- Apr 24, 2016
Amongst other things, parental control software allows parents to restrict which websites their children can see, in order to avoid the children being exposed to materials the parents consider unsuitable.
Parental Control Certification
AV-Comparatives provides certification for parental control software. In order to be certified, a product must block at least 98% of pornographic websites, have zero false alarms on child-friendly websites, and have no severe unresolved bugs (or design flaws) discovered during the review. A certification is valid for one year and vendors can apply for certification once a year. Only products which were submitted for the Parental Control Test, and which passed the test, are published. Five vendors submitted their products for certification in 2021, of which only one – Kaspersky Safe Kids for Windows – reached the requirements.
Adult 98.2% False-Positives 0
General advice to parents on choosing and installing parental control software
We should start by saying that no parental control software can ever be a replacement for talking to your children about adult or disturbing topics, which they will inevitably encounter sooner or later, e.g. when they are at school. Bear in mind that in an age of mobile devices, a child can easily borrow a smartphone or tablet from a friend whose parents have not installed parental control software. We must also point out that there are possible technical means of bypassing parental control programs, such as using a proxy server, which older, tech-savvy and determined children may well try out. In short, it might be best to regard parental control software as a means of preventing younger children accidentally uncovering inappropriate content.
Before you purchase parental control software, we recommend checking that it includes all the features that you want, and that these can be configured appropriately for your needs. Web content filtering, which blocks categories of website such as pornography or weapons, is a standard feature. Some programs also let you set time limits on when your child can use the computer and/or the Internet. You might decide that you want your child to be able to use their device for only a certain number of hours a day, and specify exactly when these hours should be. Alternatively, you might want your child to learn to manage their allowed total usage time for themselves. If you have a family computer, you might want to use this yourself without any restrictions, so check that the parental control program will allow you to do this easily. To be sure that a particular program will do all you want it to do, we recommend installing a trial version and testing it before you make a purchase. Ask an expert to help you if necessary.
If you want to install parental control software on a Windows or macOS computer, you need to make sure that the child cannot easily disable or uninstall the software. There are two ways to do this. One is to get a parental control product with its own password protection that ensures the child cannot either disable or uninstall the product. Alternatively, ensure that the Windows/macOS account that your child uses does not have administrator rights. In this case, you will need a separate administrator account for yourselves. In either case, the password used to access the program settings or OS administrator account should be something that the child does not know, and cannot easily guess. If you use a separate account for your child, it’s best to log on to the computer using this account when installing/configuring the parental control product. This ensures that the product is properly configured for the child. You will need to use your administrator credentials to authorise this. Once the program is set up, we recommend checking that it is working as expected. Try to visit some websites from the categories you want to have blocked, to check that these are not accessible. Make sure that the parental controls work with all the browsers installed on the PC, and uninstall any that don’t work. You might want to try pasting the web address of blocked sites into Google Translate at this point, to see if this can be used to bypass the protection. If appropriate, check that the parental control program will prevent the child using the computer outside of the hours you have permitted. Finally, make sure that it’s not possible to uninstall or deactivate the product, or allow blocked websites, unless a password is entered. Where configuration is done via a web browser, make sure that you don’t allow it to save the password. If you are not able to make the product work as it should, we suggest contacting the vendor’s support service.