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Computer Business Solutions KidsWatch review

Our Rating :
Price when reviewed : £46
(around £28) for a one-year, three-PC licence

A fully featured product, but KidsWatch's filters are crude, and it's not good value, with far better parental software available.

KidsWatch looks identical to Webroot Parental Controls, as they share common roots.

However, KidsWatch adds two tabs to the interface that let you monitor instant messaging and block access to specific internet ports. We tried blocking MSN ports, but although KidsWatch blocked our initial messages, once someone had sent us a message we were able to reply.

You can choose existing Windows user accounts to configure for monitoring and filtering, while templates are available for various age groups, from Under-7s to Adults. Computer and internet usage time can be managed separately, with the ability to set both quotas per week or day, and time ranges are set using an intuitive interface. You can restrict access to programs, and the interface lists all installed programs in a neat tree interface.

KidsWatch has comprehensive reporting options, allowing you to set up an email address to send reports to. You’ll need to find out your ISP’s SMTP server details to enable this. You can set scheduled reports for computer usage, visited websites, program usage and chat monitoring, but perversely you can’t send a report with all this information in a single email. You can receive instant email alerts when sites are blocked or personal information is sent via chat, though.

We were disappointed to find KidsWatch’s web filters to be almost identical to Webroot’s, even to the extent that it blocked sites while allowing a search for the ‘f-word’ to be displayed. Again, most blocked sites were only blocked by KidsWatch because we’d turned on the option to block uncategorised sites, and without it the sites invariably got through.

Finally, it’s worth bearing in mind that after the first year, renewal of the subscription for KidsWatch will cost $30 (around £18) per year.

While it does have more features than Webroot Parental Controls, we were disappointed by the identical – and crude – web filters. This is fine if you don’t mind blocking potentially useful sites, but we’d recommend opting for Net Nanny instead.

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