Protecting Your Child Online
A Review of internet protection software
Cyber Sentinel 3.0
Operating Systems: Windows 98/NT/2000/Me/XP
Monitors chat, instant messaging, e-mail, and program applications.
When kids reach a potentially offensive site or an e-mail with questionable text (“Are you home alone?” for example), it offers the option of blocking, sending a warning, closing the browser, or saving a screen shot of the site.
Logs all instant messaging conversations and websites visited.
Features web blocking, time limitations, and privacy filters.
Filters out content based on words and phrases, as well as by the context in which they are used.
Customizable filtering lets parents set words or phrases to prevent children from giving out personal information.
No real reporting function.
There are no individual profiles, so parents can’t set the program up differently for themselves than for their children.
According to Internet Filter Review, the program “let a number of sites through that it should have caught, especially in the foreign language websites.”
Operating Systems: Windows 95/98/NT/2000/Me/XP
Comes with more than 30 filters in categories ranging from adult to violence.
Allows parents to easily customize filters based on the type of content, as well as on their child’s age and maturity level.
Offers chat, newsgroup, e-mail, and instant messaging monitoring.
Allows recording of entire chat and instant messaging conversations.
Has privacy and time control options.
Operating Systems: Windows 98/NT 4.0 or above/2000/Me/XP
Monitors and copies parents on all e-mails, instant messages, chats, websites visited, keystrokes, and programs launched.
The program either monitors without the children’s knowledge or offers an icon to let them know they’re being watched.
Allows parents to review the collected information remotely, so they can check up on their children’s activities from work.
At nearly $100, it’s a bit pricier than some of its competitors.
MSN Parental Controls
Operating Systems: Windows 95/98/NT/2000/XP
Mac OS X
Price: Free to subscribers of MSN Premium Services ($9.95/month)
Lets parents create separate controls for each child and choose from four filtering options based on their children’s ages.
At the youngest age, children must ask permission before entering a chat room, downloading a file, or accessing certain websites.
Allows kids to ask for their parents’ permission to view a blocked site.
Provides weekly reports on children’s online activities (although it doesn’t include the text of those activities).
Not as comprehensive or as easy-to-use as some of the standalone software protection products on the market.
Norton Internet Security 2005
Operating Systems: Windows 98/Me/XP Home/XP Pro/2000 Pro
Offers filtering and application blocking, plus antivirus protection, a firewall, and spam blocking.
A PC Magazine test found that Norton blocked most offensive sites, while allowing access to most benign sites.
Because the child protection comes as part of a more encompassing software program, it doesn’t offer all of the features, functionality, and customization capabilities of some of the standalone products.
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