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Parental control software is software that is designed to protect minors from age-inappropriate content. Examples of types of website content that parental control software typically has the ability to block include pornography, websites containing violece, and websites promoting the sale of alcoholic beverages.
Parental control software typically contains a number of functionalities.
At its most basic level, parental control products contain tools to block inappropriate website content. Typically this is category based. But most products also contain the ability to configure whitelists and blacklists. Whitelists are lists of websites that the administrator (parent) has deemed to be okay—a whitelisted website will not be blocked even if it is classified as belonging to a blocked category. Conversely, a blacklisted website will not be allowed to display even when the category is not blocked.
Additionally, most parental control tools contain functions to control or limit the amount of time children spend at the computer:
These functions commonly allow the administrator to restrict access to the internet to certain hours per day. For instance, a parent could set up the control settings so that the internet, or certain programs, will be prevented from running after 10pm—when children should be preparing for bed rather than sitting at the PC.
Many programs also allow users to set an upper limit on the number of hours per day during which the internet, certain programs, or the computer itself can be accessed. If the daily hour limit is exceeded the child will be prevented from being able to access the website in question.
App blocking: This allows the parent the ability to entirely block specific programs, irrespective of the time or day or usage volume.
Invisible installation: Many parental control tools can install themselves completely invisibly on the system. This can make it difficult for even tech-savvy teenagers to devise ways to remove the program and circumvent the filtering.