Level 1
Most security companies don’t seem to place much value in parental controls, usually demoting them to an underpowered module in the darkest recesses of their security suite. But maybe that’s about to change. Bitdefender has just made available the first public beta of its standalone Parental Control package, and at first glance it looks really quite impressive.

You can of course use the program to prevent particular actions. In just a few clicks it’s possible to filter inappropriate web content, for instance. You’re able to restrict the use of particular applications, block instant messages from anyone other than a list of allowed contacts, and ensure the child can only use the internet at the times you define.

And because Bitdefender also includes a mobile component, you can also stop them receiving phone calls or text messages from certain phone numbers (although at the moment this is only available for phones running Android 2.3 or later).

Detailed reports on all your child's activities are always available online

If you’d rather take a hands-off approach, though, you could just use the program to monitor your child’s activity. You’re able to see what they search for online, the sites they visit, and everything that happens on their Facebook account, for example. Install the Android app and you’ll also have access to their calls, messages, settings and more. And because all of this is visible from a web interface you’ll be able to check up on them easily, wherever you are.

As this is a beta, there are of course some oddities. One issue is that Parental Control only works with Bitdefender Antivirus 2012, for instance, and the company say if you’ve an earlier Bitdefender product installed then you’ll need to uninstall it. Which seems drastic. The Bitdefender site has more.

The program worked well for us, though, so if you’re interested then we’d say it’s well worth a look. Parental Control downloads are now available in 32-bit, 64-bit and Android flavours.