Software Tools for the Home

Reviews the major Internet filtering and monitoring software programs available.

We strongly recommend the use of internet filters or monitoring software on all computers, especially those used by children. Internet filters are computer programs that make undesirable content unavailable to the computer user. Monitoring software simply reports on Internet usage to someone you have chosen to receive the detailed report of the computer’s usage. Use this chart to determine what solution is best for your family.

Type of Internet Service? Who to Protect? Recommended
Free Option
Recommended Pay Option Advanced
User Option
Major Dial-up (like AOL, MSN, or Earthlink) or Pre-flitered ISP Kids Filtering from ISP Not Needed Not Needed
(Other Provider)
Kids Safe Families Software Client Software Not Needed
Dial-up Adults X3Watch Accountability Software Accountability Software
 (DSL or Cable)
Kids Safe Families Software Client Software Filtering Router
 (DSL or Cable)
Adults X3Watch Accountability Software Accountability Software




Most major ISP's (Internet Service Provider) like America Online, MSN or Earthlink, provide parental controls that allow you to adjust the nature of content available to each screen name. This means each family member can have customized access to the Internet based on age at no additional charge. The following are links that explain how to use parental controls with EARTHLINK, AMERICA ONLINE and MSN.


A more aggressive option for filtering is a filtered or a “family-friendly” ISP. With a filtered ISP, content filtering is not an option you select and set up; it is built-in and automatic for all users. It cannot be bypassed or overridden. Here are links to some “family-friendly” ISP’s.


For more information on ISP-based filtering, click


. For a sampling of more filtering ISP’s, click


. For families using an ISP without the parental control feature, filtering software is recommended (see below).



(Purchased and installed on your computer[s])

Here is a chart of some of the leading software products available. The ratings have been calculated based on several comparative reviews. For explanation of features, hover your mouse over the term you wish to have defined.

Product Rating Cost Time
Mac Email IM/
p2p Keyword
N/A Free           ü
8.1 $30 ü     ü ü ü
SafeEyes 7.9 $50 ü ü ü ü ü ü
Cyber Patrol 7.5 $40 ü   ü ü   ü
CyberSitter 7.3 $40 ü   ü ü ü ü
Norton Internet Security 7.1 $70;
  ü ü ü ü  
Net Nanny 7.1 $40 ü   ü ü ü ü
McAfee Internet Security 6.7 $35;
    ü ü    

There are many commercially available products. Some filtering products, like Symantec and McAfee, are part of a package of software tools that also include virus protection, popup blockers, and other security features. The advantage: with one purchase, you can take care of several important concerns. The catch: these products typically cost more than a stand-alone internet filtering product and have annual subscriptions. The following links below provide additional information about commercially available internet filters.

internet filter review
getnetwise tools


For advanced users, commercial filtering may work for you if you meet these three conditions:

1)     Your household has more than one computer
2)     They are or will be networked (“talking” to each other)
3)     You have a fast Internet connection (not dial-up)

The option is router-based filtering. A router is a piece of equipment that connects your computers to the Internet and to each other. Some come with options to filter content which means the filtering you set up will be applied to all computers in your network. Router-based filtering can be more complex to set up, but is also more difficult to bypass. There is an initial purchase cost, plus an annual subscription fee. Several reasonably-priced examples are shown below.

Zyxel HS-100 HomeSafe Router
$50.00; $34.99/year for Cerberian subscription
Belkin Wireless G Router (F5D7231-4)
$60.00;$19.99/year for Cerberian subscription after 6 month trial
Linksys Parental Control Router (WRT54GS)
$75.00; $39.95/year to Netopia subscription
D-Link’s SECURESPOT Internet Security Adapter (DSD-150)
See link for details.
See link for details.


Unlike filtering, accountability software simply reports on Internet usage. No blocking occurs. In setting it up, you decide who will receive the detailed report of the computer’s usage. Web sites that are deemed inappropriate, based on the options you’ve chosen, will be red-flagged. Because monitoring software is of value only “after the fact”, we do not recommend this as a solution for families with children. However, it can be an effective aid in personal accountability for adults. There are several available products out there. Here are several:

Covenant Eyes


  • $4.99/month -Special Pricing through Safe Families! (click on icon at left)
        (reg. $74.99 per year)
  • Pricing for households/ministry staff/business
  • Regularly sends list of all web visits to selected recipients with objectionable sites highlighted
  • Mac compatible
  • For TechMission's AC4 members, available at $1.99/month. Click here to join or login.



  • Free
  • Ministry of (
  • Regularly sends list of questionable web visits to selected recepients
  • Best free monitoring software
  • X3watchPro version available for $14.95; includes tech support
  • Mac compatible

Inside The Box™

  • An internet usage tracking solution designed for companies and organizations
  • Product is installed on a computer network and monitors internet usage (sites visits, length of time, etc.) for all computers used
  • Prices vary by number of computers being monitored


  • $19.95 for download
  • Scans computer files and internet history for potentially offensive materials
  • Deluxe version ($39.95 + S&H): includes keystroke monitoring, scans, chats and emails, expanded dictionary of keywords

Parents CyberAlert

  • $39.95 for download free trial
  • Records emails, IM, websites, keystrokes, file access, screen snapshots
  • website, email, chat, IM blocking
  • Games and applications alerts & blocking

Guardian Internet Monitoring Software

Guardian Monitor

  • $39.95
  • Monitor email, chat, IM, p2p applications
  • Record keystrokes and downloads
  • Websites blocking

Chat Checker

  • Free
  • Records instant message (IM) conversations
  • Login online to review IM conversations from within the last 24 hours
  • Receive daily usage summary via email
  • Receive alerts to dangerous conversations or watch-words via email


Faith (for Content):