Updated 11-25-2015

Parental Control SoftwareParental Control Software

With tools like filtering, blacklists for inappropriate sites, email monitoring and social networking safeguards, parental control software can help parents keep an eye on the content their kids are accessing online. We tested the best parental control software to help parents pick the right software for their kids, their computers and their parenting strategies. We paid particular attention to factors like how easy they were to set up, how effectively they blocked content and how easy they were to circumvent, so take a look at our detailed reviews to learn more.

Parental Control Software Reviews & Ratings

View Full Comparison Chart
Services: Our Ratings: Bottom Line:
Net Nanny Rating: stars
Smart block list, proxy-resistance and good interface; monitors the most popular social networks
WebWatcher Rating: stars
Blocklist is smart and monitoring is comprehensive, though site blocker and monitor are easy to get around
SafeEyes Rating: stars
Easy for kids to get around; frustrating and expensive for parents
KidsWatch Rating: stars
Does what is advertised for the most part; however, very buggy program causes more harm than good in many circumstances.
CyberPatrol Rating: stars
Poor blocklist, easy bypass, no chat monitoring, and confusing interface
McGruff SafeGuard Rating: stars
Despite some good monitoring it's buggy and easy to circumvent
Avira Social Network Protection Rating: stars
Strictly for social media monitoring; seems to have decent tools for this but the service was not functional for us at all

NextAdvisor Parental Control Software Blog Headlines

Which Parental Control Software is Best for Social Media Monitoring?
In terms of cybersecurity, there’s no such thing as being too safe online, especially when it comes to protecting your children. While popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter have gotten much better at dealing with cyberbullying and abuse reports, it’s still unclear how effective they are at actually protecting their users. Fortunately for […]

3 Things Your Children Should Never Post Online
As new social media sites and apps emerge, it can be hard for parents to keep up with the latest online trends in which their children participate. And while there are some that parents are more familiar with, such as Facebook and Twitter, other popular social media platforms, like Instagram and Snapchat, can prove to […]

How to Make Sure Your Child is Using Tinder Safely
Since its beginning in 2012, Tinder has been expanding the online datingĀ realmĀ in ways that singles may not have expected. With a fairly lax system of regulations, users are only required to be 13 years old, Tinder is causing some concern for parents who aren’t too crazy about the idea of their child using the app. […]

Should You Let Your Child Post Selfies?
As of last year, the word “selfie” is officially a part of the Merriam-Webster dictionary, and it seems like people from all walks of life are taking and posting pictures of themselves online for the world to see. Whether you think selfies are ridiculous or not, this type of picture has become a standard of […]

Did you know?

There are over 186 million websites on the Internet. Some of them are good and provide access to a wealth of information never before available. Others, well, most of us would rather not talk about them. For the most part, the Internet is completely unregulated. Along with all the great information out there, there's no shortage of sites that offer up pornography, violence, and other content that many parents don't want their children accessing.

Parental control software gives parents the ability to monitor their child's online activities and keep them from prohibited content. Parental control software can also help protect children from online predators. You can think of parental control software like Internet security software: it runs in the background, filtering content, analyzing behavior, and sending out warnings.

How we tested parental control software

For these tests we had to act like both parents and children. We downloaded and set up the software, and then we used the computer with the controls activated. We searched for stuff, both prohibited and acceptable, to see how smart the parental control software was, to see if it blocked too much or not enough. And then we tried to get around the controls. An important criterion in our ratings was how easy it was for us to bypass the parental control software using common techniques such as surfing with a proxy server. This gave us our "kid-proof rating," which you can see in our compare chart. For more ways to prevent parental control software circumvention, check out our FAQ.

How parental control software protects kids

Parental control software doesn't just keep kids from accessing inappropriate web sites, it provides mechanisms for monitoring online activity. Some parental control software records chat activity, and others give your teen privacy while just monitoring conversations for risky behavior. Some products even send out warnings to your email or cell phone. As we said above, the Internet is a big place, with new programs and new search terms invented daily. While parental control software is a great aid to keeping your kids safe, nothing beats keeping honest and open communication with them about the good and bad of the online world.

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