Parental Control Filtering Software, Part 1

Dennis Faas's picture

Yesterday's Visitor Feedback posed the question, "where can I get free parental control software that will filter out pornography, gambling, bad language, nudity, sex, and violence?" Since I was unfamiliar with the subject, I decided to ask the readers of the Gazette to send me their thoughts.

Jeanne A. writes:

" Thank you for your great newsletter. In response to your request about parental control software, I use We-Blocker on my kids' computer and it does an excellent job. You can set the level of control and allow or disallow additional sites. Best of all, it's free and updates automatically. "

This software came recommended by a number of readers -- but before you go clicking on the link, you might want to read the rest of this report.

I decided to try We-Blocker myself

I visited the We-Blocker web site and took a virtual tour. The product is free, but has popup ads (every 75 clicks) if you choose not to register ($19.95 USD).

Some quick features:

  • simple interface (easy to use)
  • supports multiple user accounts for individual settings (based on age or grade level)
  • block or unblock specified web sites
  • word or phrase blocking allows the parent/guardian to monitor web usage (logs)
  • free updates

I clicked the download link for We-Blocker and was taken to a "registration page" where I submitted my name and email address. I proceeded to the download link and installed We-Blocker 2.01 build 82 on my Windows XP (service pack 1) machine.

So far, so good.

Installation was simple. After setting up some features with my Master User Account, I launched my browser and was surprised that my homepage ( was immediately redirected to a "please register We-Blocker" web page which asked me for my name and email address account for a second time.

Reluctantly, I entered my personal information again. We-Blocker then asked me to update my database of blocked sites / keywords. Of course, I chose to update.

After updating the software, I modified the Master User Account and the Guest account

I set We-Blocker to censor everything (minus the User Defined Category) for both accounts. I went to Google and typed in some profane words; Google gave me some naughty results. I clicked on the naughty results and was surprised that We-Blocker did not attempt to block the profane sites.

Thinking that it could have been my Master User Account super-powers that were allowing me to see the naughty site, I decided to log in as the Guest Account. The same thing happened. It is important to note here that I closed the browser Window each time I tried a different account.

And then, Billy was Born

I noticed that the Guest Account would not allow me to specify an age group, so I created a new account called "Billy", and made him a "grade 3" user. I tried using the same settings as the ones for Master and Guest accounts, and even included User Defined Category, but I was still able to access porn web sites from within Google (specifically searching for the "bad" words).

Using the pre-defined "allowed sites"

I decided this time to "Use Allowed Sites" (red square highlight, below) in the setup thinking that it would only allow me into a pre-defined list of "good" web sites. I entered some naughty words once again in the browser Window and (to my surprise), I was once again able to get in to the "bad" web sites.

My not-so-final comments about We-Blocker

We-Blocker did block some web sites. On the other hand, We-Blocker did not block about 95% of the web sites that I typed in (off the top of my head -- you know, the really bad words commonly used on Jerry Springer). Oddly enough, Jerry Springer is one of the web sites that We-Blocker actively blocks.

Try it yourself

If you actively use We-Blocker, you might want to try your own experiment -- similar to what I just discussed. If you have any suggestions for me (extra settings?), please do send me a note. Don't forget to tell me what operating system you're using and We-Blocker version number / build.

I'm going to end my report here and send an update tomorrow with my final thoughts.

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