“a consumer reports for the cheap” — the new york times
In this review:
  1. Free Parental Control Software
  2. Parental Control Software Reviews
  3. Best Parental Control Software
  4. Discount Parental Control Software Features Comparison Table

Parental Control Software Buying Guide

You've probably seen plenty of advertisements for free parental control software and wondered whether it could do the job as well as the software that you'd pay to download. The truth of the matter is that there's a lot of free parental control software out there that's either useless or the source of computer security problems.

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On the other hand, there are some high-quality download options for parents who want to monitor their children's Internet activity without spending a lot of money.

The main thing you need to know is that there are two types of free parental control software that you can download: toolbars that you use to block certain websites from your computer, and full software programs that let you monitor and block content. Most parents prefer the full software programs, although there are good toolbar programs if you just want to block certain sites. As for the software you pay for, you can spend about $30 a year or upwards of $100 a year. But you don't get more control or protection for these big bucks if you choose wisely from the cheap and free parental software that's available.

At this point you may be wondering how software companies can afford to give away reliable and effective free parental control software when other companies charge a hefty price. In some cases, as with Kidlogger, the software is open source; in others, such as K9 Web Protection, the company behind the software is a non-profit organization that receives funding from grants and contributions.

Review continues below

by Maralyn Edid (Google+ Profile)

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Best Free Parental Control Software

K9 Web Protection
Gold Medal

K9 Web Protection

The system used by this software to monitor the web is very advanced: Websites of concern are divided into categories and you can allow or block entire categories of content as well as approve specific sites manually. The software is updated regularly at no cost to you.

Net Nanny
Gold Medal

Net Nanny

This full-featured software ranks high even in comparison with mid-range and high-end products, and is well worth the investment. It lets you remotely monitor what your child is doing and where your child is going online, including activity on Web 2.0 sites like IM and Facebook. Net Nanny also blocks specific websites or types of sites, such as proxy sites (used by smart kids to outwit most monitoring tools) and gaming sites.

Good Free Parental Control Software

Kidlogger

This parental control software offers some of the most advanced monitoring options from free software programs, including keystroke, chat message, and email monitoring. You can see what's happening on the screen through screen captures at 15-minute intervals. The downside: Kidlogger doesn't let you block any websites at all, so you'll see what's going on but you can't do anything about it.

Parental Control Bar

This free download easily installs in three steps, takes up little room on your hard drive, and efficiently monitors what your kids are viewing online. The only drawback is that it sometimes blocks good sites but includes a feature that allows site approval through two different methods.

 

Don't Bother

CyberSitter

This program offers many of the same features as the other cheap products here, but the company has struggled with download problems in the past year. In response, the company has adjusted the software, the result being a decrease in the number of blocked sites. You might want to hold off on this one until the product becomes more stable.

ChildProtector Internet Filter

Many parents have tried this program because it offers a free 21-day trial. But getting this program is a mistake: not only does it fail to work properly but it's nearly impossible to remove from your computer entirely if you decide you don't want it anymore. The damage it does to your computer outweighs any potential benefits.

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