanny has an answer for that as well. Instead of blocking access to a certain site, Net Nanny can show a warning that the site shows objectionable content, but leave the teen to make the final choice. You will receive a notification if the child still decides to visit the site.
Net Nanny is just about bulletproof when it comes to workarounds to try and fool it. How about those old tricks where you change the system clock or select a different time zone? That won’t work with Net Nanny. It automatically presets the internal clock and use its own servers to set the time. Installing an unknown browser won’t work either as internet access is regulated at the protocol level.
No parental time control software can filter the internet perfectly, but Net Nannycomes extremely close. It’s certainly the best that we have reviewed so far. The price is reasonable at $39.95 for a one year subscription (additonal licenses are $19,95).
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These feautures are great, but the software does lack in some areas compared to other tools such as Webwatcher or Net Nanny, most importantly the ability to remote control the program. It also doesn’t send real time alerts (which Net Nanny and Webwatcher does).
CyberPatrol does have some other features which are not usually found in parental software. Not only does CyberPatrol allow you to limit the time your kids spend online, it also gives you the option to limit the time spent on games or other entertainment. You can basically restrict computer as you see fit.
With CyberPatrol, you get all the essential tools for effective webfiltering, internet monitoring and protection. It is easy to configure even for computer novices and allows for a large degree of customization. It doesn’t only block unwanted websites, but also monitors and blocks peer to peer communication such as Facebook, MSN or similar. This is an important safety to have against cyberbullying or online predators. The program can be set up to prevent your children from disclosing information such as phone number, full name or address.
The time control feature is quite impressive and allows you to alot time limits and specific times for when each of your children can go online. You can also set daily or weekly limits on internet use, but what really sets CyberPatrol apart is the ability to control other programs such as pc games.
The reporting function is detailed and easy to read. You can get daily or weekly reports and they show the pages visited and the time spent there.
In conclusion, CyberPatrol is a great tool that compares well to the other products available. You will not go wrong with any of our top picks.
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