SafeEyes is moderately priced when compared to other parental control software, but that might be because you aren't getting a whole lot for your buck. While a one-year license covers up to three computers, it's important to note that this software only covers computers. And in the Digital Era where nearly every teen uses a smartphone or tablet, this doesn't even begin to cover all your bases as a parent. It does have some helpful features, but we were generally disappointed by its shortcomings and jumbled user interface.
SafeEyes is $49.95/year (or $39.95/year with the discount) and gives you a one-year license for up to three computers. This includes Internet filtering and monitoring and the ability to add up to 10 users on a single account. Additionally, you can purchase a second year license for $29.95 if you choose to add it on to your initial one-year purchase. If you don't already have an Internet security software installed on your computer(s), SafeEyes gives you the option to do so with McAfee. This add-on costs an additional $69.95/year and offers protection from malware and viruses.
There is no way to add devices other than computers with SafeEyes, which we found to be rather disappointing. If you'd like to monitor more than three computers, you'll have to purchase an additional license at the full retail cost. SafeEyes does offer a 30-day money back guarantee if you aren't completely satisfied with its service, as well as a free 15-day trial.
SafeEyes version 6.0 improves on the user interface, which was something we criticized in previous versions. It's quite a bit easier on the eyes and things make more sense, although there are still some oddities. For example, even with strict filtering "Adult" sites are not blocked by default; however, "Pornography" is. At first, we were allowed to search for rather inappropriate terms on Google, though the pornographic site blockers blocked us from the most pornographic material. That said, we actually had to enable the Keyword/Phrase Dictionaries for Block Profanity and Block Sexually Suggestive Words in order for it to work. SafeEyes does define its categories fairly clearly — and has 35 different ones to choose from — so if you want to get more specific with your blocking, you can. It offers four levels of filtering: Low, Medium, High and Custom, the last of which we found to be the most useful.
The filters themselves run a bit conservatively, and are only somewhat smart about what they block. They also seem to run into problems with multi-word queries. For example, the word "sex" is banned no matter what other terms it's paired up with, such as "sex-linked differences," which is a common biological term. On the circumvention front, we had mixed results with SafeEyes. It blocked some proxies after we enabled filtering on URLs, but not all. So if your child were to try different proxies, it's likely that they'd be able to access a blocked site using a proxy.
SafeEyes can record the activity of several different instant messaging programs — covering Yahoo! messenger, AOL instant messenger, MSN messenger and ICQ messenger — but it does not send real-time warnings to administrators when questionable content is sent or received. You do have the option to either set it up for monitoring, where you can log the entire conversation from both the sender and receiver, or block instant messaging altogether. It's important to note, however, that it will not log any IM conversations if you're using SafeEyes on a Mac; it will only allow you to enable IM blocking.
This is also the case with social networking. You can monitor and block Facebook (the only social media platform covered with SafeEyes) on Windows, but with a Mac, you can only block the site altogether. That being said, it does not notify you when inappropriate or sensitive content is posted, but it will record it. As far as email goes, it seemed to block many images in web-based email, although we could not get it to block email in general, even though it claims to be able to do so.
There are a few different ways to receive reports and alerts with SafeEyes. You can enable instant alerts when a user tries to access a banned site, and SafeEyes will notify you via email, text message or even a phone call, which we thought was a nice touch. One thing that we didn't like with these instant alerts, however, was that the false positive rate was fairly high. We were notified of visits to Google and Yahoo! and any site that used ratings services from Quantserve, which measures things such as website traffic and cookies in browsers. While you can unblock these sites on the control panel, parents will quickly grow tired of having to add such innocuous sites to the exceptions list. You can also view real-time reports whenever you log in to your account. The full reports, which you can set to be daily or weekly, can be accessed through your account or sent to your email inbox. We were disappointed that this option is only available to Windows users and not Mac users as well.
SafeEyes in only available to use on computers, meaning if you want to cover any smartphones, tablets or other Internet-enabled devices, you'll have to use a different parental control software. Windows requires version 7 or later to operate and Mac needs to be running on Mac OS 10.8 or higher. Additionally, as mentioned before, the features and tools available on Mac are limited compared to what those using Windows can utilize with SafeEyes.
If you have any questions about technical support, there's an FAQ page under SafeEye's support section of its website. In addition, SafeEyes' customer support team can be reached via phone 8 a.m. to midnight ET every day or through email. We did not experience a long wait time when calling and the representative was both friendly and helpful in addressing our questions. Our email, however was not responded to within 24 hours; it took nearly three days to get a response via email and our questions were only half answered, which we found rather disappointing.
SafeEyes has a steep price given its shortcomings. While we don't believe any program will ever be able to block everything, the mix of filtering failures versus successes and the program-blocking failures make it difficult to recommend. And the fact that it only covers computers with no option to add other devices will deter those who want to monitor their children's Internet activity or social media activity on smartphones and tablets. If you're looking for a more basic parental control that is good at recording activity, it might be a decent solution, but we would advise trying a different option.
|Cost:||$39.95/yr for 3 PCs|
(w/NextAdvisor discount code)
$69.95/yr (w/McAfee Internet Security)
15-day free trial; 30-day money back guarantee
|Programs Monitored:||Internet Explorer, Firefox;|
Instant messenger (Yahoo!, AIM, MSN, ICQ)
|Special Features:||Multiple levels of blocking severity; Some ability to block program access|
|Social Network Monitoring:||Monitors social networks for profanity and suggestive terms; option to block social networks it doesn't monitor|
|Reports/Alerts:||Daily or weekly reports; instant email, text or phone alerts for violations; no on-demand reporting|
|Kid-Proof Rating:||OK: blocks some proxies that allow kids to bypass controls|
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