When it comes to research, debate, news, reviews, or a million and one other functions, the Internet has become an indispensable resource to many people. But it’s also a dangerous virtual realm, particularly when it comes to your kids being online. Aside from obvious concerns like the easy availability of porn, there’s a growing awareness of nastiness such as paedophiles lurking in teen chat rooms.
The Internet BabySitter is an extremely compact monitoring program that lets you keep an eye on what your offspring are up to on the PC. Be aware that this is all it does: the program only records the details of exactly where your child has been on the Net, rather than actually preventing them from visiting any dodgy sites. It doesn’t just monitor Web browser activity though; the BabySitter also keeps its beady binary eyes peeled on e-mails and chat conversations.
Each of these categories has its own tab in the main menu, where all URLs visited, e-mails sent and received and Instant Messenger conversations are recorded. E-mail monitoring only works with Outlook and Outlook Express, and the chat monitoring functions with the main Instant Messengers; MSN, AIM and Yahoo. Similarly, the program’s designed to work with Internet Explorer on the Web browser front, and those using alternatives may encounter problems.
However, there’s a fifth tab which acts as a catch-all, even for applications outside these boundaries, as it records every single keystroke pressed on the computer in a log. Basically, if your kids have been up to something dodgy, you won’t miss it here, although poring over this could take some time, depending on how much your children use the PC and how often you check the logs.
At least the programmers have attempted to organise this section neatly, as it’s broken down into application categories, so for example you can quickly see what was entered in one particular Web browsing session, down to details such as exactly what was typed in a Google search. A search function is also provided within the program, enabling you to hunt for key words or names in any of the logs.
So, the BabySitter’s monitoring service is undoubtedly thorough, and it runs automatically upon boot up, stealthily in the background, with no references made to the program, even in the Programs menu. To bring the main menu up, you have to type a command into the Run dialogue box, and this is cleared upon reboot (normally the last typed command is left in here by default).
The Internet BabySitter is very easy to use, and even clued-up teenagers won’t have an idea they’re being spied upon, unless they happen to see you fiddling with the program. Although this does bring up ethical issues – is it okay to spy on your offspring?
For the greater good that answer may be yes, but you also have to consider it might be obvious you’ve got some sort of surveillance installed if you confront them on issues you’ve picked up via the program. And they might not be too chuffed about that.
Of course, you should bear in mind that for the ultimate in surfing safety, you’ll probably need to combine the Internet BabySitter with some sort of site-blocking package.
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