How to Choose The Best Parental Control Software

BySarah PritzkerDec. 24, 2018
Parental controls can help block unwanted media
Antivirus software can do more than just protect you from viruses and spyware. Using parental control features can make the internet safer for your children.

Good antivirus software will do a lot more than just protect your computer from things like viruses and malware. In fact, additional features such as parental control can sometimes be even more important for your day-to-day computer usage than anything else. If you have children using your computer or other internet-capable devices, this feature is a must-have. Parental controls help you supervise what your children can and cannot do on the computer, and more specifically, while on the internet, so you can protect them from the growing risks online.

It’s not uncommon nowadays to see children as young as 3 able to navigate the internet and find the programs they want. While the internet era has heralded in a new age of learning, discovery, and development, it’s our job to make sure that our children are navigating it safely. One of the best ways to ensure your kids are surfing safely is to utilize the smart parental control features that come with many of the more popular antivirus software packages.

Choose the Best Parental Control Software

Now that you understand the dangers, it’s time to arm yourself against these prevalent risks. Safeguarding your children and your computers is a simple matter when you know the right brands to turn to. Here are some of the best names in the industry with reputations for keeping kids and computers safe all the time.

1. Norton

  • Customizable restrictions

  • iOS and Android compatible

  • Up to 10 devices

Norton is one of the most highly-regarded brands in the antivirus industry. It has been safeguarding computers for more than 25 years, and its customer base continues to grow - so Norton is doing something right. In addition to having great customer support, competitive pricing, and a 60-day money back guarantee, it offers many parental control features.

Norton Norton Buy Now

2. BullGuard

  • Some of the highest detection rates

  • SMS and call blocking for mobile devices

  • Protected gaming modes

BullGuard is one of the relatively smaller brands, but has established a name for itself. In fact, while BullGuard does lack some of the frills that bigger companies provide, what it does, it does really well. It’s known for having some of the lowest false alarm rates (an annoying inconvenience that more rigorous antivirus software is charged with frequently), and it is excellent with social media monitoring.

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3. Panda

  • Tight URL restrictions

  • Great mobile security option

  • Safe Web sandbox of additional safety tools

Panda is another lesser-known company that offers a great antivirus product. Providing solid USB vaccinations, excellent malware protection, and firewalls, and real value for your money, Panda is an obvious choice for many parents.

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4. McAfee

  • Multiple child accounts

  • Easy time controls for internet access

  • Comprehensive content filters

McAfee is easily the biggest and most prominent figure in online security today. Its range of product offerings is tremendous. From home application to enterprise level security suites, McAfee seems to have something to fit every situation and security need. Not to be outshined by smaller brands, McAfee has some outstanding parental control features.

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The Threat is Real: The Need for Parental Controls

In many modern day households it’s often found that people have replaced their traditional TV service for the cheaper and more convenient online video streaming options.

Yes, the internet is a wonderful tool when utilized properly, but attentive parents are also keenly aware of the fact that there are many dangers waiting for children who go online unsupervised. While almost 75% of parents surveyed said they don’t supervise their kids’ internet usage after the age of 14, a frightening 72% of internet-related child abductions involve kids who are 15 and older. That is a clear indication that most parents are letting their kids use the web unsupervised before they are ready. Some of the risks your child faces each time they surf the web will include:

  • Sexually explicit content
  • Violent content
  • Online bullying
  • Unsavory characters who may try to befriend them in chat rooms
  • Downloadable viruses or spyware while using peer-to-peer file sharing networks
  • Downloadable pirated materials that are illegal and often conceal pornography

Antivirus software parental controls is a reliable method for keeping predators, hackers, and other attackers at bay, and parents need to implement these tools in order to keep internet usage safe for themselves and their children.

Top Antivirus Software Parental Control Features

Parental controls can be purchased separate from antivirus software, but with so many reliable antivirus programs offering a whole suite of tools within their repertoire of features, the added expense is unnecessary. 

The package deal is certainly enticing. While the parental control features that are frequently offered within antivirus software will vary from company to company, most will allow parents to customize the exact restrictions they want for their child, blocking any internet websites that contain the type of content you do not wish your child to be exposed to.

Some of the most relevant features include:

Password protection

Control which sites your kids can visit using programs that won’t grant access to high-risk websites without a password. You can usually filter these websites based on your child’s age as well as the content of the sites themselves.

Time restrictions

You can also limit the amount of time that your child spends online each day, by setting time limits through the parental controls or by blocking access to the internet at certain times during the day (for example, when you are asleep or not home to supervise). This can also include history logs so you can check where your child has been surfing.

Social media and content monitoring

The software can monitor social networks such as Facebook for potential risk behaviors like chats containing flagged words, personal information, or inappropriate content.

Filtering and blocking

Probably the most important feature of all, parents can filter websites based on keywords, content type, website type, and more, to keep kids off of websites that pose a threat to their safety. In addition to blocking categories like social media sites or chat groups, parents can flag specific key phrases such as "let's meet up" or "how old are you." This way, if anything like that comes up in a chat window, you’ll be notified immediately.

Restricted areas or files

You can also prevent your child from accessing certain programs or files on the computer. This is a useful tool if you have downloaded movies or other content that you do not wish your child to access. More importantly, it also means that any work documents you have on the computer will be kept safe from hackers who can make their way into your computer files via an unsuspecting child. Often, children will unwittingly download a virus or allow access to a hacker. From there, these criminals can steal anything off of your computer with ease. Restricted areas or privileges make it difficult for kids to grant such entrance to hackers, keeping your private information and files safe.

Multi-device functionality

You may have your computer locked down solidly with the proper antivirus software and parental controls, but what about the rest of the devices your kids can access? Have you checked what your 10-year-old son is doing on his cellphone lately? Do you know which chat sites your daughter has been visiting with her tablet this week? Multi-device protection is of the utmost importance in today’s ever-connected society, and the best antivirus software will enable you to control multiple devices with one account. Bear in mind that some software only works for iOS or Android devices while others will accommodate both.

Additional Steps to Keeping Your Children Safe Online

In addition to using parental control features available with antivirus software, it is also recommended that parents:

  • Keep the computer in a part of the house where it will be easy to monitor what children are up to.
  • Sit your children down and discuss the potential dangers they may face online.
  • Encourage kids to discuss their experiences and encounters while using the internet.
  • Insist that your child speaks to you first before they download anything.
  • Actively monitor their activity to see the types of websites they are visiting.
  • Be clear with your children about your rules and expectations when using the internet.
  • Encourage your child to let you know if they have experienced any upsetting or strange encounters while online. Open communication about these topics can significantly reduce the chances of more harmful or severe damage being done in the future.

Staying Protected at All Times

Parents need to take charge if they want to keep their kids safe in today’s technologically-driven times. Using an antivirus with parental controls packaged into the bundle is the easiest, smartest, and most economically sound way of doing this. These are 5 of the most reliable, trusted, and feature-rich antivirus software options parents have for keeping their kids safe while on the web. If you’d like to see more options, check out our antivirus software reviews page for other brands that you can rely on as well.