Prevent kids from accessing unsuitable content online
Earlier this year we looked at So Protect Me Blocker, which prevents kids from accessing dodgy websites. Safe4Kidz is an alternative from the same company, aimed specifically at 4-12 year olds, similarly preventing access to unsuitable content.
One of the minor criticisms we had of that program was that it took a while for us to set up the correct access for sites and applications. Safe4Kidz takes the hassle out of this by automatically setting itself up using a database of pre-approved websites.
Once your account is registered, an icon on the system tray appears to confirm that Safe4Kidz is running and any suspect sites or applications are blocked, requiring a password for access.
The software is only compatible with Internet Explorer, though: switching to an alternative browser such as Firefox will bypass the screening and blocking facilities entirely.
Since the program is aimed at very young children, that is not a big problem as they are unlikely to have figured out how to use another browser to access blocked sites, but for older kids it might be.
It is of course possible to use the application-blocking feature to block access to Firefox or Opera entirely but that’s an extra hassle.
Options and settings are controlled by logging into an online account and here it is possible to enable a range of child-safe categories.
The children’s maximum age range, from three to 18, can be set and specific applications and sites can be included in a user-defined list to automatically block or allow access.
It is also possible to set up specific times of the day when all access is allowed, for example late at night when children have gone to bed.
Safe4kidz often takes an overbearing approach to protection and in fact it blocked a number of safe websites that a child might want to access. We also noticed a few holes: some unsuitable sites were automatically allowed through.
Parents are at the mercy of the Safe4kidz database, then, and while it is pretty good, we can see users having to field requests from children for access to sites, which would become frustrating after a while.
While it’s essentially capable, Safe4Kidz doesn’t really offer the peace of mind or suitable level of automation it claims to provide.
Basic protection, but with a number of holes Good points Settings automatically configured on install; reasonably priced Bad points Can inadvertently block ‘safe’ sites and search results; likely to require frequent intervention; settings only configurable online; only compatible with Internet Explorer
£15 (three PCs)
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