I don’t know about you, but I spent what seemed like endless hours on the phone as a teenager talking to friends about everything and nothing at the same time. We talked about teachers, we talked about other kids at school, and yes, we sometimes talked about sex, or what we thought we knew about it. Parental control in those days consisted of a parent picking up the other phone line without trying to make the loud warning “click.” Obviously, parental control approaches have become more sophisticated over the years, although leaning around the kitchen door like James Bond to check the screen content that is mesmerizing your child is an art and a carefully-honed skill. As an alternative, parents are starting to place more trust on parental control software which we review in this post.
Parental control really consists of two things – 1) filtering and blocking inappropriate web content, and 2) monitoring or providing a report on web and computer activity. Early versions of parental control software had difficulty with the filtering and blocking function and were cumbersome at best to turn on and off when blocking wasn’t necessary. And the early monitoring software? It sometimes provided a report that only a software code engineer could love.
The latest versions of parental control software have improved “gigaleaps” ahead, and offer solutions at various price levels. NetNanny, developed by ContentWatch, has moved ahead of the pack in parental control software for a few reasons. The cost-to-sophistication ratio is high, with strengths in both ability to filter content intelligently as well as its handling of social media chat and Facebook activity. The software is easy to install and relatively quick to learn, and remote notification can notify parents who don’t have the time or stomach to remotely watch an internet session as it takes place. SafeEyes by Internet Safety.com is a close competitor to NetNanny, and for about ten dollars more offers a few additional bells and whistles as well as the ability to use the software on 3 different computers. Both of these companies, as well as others such as Big Mother, have other products for mobile devices such as phones and iPads. Do you have more time to spend on the problem and can’t commit to the cost? Then considering a smaller application like Parental Control Bar or a keylogging monitor (software that records every keystroke on a computer and develops a report) might be an affordable alternative, although expect that you’ll have to spend much more time reviewing reports and testing out various settings. There’s no escaping it, the game of parent and teen cat-and-mouse has ramped up a few levels. For most parents, software controls are much easier on the conscience than sneaking footsteps.