The web is an amazing space, with truly endless possibilities. Yet if you have young children it can also be a pretty dangerous place. It’s clear that there is a lot of undesirable content, and unfortunately most of it is only a few clicks away, from all the spam you get in your inbox everyday to simply what comes up in search engine results, ads in pages, links in web pages or badly intentioned people lurking around. It’s simply too risky to let your kids surf the web without any sort of monitoring, until they are old enough to conciously decide what to look at.
With Leopard, Apple has introduced some settings to help parents protect their children while they use the computer. Parental Controls, found in System Preferences, let you adjust a content filter, set safe browsing times during the day, and give login in keys to each one of your children. Set up is simple, doesn’t take much time, and ensures that your children never end up on the wrong kind of websites.
Those of you who haven’t made the jump to Leopard will probably deplore the lack of Parental Controls in their Mac. However, you can still monitor your kids’ use of the computer with a few other very effective applications. Here is a quick roundup of three useful programs.
CutX for Safari is an add-on that will only work with Apple’s browser, so if you use Firefox, then it won’t work. Safari users however will like how it lets you set up simple lists of banned words and sites, select sites to authorize and block downloads. You can even prevent access to the Safari preferences as an extra precautionary measure.
Mac Minder is not tied to any browser and not only lets you block what you don’t want your kids seeing on the internet but also lets you monitor their usage, logins and logouts. You can also schedule specific usage times and block certain users at certain hours.
Last but not least, ContentBarrier lets you create custom profiles for each one of your kids, giving different logins, access times and privileges. You can block offensive and undesirable content from the web and closely monitor what your children have been up to on your Mac.