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As the world continues its relentless charge into the digital age, it’s more important than ever to ensure your children are protected from some of the web’s more mature content.

It’s impossible to know just how much of the internet is devoted to adult material 5 Ways Visiting Adult Websites Is Bad for Your Security & Privacy 5 Ways Visiting Adult Websites Is Bad for Your Security & Privacy While pornography is often discussed in the context of morality, there's a huge security-and-privacy angle that is often overlooked. If you know what to look out for, the safer you'll be. Read More , but estimates suggest pornography alone accounts for anywhere from 5–35 percent of all websites. And that’s before you count topics such as gambling, extreme profanity, dating sites, and other associated themes.

Luckily, the number of parental control apps has been growing at an impressive rate over the last few years. Parents now have a wide choice of software to choose from.

But which should you use? Keep reading to learning about some of the best services available.

1. Windows User Accounts

Microsoft beefed up its native parental control offering with the release of Windows 10 Windows 10 Release Day: Everything You Need to Know Windows 10 Release Day: Everything You Need to Know The final version of Windows will be released on July 29th, but a lot of things remain nebulous. We have compiled the answers to the most frequently asked questions around Windows 10 and its release. Read More in 2015. It’s now possible to designate a user account as a “Child Account.” Creating a Child Account How to Lock Down Windows User Accounts How to Lock Down Windows User Accounts Letting people use your computer while you're gone could lead to problems. We show you how to restrict Windows features on standard or child accounts so others can't access sensitive info. Read More lets you manage the account across all services the account is connected to, including Windows, Xbox, and Windows Mobile.

Before explaining how to create a Child Account, you need to be aware of two important caveats. Firstly, your own user account on Windows 10 must be linked to a Microsoft Account — you cannot create Child Accounts if your account is a local account. Secondly, you need to create the account within your “Family.” More on that shortly.

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To create a Child Account, head to Start > Settings > Accounts. In the panel on the left of the window, click Family and Other People.

windows 10 settings family

Below Your Family, click Add a Family Member. A new window will pop up. Make sure you select Add a Child. If your child already has an email, enter it in the space provided. If they don’t, click The Person Who I Want to Add Doesn’t Have an Email Address. You can then either create a new email or register the new account against your existing email.

windows 10 settings family add child

Click through the next couple of screens and you’ll get a confirmation message. The new account will be visible under Your Family.

windows 10 settings family add child email success

To manage the account, click Manage Family Settings Online. You have options to block websites, limit their “screen time,” add money to their account so they can buy content in the app store, and even get weekly reports about what your child has been up to.

windows 10 manage

If you want something more powerful than the native Windows tool, you have many options to choose from.

2. Qustodio

Qustodio is arguably the best third-party parental control app. It has a free version and a premium version, though the free version is comprehensive enough for most users. The basic premium version costs $44 per year.

The free version offers website filters, search result filters, customizable time limits for games and apps, live notifications if your child accesses questionable content, and even a register of what they’ve been doing on the computer. The biggest drawback: it’s only available on one device.

qustodio parental controls

The premium version adds social media monitoring Why These 7 Industries Are Spying on Your Social Media Posts Why These 7 Industries Are Spying on Your Social Media Posts Most of your life is probably available on your social media accounts. But do you know who's watching them? These seven industries are keeping a close eye on your posts. Read More , location tracking, call tracking and blocking, SMS tracking and blocking, and an expanded dashboard. Depending on the plan you choose, you can manage up to 15 devices.

Using Qustodio is simple: you just need to make an account on the website and install the app on all your devices. You can manage the individual settings from the web portal.

The software is also available on Mac, Android, iOS, and Kindle, meaning your kids will be protected regardless of which device they are using.

3. KidsWatch

The award-winning KidsWatch has three core features: web filtering, time limits, and real-time alerts. All the features can be adjusted on a child-by-child basis.

It’s the final one of the three features — real-time alerts — which sets it apart and warrants its inclusion in this list.

kidswatch parental controls

The feature can be split into three sub-categories:

  • Predator Alerts — The app will automatically show you if any registered sex offenders are living in your neighborhood. It will provide you with a photograph of their face, along with their exact address. You’ll also get alerts if a new offender moves in close by.
  • Chat Monitoring — It will monitor your kids’ internet chat conversations for keywords. They include your address and phone number and references to sex and drugs. You can add your own keywords to make the tool even more robust.
  • Email Alerts — If you kid ever searches for something inappropriate on Google, the app will instantly send you an email to alert you.

The app also keeps detailed logs of all your child’s online activity. It includes data about which sites they visited and which programs they used. It even saves their chat dialogues.

The full version of the app costs $50 per year.

4. OpenDNS

At the other end of the scale, perhaps you think the features of the apps I’ve discussed so far are too complex. If your child is entering their teenage years, you might feel it’s unnecessary to restrict their online time or monitor their phone calls.

If that’s the case, you should consider OpenDNS. It’s an entirely free service that only blocks websites. According to its website, it will restrict access to anything concerning proxies, anonymizers, sexuality, or pornography.

opendns parental controls

The beauty of using a DNS-based app is it works at a network level — just add the DNS address to your router’s control panel. If network-wide filtering is too extreme, it can still work on a per device basis.

Parental controls are just one of the many security benefits you can enjoy by changing your DNS server. I’ve covered all the points in detail in an article elsewhere on the site 4 Reasons Why Using Third-Party DNS Servers Is More Secure 4 Reasons Why Using Third-Party DNS Servers Is More Secure Why is changing your DNS a good idea? What security benefits does it bring? Can it really make your online activities more secure? Read More .

5. Zoodles

Zoodles offers a unique twist on the concept of parental controls. Rather than being a management app, Zoodles is a browser for kids. It’s aimed at children between two and eight years old.

The browser is a walled garden; it offers a restricted safe browsing experience, but more importantly, also includes thousands of books, games, and learning materials. The age you set for your child will determine what content is available.

The app has both free and premium subscriptions. The premium version adds recordable storybooks, extensive activity reports, the ability to promote certain subjects to your child, time limits, and customizable blacklists.

Zoodles is also available on Mac, Android, and iOS.

6. KidLogger

The final tool in my list is KidLogger. The app doubles as both parental control software and a keylogger. It means you can restrict what content your children have access to while also making sure they’re not using the apps you have given them permission to use in an irresponsible way.

If you deploy the app for an extended period of time, it builds up a comprehensive picture of how your kid is using the computer, including their most-used apps and most frequently accessed files.

It also has a cool feature which secretly takes a screenshot of your computer at predetermined intervals before saving them in the cloud, allowing you physically see what your child was doing within each app.

In addition to Windows, the app is available on Mac, iOS, Android, and Blackberry.

Which Is Your Favorite Parental Control Software?

I’ve introduced you to six tools that can keep your children safe. Now it’s your turn to share your opinions.

How do you make sure your kid isn’t accessing inappropriate content? Which app do you use? What makes it so unique?

Image Credit: sakkmesterke via Shutterstock.com

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  1. one
    April 27, 2017 at 7:17 am

    Previously I used K9 on Win 7, but then it got stuck on win 8. Will be trying these soon.

    • Andre
      May 11, 2017 at 3:14 pm

      I agree with guys above that K9 is worth the attention.
      I was using it for a while, but now my kids are protected by the Time Boss Pro.
      I like it more than K9 and I can reccomend it because it has a lot of useful features:
      remote control from your Android mobile, forced breaks, limitation internet websites by time ...