Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

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Internet  Filtering & Tracking Software Information

There is nothing can take the place of an informed parent when it comes to monitoring a child's online use. However, there are a number of different Internet filters that can make the job a little easier. Families are depending more and more on the Internet for information, and our children are entering cyberspace everyday. Filtering software gives you the ability to control displayed content, block adult Web sites, block social networking sites and increase your children's safety online. There is a charge for some Internet filters, while others can be downloaded for free. Consider all the options and possibilities available before choosing the right tools to keep your children and family safe.

Check with your Internet Provider
Before you spend money on expensive software, check with your Internet Service Provider (ISP) to see what type of filtering features they may offer. Very often ISPs offer protection tools or discounted rates for child safety software. Some ISPs even provide child safety features as part of your subscription.

Look for Software that fits your family's needs

  • Easy Use - Make sure that the software is easy enough for you, the parent, to use, but not easy enough for your children to figure out. Kids today are very computer savvy. Be sure they won't be able to figure out the filter quickly.
  • Effectiveness at Filtering - If your family has both younger and older children, it's important to find a filtering tool that is suitable for everyone. Look for filtering software that offers a balance between objectionable material and one that does not filter too much content. Check to see if the program offers customized filtering for each family member.
  • Filtering Combinations - Look for programs that combine filtering options - i.e. URL filtering, keyword filtering.
  • Activity Reports - Some software offers periodic reports on what users have been doing on the computer. The reports can contain various Internet activity including Web sites visited and chats. This is important information for you to have as you talk with your kids about the choices they are making online.
  • Foreign Language Filters - Remember that teenagers can be tricky. If they're studying a foreign language, they can often access sites by using the equivalent of certain key words. Look for software that will filter in multiple languages.
  • What to block - Filtering software should be able to block Web access, chat rooms, email, social networking sites, message boards and pop-ups.

Tracking & filtering software to consider
Some Internet tracking software is available for a fee, while others can be downloaded from the Internet for free. The following are possible options to consider when installing tracking software.

  • K9 Web Protection - free Web protection for the home.
  • CyberPatrol - offers a free 14-day trial, then available to buy.
  • NetNanny - offers a free trial offer, then available to buy.
  • CYBERsitter - available for purchase.
  • Netdog - offers a 30-day free trial, then available to buy.  
  • FreeShield - free parental control software
  • Naomi - free parental control and filtering software.
  • We-Blocker - free Internet filtering software.
  • Spector Pro - available for purchase. This type of software is sometimes referred to as spyware, but don't let that term deter you. Programs like this record everything your children type online and even can take screen shots of sites they visit so that you can review them later. It records both sides of a chatroom and instant message conversations, so you can see what your kids are writing, but more importantly, what the other people are writing to your kids.