The internet is an amazing resource for kids, but there are also many dangers, and keeping your kids safe from the web’s darker corners can take a little work.
Your ISP is often a good place to start, as many companies give away parental controls for free.
In the UK, for instance, providers such as BT, Sky, Talk Talk and Virgin Media can all offer help, and the Safer Internet site can tell you more.
There are some excellent web-based tools, too. If you’re concerned about exactly what your kids are doing on social networking sites, for instance, Avira Social Network Protection and Web Services can tell you more and alert you to any problems.
And if you’d prefer to install software locally, then there are plenty of options available. Some are powerful and wide-ranging, others can protect you with a single click, but they’re all entirely free. Read on to find out more.
1. Norton Family
Norton Family is a powerful parental control system with plenty of very useful features. You can set the times when your kids are allowed to use the computer, and block access to sites by type (“hate”, “pornography”, “shopping”, “social networks” – there are 40+ categories) or URL.
You get to see which sites your kids are visiting, their web searches and more. And you can configure the program separately for each child, as long as they have their own account on your computer.
This is easy to set up, with a password-protected icon in your system tray giving access to the main settings. Email alerts warn of problems (attempts to reach blocked sites, say), and detailed reports are available online, so you can access them wherever you are.