Webroot Parental Controls lacks sensitive-information protection for social networking and instant messaging, but its Web site blocker and usage-time controls are easy to use. Its time-scheduling for computer and Internet usage is comprehensive, and we like that the calendar interface allows parents to delineate restrictions between computer time and Internet time. The predefined profiles for different ages make customizing restrictions easy. Selecting “Youngster” (ages 8–10) restricted us from accessing sites such as MySpace and provides 10 hours per week on Internet time; the “Teen” setting (ages 14–18) restricts access to X-rated sites and allows 25 hours a week of Internet time.
Searching for “breast” while logged in as a Youngster returned a bunch of search results for breast cancer; since Safe Search was turned on, no lewd images or results were returned. Searching for “naked” returned nothing. However, there’s no real-time notification or Web-based management to let you know if your child is attempting to visit inappropriate sites. The program’s major drawback is its lack of IM logging; it can’t record instant messaging text. Webroot may be installed on up to three computers and works multiple browsers on a PC, including Firefox and Internet Explorer.
Verdict: Webroot Parental Controls is a good first step at limiting a child’s time on the computer, but its lack of instant message–logging support gives us pause.