We’ve had read the horror stories about the Internet being a breeding ground for perverts and paedophiles and while we should show an increasingly level of caution, we can’t stop our children from using it. Therefore, the logical step is to take a little parental action and put a software layer between your kids and the child snatchers. Such software falls into two distinct types: the ones that lock your computer down and restrict access to pre-defined sites, or the software that tracks how your connection is being used, so you can take appropriate steps.



Internet BabySitter falls firmly in the second camp, so isn’t so much a deterrent as a tool to watch over your children. It installs discreetly and leaves no trace that it is there. In fact, the only way to access the program is through the Start>Run dialogue box and even then you have to enter a password. This way, if your progeny is more IT savvy than you, they still won’t be able to log-on.

Running in the background, it’ll log the address of any site visited. It’s then left to the parent to check this log and have the foreknowledge to know the likely name of dubious sites – after all, not every porn site is called freeXXX.com. We feel this is an oversight and the program should work in tandem with an online database, so you can check the sites automatically.

It’s not just the various websites your children have visited that can be logged, as you’ll also be privy to chatroom conversations and email. The problem here, above the moral one of reading private mail, is the total lack of filtering. So you’ll need to read every message in order to find out if anything is seriously awry. It’s designed to work with applications such as Outlook rather than online email services, which are harder to track and log but there is a keystroke logger, which is probably the most useful part of the package, as it will help keep track of chatrooms far more effectively.

OK, so you’ve found a site you don’t approve of, or you think your child is talking to someone you shouldn’t. Sadly, there is nothing in this package that limits this behaviour and to confront your child with the evidence is to highlight them to presence of the software. This is the fundamental flaw in this package, as you’ll need to invest in a separate locking tool, to prevent access.

Verdict

Internet BabySitter is an interesting idea and raises the issue that parents should take positive steps to make sure their children are protected online. Sadly, it takes far too much effort on the side of the parent and delivers very little in the way of protection in return. If you’re like the idea of BabySitter, then we’d also suggest opting for a parental lock too, as it’ll help in the long run.