If you have children and allow them access to the Internet, who monitors the sites they visit, and more importantly, the links they are exposed to? Even though Windows Vista has taken this into account by adding parental controls into the OS, not everyone uses the latest OS, nor is it as thorough as it should be.

Parental Controls from Webroot sees the levels set in Vista as a starting point, incorporates them into its own program and offers far more control to the parent.

It does this by taking the User Accounts already set up on your PC and allows you to apply controls. This is great, as it means you don’t need to create new passwords or accounts, so easier to manage.

If you haven’t set up separate accounts for each of your children, this should be the first thing you do, it makes setting guidelines and monitoring their activity far easier to manage. You’ll need to set up an extra account for administration duties, as you won’t be able to make changes to your primary account without it.

Webroot has included five templates for different age groups, which show typical usage and restrictions. Obviously, these are only guidelines and you can alter them or choose to create your own settings from scratch.

The question is what kind of controls can you set for your children? The most obvious control is setting internet use, such as blocking access to the more adult portions of the web. It also allows you to create lists of sites that are prohibited, and even allows you to add keywords, so the blocked list can change to suit your children’s needs.

This list of blocked sites can be chosen from a list of over 60 categories and if this isn’t enough then you can add specific sites or keywords to create an effective walled garden of your search engine. To help you keep on top of blocked sites, it comes with 1 year’s worth of updates to this service.

When not online you can limit access to programs and specific pieces of software. As well as preventing users from accessing programs you can stop them from installing too. You can also shut access to drives, including USB ports, so they can’t use a USB memory stick, for instance.

The most obvious advantage of this software is that you can limit the time your child is on the PC, as soon as they hit the time curfew the account will log out.

This may seem a little draconian but if you’re feeling lenient and wish to give your child longer to finish homework or a project, you can set up temporary password that allows them extra time.

If you’re still not convinced your children are staying away from nefarious sites, you can set the software to keep a log of sites visited and send the compiled report to your email account. This may seem a little heavy-handed but in households where the children are more tech-savvy than their parents, it offers a degree of piece-of-mind.

Price when reviewed:

Webroot Parental Controls manages to lock your PC down a lot better than Windows Vista and certainly allows you to limit your children’s access.