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As I mentioned in this SuperUser question, I'm trying to prepare a PC for educational use by a child, and am trying to find free parental control software to keep installed and ready (their parent might choose to go for some paid application later, but for my part I wish to help them by having a free program ready to use).

From some Googling, it seems that: for Windows, Windows Live Family Safety, Qustodio and K9 seem to be some good options, while for Linux (Ubuntu) "Web Content Control" seems to be the only current option (at least based on this Ubuntu Wiki page).

Since it's a decade-old Pentium 4 PC, the biggest constraint is the resource usage - the more lightweight the program, the better. Other than that, being able to manually add blacklist entries and make exceptions to existing block-lists (if any) would be a requirement. The software must not lump pornographic content and mere profanity and must allow selectively filtering out such categories independently.

Being able to block particular applications with particular schedules, having a simple UI with offline help available, generating easy-to-understand statistics from any monitoring done - these would be nice-to-haves.

If anyone here has experience and expertise in this area, please make a recommendation, whether for for Windows (XP) or Linux, or both.

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Would you be willing to take a recommendation just for windows? Also would it be okay if the software has a yearly fee? –  aman207 Mar 2 at 1:43
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Make sure to do the kid a favor, and block facebook and other dumb popular sites. –  user1071 Mar 2 at 4:17
    
@aman207 Just-for-Windows software is definitely welcome. The yearly-fee thing would also be fine if it was like Whatsapp (i.e. pay at the year's end to continue), otherwise it's just that I'd be making a choice of paid software myself instead of leaving it to the parents, which I don't want to do. –  sundar Mar 2 at 17:15

4 Answers 4

Well, if you want a real lightweight solution, create an account with OpenDNS.org and use it as your DNS server. You can set it up on the computer or at your router. Set categories to block, sites to white-list or black-list.

Of course this does nothing to limit time on the internet, nor what can be run locally. On the other hand, it has absolutely no overhead on your machine, because it isn't running on your machine. Free is good, too.

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If you're doing this on a router, many routers have per-client time restrictions as an option, which might work well with opendns on the router. –  Journeyman Geek Mar 2 at 3:30

I have old 1.5 Hrz Celeron-based notebook with 512Mb of RAM and WinXP. Installed Work Examiner monitoring tool for about a year ago to control when my son is on it. I've enabled adult blocking policies (content-based) and see all chat conversations.

It can be used w/o annual fees. Anyway, costed about $60 per PC I assume... So, that would be one of the solutions to choose from.

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Thanks for your answer, Darek! Mind to edit it and add some details on your experiences? What especially do you like about the software, and what maybe you dislike? Please read our discussion on what makes an answer high quality to see if you can incorporate some of these improvements into your answer. That would be great! –  Izzy Mar 7 at 12:48

You can try AVG's solution called Family Safety. Although its costs $50 per year (you have the option to renew at the end of the year or you can let it expire), per computer, it is an excellent piece of software with low system requirements. It only requires 128mb of ram, and a 1Ghz Pentium processor. I used to use it on my Pentium 4 3.5Ghz with 2.5gb of ram and it ran seamlessly with other applications. It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista, and 7.

Features:

  • Automatic blocking of internet based on age or you can set categories
  • Manually block webpages and whitelist others
  • Different profiles for each child
  • Monitor social network chats for possible bullying messages
  • Ability to receive reports via text message or email on what child has been searching or what webpages a child has been on (aka statistics)
  • Computer schedules for each child
  • Block certain applications for each child
  • Ability to remotely change the settings for each child
  • Ability to protect the whole wireless network (family safety has to be running on a computer connected wirelessly)
  • Also includes iOS and Android apps

Downsides

I wish it would send you daily reports but it only send them to you once it detects suspicious activity for things like anti-bullying.

Screenshot:

Screenshot 1

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My elder son is clever enough to disable the build-in Windows control, so I recommend everyone to chose some good parent-control program. I, myself, love Time Boss. It allows me not to just block, but also to reduce access to some sites, so now he can plat MMO, but not for the whole day. The program is relatively cheap, if you take into account, that the new version (3.11) comes with licenses for 3 computers.

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Welcome to Software Recommendations! And thanks for sharing your recommendation. However, your post lacks some basic information (e.g. a link to the mentioned software) to be considered a high quality answer. Please read our discussion on what makes an answer high quality to see if you can incorporate some of these improvements into your answer. –  Izzy May 14 at 11:11

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