This is such a relevant topic and one, I'm sure will continue to grow in importance. My kids are grown up now but my grandchildren are all heavily into computers and the net. My eldest son has 5 children and he expressed to me his concerns over them accessing inappropriate sites. He was also concerned about their use of 'chat programs' and the dodgy characters who use these sites. So I did some investigating, and this is what I found:
There is a very good FREE program available called "K9 Web Protection" which denies access to any sites within designated genres. It is password protected and, as long as the kids don't know the password they cannot disable it, change any of the settings or access any banned sites. The parent or guardian, however can still visit any site they wish by simply applying the password. My son now has this program installed and it works wonderfully well, I highly recommend it to any concerned parent.
Programs which monitor and report chat room activity are another matter. There are no freebies that I can find and there are lots of commercial releases to choose from. After some serious scrutiny I decided to try "Stealth Chat Monitor 1.5", it costs $19.95 (which is at the lower end of the scale) and offers a 5 day free trial. I found that it worked very well. It is well hidden and can only be accessed by applying a designated password. I struck a small problem when it would not display the reports, so I sent an email to their 'support team'. Their prompt reply indentified and explained the reason for the problem and gave a succesful solution. I was all ready to buy the product and began the process when I was directed to their registration page, that's when I struck a snag. Boy, did they ask for some personal information, too much, much more than I deemed was necessary or warranted. Some people may not be put off by that but I am always wary of giving TOO much information so, after consultation with my son we decided not to go ahead and have temporarily put the project on hold. Sorry I can't be of more help, but if anyone knows of a good and inexpensive chat monitor program they can recommend please let me know. Good luck to all you concerned parents (and grand parents), I hope my contribution has been some help.
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