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How do I Track My Kids' Surfing?

written by: Mark Muller•edited by: Bill Bunter•updated: 11/3/2011

If you want to track your kid’s surfing you can use parental control software, monitoring software, or a combination of the two technologies. Here’s what you need to know for online child protection including tips & tricks for how to track your children’s web activities effectively or with low costs

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    You may want to track your kid’s surfing to prevent your offspring from visiting inappropriate sites on the world wide web, but you should also track Instant Messaging programs which can be a peril as child molesters often lure in Chat and similar programs. A number of parental control software do a really good job by restricting Net content based on age group ratings or topics, and they usually monitor and log your kid’s online behavior.

    Windows Vista’s free parental control discussed in Bright Hub's article How To Use Windows Vista Parental Controls lacks a number of features found in NetNanny, which is commonly perceived to be the number one child protection software available. Vista Parental Control and NetNanny can be circumvented by very smart kids though. Moreover, the later software may interfere with your anti-virus program, so you should try before you buy NetNanny or any similar program.

    An alternative approach to track your kid’s surfing is using a piece of software which regularly takes a screenshot of the active window of the computer user.If the screenshots are taken every few seconds, then there is hardly any chance that some computer activity of your kids doesn’t get tracked. Bypassing such monitoring software is extremely difficult, even more difficult than circumventing NetNanny for example. What’s more those monitoring programs can be installed and/or operated in stealth, with or without your kid’s knowledge.

    Some monitoring software also offer web site and program blocking, but they usually not very good at it. In turn, parental software usually does not make screen shots of the active window. An exception to the rule is Spector Pro, but I haven’t tested their program recently as they do not make trial versions available. This is really a deficit as monitoring programs are prone to interfere with anti-virus software and Windows Defender.

    Spector Pro runs on Mac as well, but the software carries a price tag $99.95. Should you opt for tracking your kid's surfing by basic automated screenshots, then System Surveillance Pro monitoring program can be an alternative which is much cheaper. To find out what System Surveillance Pro is suited for, and what the software is not cut out for despite the advertising, read Bright Hub’s review System Surveillance Pro Computer User Monitoring .

    In conclusion, you can try parental control software, computer monitoring software, or both technologies to track your children’s online activities. With regard to the education aspect: keep in mind that when your kids surfs the Web then the browser software such as Internet Explorer may display inappropriate content due to malware and pop-ups for example. Remember: Try before you buy any child protection / parental control or monitoring software, and check for potential conflicts with computer security software.

References

  • Author's own opinion