Protecting Kids From Bad Content

Hi Fred, Great newsletter, been reading it for many years.  I was searching for information about "Internet Filters" and did not find much to read about.  I was wondering what your thoughts were about  "ContentProtect", "CYBERsitter", "NetNanny" and/or "CyberPatrol" to help out parents of teenagers and pre-teens?  I have been trying to find some filter software to help control my children’s Internet experience.  do you recommend one over another?  I found an Internet Filter review at  Thanks, Joe.Bongiorno

The more specific term for this kind of thing is "content filtering," but the common, casual term is "nannyware;" and we’ve covered it some: . Natch, Google also offers a ton of links:

But I have never, ever seen content-filtering software that does a truly reliable job. It’s either so lax as to be useless; or so strict that you can’t talk about "every Tom, [blank], and Harry" without the software thinking it’s seen a dirty word. <g>

Content filtering is, at best, only a weak adjunct to active parental supervision. Ideally, place the kids’ PC in a spot where you can keep an eye on things. If that’s not possible, wander by the PC from time to time when the kids are using the system. With younger kids, check the PC’s "History" file periodically to see where they’ve been going. (As the kids get older and develop a track record of trustworthiness, you can give them more freedom and privacy.) And with all kids, have "the talk:" No, not the birds and bees, but about cyberstalking, about never giving out personal information online, never agreeing to meet in real life someone who is only known to them online; about using care in what they download or allow on the PC; and so on.

Good info:

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Fred Langa

About Fred Langa

Fred Langa is senior editor. His LangaList Newsletter merged with Windows Secrets on Nov. 16, 2006. Prior to that, Fred was editor of Byte Magazine (1987 to 1991) and editorial director of CMP Media (1991 to 1996), overseeing Windows Magazine and others.